I have few regrets from my period of employment at Gizmodo Media Group, but never writing a product diary has always been high up on the list. I read them obsessively—one of my favorite creepy interests is watching other people’s beauty routines, and product diaries are basically that, but in blog form.
So, when I saw Julianne recently, I drunkenly confessed this to her. Like the patient angel she is, she was like, “Uh, you can just write one now.” I was like, “WOW, ARE YOU SERIOUS?” And here we are! Amazing.
Truthfully, though, any product diary I would have written back then would have been embarrassing. I spent the vast majority of my life treating my skin poorly. As a teenager, I used things you’re never supposed to put anywhere near your face (rubbing alcohol). As an adult, I stuck to products that weren’t suited to my skin (clay masks) and I was slack about the necessities (moisturizer and sunscreen). Like seemingly every other person on the internet, I finally started paying attention last year. This was due to a few things: caving to capitalistic trends; the connection I’ve always perceived between proper skincare and being a real grown-up; the need to control something while the rest of the world falls apart.
Since then, I have made up for lost time at an alarming pace. I try new stuff constantly. My friend Jenny describes my approach as “intrepid,” which I think is just a nice way of saying that I devote far too much energy to looking like a newborn baby. For now, my life can be summed up as a constant battle with myself over whether to restart my Sephora Play subscription.
I am currently freelancing, so I have no office, and no coworkers for whom I need to look mildly alive. This has mostly meant that I now have time for hobbies, but it has also translated into wearing far less makeup than I used to.
I wake up around 8:30 and pour some coffee in my face. After sending emails and figuring out what I need to get done today, I spend some time dicking around on the internet. Everything is bleak except for this video, which I have been watching a lot lately. After a few viewings, I get in the shower.
I’m not a big fan of body wash for reasons I can’t remember, so I use a bar of lavender Dr. Bronner’s soap. I am too lazy and cheap to use shaving cream, so I also use it if I’m shaving. I wash my hair every second or third day, and I use Aveda’s Rosemary Mint Shampoo, which smells lovely and gets my hair clean without stripping it. I follow that with an Aveda conditioner for red hair, which I started using because my natural color recently started fading to blonde. As a (former???) redhead, I can’t tell you how distressing this is, but at least it’s not grey. YET. While the conditioner is doing its job, I wash my face with CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. It looks less like semen than Cetaphil, but I find that they’re similarly effective.
After I dry off, I swipe some Thayer’s witch hazel with aloe vera on my face. Until recently, this sat unused in my bathroom cabinet, because I’m not convinced toner actually does anything. It hasn’t had an adverse effect, though, so I will continue to use it. Then it’s time for a Vitamin C serum. Right now I’m on the last few drops of a trial size of Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, which I regret to say I like. It’s way more expensive than my previous go-to, Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum (something I found via Veronica’s product diary), so I won’t be buying the full size.
An aside: Since my descent into skincare madness started, I have developed two major rules. The first is financial: I only spend real cash on things that make a significant difference. I am a big fan of experimenting with trial/sample sizes to see what actually works, which brings me to my second rule: bleed Sephora dry for free samples before buying anything. I first learned this from former Jezebel staffer Kara Brown, and I have taken it to heart. A few months ago, I was trying to figure what the deal was with Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, which people covet like a rare, endangered species of bat. It made me break out, but I only discovered that after my third sample. Thanks, Sephora.
After my serum, I use Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb, which I got from a friend. Here is my truth: I’m not convinced eye creams do anything regular moisturizers don’t. Your eye skin is more delicate, I KNOW, but I’m still suspicious it’s just another Big Skincare ploy to get us to spend more money on what is essentially the same product. (See also: sleeping masks.) This is why I have never actually bought eye cream and will continue to scam free samples until I am dead.
I slather on Weleda’s Skin Food moisturizer, which I recently started using and cannot recommend enough. I have dry skin and usually need some sort of hydrating serum, but this moisturizer is enough on its own. (Apparently Rihanna uses it, so if you don’t trust me, at least trust her, because she is perfect, and finding out we had this in common was the best day of my life.) It’s affordable—a tube is about nine bucks at my local Fairway—and you only need a little bit because it has the consistency of a balm. Then I put on some sunscreen. Right now it’s an old tube of Shiseido WetForce I stole from my mom. I also use some of the Ordinary’s squalane oil on my cheekbones to give them a nice sheen. At some point during all of this I put on deodorant and brush my teeth with Sensodyne toothpaste, because my teeth are sensitive little bitches.
In contrast with skincare, I don’t put that much thought into my hair. The only fancy hair product I own is my Mason Pearson brush, which is a cherished gift and which I’ve had for too many years to be considered hygienic. After towel-drying, I spray some Ouai Wave Spray and hope for the best. If it’s between shampoo days and my hair is starting to resemble a greasy bone, I use some kind of dry shampoo—right now it’s Dove. I try not to overdo that because I once went to a stylist who told me I had a bunch of gross crap in my hair and then non-consensually washed it with Dawn dish soap.
At this point I also remember to baste the rest of my body with some CeraVe lotion, and throw some jorts on my body.
Due to the aforementioned lack of professional propriety, my makeup these days is light. I’m not doing anything important today, so I use Dr. Jart Tiger Grass Camo Drops in place of foundation. I use the cream version in the winter, but I like the drops better for summer because they’re lighter. (This is also a sample, and I will most likely be purchasing.) I put some Smashbox Studio Skin Concealer in Fair under my eyes and wherever I need it. The only non-negotiable part of my makeup routine is my eyebrows, because I barely have any. I am very fair and don’t have a whole lot of body hair; this is very good for several regions of my heaving carcass, but not when it comes to my eyebrows. I use Anastasia’s Perfect Brow Pencil in Taupe, which I love deeply because it’s really buildable. A terrible guy I once dated was shocked and horrified when he found out I used an eyebrow pencil. Men: Why are you like this?
Then I swoosh on a few coats of Elf mineral mascara. I’m not married to it, but it was only three dollars and works fine. At the moment I’ve been really into Clinique’s Black Honey lipstick, so I put some of that on. I always wear some kind of perfume, probably because I sweat a lot and I’m afraid of smelling bad. Today it’s Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose & Oud cologne. Lastly, I torture my eyes with Rohto Ice eye drops, because having bloodshot eyes is another irrational fear of mine.
This is what my face looks like after all that bullshit. If you don’t think I’m going to stand in front of a window in order to siphon all the good lighting, think again.
If I’m actually doing something with my day, things are more complicated, which I will now describe for you because we’re already 1,500 words in so why not. (I’m so sorry, you can skip this part if you want!!!) I use Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in 3.75, which is my holy grail and which I (again) discovered thanks to Kara Brown. It costs more than any other beauty product I own, but it’s worth it. I use the Smashbox concealer for any spots, but I switch to Nars Creamy Concealer in Chantilly under my eyes. I also use a little dab of Laura Mercier under-eye brightening powder. (Another Sephora sample!) I don’t wear much eye makeup because I worry it makes me look like a raccoon. I’ve had the same Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil in Brown Copper for the last five years. Am I gonna get a stye? Probably. I’ll mix and match some shades from my trusty Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palette (don’t ask me which ones), curl my eyelashes, and apply mascara.
I’ll also use Anastasia’s Highlighting Duo Pencil in Matte Camille/Sand Shimmer along my browbone, on my waterline, and in the corners of my eyes. I try to brush some Nars The Multiple in Orgasm on my cheeks, but in truth I still don’t know how to apply blush properly despite wearing it for 15 years. Then I apply some Fenty Killawatt Highlighter in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal to my cheekbones, nose, chin, and forehead. One time I tried bronzer and it looked obscenely bad, so I refuse to try contouring. Depending on my eye makeup situation I will wear some kind of lipstick; I’m very loyal to Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. I am currently psyching myself up to buy Famous Red because I love it, but also, I do not need another one of these fucking pencils. Finally I spritz some Nyx Dewy Finish Setting Spray, which works really well and costs like six bucks.
Here is what I look like when I’m primed and spackled:
I don’t do anything throughout the day except re-apply lip balm or lipstick if I’m wearing it. I hate to be this person but I’m going to do it anyway: I finally started drinking enough water, and it seems to help my skin. This was also around the time I started slathering 28 potions on my face daily, however, so who knows. Either way, drinking a lot of water doesn’t hurt.
To get everything off I drench a cotton ball with CeraVe Micellar Water and maniacally rub it all over my face. Then I double-cleanse with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. If I have any blemishes, I apply a tiny dot of tea tree oil. I recently discovered you are not supposed to put this on your skin undiluted, something I have been doing for the last six months.
I do an exfoliating mask two or three times a week; I love Ole Henriksen’s 2-in-1 Polishing Sugar Mask because it’s not too harsh. I’m not doing this tonight, though, so I use a First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pad, which contains glycolic and lactic acid. I need to pause briefly here to evangelize about acids, because they changed my freakin’ life!!! In high school, I went to get my makeup done at the mall for prom. In a very serious tone, the woman told me that I MUST exfoliate. However, she also did my makeup like a mortician, so I did not listen to her. Unfortunately for me, she was right, because I spent the next eight years rarely exfoliating, and it showed. I’ve had acne on and off since my teens, but once I started using the FAB pads every day, I noticed a marked improvement. Sometimes I’ll even use them on my hands if they’re looking dry and gross. (Acids can fuck you up, though. I tried Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial a few times and I looked like a baby, but a very angry one.)
After the pad, I put on an Ariul Green Tea sheet mask. I used to use sheet masks pretty frequently, but I gave up on them because I wasn’t sure they actually did anything. But then I was at CVS the other day and bought three. Goddammit.
Lately I’ve been really into Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which I got several samples of from the very nice woman at the Kiehl’s store. It smells really nice and is silky like a leopard. It also makes my skin look nice and glowy. I think I will probably end up buying the full-sized version. This goes on after my skin has absorbed the sheet mask slime.
After the Kiehl’s it’s time for more Skin Food. If my skin is looking dry I’ll smear some squalane oil on my cheeks, but the sheet mask did its job so I don’t tonight. I use some L’Occitane Almond Hand Cream and try to remember to put some CeraVe lotion on my neck, because as the wise Carole Radziwill advises, “Think of your neck and chest as part of your face.” Thanks to Carole, my new fear in life is having a saggy neck. I brush, floss, rinse with this weird but incredibly effective mouthwash my dentist gave me, and put on some lip balm. Then I curl up in a ball, watch the dog video for the ninth time today, and go to sleep.