I have to admit: I’m far from a beauty expert. But the older I get, the more I realize the importance of taking care of my skin and finding products that make me look and feel my best. Whether it’s a splurge-worthy tinted moisturizer, a drugstore mascara, or — yes — a perfectly scented deodorant, I always love reading about other bloggers’ makeup must-haves. Today I’m partnering up with Secret (a brand I’ve worn since I was a teenager!) to let you take a peek at my morning routine. And in the interest of mixing it up, I thought it would be fun to add my recommendations for which products are worth shelling out for and which ones I just pick up at the drugstore around the corner from my apartment. I would love to hear if any of you swear by the same products, have favorite high-end or budget-friendly recommendations, or even if you think I’m applying my makeup in the wrong order… Because, truthfully, I’m not so sure myself. 😉
Here are the ten products that I’ve made part of my morning makeup routine, with a few notes on what I like about each and my recommendation to splurge or save. For our purposes, let’s say that splurges are anything you’ll have to order online or pick up in a department store ($15+) and saves are anything you can pick up at Target or your preferred pharmacy ($1-$14). Oh and I forgot to photograph these as a product pick but I use these makeup remover towelettes morning and night.
1. SPLURGE: MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer ($19)
I wake up every morning with dark circles under my eyes and realized a year or so ago that my usual concealers just weren’t getting the job done. I turned to Amy for a recommendation (a recurring theme in my life…) and she told me to meet her at the MAC store in the Flatiron district, where a makeup artist helped me find the right shade for my complexion. The formula is creamier than I was accustomed to (a plus for those of us blessed with dry skin) and works as well on my under eye circles as it does on any blotches or blemishes. I also like that it offers SPF coverage for the thin skin around my eyes, which I’ve learned the hard way is extra prone to skin damage.
2. SPLURGE: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($42)
I know I’ve raved about this stuff before but I won’t stop until every single one of you has tried it for yourself. 😉 It gives my skin much-needed moisture with a little bit of color so I don’t scare people away with my translucence in winter. I first tried it as a free sample with a Nordstrom order a couple years ago and I’ve sworn by it ever since. And, again, more SPF because we gingers really can’t be too careful when it comes to the sun.
3. SPLURGE: Jouer Cheek Tint ($20)
Okay, three splurges in a row — please bear with me. This one packs a real punch as the peony shade is perfect for both cheeks and lips. I know the color looks a little intimidating in pictures but I promise it’s really flattering in person. I’m totally sold on switching from powder blush to cheek tint — you can apply it with your fingertip (one less thing in your makeup bag!) and it stays on all day for a subtle rosy glow.
Finally, a couple of drugstore buys (I’ve linked to Target for your convenience). This eyebrow pencil is a recent discovery and I now feel naked without it. My advice? Less is more. I can’t pull off the bold brow look that’s so in right now but a quick swipe with this pencil gives my eyes instant definition. And I’m really not picky about eyeliner. I’ve tried more high-end options and I honestly just wasn’t impressed enough to justify the expense. (Especially since it takes me about five tries to perfect a cat eye… Told you I’m not an expert!)
6. SAVE: Maybelline Volum’ Express The Rocket ($5.99)
Until I satisfy my curiosity for eyelash extensions, this mascara is my secret weapon for making the most of what I’ve got. I pretty much won’t leave the house without mascara on and the brush on this one is good for daily volume. I know I should probably be using a lighter color (“brownish black”?) but I can’t resist the allure of long black lashes.
7. SAVE: Secret Clear Gel Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant ($3.99)
Here’s my (very simple) thought process on deodorant: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ve been wearing Secret for more than a decade now and I don’t have plans to change that anytime soon. My biggest concern with deodorant (besides the obvious) is walking out of my apartment in a navy blouse covered in white streaks. (Side note: we’ve all seen people make this mistake before and I’d like to know the protocol… Do you tell them like you would if they had food stuck in their teeth?!) Anyway, Secret is a water-based gel that goes on clear, dries in seconds, and gives you 48 hours of odor protection. Oh and this Paris-themed variety literally smells like a rose so you can too.
8. SPLURGE: Ralph Ralph Lauren Eau de Toilette Spray ($56)
If you splurge on nothing else, do find yourself a fancy signature scent (or two). I dragged my mom to Sephora to get a second opinion on a couple perfumes and we wound up agreeing on Ralph Ralph Lauren (a light floral that I wear almost every day) and Coach Poppy (a flirtier scent that I usually spritz on if I’m headed out at night). Finding the right scent can be a long search (and you’ll get a headache faster than you think) but it’s worth it when you find one that suits you so well strangers will ask you what you’re wearing.
9. SPLURGE: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($21)
Is this crazy to add a second moisturizer / third sunscreen into my morning routine? I bought this knowing that Amy swears by the Kiehl’s skincare line and I love the way it makes my skin feel: soft, smooth, and not the least bit greasy. I wonder if I should double up on this with eye cream at night…?
10. SPLURGE: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture in Encre Rose ($35)
One of my favorite new finds from this post and a pretty pale pink that’s nice and glossy but doesn’t wind up on my teeth when I open my mouth. (Is it just me or is there a magnetic pull between teeth and red lipstick?) I am very particular about lip products — I can’t stand anything that has a strong smell, weird taste, or drying effect — and I’ve tried a lot of subpar lip glosses in years past. (Just thinking about some of them makes me want to cover my lips in Vaseline…) This one passes all my tests and gets bonus points for looking pretty on my bathroom counter or in my purse.
Whew! So there you have it: ten tried-and-true products that I’d really rather not live without. Beauty posts tend to be a fun conversation starter on Design Darling and I’m always excited to read your recommendations! Tell me: what do your morning makeup must-haves look like? Do we use any of the same products? What won’t you leave the house without?!
*Photos by Amy Stone. This post is sponsored by Secret, a brand I’ve used since I had braces. 🙂 All opinions are my own!