Well, well, well – we all contain multitudes. I love dressing up, but I often spend most of my time walking around my neighbourhood in biker shorts, an old tee and not a stitch of make-up on. I will not be meeting my future husband across the fruit and veggie aisle at my local supermarket, that’s for sure.
As much as I love painstakingly painting my face to perfection (not super perfect, as I am too lazy to learn how to contour), I also just love to be low-key and stick to the minimal amount where I look acceptable. Those are my goals for 2022. The minimal amount where I look acceptable. The bar is so, so low.
I do think there is something freeing about wearing so little make-up that it feels like you’re wearing virtually nothing at all. Enough to have a confidence boost, but not too much that you’re looking like a yassified version of yourself. Also, some people either don’t have time to put on a whole face of make-up every day – or just don’t like it. The patriarchy is shaking! If I had to boil down my make-up routine into my essentials, I would say a concealer for my under eye, a blush, a bronzer, a mascara, and my eyebrow pencil (because without it, I look like my over-plucked brows are extremely thin.) So I’ve combed through the best of the best for these essentials to use when wearing a full-face is far too much.
Feature image via Vogue Paris
Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
This concealer is definitely worth your time, being the best-selling luxury concealer in the whole of the United Kingdom. With a luminous finish, it’s perfect for brightening up tired eyes after working long nights (yep, that’s me) and making you look like you had over 8 hours of sleep (yep, that’s not me). I like to leave it for a couple of minutes after swiping with the wand so it gets a little tacky, and then I blend it in just under the eyes and it sits pretty all day. If you prefer it more blendable, then start in with the brush right after application and it thins out quite nicely. I’m a Café Con Leche (probably the only time I will ever describe my skin in coffee terms), or a Vanilla in the depths of winter when I haven’t seen the sun in months.
Chanel Les Beiges Water-Fresh Blush
I love a good blush. If you want to look like an Austen heroine after walking through the moors of Elizabethan England, then blush is the way to go. By infusing your cheeks with a healthy flush, it adds a romantic vitality to your face, opening it up to be more cheerful and approachable (ideal for someone with RBF like me). The Water-Fresh blush from Chanel is ideal for those who want to look more modern and less Golden Girls (as too much strong blush can age the face), as it’s easily blendable. Made from 75% water, the formula is designed to melt into the face, and especially with the little pearls, it makes it a more natural product that reflects your own rosy flush. If you’re looking for more pigment, I quite enjoy the powder Hermès blush too.
Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream
I’m back with Chanel, but this time, it’s a bronzing cream from their Les Beiges range. Available in 3 colours, the bronzer is built to be spreadable, which is perfect for those who are low-key with make-up and want to avoid the brown army streaks across the face, or the overdone Brit-wants-to-look-like-she’s-been-on-holiday-but-just-went-to-Brighton look. And hey, I’ve been there. Anyone who saw a picture of me or looked at my face prior to 2010 can tell you that I loved bronzer – perhaps too much. Now, I use highly blendable bronzers like this one that give you a healthy glow but doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard. Plus, this one also smells divine – if you’re looking to add a more engage-all-the-senses part of your morning routine.
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
Apart from the cringeworthy name, this humble mascara is one of the best out there. When I look for a mascara, I like one that adds volume and length but without being clumpy or making me look too much (there’s nothing more jarring than overdoing the mascara); I also like a non-waterproof mascara, as I’m too lazy to do all the hard work of trying to get every trace of waterproof mascara off my lashes at the end of the day – but I also like a mascara that holds, and doesn’t leave little pixie marks on your upper eyelid/under brow at the end of a humid day. After many tests and tries, I’ve decided that the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara is the one. Okay, it’s not a fancy one, but it works, which is what we’re looking for. All the grunt without any of the graft. You’re welcome.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
Colouring in your brows is optional as most people have stronger brows than I do. After overzealously plucking them in my younger years and having naturally light hair, if I don’t colour them in, it can look like I have little to no brows. I find that colouring them in gives my face more structure, which is ideal when you’re not using too many products to highlight the natural planes of your face shape. Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Wiz is one of my favourites, and depending on your preference, they also make an angled tip too. I like my precision, which is why I go for the thinner nib. My shade is soft-brown, which is surprisingly very close to my natural hair colour; I always find that brands make shades too light or too dark for auburn-coloured hair. If you find colouring in your brows to be too much for you, the brand also makes a clear Brow Gel, which brushes up the hairs and gives structure to your brows without the statement colour. Easy peasy.