Even with no one to see me but my family and a few neighbors encountered from a distance on rambling walks with my dogs around the neighborhood, I've discovered it's still an instant pick-me-up this quarantined spring to wear a little makeup. It's not exactly my morning routine, as I tend to walk the dogs in the afternoon after my kids finish their schoolwork, but this is more or less my regular morning routine with my favorite non-toxic, cruelty-free products from my "life before quarantine".
With spring around the corner, I recently spent a happy hour cleaning out my vanity and reorganizing my favorite bottles of unguents and scents. I rarely throw things anything away, but, since beginning to blog a few years ago, I have definitely streamlined my process and settled on several seasonal favorites that I use over and over and repurchase. A few of these recs below are new but most are tried and true and none are sponsored. I know how frustrating it can be to try out sponsored beauty products. There's nothing worse than spending a lot of money on a product that turns out to be a dud. However, please keep in mind that sometimes it's simply the case that a product doesn't work with your skin type or, even, as I just mentioned, a product's efficacy might depend on the season. For example, I love oils for my skin like Kora Organics or Edible Beauty's sunflower oil in winter but prefer using only tinted moisturizers in spring and summer. With spring in mind, despite the fact that it's 40 degrees fahrenheit in Philly today, I thought I'd share what brightens my day: my morning skincare and makeup routine and the green beauty products I love most!
1.Under Makeup: Prep the skin.
I have several different samples of morning scrubs that all claim to be rejuvenating. I use different ones all the time. I've heard exfoliators shouldn't be used daily, so I've tried to mix in gentler scrubs or often make do with a splash of cold water. When I do purchase a morning scrub, I love Goop's Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator. It's really, really expensive, though, but a little goes a long way. Another gentler, more affordable option is Green Clean's Makeup Removing Balm. It does not in fact remove makeup. Not even one little bit. But it smells incredible and leaves your skin feeling very soft. A nice way to start the day indeed!
Once I feel fresh-faced, I add one or two pumps of a vitamin C serum. I like this one by Drunk Elephant. I think it's as effective as the SkinCeuticals nearly mythical C serum but at about half the price. However, that's based on research not experimentation. If you've tried the SkinCeuticals one, please let me know if you think it's worth the hefty pricetag! Last but not least, I've recently started using one pump of Glossier's Future Dew beneath my tinted moisturizer. (The directions on the bottle suggests two pumps, but I thought that was a little intense for daytime.) I received a sample of Kosa's Tinted Face Oil Foundation (voted Best of Beauty 2019 by Allure) with my lipstick purchase (see below), and I loved it so much I immediately ordered more for spring. For now, I'm still using an IT Cosmetics tinted moisturizer, but I'm not sure if it's non-toxic or cruelty-free. (I just looked it up: they are indeed a cruelty-free company according to Cruelty-Free Kitty, but I didn't look it up in advance, so I don't deserve any props.) Not only is the Kosas version both of those things, but it's very natural-looking. IT Cosmetics is marketed towards more mature skin, and I think the quality is very excellent but a little heavy for me still, while Kosas is like your own skin but just slightly smoother and glowier. I love it!
2. A little more prep
Before applying blush and fixing my eyebrows, adding a swipe or two of mascara, and a lip stain, I like to hydrate my lips. As well as tasting great and being very moisturizing, this Olio e Osso balm is pretty enough to wear on its own. It's a little pricey at $28, but I've had it for more than a year!
3. Five Minute Makeup
Now that my skin and lips are prepped, I can add a little concealer under my eyes and around my nose and chin where there are shadows. Then I dust some powder on top. I like this Charlotte Tilbury concealer, but it's not my favorite. Forever on the hunt for a winner in that category! However, this Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Powder is beyond gorgeous. It's one of my all-time favorite products, and it's formulated without sulfates.
I thought Charlotte Tilbury was cruelty-free, but I might have to look for an alternative. According to the website https://www.freethebunnies.com/charlotte-tilbury/ that status recently changed as of January 20, 2020. If you keep track of cruelty-free products, you'll see it's because they want to sell in China like a lot of brands, which means they have to allow testing on animals there. Well, at any rate, adding powder is a step I tend to skip in the spring when I'm after a dewier look or running low on time. Afterwards, if I do have time, I use my lip pencil and a liquid eyeliner. Also two favorites from Charlotte Tilbury that I guess I have to look into replacing. I love the lip cheat in iconic nude and eye cheat for my waterline if my eyes are a little red.
4. Every Day Lipsticks
I recently discovered Kosas. I'm always on the hunt for a nude lipstick I can wear every day. I decided to try this full-size lip set currently on sale at Kosas for $58. It was worth it to me, because I can't get into the shops to try the colors on in person both because of the quarantine and because I have two kids-- my natural state is that of a homebody. Anyway, I love all the colors, luckily! The set comes in cool pink "Rosewater" (very lovely and natural), a medium sheer, peachy "Stardust", and my favorite on my fair winter skin is "Undone"-- a full coverage, high-impact neutral. Wearing the latter, means I could also skip both the lip liner step and even concealer. Something about the toasted pink color gives your skin a brighter glow! Formulated by an organic chemist, Kosas lipsticks are cruelty-free and certified clean at Sephora. Click on the picture for a link to shop the set on the Kosas website.
5. A Little More Color
For several years now, I've been using this Meet Matt Hughes lip stain over my lip pencil. It's a little drying, so while I still love it, I'm happy to have an alternative. Ethical Elephant gives the company a top ethical grade as well. I've also used their Frat Boy blush for years. I've recently discovered this bronzer. It's INCREDIBLE for pale winter skin. I have another bronzer I like as well, but I like this one for an every day look as it has no shimmer. The Balm products are available on Amazon. For an every day color, I prefer Meet Matt Hughes in "Charismatic" but it comes in a variety of reds and pinks. I also even prefer The Balm's Frat Boy to Nars' iconic orgasm blush, again because it has no shimmer, making it perfect for the bright, natural light of every day.
6. Last But Not Least: Pay attention to the eyes
Along with my purchase of Glossier's Future Dew, I also tried out skywash (see step 1), a new liquid eye shadow, in the prettiest, pale burnt sienna shade of "palm". The color is gorgeous against pale skin, but I was really disappointed that I had to apply so many layers to make the color pop and there really isn't that much product in the tube. Definitely not worth the $18 pricetag. I'd skip this. In the meantime, I guess I'll keep using my bronzer and then mixing it against my eyelids with this superdew balm by Tower 28. It's also $18, but as you can see from my bronze-y fingerprints (sorry about that), I've been using it a lot and it's still full! It's an essential overall product, too. It perfectly blends your makeup and is so natural-looking! I use it on my eyelids and anywhere else I want a little highlight like the tip of my nose or my cupid's bow.
Once everything is powdered and eye shadows or the lack thereof are decided on, I finish up with a coat of mascara. I love Thrive Causemetics eyelash extensions, but you have to apply with a light, careful hand or it can look spider-leggy. Kat Von D makes a great, vegan liquid eyeliner as does Eyeko, a Japanese vegan, cruelty-free brand that does not currently sell in China. I usually then finish up with Glossier's boy brow in clear or brown. Charlotte Tilbury makes a great one as well. If I have a couple extra minutes, I'll also fill in some of the missing parts of my eyebrow with an eyebrow powder by Anastasia Beverly Hills, a mostly vegan brand, whose foundation I also like but find wayyyy too heavy for daytime.
That's it! That might seem a lot to some of you who don't wear makeup, but it's been my routine for so many years, I can honestly slap it on in five minutes flat, although I like to take my time with the initial prep. Which reminds me... I forgot to mention one of my favorite green beauty discoveries ever! I always, always begin and end with Jurlique's rose spray. (Actually, this particular bottle was gifted but I already owned it in the plainer, original scent. Both are great.) I LOVE the smell of roses, and if nothing else, I hope this quarantine has taught us all the importance of stopping to smell those lovely flowers still saucily embracing spring even as we humans are being forced to shrink from it. So stop and smell the roses, even if they're only in a bottle. The cool feeling of the spray and the sweet scent always lift my mood in addition to setting my makeup and helping it to look all-around more natural.
What are some of the green beauty products you can't live without? Please share below!
Starting off with this rec, because, besides the fact that A Room with a View has the most apt (and aspirational) title for these crazy times, it's also a nice vacation from said craziness. Forster's short, sweet classic tale of manners is not just about the importance of a good view, although it does make a darn good argument for acquiring one. It's also set in the springtime. In Italy. Swoon. And it's a love story. And one that also questions the meaning of existence.
It's pure, romantic love amid the violets in beautiful Florence with some talk of books and music and the kind of old-fashioned problems that seem ever so quaint now. It's not just a new way of looking at your view-- the only view that matters is the one over your head-- how that must give us all a pang now-- it's also a time capsule trip to Italy, which might be the only kind we can take for a while, but even so...
“...the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy.”
― Edward Morgan Forster, A Room with a View
I hope that book might make someone else who needs it right now equally as happy as it makes me whenever I reread it.
Here are four other great reads, some comforting and some germane, to help you wile away this (hopefully short) era of social distancing:
1. I don't know how we ended up with a large print version of A Gentleman In Moscow, but it's an incredible enough read that we forgot all about the oversized font and became quickly immersed in the story. (Not the royal We. This is a book that Ryan, my husband, and I equally loved. If you're also quarantined with a partner, this would make for a great co-read! Or a great pick for a virtual book club.) It starts off a little slow, but keep with it and you'll be rewarded with an incredible story and characters you fall madly in love with. Not to mention can strongly relate to: in 1922, following the Russian Revolution, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest, or more or less QUARANTINED to a room, in a grand hotel. For life. And yet, that's just the beginning of the adventure. A glittering cast of characters awaits you. As does intrigue. Wit. Wisdom. Love. Life and death. It's brilliant. And again, oh so relatable for these strange times we ourselves are living through.
2. Keeping with that theme of dealing with forced confinement, Bel Canto is another unputdownable tale of people kept in a room against their will. Or, well not a room, but a house in this case. A large house, but still. (FYI it's also another story that Ryan loved as much as I did.) Roxane Coss, a revered soprano, has traveled to a South American country to give a private opera performance, when she and the audience are taken hostage mid-aria. Again, that's just the beginning of an epic adventure. And again, one that's set largely indoors.
3. Since I seem to be working around themes here, I thought I'd throw in a more hopeful, happier book of redemption following a gloomy spring and another story set in Italy's glorious gardens. I personally have only had the chance to spend one all-too-short but magical week in Italy. However, I had enough time before the trip to learn Italian well-enough to have conversations and enjoyed one of the best weeks of my life in and around Florence. The news out of Italy has been breaking my heart, and I really hope to go back there soon one day. I'll be posting a new foreign language section to my blog, so if you're also dreaming of traveling somewhere after this quarantine is over, consider taking this time to learn the language, too! I'm homeschooling my two children, who are in a bilingual school, so it's been interesting to test my language learning theories on them. Anyway, the movie Enchanted April is also utterly fantastic and life-affirming, but this tale, a sun-washed fairy tale is one of those glorious, delicious experiences of love and life and manners that only the British can deliver. It's like tea time for the soul. We could all use a little of that!
4. That's enough sunlight for now, I think. The Broken Earth Trilogy is about as far from sunlight as a fantasy series can get. In fact, in this fantasy series set in the distant future, a mage of some kind (I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm going to leave this description deliberately vague) has blown up the Earth in such a way that clouds swirl so thick and high that nothing can or will grow for maybe a generation or more... How will mankind survive? It might sound like a basic disaster story premise, but N.K. Jemisin's Hugo and Nebula-award winning series is ANYTHING but basic. I'm not massively into fantasy, but even I loved this mind-blowingly original series. I think you will, too! It's also a vacation from our current affairs, but in this case, it might make our own problems seem smaller in comparison.
“Am well. Thinking of you always. Love”
― Albert Camus, The Plague
Last but not least, I'm listening to La Peste, or The Plague, by Albert Camus on Audible. This is definitely also not in the comforting, sunlight category: it's about the effects of a pandemic, in this case the Bubonic plague, ravaging the people of a North African town. It's a brilliant book, yes, but also pretty damn relevant. FYI if you ever pick the slower shipping option at checkout, Amazon rewards you with credits you can use to purchase whatever audiobooks you'd like. I'm not being morbid, either. Well, not completely. A really great way to either pick up or keep up with a foreign language is to read it and listen to it. More on that soon! I'll be restarting the foreign language section of my blog as I mentioned above, so keep your eye out for that, if you're also dreaming of traveling somewhere after the pandemic.
Where are you dreaming of going when this quarantine is lifted? What are you reading currently? Are you doing any virtual book clubs? Or zoom meetups to talk about books? Let's chat!