Clear the Clutter
● By Melissa Gulden
Pare down your beauty products with these helpful tips
In preparation for a new and exciting journey, which thus requires the packing and paring down of my belongings, it has hit me that I have way too many beauty products (if such a phrase can truly be uttered). Granted, I was a makeup artist for years and still have a plethora of gratis to show for it; however, no one’s cabinet hinges should be straining, makeup bag overflowing! It’s time for a reduction strategy to help you (and me) pare down to the essentials.
• Moisturizer with retinol. Apply this anti-aging ingredient before bedtime to reduce fine lines and even out discoloration.
• Concealer. The right formula will hide under-eye circles as well as blemishes and dark spots. Try a stick formula—creamy enough for under eyes, yet dry enough to keep a pimple under wraps all day. (CoverGirl Smoothers, $6.50)
• Lip balm. Your lips require a waxy balm to stay hydrated because they have a dry keratin layer on their surface. A balm that contains shea butter seals in moisture most effectively. (Burt’s Bees Medicated Lip Balm, $4)
• Mascara. Two coats leave your eyes looking larger, your face more “finished.” A volumizing formula is your best bet, as it makes lashes appear longer, darker and thicker. (Lancôme Hypnôse Drama, $25)
• Moisturizer with sunscreen. Use it every single day, rain or shine. For extra protection against free radicals, look for one that also has antioxidants (like vitamins C and E). (Aveeno Positively Ageless + Antioxidants SPF 42, $20, or Clinique Superdefense SPF 25, $43)
• Body moisturizer. A good, full-service choice should contain glycerin. Apply when skin is still damp from the shower. (Eucerin Daily Skin Balance Skin-Fortifying Body Lotion, $10)
• Lipcolor. You really need only two options (sounds crazy, I know): a neutral pink gloss for day, a deeper red to dress you up for night. Remember, we’re paring down…
• Blush. Rosy cheeks suggest robust health, and a cream blush is an easy way to get the look. It has a natural sheen and won’t settle into fine lines. (Revlon Cream Blush, $10)
• Eyelash curler. Turning up lashes makes them look longer, and also lets more light into the eyes so your irises have more sparkle. (Hands-down the best curler is Shu Uemura, $19, shuuemura-usa.com.)
If that seems too extreme a paring-down, here are some add-ons to give you more oomph.
• Exfoliator. If you’re dealing with dry patches or clogged pores, you might need an exfoliator to help slough away dead skin cells. On your face, use a gentle scrub that contains smooth microbeads. On your body, try a sugar or salt formula. Always use prior to any self-tanning, as dry patches will lead to uneven color. And if you get frequent waxing, exfoliate to lessen the chance of ingrown hairs.
• Tinted moisturizer or foundation. Concealer goes a long way toward evening out your complexion, but for a flawless finish, you’ll want a tinted moisturizer (for sheer coverage) or a foundation (if you need a bit more coverage). The right color disappears into your skin with one swipe, even before blending. Choose a formula suited to your skin type: oily, dry, etc.
• Self-tanner. I am a huge fan of self-tanner—it’s come a long way since the ‘90s. Try a lotion, spray, mousse or foam to give you a subtle glow. You’ll avoid the Oompa Loompa effect as long as you stay within two shades of your natural skin tone. (Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer, $9)
• Eye cream. Look for a formula that addresses your primary concern. i.e. puffiness, fine lines, dark circles. Caffeine is best for puffy eyes (try Clinique All About Eyes Serum, $28); niacinamide and retinol smooth fine lines, and sunscreen is the best protector against dark pigmentation.
• Eyeliner. Mascara and curled lashes may make you bright-eyed, but eyeliner emphasizes your eyes. Pencils are the most foolproof, and dark brown is universally flattering; however, play with different textures, formulas and colors to find your perfect liner. (MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy, $14)
• Bronzer. A little glow adds warmth to your skin and creates a flattering contrast with your eyes. Use a powder brush and apply it to the temples, cheekbones and chin (anywhere the sun would naturally hit). (Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Pressed Bronzer, $15)
• Teeth whitening strips. Now, this may seem frivolous, but whiter teeth can take years off, and brighten your whole face as well. Drugstore whiteners are basically just as effective as professional treatments for a fraction of the price, but you have to use them religiously for a couple of weeks. Follow up with whitening toothpaste and mouthwash. Just remember—whitening can cause your teeth to be more sensitive. (Rembrandt Whitening Strips, $24)
Even if you keep a few more things than this list suggests, hopefully you will see that it takes very little to give you that pulled-together look. So clean out those makeup bags and de-clutter your life—or at least, your bathroom!