This is what I look like right out of the shower, with a towel on my head:

Screen shot 2012-03-18 at 11.51.10 AM

And this is what I look like (at least the weird-lighting iPhone photo version) after I’ve spent about 45 minutes primping, fussing, blow-drying, and spackling:


If you’re thinking there isn’t a THEATRICALLY DRAMATIC improvement between the first photo and the second, I’m right there with you. Why, I remember a time when I’d put on a little makeup—uphill both ways, in the snow—and it would be like, damn, girl, you sure clean up nice.

Now it takes a ridiculous amount of effort just to appear as though I’m not wearing much makeup at all. Forget smokey eyes and defined cheekbones and dramatic contouring and all that, for me it’s pretty much all about trying to look awake and somewhat refreshed. My entire makeup strategy is this: REDUCE THE HAGGARD.

Since I really, really love it when other people talk about what beauty products they enjoy, I’m going to tell you about some of my favorites for Operation RTH. (This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, but I have included some Amazon affiliate links which you can always delete.) If chatting about makeup isn’t your thing, may I recommend this super-awesome video of a 4th grader’s first ski jump, which doesn’t at ALL seem like the kind of thing that could make you cry, but it totally will.

Okay! Here’s what I use on a regular basis, in the order I apply it:


Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Treatment. This is a very unromantic-sounding moisturizer, but I absolutely love it. I feel like it helps my skin stay clearer and less dull (although this sort of thing is also highly affected by what I eat), and it absorbs quickly with no gloppy films or scents.

Missha M Perfect Cover B.B. Cream. I recently switched to this cream foundation after I started noticing that the Bare Minerals powder I’d been wearing for years was starting to … settle into my various face-creases. This is a Japanese product I’d never heard of and I bought it solely based on its positive customer reviews, and I’m very glad I found it—for me, it does a great job of providing even coverage while still remaining sheer and breathable. I’ve been wearing the Light Beige color, which is pretty light, I’d try a darker shade for the summer (I think “Natural Beige” is about as dark as this line goes, though).

It does leave my face a little shiny as the day wears on, whether that’s because it’s a cream or because of the SPF 42 factor. But it doesn’t look oily like other liquid foundations sometimes do, so I don’t really mind.

Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer. There’s no product on earth that can eliminate the major dark eye-circles I’ve been blessed with, but this concealer makes a pretty big difference. It last forever, too—I think I bought this tube like 2 years ago.

Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder. After I put on the foundation/concealer, I dust this all over to set mah shit.

Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder. I use this powder to fill in my brows (with a narrow brush), and I also sweep it over my cheeks and just under my brow bone. Another long-lasting item, because I’ve had this little box forever.

BareMinerals Multi-Tasking Powder in Summer Bisque. I sweep some of this on as a sort of eyeshadow, from lid to brow. It doesn’t have a color, exactly, it just creates a smooth, finished look that also hides the fact that I don’t have perfectly groomed eyebrows.

Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil in Stormy Grey. This is about the only eye pencil I’ve found that goes on smoothly to create a subtle amount of line. I use a small amount on my top lid only, which gives a little boost of definition.

Benefit High Brow. Speaking of boosts, this product is insanely awesome and it’s hard to describe why. It’s basically a very light creamy pencil that creates a highlighted effect—I draw it under my brow line, then blend. It’s like, poof, instantly refreshed.

-2 16-51-00
NARS powder blush in Orgasm. There’s a reason this blush is a cult favorite, it’s super easy to blend and the subtle golden/pink-ish color seems universally flattering. Plus: orgasm. Heh.

Blinc Mascara. I don’t use mascara every day, but on the days when I do, this is the best I’ve ever tried. It goes on like a dream, without creating gloopy lashes that stick together, and it lasts—with no smearing—until you wash it off. For extra va-va-va-voom effect, aim a blowdryer at your lash curler for about ten seconds before curling your lashes (thanks for the tip, Sarah Lena!), then apply your mascara.

Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm. Last but not least, the best lip balm in the whole world, bar none. Not sticky or overly shiny, super-natural soft color. Love this stuff.

WHEW. Yeah, it takes a fair amount of work to REDUCE the haggard, but since the alternative is EMBRACING the haggard, so be it.

Tell me, what are your all-time favorite beautification products? What do you use on a regular basis?


77 Responses to “11 beauty products that don’t suck”

  1. Sarah on March 20th, 2012 10:04 am

    You look lovely in the before and the after, and I have a small obsession with trying beauty products so I loved this post! I am definitely going to try High Brow. For eyes, my personal favorites are from Urban Decay — the Naked Palette 2 ( is an amazing set of eye shadows & you can mix and match to your heart’s content, and their 24/7 eyeliners are bright, last all day and don’t smudge at all ( — I like Stash for every day. I have fair skin, and I love Tarte’s bronzer in Park Avenue Princess ( as my go-to item for waking up my complexion. Gives me a little glow without looking weirdly orange. Thanks for the fun post!

  2. Marolyn on March 20th, 2012 10:43 am

    My sister just recently turned me onto wonderful products I use the 2% BHA exfoliant liquid and the calming moisturizing lotion. You can buy samples to see what works best with your skin. Lots and Lots of articles and info on her website too. Worth a look for sure… and did I mention the price? Go now.

  3. JMH on March 21st, 2012 4:50 am

    I bought the BBl cream based on your review and I LOVE IT!! I also used to use Bare Minerals and I was afraid to switch, but I am so glad that I did. The BB cream makes my (almost) 41 year old skin look amazing. I will need a darker shade for the summer (I have 21 now) but other than that, it is GREAT

  4. Cindy on March 21st, 2012 9:59 am

    Love the idea of heating up the lash curler with the hairdryer. Burned the shit out of my eyelid yesterday because I’m stupid, but figured it out today- much improved!

  5. Artemisia on March 21st, 2012 12:43 pm

    I love this! I am always looking for a good lip balm/tint.

    I use TwinLab Na-PCA Aloe Vera spray first thing after I shower. It totally hydrates and plumps up my skin.

    Then, if I am being good, I use Keys Solar Rx SPF 30 sunscreen. It is so nice. It doesn’t feel weird, it smells good, it is non-toxic. It is awesome. If I am feeling lazy, I just rub in a drop of grapeseed oil on my face and call it good.

  6. Artemisia on March 21st, 2012 12:44 pm

    Oh! I swear by Two Faced Eye Insurance shadow primer. Amazing stuff. It even makes drugstore eyeshadow pop.

  7. Josefina on March 21st, 2012 7:46 pm

    Ha. I had the exact same interaction with the person at the Nordstrom Kiehl’s counter that Jill did: “Just…fix this.” The products I used did help a lot, but I noticed my skin was a little congested after a year or so of using their most basic products and decided to try Mario Badescu. The stuff was relatively inexpensive, which made it seem easy and fun. I got the Glycolic Acid Toner and Herbal Hydrating Serum and so far I’m really happy. Still using my Kiehl’s cleanser.

    I really need to get another Orgasm blusher. I miss mine. Also, I came to the conclusion that I’ve transitioned from makeup being optional to definitely needing to reduce the haggard. Perfect wording you had there.

    I’m having fun reading through what everyone else likes. I think I’ll try some of this stuff.

  8. Valarie on March 22nd, 2012 5:51 am

    Thank you for this! I just looked over at my husband, who is turning 40 in a couple of weeks (I am 41) and realized he is one of those assholes (who I love, but still an asshole) who is going to get better looking every year…and I have been beaten with the haggard stick daily for the past few years. I am buying every single thing on your list this week.

  9. Kate on March 22nd, 2012 12:15 pm

    THanks for the recs Linda!

    I ordered the Missha foundation…amazon had it cheap (relatively compared to the Lancome I was using). I think they must ship it from Korea cause it said 30 days for delivery. NOT FAST. Oh well, I will look forward to that surprise package in the mail in late April/early May.
    I have the high brow by Benefit and love that as well!
    As for under eye…a drugstore brand I started using lately that was recommend on the internet (duh)…was Garnier dark circle corrector and its AWESOME. Ive tried em all too.
    Here is the amazon link.

  10. Fidi on March 22nd, 2012 12:43 pm

    I have very dry skin, so I use this:

    Last summer I almost got into the habit of looking nicer (at least on the weekend) and putting on some makeup. Now I am back to being bare. I’ll use this post as a gentle kick in the behind to and get some of that lip balm – I din’t know that Neutrogena made that! After that I’ll scan the comments for an anti-wrinkle cream…

  11. Nancy on March 22nd, 2012 8:52 pm

    Hi! I dashed off to get your Missha BB cream when I saw it on the right side if your page–before the full review–and while I LOVE how it looks, I must tell you (and your audience) that I am in the thick of a horrible reaction to it! The mineral oil component has attacked my face and I am in some bad, bad shape as far as breakouts go…all over. Some whiteheads and some of those scary kinda painful just-under-the-surface. Wahhhh, I’m very sad :(

    BUT, I do love the mascara and no I’ll effects there whatsoever so carry on!!

  12. jae on March 23rd, 2012 4:48 pm

    Just want to chime in about Paula’s Choice products. I will indoctrinate anybody who’ll listen! Also, the Urban Decay primer and Naked 2 shadows. Love ’em!

  13. Maricris @ SittingAround on March 24th, 2012 6:58 pm

    I’m also using that Neutrogena Lip Balm. I seldom put on make recently. Just foundation and blush. I have both have Revlon.

  14. Kathy on March 26th, 2012 5:31 pm

    With the possible exception of the under eye circles I like your “before” face better. You’re gorgeous and I like the natural look. Your freckles are cuter than the way the foundation covers them up!

  15. anne on March 27th, 2012 2:35 pm

    (I have not read all of the comments, so I am likely repeating what has already been said)

    I think you should skip the makeup altogether. You are a beautiful woman without all of those products. If putting on makeup is something that makes you feel better and it soothes you somehow, then more power to you. However, it seems to me that you have better things to do. Leave it off for a few days, see what happens. :)

  16. tlh on March 28th, 2012 12:21 pm

    “set mah shit” love it.

  17. Sirena on March 31st, 2012 8:28 am

    You look great both ways :-) Very pretty! And, brave :-)
    I love clear mascara to set my eyebrows- don’t leave home without it! Covergirl’s natural clear mascara – no one knows it’s there :-)

    I can’t live without Clinique’s Black Honey lipstick (almost lipstick). Or at least, I don’t want to live without it! Or the black honey gloss they sell only at the clinique station at Sephora.

    I love MAC’s blot color since I don’t do foundation and just need a little shine control.

    I love Benefit’s fake lashes mascara, and Maybelline’s Define-a-lash.

    I love stila’s gold (super neutral and natural) eyeshadow and dark green one (used with a damp applicator) to create an eyeliner look (super natural).

    I just love makeup (the less you can tell it’s there, the better).

    I’d love it if someone would tell me how to truly depuff my eyes. None of this concealer or preparation H crap works, not really!

  18. Tricia on April 5th, 2012 5:17 am

    I haven’t ever done much in the way of skincare and make-up, but I’ve recently decided to TRY to spend a little more time on myself. I dont have kids yet and am recently married and I already feel like I walk around in dumpyville.

    Anyway, so step one was to find something that would keep my eyeshadow on for more than a half hour. I stopped wearing eyeshadow all together for a time because almost as soon as i put it on, it was gone again. and you could see the ugly veins on my lids again.

    SO! I found this stuff on amazon, and its $4 and its completely awesome. try it: NYX Eyeshadow Base Eye Shadow Primer

    What the reviews say are really true, it does make your eyeshadow seem brighter and keeps it on forever! I wear natural shades on my eyes, but the difference is amazing. I was just in Jamaica for my wedding and for the photo session both my husband and i were sweating buckets (multi-layered wedding dress in the Caribbean? im a dumb ass) but all the pictures look like i have makeup on and they didnt photoshop a thing! Win!

  19. Anais on April 7th, 2012 3:08 pm

    I use Too faced Shadow Insurance (eye shadow primer). Before I discovered this amazing product my eye shadow would literally melt off my eye lids due to sweat and florescent office lights and create an unsightly colorful crease along the center of my eyelid. This keeps my eye shadow perfect and popping the whole day. Thanks for your recommendations. I’d like to look into that Japanese product.

  20. M&Co. on April 13th, 2012 8:43 am

    I use the anti-wrinkle/anti-blemish cream. I alwasy thought there was something wrong about having to fight both problems at the same time.

  21. Take a Peek in My Cabinet | The Anvil Tree on May 5th, 2012 6:12 pm

    […] one of my favorite posts over the last little bit was when Linda walked us through her usual beauty routine and the stuff that she uses in the process. Shit was downright FASCINATING, y’all. Not even kidding; I wish she had done a video blog (I […]

  22. pigmentation on August 18th, 2013 4:20 am

    Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no back up.

    Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  23. outlet louis vuitton on November 26th, 2013 12:51 am

    9999 The minimal specifics, these as cloth bows or embroidery enable them to offer a certain measure of panache to your most everyday every outfit. We ended up like “ok, you can actually marry Harry!” Could very well she at some point be Prince Harry’sthen? “Nah! No!”.
    outlet louis vuitton

  24. window cleaner on September 24th, 2014 1:23 pm

    Hi there it’s me, I am also visiting this website on a regular basis, this website is in fact fastidious and the visitors are genuinely
    sharing pleasant thoughts.

  25. marcie on October 27th, 2014 5:05 pm

    I don’t care what anyone says…Clinique is horrible. It contains mineral oil, which acts as a barrier on your skin so you’re not actually getting any of the moisture from the product. Its important to LOOK at the ingreidents on the label and see if you understand any of them. If you like Clinique, but want to avoid the mineral oil – go for the Made from Earth Vitamin Firming Serum or the Made from Earth Vitamin C Moisturizer. . .better results than clinique and no harmful chemicals

  26. Bolsos Michael Kors on November 21st, 2014 5:18 am

    There is definately a lot to learn about this subject. I love
    all the points you have made.

  27. walking fitness on January 22nd, 2015 8:40 pm

    Hi I am so glad I found your website, I really
    found you by error, while I was looking on Google for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like
    to say kudos for a fantastic post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read
    it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also included your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the fantastic jo.

Leave a Reply