I had heard it all before. “Blend blend blend”, “the importance of eyebrows”, “exfoliate” et cetera. Messages like these had blared out incessantly over the years from well-meaning beauty experts and frankly, I never took much notice.
I had always written off these kinds of tips as being over-played mantras that go hand-in-hand with the trite beauty secrets celebrities sometimes let you in on. You know, when they proclaim their beauty boils down to “getting lots of sleep”, “drinking heaps of water” and “being happy”. Oh please.
To cut a long story short, and because I was in such a beauty rut, I recently began to integrate some of these so-called beauty and makeup “rules” into my routine, and suffice to say, I’m eating my hat!
These are perhaps not “epiphanies” for anyone else, but for me they really have been. If you’re a skeptic or just want to laugh at my learnings, read on…
Main Epiphany – I wasn’t doing it enough.
Cleansing, exfoliating, buffing, highlighting, eyebrows – everything was rushed and under-done. No wonder I was bemoaning the bumpy patches, hating my foundations and feeling flat and featureless.
1. Cleansing: I had always patted myself on the back for being a double-cleanser (one wash to remove makeup, the next to clean.) The problem was, I was rushing madly through both steps and I may as well have not been bothering.
Hearing everyone rave about the Clarisonic (which I have not yet tried) I realised that to really clean my face properly I needed to spend time actually doing that. (OMG – groundbreaking!) I ditched the brief 2-second wash of old, and began spending a lot longer gently going over and over my skin in a two-step cleansing routine (wayyyy past the point I’d usually stop.) The difference has been massive.
Time invested: 2 minutes.
2. Exfoliating: When life got busy, exfoliating my face (forget body) on top of everything else was something I hardly ever got around to. Annoying little bumps and blocked pores that must have been sitting there for years proliferated. No amount of squeezing or prodding (yes another bad habit) ever got rid of them.
What happened: I cast my mind back to my skin’s glory days (ie 15 years ago) and I recalled that even when I didn’t wear makeup I would exfoliate DAILY. I used a basic Johnson & Johnson exfoliator and ne’er a pimple or bump did I see. I had great skin. What happened (apart from AGE) is I stopped this crucial step.
SO – I am exfoliating a lot more regularly, and again, for a lot longer – though very gently. I go over and over my face (ie for a minute or more), and my skin looks and feels so much better. (Personal newsflash: getting rid of so much accumulated dead skin has been crucial for products such as the Dermalogica Powerbright TRx I wrote about here, and moisturisers to seep in and do what they are supposed to!)
Time invested: 1 minute
3. Foundation: It literally wasn’t until I received the Edward Bess foundation to trial (which included a quality foundation brush) that I E-V-E-R used anything other than my fingers to apply foundation. I know – utter madness. The countless youtube tutorials and beauty “how-to’s” all harping on about the importance of blending with a brush had made no impact at all.
In blissful ignorance I went on smearing and patting my foundations into my dry and bumpy (non-exfoliated skin) only ending up with feelings of sheer dismay at the crappy outcome.
What happened: I started using a foundation brush and a cheap blending sponge, and began to buff, buff, buff, and blend, blend, blend…. The results almost make my eyes water! Foundations I thought were complete rubbish I now LOVE. My foundation looks much more like it’s a part of my skin and the feeling is smooth and even.
Time invested: 2 minutes
4. Eyebrows: Ok, this is a big one! Thanks to Cara the whole world is obsessed with eyebrows, and having been born with naturally quite thick ones I thought I had this sorted. WRONG!
In an attempt to “open up my face and look more lifted and awake” I used to pluck the outer eyebrow way shorter than where it naturally grew, to the point where it hardly even angled downward. From the front I did look kind of “open” but from the side my brows looked strangely stunted…. cringe!
What happened: With the whole Cara thing in full swing, I decided to see what fuller brows would look like on me. I began using some taupy/brown eye-pencils to softly fill the gaps between the hairs at the bottom half of the thick part of the brow to create a fuller, heavier brow, with a more defined baseline.
I also began softly EXTENDING the length of my brow (the tapered part) down considerably past where I had been plucking it off. Not a strong line, more of a shadow. The result of this is (in my opinion) the illusion of better face structure, and a more elegant yet strong look. My boyfriend commented that my face looked “like it had a lot more structure” and as you may have read earlier, he’s not huge into noticing.
Time invested: 2 minutes
5. Highlighter: I had numerous highlighters in the makeup box, always saved for the most special of occasions, always too much trouble to apply..
What happened: Like most people, I’m attracted to the look of killer bone structure (and sadly, this is not something I am naturally blessed with.) When blogger Sara Donaldson (aka amazing cheekbone goddess) posted a beauty story about how (and to what extent) she enhanced her cheekbones with illuminators I quickly realised it was time to step my highlighting game.
I now apply a generous amount of highlighter right along the tops of my cheekbones (making sure to blend it in) and I’m SO HAPPY with the difference! An added benefit, is I use much less bronzer. The overall look is less muddy / more light and lifted.
Time invested: 1 minute
6. Concealer above the upper lip: I’ve always wanted fuller lips, you can read my previous story on this very topic right here.
In no more than 5 seconds, I swipe my under eye concealer stick roughly along the top of my upper lip and blend it in with the blending sponge. Voila – top lip looks 3D. (works for bottom lip also or you can use a taupe pencil!)
Time invested: 5 seconds
7. Lip-coloured lipstick: I love the barely there, slick-of-gloss look and for my whole life this has been my daily lip effort.
What happened: I received some samples from Maybelline, which included their brand new chubby lip-pencil stick. I decided to try one that was as close to my natural lip colour as possible (slightly darker) Result: I LOVE IT!
Swapping the plain gloss for a lipstick that is a hint darker than my own lips brings definition to the lip and balances the slightly heavier brow. It is especially good teamed with the 5 second concealer tip above!
Time invested: 0 seconds.
SO – there you have it! I know this was a looong post but honestly, these super-basic tweaks have worked wonders for me. Let me know in the comments below if you have had any beauty epiphanies of your own! I would love to hear them!