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I have been a beauty enthusiast for as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid, my mom’s makeup drawer was the most interesting thing in the world to me, and every time she left me alone, I would put on a full face of her brightly colored ’80s eye shadow and lipstick before quickly washing it off when I heard her car in the driveway. In eighth and ninth grade, I was desperate to wear foundation, but had neither application nor color-matching skills, and would paint on a full face of too-pale product, thinking I looked great. The finishing touch? Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, which spoke to my 1460 Doc Marten–wearing, grunge-listening heart.
In college, I used to do my roommates’ makeup, brushing their lids with various shades of neutral Stila shadows, always finishing with Kitten in the inner corners. When I got my first real job at Elle, I used to lurk around Beauty Director Emily Dougherty’s office in the hopes that she’d have to go to the beauty closet and would let me come with her. (It worked!)
In the years since, I’ve had the great honor of interviewing some of the best makeup artists in the world and the incredible privilege of having my makeup done by truly talented humans, all of whom have generously shared their skills and knowledge with me. What follows is a collection of tried-and-true products that are easy enough for a civilian (me!) to use but also vetted by wildly skilled professionals. Hope you enjoy!
My dream is to never wear any face makeup at all, but I’m not quite that confident or lucky. Lately, I’ve been using two products: Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 in Bom Bom ST5 and Monika Blunder Beauty’s Blunder Cover in 3 Drei where I need a little more coverage. Also want to disclose something that I learned the hard way: The Ilia tint definitely has a powdery scent when you first put it on, but I promise you it fades almost immediately, so don’t be alarmed as I was the first time I tried it.
I also keep Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation in 4.5 on hand for any time I have to be on camera or extra groomed. It’s the go-to product most makeup artists use, and for good reason. The stuff’s a dream and lasts forever, so totally worth the price per wear.
If you only trust me enough to take one product recommendation, 100% that product should be Merit’s Day Glow Highlighting Balm in Cava. I have tried every single highlighter on the planet, and there is nothing better than this one. It’s the perfect color (it’s available in a richer shade, too), melts into your skin, and makes you look like you travel with your own lighting setup.
I’m also deeply committed to Merit’s Flush Balm Cream Blush in Cheeky, which I didn’t expect when I first tried it. It looks much deeper than the colors I normally use, but it glides on like a dream and blends into the most stunning, natural color. It’s also excellent on the lips!
You can use your fingers to blend, but I like to use MAC Cosmetics’ 187 Face Brush, which I learned about from a celebrity makeup artist at a shoot 12 years ago and still adore.
On a day-to-day basis, I just wear mascara. As you probably know, I’m very loyal to Dior’s DiorShow Iconic Overcurl Mascara in Black; you literally cannot go wrong with it. If I need to take it up one notch, I use a tiny amount of cream bronzer right in the crease of my eyes for a little definition. Currently into Westman Atelier’s Face Trace Cream Contour Stick in Biscuit and MAC’s Tapered Blending Brush for that. If I’m really going for it, I also add Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ’n‘ Kohl Eyeliner Pencil in Bedroom Black along my top waterline. CT’s pencils are the best; they last and are easy to apply, and the colors are all excellent.
The most important thing I do for my brows is to have Kristie Streicher tint them. That treatment alone has elevated them more than anything else, and when I’m having my brows attended to regularly, I don’t do much else. When they’ve been neglected and need a little something extra, I like Kosas’s Air Brow Tinted Clean Volumizing Eyebrow Gel in Medium Brown. Kristie told me about it, and I think the formula is really excellent. I also adore Merit’s Brow 1980 Volumizing Eyebrow Pomade Gel in Brown and Tom Ford’s Brow Sculptor in Taupe, which is hideously expensive but unbeatable in terms of color and also lasts an eternity.
I own exactly one lip pencil shade, and that is Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk. It works with every lip color and is also excellent on its own. If I have a Zoom, I wear it with Lawless Beauty’s Forget the Filler Lip Plumper Line Smoothing Lip Gloss, Dr. Lara Devgan Scientific Beauty’s Platinum Lip Plump, or Honest Beauty’s Tinted Lip Balm in Blood Orange, which is quite subtle but still gives you some nice shine and a little color boost. Every once in a while, I will wear a red lipstick, and that’s always Charlotte Tilbury’s Hot Lips Lipstick in Tell Laura, which I think is the perfect, widely flattering, warm orange-red color.
You ask questions and I answer, kind of like a non-disappearing AMA!
You talk about shopping all the time on social, but what do you actually buy?
This is a funny question, and I feel both seen and called out? But yeah, I don’t buy everything I post, and I don’t post everything I buy. That said, I recently purchased a Who What Wear Collection jacket, specifically the Bri Double Breasted Blazer in Olive, in a medium. I like that it’s slightly slouchy and oversized but not so giant that you look silly. The color looks amazing with a red-orange accessory; I wear mine with a JW Anderson mini Pierce Bag in a bright tomato red that I bought a few years ago, but anything that has vibes like this Off-White bag would be nice.
I also just bought our Billy Faux-Shearling Jacket in Seafoam in a medium because it looks and feels wildly expensive, and I'm trying to break my habit of buying black outerwear over and over again.
Keeping in that green theme, I’m also deeply enamored with this Dôen Kaira Smocked Dress, which is deeply perfect. I have a medium, but I think it runs a little big, and in a perfect world, I would have sized down. I wear it on the weekend with a vintage pair of tan suede Lucchese cowboy boots, kinda like these, and happiness is mine.