Week Forty-two: Simple Pretty Makeup

My makeup philosophy is to look like I’m not wearing makeup. You know the look: epitomized to great effect by many a J.Crew model over the years. (For those of you across the pond, Margaret Howell also has it down cold.) The unfortunate reality is that the older you get, makeup that looks effortless and fresh requires strategy, compromise, and effort. Through trial and error (and there was a lot of error), I’ve managed to find a routine that works for me:



The biggest obstacle in my makeup routine is that I hate wearing foundation. Not only is it difficult to find a good color match, applying foundation is also the quickest way to make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. The formulas that offer coverage feel heavy and fake, and those that don’t, well, what’s the point? That said, I still want to cover imperfections and even out my skin tone. My compromise is to dab a concealer on any glaring areas (Clé de Peau’s concealer stick is pricey but lasts a long time as I don’t use much), and then follow up with one of the two powders I keep in my makeup drawer.

  1. Chantecaille’s HD Perfecting Powder  love that it’s one-shade-fits-all, and it seems to give sheer coverage while blurring imperfections.
  2. Laura Mercier Smooth Focus Pressed Setting Powder “Matte Translucent”  this pressed powder is a light green, which cancels any bit of ruddiness I have going on. Especially helpful in the summer. (The green is imperceptible once applied.)


My ideal blush is any color that gives you a rosy, healthy glow. I prefer colors that are subdued and allow for a light touch, or layering for a bit more depth.

  1. Sunday Riley “Blushing” (101)  a straight-up pink blush.
  2. Chanel “Orchid Rose” (15) (discontinued) I had to try this when Lauren Santo Domingo described it as a “non-color” at Into The Gloss. She was right: it’s super-subtle yet I look better when I’m wearing it.
  3. Chantecaille “Fun”  an understated apricot color (best for paler skin tones) that is my fall 2012 go-to blush.
  4. Stila “Hint”  the makeup police would probably come and confiscate this blush if they knew how old it was. (I think it’s been discontinued.) Looks super pale in the pan but shows soft pinky-nude on the cheeks.
  5. Chantecaille “Wind” probably my favorite of the set (see a swatch here), as it’s a no-brainer blush: it goes with everything + is incredibly natural. Nearly impossible to overapply (a plus) and it perks up my face.


I have only recently started to wear eye makeup, as I’ve determined that a bit of eyeliner (on the top lid only) goes a long way toward giving me that “polished” look.  Chantecaille’s precision eye pencil in “ink” (a dark blue that looks more slate gray) is perfect: it goes on easily and doesn’t smear. Drawing a thin line on my top lid right at/into my lash line really defines my eyes, but you probably wouldn’t be able to tell I was wearing it. (As for mascara, like foundation, it makes me crazy and I only wear it on special occasions.)


All caution regarding color is thrown out when we’re talking lipstick. I think a bright lip can carry a bare face with panache. I’m forever adding new pinky-corally-red lipsticks to my arsenal. I’ll try any sheer, moisturizing product that has a decent amount of staying power and gives my lips a shock of color. My current rotation, mostly similar in hue, consists of:

  1. Laura Mercier Gel Lip Color “Rosette” (discontinued) rosy goodness + lovely, moisturizing formulation.
  2. Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Lipstick “RD03/Pink Red” was skeptical that this had enough pigment, but was pleasantly surprised at the natural pop of color it gave me.
  3. Poppy King for J.Crew (discontinued) the most orangey of the bunch, the most matte of the bunch, and perhaps the most sophisticated as well. A slightly muted “red” lip. (If you’re new to colorful lipstick, Poppy’s Lipstick Queen line is worth checking out.  Great formulas and range of colors. I think Poppy is genius.)
  4. Nars “Manhunt” I reach for this whenever I need staying power as this formula is sheer, but  seems to leave a slight stain of color even after it wears off. Looks orangey-red in the tube but on my lips reads almost watermelony pink.
  5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment “Coral” the best invention ever: a lip balm/color combination that is moisturizing, smells terrific, and comes in a range of colors. Go try them on + find the color that gives you the best “your lips but better” look. Love love love. A cold weather must.

image credits: top photo of anouck lepère from a 2007  j.crew catalog, via jcrewing.tumblr.com/other photos by jane potrykus


  1. rori
    October 21, 2012 / Permalink

    I know you said you hated foundation, but have you tried Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer SPF 20 ? It’s really amazing, and feels barely there but helps even everything out (for me!) If you order from sephora and you don’t like it, they are great with returns! ; )

  2. October 31, 2012 / Permalink

    I love a great make-up post! Lol I was going to mention the same thing as Rori! I feel the same way and it’s so light, I wear it with Cargo’s Undercover Concealer and every time without fail I get complimented on my complexion! I also prefer the gel/cream blush from Tarte, it’s very sheer, but gives you that perfect rosy glow and lasts forever, a celeb make-up artist turned me on to them, they give you that dewy look like you just washed your face and look that pretty naturally. One last thing and I will stop talking your eyeballs off, have you heard of ‘tight lining?’ it’s a new technique for pencils and you can see it on You Tube if you are inclined, it is SO natural and your lashes look thicker and your eyes just bright. Okay, I am going now…

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