My “Holy Grail” Beauty & Skincare Products

  via Glossier
via Glossier

When I was a teenager (and well into college), it was a feat just to remember to wash my face before bed. My freshman year roommate took it one step further: in order to sleep in as late a possible — but still make it to class on time — she would apply a full face of makeup the night before and just lie perfectly still on her back for 8 hours. 

Now, I think we can all agree that my roommate was a genius. However, now that I’m in my mid-twenties and my skin doesn’t “spring back” quite as promptly, I’ve had to adjust accordingly. In the process of learning to fully remove my mascara every night, I’ve really come to love my morning and evening rituals. Nothing makes me feel more grown-up than a complicated yet luxurious skincare routine and makeup bag full of my “Holy Grail Products.”

Here’s are some of the things that make it so enjoyable, along with a personal anecdote that I hope you’ll take with you to your grave:

The Ordinary Skincare Line

If you’ve hung out with me in person at all in the past eight weeks, you’ll have already heard about this line of high-quality, low-cost miracle skincare products. You may have even been asked to stroke my baby-smooth face for further evidence of their effectiveness. The Ordinary is a brand that’s dedicated to promoting pricing and communication integrity in skincare (a.k.a. “Why Should a 1.7 Oz. Serum Cost $100+?”). The most expensive product I’ve purchased from The Ordinary was $9.80, yet their products have worked better than any of the super-expensive department store serums I’ve tried. 

My recommendations: Advanced Retinoid 2%, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, and Rose Hip Seed Oil. Insider tip: this line is also sold at ASOS, which might have faster shipping than ordering straight from the website.

  via NewBeauty
via NewBeauty


I know, I know. You’re probably already tired of the Instagram hype around this brand, and sick of being told that their brow gel will instantly transform you into a card-carrying “cool girl.” I was too. But then I visited their showroom and it’s ALL TRUE. Their products really do create that dewy, flushed look that I’ve been chasing for over a decade. Have I told you guys about the time that I used Benefit’s Benetint Lip & Cheek stain before a first date? Pro tip: If you wait too long to blend it in, it will just dry like that, and then you’ll have to go on the date with stripes across your cheeks and, when he asks about it, clumsily explain that it was part of your pre-game hype up routine. Anyway, back to Glossier: highly recommend.

My recommendations: Stretch Concealer, Boy Brow, Generation G (I loved the color “Zip”), and Cloud Paint. Insider tip: I had always considered ordering them online but I was nervous about choosing the right colors for my complexion. Feel free to comment if you want a totally non-expert consultation.

Cuyana Makeup + Toiletry Bags

I wish I could say I was the socially-conscious one in our relationship, but it’s definitely Thomas. He read one account of what it was like for the women who make our clothing overseas and hasn’t purchased an unethically-made product since. The search for more transparent companies led us to Cuyana, a brand that is committed to empowering local craftsmen from around the world. Their philosophy is “Fewer, Better”: buying less things, but at a higher-quality. Thomas gave me their Travel Case Set for my birthday and it is gorgeous: beautiful pebbled leather and gold hardware with a sophisticated silhouette. This little one fits all my makeup and I use the bigger one to tote around my skincare products when we travel. I know I will use these for decades to come. 

My recommendations: If you’re in the market for something like this, you can’t go wrong with this set! The price tag on this one might look a little high, especially since we’re all so used to $9.99 fast fashion “deals” — but remember that if you’re not paying for a product, someone else is. Insider tip: Support companies that care about their workers. Bookmark Cuyana for next time you’re looking for a special gift, but start doing a little digging into the supply chains of your favorite stores. Here’s a great resource to get you started.

I hope this gives you some ideas for fine-tuning your AM and PM rituals. Alternatively, you might have learned about a fun way to save time getting ready in the morning, thanks to Laura Leigh. Either way, I’d love to hear what you thought and what else I should add to my (already absurdly complicated) skincare routine.

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