5 in 5

5 in 5

I am a makeup junkie. Yup, I’ll admit it. I can’t go into Sephora without buying at least one thing, and “gift with purchase” is my favorite phrase after “Merry Christmas.” There’s no getting away from the fact that when it comes to makeup and beauty products, less is certainly not more. Of course, I have no beauty products in comparison to my makeup artist and stylist friends, but for someone who thrives on micro living, this is the one place where I am completely and totally irrational.

Until my eye surgery that is.

Ok, I should probably back up a little. This summer was the busiest summer I’ve ever had. I was running back and forth to events, appointments, taking friends and loved ones all over town to every touristy spot I could find… And feeling very smug because my guest room was so tidy and uncluttered. In the course of my errands, I thought something didn’t look quite right in my left eye. Was I just not cleaning off my mascara every night and getting specks of mascara floating around or was it more? Well, it turned out to be more. Trust your instincts…

Long story short, I ended up having emergency laser surgery on my eye. Ew.

That’s when I realized that all of my big talk about being organized and living micro falls apart when it comes to my beauty routine. My skincare routine alone involves cleanser, toner, treatment, moisture for eyes, moisture for skin, sunblock and lip balm. I am the least streamlined creature on the planet when it involves beauty products of any kind. I don’t have a ridiculous amount of them… and they’re all neatly organized in a caddy on my bathroom counter, but the sheer time it takes for me to “get my face on” in the morning is absurd.

The eye surgery put a hitch into everything. I was at a loss: I couldn’t wear eye makeup. Not for an entire week. It was horrendous. I ask for few things in life and one of the most important things is having a waterline rimmed kohl eye everyday. (If you don’t know what that means, you are my core audience for this post.) I had to change and quickly. What does one do when one can’t wear eye makeup? And when that person is suddenly the busiest person on the planet?


I now have a makeup routine that involves only 5 beauty products and it takes only 5 minutes. If I have the time, I will always opt for a smoky eye, but when time and space and money are of the essence, I’m going to keep it to 5.

For those of you who are not makeup junkies, this might be a welcome admission. You might see everyone else putting fifteen different Covergirl products in their basket at Wal-Mart and have no clue where to start with just one. Yes, you are normal. Not every girl throws caution and budget to the wind when it comes to getting pretty. There are a million “natural” beauties out there and some of them don’t even wear makeup (gasp!).

Here are some of my favorite things and techniques for achieving a 5 minute face with 5 products. There is extra credit included for those of you who would like to amp it up (just a little). I am not including brushes with the 5 products because I think of a blush and its brush as one and the same. Ok, I’m cheating a little… For most things, just like any advice I’ve ever given when it comes to simplifying your kitchen and cooking routines: your hands are your best tool! But there are certain beauty steps that just aren’t the same without their brushes. I also included 4 extra steps if you want to put your entire look together in the morning. This is kind of my uniform of beauty products…

1. Concealer

I used to be a foundation girl. I would (only) wear primer, foundation and translucent powder. Until I discovered that concealers don’t always come in cheap 7th grade variety and make you look like you have orange circles under your eyes. Concealers are a great cheat if you don’t want to do a full face. I’m loving Benefit’s Boi-Ing Concealer right now. It has a great light shade that just melts into my skin. If you can, ask a professional with help for color choice. I’ve never been very good at picking one out. I have a teeny tiny brush that came with it that I use just for dabbing it under my eyes, around my nostrils (gets a little red there), on any blemishes and on the bridge of my nose. Then I blend with my ring finger. I think the ring finger is one of your best tools for the eye area because you won’t exert too much pressure on the delicate skin there. After you apply concealer, your skin should just look glowy and flawless, not mask like or have weird colors everywhere. Blend, blend, blend.

Extra Credit: Concealer tints and primer

Benefit’s Confessions of a Concealaholic is a great little kit if you’re just starting to conceal. That Gal is a pretty light pink primer that smells like raspberries. It just gives a nice smooth look under everything. I squirt a little on my fingers and smooth it around like a moisturizer. There are three concealers in the kit, so I just found the one that looked the best with my skin. There are two colored creams there: one in yellow (Lemon Aid) and one in light purple (Eye Bright). There’s a lot of theories out there about contrasting colors tricking the eye into thinking it’s not seeing a giant blemish on your face, but I just know that yellow hides any discoloration on your eyelids (from veins and over plucking) and is great to use when you have an angry red blemish and the purple is great to put near the inner corners of your eyes to make them really pop. As with other concealing products, I think blending is key.

2. Translucent Powder
I have absolutely no clue how people live without Guerlain’s Meteorites. I know, I know, they’re totally from the 80s, but the 80s are back in a big way! It’s basically a translucent powder made up of little multicolored powder pearls that you swirl together and it makes your skin look perfect. My grandmother was a drugstore Cornsilk user (the most classic translucent powder out there) and it’s gorgeous, but can look a little cakey if not done well. Physicians Formula makes a less expensive version of Meteorites and I’m sure there are a million other brands out there. I just love this one. All you do is swish a fluffy brush (see below) all around and sweep it over your face. Translucent powder sets the concealer and gives your skin an even look. Use a VERY light hand though! Too much powder is just… too much powder? It always looks bad.

3. Blush
This is absolutely the one beauty product I can’t live without. I look goulish without my blush on. Blush is my desert island beauty product and it’s not uncommon for me to put it on just for taking the recycling out in the morning. Nars Orgasm is a universally flattering shade in kind of a pinky/rosey/gold. It’s not ridiculously expensive, but it’s worth every penny. I have been buying this since the 90s. I’m also loving Benefit’s Coralista right now. I like blush that’s youthful and sweet, nothing harsh here. Just a flattering color that looks like you just swished in off the slopes. And for someone who is not often outdoors, this is essential! The easiest way to use blush is to smile really big and brush the blush on the apples of your cheeks (the chipmunk portion of your cheeks). I then swipe a tiny amount on my forehead and on the bridge of my nose to look a little more sunkissed in the summer, but that’s optional. If you’re going to do a cute blush, go big or go home. I know, you don’t want to look like Baby Jane, but I think blush is fresh and pretty this season and 90% of women don’t use enough. The key? Get the biggest, fluffiest brush you can find! (See below) If you use the itty bitty brushes that come in many blush kits, you are going to look streaky and it’s going to look fake. Invest in a nice blush and a nice blush brush and you’re all set. You don’t have to spend a fortune, just the nicest you can reasonably afford.

4. Mascara

Mascara is really going to finish almost every look. It will give your look a polished appearance. I am not totally wild about all the new brushes like Covergirl’s LashBlast. Give me a traditional brush any day. But I have seen women use them well and they look great. I always use Clinique High Impact Mascara in Black. I don’t use waterproof because most of the time it flakes and looks bad. If you live somewhere like Seattle with constant moisture in the air, think about getting waterproof though. I use Clinique because that’s what my eyes are used to, but there are a million and one great mascaras out there that are cheaper (and more expensive). Mascara is one of the few beauty items you can cheap out on, to tell you the truth. I think everyone should wear black mascara unless you are naturally (yes, naturally!) blonde or have red hair. Brown is great then. If you want to get all funky and 80s, try navy. It’s enough different that your eyes will really pop, but it’s not weird and obnoxious. I consider navy mascara a neutral, but I’m having the hardest time finding one! As far as technique, whatever works for you and looks natural works. Seriously. There is no way I can advise how to use mascara on a blog that’s not a video tutorial, so I’m not going to try. If you mess up, use some makeup remover on a Qtip, fix it up and have a fresh start the next day. I do like to blink through my mascara wand when I apply it, but that is too confusing to describe.

Extra Credit: Lash Curler

I love using an eyelash curler to make my lashes really stand out and my eyes pop. Shu Uemura is the best one on the planet, but rumor has it that Shu is no longer selling in America. If I didn’t have this one, I really like Sephora’s for a nicer one and Sonia Kashuk at Target for a less expensive version. Watch a video tutorial for use. I am not about to be held liable for any of my readers pulling their lashes out.

Bonus credit: Creamy shadow

My eye doctor did say I couldn’t wear eye makeup, so I guess this whole section was out the window. I’m just letting you know what I added in after the ban was lifted. I like to brush on a pretty neutral cream color on my lids to finish the eye. This is Clinique’s Daybreak, but you can easily find a similar one. Go with a little shimmer to highlight your eyes, but don’t do shimmer overload if you want a natural look. If your skin is darker, go with a taupe or chocolate or something that is similar to your natural skin color but smoother and creamier. I use this on my entire lid.

5. Lipstick

Lipstick is definitely having a moment right now with the popularity of Mad Men. I have always loved lipstick. As gloss became more popular a few years ago (well, let’s call it 10 years ago), I just got different formulations of lipstick that acted more like a gloss. This is Clinique Butter Shine in Ambrosia. It’s a coral/red/shimmer/gold color and is very sheer. I’m loving a coral lip right now. For simplicity’s sake, there’s an easy way to find a natural looking shade. Pull down your bottom lip. The color of the inside of your bottom lip is your most natural and flattering lip shade. If you want to go crazy with all the dark red on the runways right now, go for it! But if what you’re looking for is pretty and natural, go for a sheer rose color. For this look, I would stay away from matte shades, super high gloss shades or anything that says Super Last. You want it to be easy and low maintenance, right? All of those other formulations are gorgeous, but they are not easy to pull off. Because this formulation is so sheer, though, I usually put on one coat, blot with a tissue and then put on another coat. Two tricks… put most of the color on the middle of your pout and then blend outward. This avoids weird lines. Second, put your index finger in your mouth like a lollipop. Close your mouth around it. Pull it slowly out. This will help you avoid getting lipstick on your teeth, which is always embarrassing.

Extra Credit: Gloss

Gloss is not an essential, but it’s usually cute. I just bought this e.l.f. gloss in Pink Lemonade from Target for $1. It reminds me a lot of the glosses from Stila with the brush tips. Just cute and sheer. Get a light pinky gloss that goes on almost clear and put it on the middle of your bottom lip. This will create just the right amount of shine.

Ok, you’re done! Now head out the door and look fabulous!

Just kidding… you thought I would be done with you by now, didn’t you. Well, that’s as basic as it gets for me, but there are a few finishing touches that I like to do every day if I have another 2 minutes on top of my 5. Here’s the cherry on top of an already cute look.

5.1. Brows!

Brows styles are always changing and it’s hard to figure out what looks good right now. Thick? Thin? Polished? Bare? Bleached?? I say just get rid of strays between your brows and around the middle of your lids and then let a professional take care of shaping them. Even if getting rid of the unibrow is as far as you go, the way I like to look polished and put together is to use a spoolie to brush them into place. That’s what you call the brush above. It’s a long handled mascara wand without the mascara. I like Sonia Kashuk’s spoolie at Target, but this Jane Iredale one looks good. This is an easy thing to cheap out on, but is so useful! I also use it to tame the baby hair around my face and whenever I put together a sleek ponytail or ballerina bun. The next step is something I do every morning with the spoolie, but it’s of course optional.

Try lightly spraying your spoolie with hairspray and then smoothing down your brows. It will definitely help them keep their shape. I like Textureline Medium Hold, but any light spray is going to work. Save the Aqua Net for your bouffant.

5.2. Perfume

Yes, I am absolutely one of those girls who doesn’t leave the house without perfume. I’m wearing Jessica Simpson’s Fancy right now. I love it. I smell like a babydoll. I just don’t feel right until I spray on some kind of fragrance. The easiest way to not blow anyone away with it is to spray it in the air and walk through it. You can also do a light spritz on your pulse points like your wrist. Just don’t rub your wrists together. This muddles the fragrance. Just tap them together and call it a day. Also… always ask your friends and family if you’re wearing too much. And make sure you ask an honest friend. I’m totally going to get emails about that…

5.3. A headband.

Every since Blair Waldorf stepped on to the small screen on Gossip Girl, I have been re-obsessed with headbands. The initial love affair started in the 80s as these trends are wont to do, and in the last few years it’s really made a comeback. I thought to myself, if Lauren Conrad rocks them, so why shouldn’t I? The headbands now are either the pretty ones with feathers or bows, of just simple and sleek for the rest of us. I like a wide band in black because it goes with everything and makes your look complete, whether you are sporting a mess of curls or straight as an arrow hair. I love Goody’s Ouchless ones. They are the best headbands I’ve ever worn, and in fact, I’m wearing one right now. It is just such an easy way to put your look together with basically no effort. To avoid an 80s look, set the headband back off the front of your hair. Pushing all of your hair back with it just doesn’t look current. If you have bangs, cute, just put the headband behind them.

5.4. Earrings.

I am very old fashioned when it comes to accessories, but I think that if you have pierced ears, you just look naked with bare holes. I am personally bothered when I forget to wear them and am bothered the rest of the day. Ok, that’s just me… I love the look of simple pearl or diamond studs. If you love hoops like I do, you can always have a daytime pair that are small and don’t compete with the overall simplicity of this look. I love yellow gold because it looks good with my skin tone, but that really depends on what you love and what looks good on you. I just don’t think your look is complete without earrings and perfume. I might add some gloves to this look at some point when I’m old and nobody cares. Hello 1955.

This really seems like a long post looking back now, but if you cut through the vast descriptions of every finish of lipstick out there, the information is really basic and can help you pull together your look in 5 minutes. Well, maybe in under 10…

I hope that helps a little for you makeup rookies out there who either don’t have the time, energy or inclination to put too much effort into something so seemingly unimportant. This list is definitely helpful for me because it really solidified that I only really NEED 5 products to feel good when I walk out the door. Of course, this will be a constant battle with my micro half and require a lot of purging on my part, but I think having a simple look that looks good is always micro chic.

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