Favorite Beauty Products, Volume 1: Skin

For my next weekly feature, which I am calling Work It Wednesdays, the main topic of conversation is makeup and beauty products! As anybody who knows me must know by now, makeup is one of my two main passions in life. In spite of being a guy, and not any sort of drag queen, cross dresser, trans-gendered individual or anything of that nature, I wear a lot of makeup. I wear makeup every day to work, to run errands, to go out to dinner or out drinking. I wear makeup for every occasion, basically. Wearing it so frequently and having such a love for it as I do, I have experimented with a lot of different styles and tried out a lot of different products. With this in mind, I figured the best way to start off my weekly Work It Wednesday beauty posts would be to discuss some of my favorite beauty products. I am going to make this a two, possibly three, volume series for the next couple of Work It Wednesdays because there are just far too many products that I use frequently and have something to say about to fit it all into just one post. So, we will begin with products for the face and move into the more fun stuff in the next volume with lips, cheeks and eyes, since there is a lot more to discuss with each of those topics..

Due to the fact that I am not, in any way, well-off financially the products I used tend to range from the more inexpensive, drugstore brand products to several more high-end brands, such as MAC, Tarte, Urban Decay, Stila, etc. I have yet to really branch out into some of the even more high end brands, like Chanel, Dior, Armani, etc., so you won’t be hearing much about those types of products at this point because I really just can’t afford them. Still, my philosophy has always been that the most important part is the quality of the product – if you find something that you love and that works for you, it doesn’t matter if it was $0.99 or $99. It is all about what works best for you. With that in mind, let’s discuss the products that work the best and are the most fun for me.

To begin, let’s discuss where all good makeup looks begin – skin care! When it comes to skin care, I have a very strong sense of brand loyalty to Clean & Clear. I pretty much exclusively use Clean & Clear facial cleansers because they are affordable and they really work! It wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I actually started using a facial cleanser regularly or actually making any effort to take care of my skin and I started out trying to go a bit more high-end and bought Clinique products. While those Clinique products were great, I ran out of a few of them at a point where I didn’t have a ton of money to throw around and decided to try replacing them with considerably less expensive products from Clean & Clear and felt that they not only worked as well but actually, in most cases, left my skin looking and feeling even better. My favorite facial cleanser, which I use twice daily, is the Clean & Clear Deep Action Cream Cleanser. I have used pretty much all of their facial cleansers but I always come back to this one. It is a thick cream consistency and leaves your skin feeling incredibly fresh and with a great cooling effect. The other product I have to rave about from Clean & Clear is their Makeup Dissolving Facial Cleanser Wipes. These are also a daily use product for me, every evening when I remove my makeup for the day these are what I do it with. I have tried makeup remover wipes from various brands, including Neutrogena, Aveeno, Yes To…, MAC, Elf, etc., and I have never found one that has a texture that doesn’t feel like it drags across your skin or isn’t irritating to your eyes except for the ones from Clean & Clear. I absolutely love them. As far as moisturizer goes, on the other hand, I do veer away from the Clean & Clear brand, (although I do also use their Dual Action moisturizer from time to time, as well,) and have recently switched to  the Yes To Blueberries daily moisturizer, which has a considerably thicker, more dense consistency but leaves the skin feeling quenched hours and hours after application. I love this stuff.

The next thing to discuss are primers. I use various types of primers on a daily basis, depending on the look I am going for. As far as full face primer goes, I have tried many from the drugstore, as well as more high end brands, and have found that my absolute favorite is, by far, the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. This comes in many different formulations, including different color-correcting versions, but my favorite has always been the original. It leaves the skin feeling velvety smooth and, moreso than most other primers I have tried, actually keeps the makeup on your skin all day long without rubbing off or sliding around. As far as eyeshadow primer goes, I have tried several different brands. In my collection right now sit half-used tubes and jars of eyeshadow primers and bases, including Tarte Lifted, Smashbox Photo Finish, Stila Prime Pot, Mary Kay Eyeshadow Primer, NYX Eyeshadow Base, etc., because while these all have their positive attributes, I always go back to the standard – Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original. Regardless of weather, length of wear or anything else, this is the one primer that has held up against it all. I don’t typically use primer for my lips but when I do it is always either MAC Lip Erase, which is annoyingly only available on occasion, or the Pop Beauty Lip Magnet Primer. These both work really well for different reasons but I would have to say that I prefer MAC’s Lip Erase because it does a much better job of removing the natural pigmentation of your lips and laying down a smooth, flawless foundation for whatever lip products you may be using.

The next step in the process, for me, is creating a gorgeous base for your look and this means foundation, concealer and powder. When it comes to foundation I have a bit of an odd policy. Basically, for daily wear, I always keep one expensive foundation and one drugstore foundation. Of course, I also keep various other foundations for different occasions, like a tinted moisturizer for quick runs out of the house and such, (my favorite of those is CoverGirl CG Aqua Smoothers,) and a less durable foundation for shorter wear time, (my favorite for that is CoverGirl NatureLuxe Foundation, which is odd, considering I don’t have any real affinity towards CoverGirl products and don’t honestly own very many of them,) but when it comes to daily wear, I have a few very important requirements for my foundation. First of all, and most importantly, it has to be long-wearing. I work 10 hour days and I need my makeup to remain intact for that whole time and into the evening if I have to go do anything after work. I also need for my daily wear foundation to be somewhat lightweight while still offering decent coverage. My favorite expensive foundation for daily wear is, by far, MAC Pro Longwear SPF 10 Foundation in NW20. It feels incredibly thin and lightweight on the skin, almost like wearing nothing at all, but provides medium coverage and gives a flawless, natural finish. It really looks and feels like a more beautiful version of your own natural skin. My favorite drugstore foundation is Revlon ColorStay Foundation in Natural Beige. This foundation is actually strikingly similar to the MAC Pro Longwear, except with a bit of a thicker consistency and heavier coverage. This also provides much more of a matte finish, which is actually much better some days depending on the look I’m going for. Between these two foundations, I pretty much have the perfect foundation for all occasions. The next step is concealer. Concealers are such funny products because they come in such a vast array of consistencies and textures and are used for different areas of the face, etc., that it is hard to pin down a favorite. For me, personally, though, it is a bit easier because I find a lot of the different concealer types kind of superfluous. For example, color-correcting concealers, in general, seem completely unnecessary for me. I have used them in the past and found that they didn’t seem to make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. The same goes for stick concealers. I don’t do a lot of spot correcting around the face and mainly just use concealer to cover under eye circles and redness in different areas of the face. For this reason, I primarily use a liquid concealer. My personal favorite concealer is definitely MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW20. This is the perfect concealer for under eyes, around the nose and chin, etc., and thanks to it being such a spot-on color match for me, it also works out beautifully for any time I do need to cover any blemishes on the face. As far as powder goes, on the days that I use a setting powder, (as it is not actually necessary when using the MAC Pro Longwear Foundation,) I have two go-to products. The first is the Maybelline Shine Free Oil Control Loose Powder in either Translucent or Light. I use this when I am looking to set my foundation and concealer but am going for a more light, natural finish. When I feel the need for additional coverage or am going for a more “powdered” finish, my favorite product to use is the Neutrogena Skin Clearing Mineral Powder. This stuff makes the skin look and feel amazing. The best part, though, is the sponge that comes with the product. That is a strange thing for me to say because I generally hate those weird little sponge/puff/applicator things that come with any product, and more often than not actually throw them out. This sponge, however, is the most perfect way to apply this powder. Oftentimes I will go ahead and use a brush with the product but most of the time I actually use the sponge. It is a really interesting little sponge because it has a different texture on each side. One side of the sponge is a smoother, more flat texture to provide a lighter coverage and the other is more puffy and textured to take in more product and provide a heavier coverage. I love this product and the coverage that it provides. It is gorgeous.

That is pretty much it for the skin and face products. Stay tuned for next week’s Work It Wednesday, when I will be discussing some of my other favorite products for different areas. I also have some really fun posts coming up in the next few days, including a random mid-day makeup experiment at work and this week’s Friday Feature, my weekly Beauty/Music crossover post. Keep an eye out for both of those in the next few days! In the meantime, I wish you all a beautiful evening and a beautiful life!



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