Tricks of the Trade + Le Sephora Spree.

Sephora is about to launch its yearly promotion — starting Friday, you can get 15% off your purchase if you are a beauty insider (it’s free to join) — and it’s that time of year I stock up on beauty products I can’t live without and test the waters when it comes to products I’ve been coveting but not yet convinced myself to splurge on.  I’m sharing what’s in my cart below, but thought I’d first throw out a hodge podge of beauty tips I’ve acquired over the years from makeup artists and people with beautiful skin (ahem, Grace).

+Massage your face lotion into your skin for a good 60 seconds after application so that it truly absorbs.  Up until my mother shared this beauty gem, I’d simply dab it on and go about my business, never realizing how much lotion I was wasting and missing out on the effects of the high end skin care I was investing in.

+Similar to the above, Grace recently shared in a podcast that you’re supposed to scrub your face for nearly two minutes when exfoliating.  I hadn’t been doing this either, and the results, when I started investing a bit more time, were shocking: my skin was literally glowing!

+When I was a teen, my mom gave me this Bobbi Brown book on teenage beauty along with some of my first makeup (all Clinique).  I read the book cover to cover.  It was wise of her — it taught me how to clean and care for my skin and avoid the pitfalls of overdone makeup without requiring any awkward mother-daughter nagging.  One of the tips was that — though it might go against common sense — you should never over-dry a pimple.  She insists that it’s impossible to disguise a dried-up blemish; moisturize it like you would any other part of your skin, and you’ll find it much easier to camouflage.

+As a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding, the makeup artist informed me that most people “overpump” their mascara — he insisted that the pumping motion does nothing but dry your tube out way more quickly than it otherwise would.

+I’m guilty of this sin, but you’re supposed to wash your makeup brushes regularly, or you run the risk of spreading acne-causing bacteria around your face.  I just snagged this stuff to help me stay on top of it.

+Cosmetics, like groceries, bear an expiration date.  I’ve always been dubious of expiration dates on makeup — it felt like a trick to force me to toss makeup and buy new batches — but I recently dug out a little pot of lotion I’d been saving and it smelled super weird (plastic and sour?) when I opened it.  I checked the date and, sure enough, it had “gone bad.”

+I have a hard time following through on this, but most  makeup artists apply your lotion in upward strokes, claiming that this helps avoid wrinkles and sagging skin.  It’s very awkward to figure out how to rub your face upward, but I give it a good try every morning and evening.

+A makeup artist recently told me that you’re not supposed to wear bronzer and blush at the same time.  I was appalled because I’ve long layered them on top of one another and I feel like I need the “sunkissed glow” of bronzer at all times.  I tested a solo blush situation and found that I looked much more natural, more awake.  I realized that maybe I’d been overdoing it a touch!

+You’re supposed to apply your eye makeup first, then add your foundation and concealer and all that jazz — otherwise, your colorful eye shadow and mascara might require correction and lead you to have to wipe off your makeup (how often has this happened to you?!)

What are your beauty tricks?!

What’s in My Sephora Cart.

+I received a sample of Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum a few weeks ago and have been dazzled by this product.  (I also received a sample of their overnight gel, but didn’t notice much of anything while using it, to be completely honest.)  The serum though!  I’ve never used a serum before, but it’s now firmly a part of my morning routine.  I apply it before my lotion and I swear my skin looks instantly plumper (gross word) and brighter.  When I apply it, it looks as though I’ve just emerged from a sauna after a vigorous match of tennis or something — flushed, hydrated, awake.  I’m going for the full-size; I’m a serum convert now.

+I am genuinely baffled by the middling reviews on Sunday Riley’s Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream.  A makeup artist recently applied it and I legitimately saw an instant difference in the area around my eye — it was smoother, more elastic-looking, and much brighter.  Though I still believe that La Mer eye cream is la creme de la creme when it comes to under eye care, I will be introducing Sunday Riley’s product into the rotation for the time being!  (The makeup artist also used their Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream and I liked the way it left my skin feeling.)

+A friend of mine raved about these First Beauty Facial Radiance Pads as an alternative to my tried-and-true Arcona Triad Pads, and I was super impressed with them.  I find myself using them when I am reapplying makeup before heading out towards the end of the day — they cleanse and tone but have nothing harsh in them, and I feel like it presents me with a fresh canvas for makeup re-application.  That — and they’re half as expensive as Arcona’s product!

+RMS Living Luminizer.  I’m literally scrapping the bottom of the barrel on my current supply of this stuff, and I cannot live without it.  It’s a colorless balm I apply to the apples of my cheeks, my brow, the tip of my nose, my charlie’s bow to get that gleaming, glowing, fresh-faced look we all long for.

+How can I not use the discount as an excuse to snap up Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask?  EVERYONE is obsessing over this mask!

+Laura Mercier has a new concealer out and I’ve heard very promising things about it.  I’m nearly done with my Nars’ Radiant Creamy Concealer (I’m so-so on it) and am game to try something else.

P.S.  Some very honest (occasionally scathing) beauty reviews.

P.P.S.  A lot of the products in my guide to getting a great blowout are available at Sephora!

P.P.P.S.  The most popular items on my blog so far this year: this sweet and affordable dress, this hyped miracle worker for your kitchen, my iPhone case, and my absolute favorite pair of sunglasses (under $70!).

P.P.P.P.S.  Neiman’s is having an insane sale right now — I am thinking about this and this for wearing with white jeans now that it’s warmer!


  1. You’ve sold me on the RMS Living Luminizer! Have you tried their Lip2Cheek yet? Been curious about it …

    Thanks for all of the tips! I am soooo low-maintenance when it comes to makeup, but have been increasingly interested in skincare over the past few years, and will take your advice to heart. 🙂

    1. Hi! I haven’t tried their Lip2Cheek but I love the idea of a two-fer 🙂 You’ll have to keep me posted. Glad the tips were handy — the absolute best one for me has been taking like quadruple the amount of time I had been taking in order to scrub with an exfoliant or rub in a moisturizer. Seriously game-changing! xoxo

    2. I just looked back through your archives to find the post where you talked about RMS Living Luminizer — I just (finally) ordered a pot of it and can’t wait for it to arrive! Yay! I feel like it will be just the ticket for a dewy, glowy summer face.

    3. The best the best the best! I just bought a pot in the rose gold color and it so lovely!!

  2. Speaking of serum – have you tried Vintner’s Daughter? I’m assuming you’ve heard of it since you’re hanging with Grace, I think I first saw it on her blog. It is literally the only beauty product I’ve tried that gave immediate, noticeable results. And it is non-toxic! Unfortunately, it is $185 per bottle (and not available at Sephora) which is more than I am currently able to spend. But a girl can dream…

    1. Hi Stephanie! I have not tried that serum, but have heard RAVE reviews. Maybe I need to up the ante there…I was similarly put off by the pricetag, but if it works…xo

    1. Such an incredible trick/secret! I have seen instant results. I also like that it sort of forces me to take a second during my morning routine — it feels indulgent, spa-like! xo

  3. I have 14 products sitting in my Sephora cart in anticipation of the sale. I won’t buy them all (probably), but I’d been making notes of all of the must-have products suggested by my favorite bloggers and things that get discussed on Forever 35 (do you listen? It’s so good!!) and well, here we are.

    The Laura Mercier concealer is on my list, for the same exact reason — I’m eeking out the last bits of the Nars which I wanted to like so much but just didn’t. I still love my Amazing concealer, but that’s really for a full face of makeup and I want something that works in my 5 minute routine.

    Totally in love with the Ole Henricksen Truth Serum — instant results! The bottle lasts forever, too.

    1. I don’t listen to Forever 35, but I’ve now downloaded one to test out. Thanks for these great podcast recs!

      LMK what you think about the new Laura Mercier concealer — and I am dying over the OH truth serum. So so impressed with the sample; had to get the real deal! xo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.