When it comes to makeup, it’s actually very easy for me to be a minimalist about it. When I was younger, I wore it every day, though my mother always told me “Don’t wear foundation or you’ll have acne.” My parents also scared the crap out of me when I was young, telling me that I would have acne, wrinkles, etc. if I didn’t take care of my skin, so starting at the age of nine, I was already using eye cream. I’ve continued taking care of my skin (I even own a natural skincare company!), and have never worn foundation (though under my eyes need concealer because my anti-depressants give me black circles). But a weird thing happened to me as I got older: the first thing I noticed was as my eyelids started to age (my family has a propensity for needing eyelid surgery at young ages), eye makeup started looking disgusting on me. It would be great when I began my night, but about two hours later my eyelids would be so dehydrated and wrinkly that I ended up looking ten years older. I tried so many different eyeshadows, eyeliners, mascaras, etc. and then went to all natural makeup, but ultimately, my eyes just didn’t want to be covered anymore. As my love for makeup when I was young really focused on eye makeup that I could no longer wear, my passion went to lipstick, and it still lies there. However, I really don’t wear makeup at all, and when I do, it’s usually when I have a business meeting or am going to a friend’s wedding. I find that beautiful skin is really the answer to not wearing makeup, and it’s so nice to not have to check my makeup throughout the day, or travel with a ton of it.
My minimalism with makeup really boils down to one rule I give myself: I am allowed one makeup bag, and that’s it. Having to pack for vacation or to move to a new city with three bags of makeup is really a waste of room for me, and in the past when I used to hoard makeup (because I had spent good money on it and didn’t want to get rid of it even though I had never worn it!) it still took me years to realize I needed to minimize. So one bag it is. Every cosmetic I own is in that bag (minus one lipstick I always keep in my purse), and all I have to do is throw it into a suitcase and I get to bring my whole entourage with me. I don’t have to shuffle through different eyeshadows, liners, and foundations to figure out what I’m going to travel with. I don’t have to go into a separate container to pick out my brushes (oh yeah, my brushes are in there too). It’s all very simple and a perfect way to minimize.
Let me share with you what I’ve got in my makeup bag:
THE BAG: When I decided to minimize my stash, I allowed myself to go out and buy whatever makeup bag I wanted. I liked the idea of having a big, soft, pliable bag kind of like a clutch that was easy to get into, and that I could shove a lot of stuff into. I found this one in a little boutique in Brunswick, Maine and freaking love it. I’ve had it now for three years and it’s in perfect condition with no rips or tears. Choose whatever bag you love, but make sure it’s quality so you’re not having to buy a new bag every six months.
BRUSHES: I actually have quite a lot of brushes as you can see. No, I don’t have beauty blenders and sponges and things like that, but I also don’t wear face makeup, so I don’t personally need them. I wanted to find brushes that could fit into a single container and that I didn’t need to purchase individually (except my blush brush), so I found this one at Sephora and it’s been great. I also got my blush brush at Sephora. The great thing about having a little kit is that you don’t have to dig around your bag looking for a specific brush because they’re all in one neat, tidy place. And I can put things like my eyebrow trimming scissors in the case as well. Minimizing isn’t just about minimizing your stuff, but minimizing the space they take up, as well.
NATURAL MAKEUP: I found this company on Etsy that makes truly 100% natural makeup without mica. Not only have I been searching for a company that is actually as natural as my own skincare products, but one that doesn’t use mica or zinc oxide, because both are linked to cancer, and why would I want to put that on my face just for shimmer? The company is called DabHerbMakeup, and I bought quite a few things from them: blush, powder, liquid eyeliner, color corrector, and eyebrow gel. Everything is made from flowers or herbs, you can choose whether your makeup comes in glass or plastic, and they allow you to purchase samples instead of blindly buying makeup that you don’t know if you’ll like or not. The prices are fantastic, but the shipping does take a while, so that’s the only downside. My favorite thing that I purchased is the eyebrow gel. Though not actually a gel, and more of a lip balm stick, this stuff really works for keeping unruly eyebrows at bay.
CONCEALERS AND EYE PRODUCTS: Like I said, I do use concealer because antidepressants tend to thin the capillaries under the eyes and it always appears darker. My absolute favorite under eye concealer is Laura Mercier, and as you can see, I have two colors that I blend to make my skin color. I only wear this stuff when I am dressing up or if I haven’t gotten any sleep, because it is really thick and probably terrible for your skin, so I minimize my usage. For business meetings or work events, I tend to use the DabHerbMakeup color corrector first, then the Kjaer Weis concealer over it. Both are really translucent, and they layer nicely. What I don’t like about Kjaer Weis though is that because they are low waste makeup (that part I love), the metal cases for their concealer are like, $60 each and you just replace the concealer when you’re done. So having olive skin and needing to blend multiple colors together, the price point makes it difficult to do.
The three eyeliners I have are the DabHerbMakeup one (pictured before) which is a liquid activated charcoal and works unbelievably well; Urban Decay 24/7 black eyeliner that stays on forever; and Dior brown eyeliner for daytime events. I really like Ilia’s grey eyeliner as well, but I don’t wear eyeliner enough and it dried out too quickly for me.
The purple tube is Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion which is the absolute best for keeping eye makeup on, but since I don’t even own eyeshadow, I don’t know why I still have this. Probably because I’ve never used this specific tube and that voice inside my head is saying “Just keep it, you spent the money on it and one day you’ll need it.” I should probably sort that out…
Dior’s Blackout Mascara is one of my favorites. I hate using this company because everything is so chalk-full of chemicals, but I feel like I need to give myself a break since I only use it about once a month. I used Jane Iredale’s PureLash Lengthening Mascara for years, and love it so much – it actually grew my lashes and made them healthier the more I wore it. But though her mascara worked wonders when I lived in Vegas and Los Angeles, living in humidity now makes it flake. If you live in a dryer climate, definitely give her mascara a chance. You can get it on the Jane Iredale site between $22 and $36 depending on which mascara you get.
Lastly in this photo is my bronzer that I wear during the winter. It’s by Nars called “Casino,” and just okay. It gets the job done, but my favorite bronzing company is Guerlain. The problem is that no one physically carries Guerlain anymore in stores, so it’s hard to purchase an expensive makeup product for me when I can’t see the color in person. The thing I do like about the Nars bronzer is that it’s super, super light, but on the flip side, it fades much quicker because of that lightness.
LIPSTICK: Taking this photo, I was actually super proud of myself that I only have nine lipsticks (well, ten counting the one in my purse)! I usually have between 15 and 20, but I did just throw away a bunch that I wasn’t using. As you can see, all of the colors are pretty much the same, and I generally stick to only a few brands that are super cheap. The Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink is such a good lipstick that I was actually going to write the company a letter congratulating them on creating it. At one point I owned every color they had, but obviously not all of the colors worked on me, so they went to my friends’ makeup bags. Revlon is another company I really like for lipsticks, and my absolute favorite lipstick that I own is the Colorburst matte lip pencil. The black spiky lipstick on the top right is Kat Von D in “Underage Red” which is a good bright red lipstick that stays pretty well. It also smells like vanilla which is a bit disconcerting to me, but whatever. And the bottom lip pencil is by Hourglass called “Nude No. 6” Girl Lip Stylo that is the most perfect nude I’ve ever found, and I purchased it from the company when they were just starting out and were a pop-up shop in LA at another store. But you can get it on their site now.
So those are the contents of my makeup bag. Whether you are a lipstick fanatic like me, love to highlight and contour, or have a full smoky eye all the time, you too can minimize your makeup to what you truly use. I think there are a few reasons why so many women have so much makeup that they don’t actually use:
- We are constantly bombarded with advertisements for the newest makeup, plus, there are hundreds of thousands of makeup and beauty bloggers on our social media channels.
- Makeup stores are like candy stores for adults! They are so beautiful to walk around in or to even look at, and we can’t help ourselves!
- Makeup is freaking expensive. We purchase it and think we’re going to love it or wear it all the time, and when we don’t, we feel guilty for spending the money and don’t want to throw it away.
Makeup is an interesting thing to minimize, because you can’t really follow the rules of minimalism or even the KonMari method when you’re throwing stuff away. A sparkly, mermaid green eyeshadow for me sparks joy, but I shouldn’t keep it just because it’s pretty in the compact. I would never freaking wear it (trust me, I know – I had this eyeshadow for three years because it was so pretty)! And traditional minimalism of “Limit yourself to X amount of items” or “If you haven’t worn it in X amount of months, throw it away” doesn’t work either. 1) Makeup expires, so a time frame for it with regards to wearing it isn’t accurate – you have to throw it away already, and it’s easy to relapse into buying another because you’ve just gotten rid of something that expired instead of you choosing to rid your life of it. 2) Only having a certain amount of makeup items is stupid. I know I said earlier that I was proud of myself for only having ten lipsticks, but I wasn’t trying to get to the number of ten. I know that people who love to contour and highlight have to have, like, twenty products for it. So what, you’re going to get rid of everything else in your arsenal because you’re limiting yourself to a specific amount of items? For me, minimizing makeup is just having the things that you truly use, and being okay with tossing the things that you don’t. I promise that a week after you throw it all away, you won’t even remember what you threw away, and you’ll be so much happier having a single bag of makeup where everything is accessible. Or who knows, maybe your love of makeup is like my love of shoes, and no matter how hard you try, it will never fit into one bag. Either way, thanks for reading my blog!
All my best,