7 Go-To Products from a Makeup Minimalist


I’ll be honest, it’s unrealistic to expect to be able to roll out of bed looking like Alicia Keys. But don’t worry… sometimes just a few dabs and swipes of 7 magical things can make all the difference in looking “naturally flawless”. Here are a few beauty tips (and products) I have learned through the years that will help you look your best in 5-10 minutes.

When it comes to getting ready in the morning, I generally have about 8 minutes to make myself look decent. It’s not much time, so I have to prioritize and work fast. That being said, I only use 7 products regularly, and many days as little as, well, just my #1 (mascara). This post is not for makeup pros or for those who know the ins and out of contouring, ombre lips, and symmetrical winged eyeliner (though all awesome). It’s for the low-maintenance and makeup-shy who are looking to spruce up their everyday look.

For a makeup minimalist, shopping for makeup can be quite intimidating. There are endless rows of products, so it can be difficult to pick out which things are essential. Then there are several varieties for each of these products, and so on and so on… but I figured I’d share the few things that I always keep in stock.

Not to diverge before getting to the good stuff, but you can’t ignore the important of basic skin care. I’m not a fancy eye serum user or anything, but I do exfoliate, indulge in the occasional face mask, and moisturize/protect. Those 3 things will keep your skin from looking dull and hopefully keep it blemish-free so that you have a good foundation for easy makeup application.


  • Exfoliation :: I use a microdermabrasion scrub 1x/week. There are so many microdermabrasion options, but these two are crowd favorites – the budget-friendly $18 option and the luxurious $78 one. I’ve used both and choose to save my $ for shoes instead of face scrub. ;) I also have a Clarisonic that I use about 2x per week (particularly when I wear heavier makeup).
  • Purify :: Masks – I’m an on and off user. I keep this one by Kiehls and use it regularly during summer but because it can have a drying effect, I only use it occasionally during the winter.
  • Moisturizer/UV Protection :: Every morning I apply this right after washing my face. It’s affordable and has SPF! Years ago I used CereVe am & pm, but I quickly dumped them when I realized that they contained parabens. At night I keep it simple with pure coconut oil (removes waterproof makeup too!) or my giant pump container of Vanicream. When it comes to summer rays (or serious outdoor time, I  use this sunscreen for the whole family since it works well and is highly rated by the EWG (so it doesn’t have crazy chemicals in it!).

Now for the stuff that helps me look like a slightly better version of myself…


  1. Mascara :: My most treasured beauty product. I was not blessed with long, thick lashes as some have, so I rely on lengthening mascaras to give my eyes a little extra oomph (and waterproof to hold curl and stay put through the day). Strangely, I bounce around between different drugstore waterproof mascaras depending on availability. No brand loyalty… though I have liked this one and this. And I guess this isn’t technically makeup, but I also consider an eyelash curler to be a vital step in my morning routine. For this I swear by Shu Uemura. It lasts FOREVER and I generally lose them before I have to change the pad.
  2. Eyeliner :: Pencil for a softer/blendable look & liquid or pen for sharp cat-eye “wings” and precision angles. I also think liquid liners are generally easier to remove since they are water-based. I use this liquid liner by Makeup Forever, though I admit it’s not the easiest to apply (I like how easily it removes at the end of the day though). Next, I’ll probably give Stila’s rival liner a try since it is so highly rated.
  3. Brow pencil :: This is one thing that I am really not picky about – I’ve used a $1.99 pencil and gotten by without any issues! Currently I’m using this $5 pencil. It lasts forever and I am completely happy with it!
    ——- 3/5 days of the week I get distracted by Addison pulling on my leg and my makeup routine stops here! ——-
  4. Undereye concealer (I’m sad to say that this is a post-kid staple) :: Not cheap, but this one by Armani does magic for me
  5. Something to even out skin tone – tinted moisturizer with SPF (like this or this) or, if your skin is super sensitive, a loose power (I have this one by Physicians Formula – terrible brush included, but the powder does the trick!)
  6. Bronzer or blush (I like cream since it’s a little more fresh and dewy looking) to define cheekbones and contour the face. I generally opt for bronzer since I have a more tanned complexion and I like that slight glow.
  7. Blemish concealer (just for emergencies!) I’m a compulsive face-picker, so I have to keep this on hand.

Wow. Looking back, those 7 things sure seem much more labor-intensive than they really are. Once you get a hang of applying the different products (#1-3 take the most skill), I assure you they can be done soo quickly and they are the key to keeping myself from looking as tired as I generally am! Again, this is nothing fancy (I’ll get into some more complex makeup tips later), but hopefully helps a few of you out who want to look a little more polished in a jiffy!

Photos by Christopher Shintani
Makeup done in 10 minutes by me :)

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