I distinctly remember the day my mom let my buy real makeup for the first time: I was 11 and had my very first zit (big and terribly red, center of my chin). It was in the middle of summer, I was wearing khaki shorts and a red polo (don’t judge) and I walked out of Wal-Mart with three things: Neutrogena Face Wash + Acne Creme duo, Covergirl concealer and blue glitter eyeshadow.
Because it was the 90’s, y’all, okay?
I was amazed by how easily it was to hide an imperfection and how fun it was to make my eyes brighten or get bigger with makeup – and honestly, I’ve been hooked ever since. After 15 years of having a really poor complexion that broke out constantly, I’ve been (mostly) acne-clear for a year now. Though Accutane is some serious stuff (and you should only take it if you commit to keeping yourself healthy), it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Having the option of wearing foundation or skipping it has been a life changer and huge confidence booster. Feeling beautiful in my own actual skin is something I always wanted and never had.
But, I still love my beauty products, they’ve just changed a bit.
My mom has always worn the same lipstick, same perfume, used the same lotion – but I like to try things. There are a few staples that I swear by (you’ll see them below) and other ones that I’ve recently tried and loved (also below).
Check out my picks for the best beauty products if you’re dating, looking, loving — or just enjoying the single ride:
Shampoo That Makes Your Hair Smell Amazing
I hate spending a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner (it just washes down the drain!), but I love when you can get salon-quality product for a very cheap price. Vidal Sassoon Pro Series (I always get the jumbo-sizes at TJ Maxx for $3.99 each!) has tons of different options – moisture, repair, hydrate – but I love the color protect if you dye your hair like me.
Face Wipes That Wake You Up
It takes 30-days to form a habit and I’ve been doing this one for 25 years: wake up, brush my teeth, use a cleansing towelette to wake up. I’ve tried lots of them, but these are soft, smell like cucumbers and great for travel. Giovanni also has tons of other products, like travel kits and makeup, check them out. (I love their Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub, too!)
Best Nail Polish Color for a First Date
One of my good friends – a dating expert – once said: wear a red dress, but never wear red nails on a first date. I was confused by this at first, but it makes sense: you want to dry attention to yourself (and men are distracted by color, it’s science), but not to your hands, necessarily. I always go for a clear polish or a lighter color and Wet N’ Wild has a nice collection that dry fast and available basically everywhere.
Masque to Use Before He Sleeps Over
Some say three dates, others say five – I say whatever feels right to you. For me, when I’m ready to let a man stay the night at my apartment, I want to seem like I’m this radiant, glowing creature in the morning, even if that’s not exactly true all the time. The night before your adult sleepover, try the Amore Pacific refreshing masque to deep-clean your skin and leave your face soft.
The Easiest Way Ever to Curl Your Hair
My hair isn’t naturally anything: it’s a dull, boring light-brown color. It only looks pretty and wavy when it wants to. It doesn’t like to be straightened. And yeah, it’s kind of frizzy. Though this Rusk Curl Freak is a complete splurge ($200!) it will save you so much headache if you want really pretty, really easy curls. You clamp at the top of your hair, push a button, it beeps at you and voila! You have the most beautiful curls, ever with basically no effort.
If You Hate Getting Your Eyebrows Waxed Like Me
I’ve had my eyebrows waxed a few times but it’s not my favorite past time. The wax breaks me out, I flinch when they do it, I have a red area around my brows for a week after. I opt for old-fashioned tweezing but prefer a slanted tip like this Tweezerman set.
For Lashes You Can Bat
I’m a big believer in eye contact – on a date, at the bar, when you see someone cute on the subway, at work, while listening to your friend. And if you want to use those babies to pick up someone, pretty eyelashes help pronounce your beauties. I’ve used L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Mascara since high school and refuse to use anything else. It’s seriously the best. (For blue eyes, try black/brown instead of black – it looks more natural!)
The Best Way to Use Oils
I never understood what you were suppose to do with fragrance oils – where do you dab them? Why do you need them? Then a friend spilled her secret with them: put a little bit on your neck, a little behind your ear (and in other places if you plan on getting naked) and they work their magic. I love the magnolia scent from The Body Shop – and love that their bottles last forever because you use such a little amount each time.
Perfume for Falling in Love (Or At Least Hoping You Do!)
Unlike my mom, I try tons of different perfumes all the time. I even mix them together to create a new scent if I’m feeling extra creative. My latest obsession is this new perfume, Philosophy’s Loveswept. It smells fresh and citrus-y, with subtle undertones.
For Covering Up Those Pesky Pimples
If there is a concealer at Sephora, I’ve tried it. Literally anything and everything I could get my hands on, I would try to cover up all of my annoying acne that made me feel so ugly. The best concealer I’ve found – isn’t a concealer at all! It’s actually foundation from Dermablend (with 20 SPF!) and it goes a long, long way. I’ve had the same 1.0 fl. oz bottle for more than a year. No joke. Just put on a problem area, let dry and cover with powder foundation….
Foundation That Doesn’t Look or Feel Like Foundation
I never liked mineral foundation or makeup until post-Accutane days because I never felt like it was enough coverage. Now, right before runs or heading to work, I dab the Dermablend under my eyes and smooth over with bareMINERALS Ready Foundation. It’s exactly the amount of coverage you need, but not too much.
Because Every Girl Needs Red Lips
I’m a big believer that everyone looks great with red lipstick. It’s an everyday staple for me, and especially on dates. (I mean, just look at the top of this blog!) Dolce & Gabbana’s classic cream lipstick goes on easy, lasts forever, and is available in fun shades – including my personal favorite, “Fire.”
Say Good-Bye to Dry Skin
The best tip my dermatologist ever gave me is always, always exfoliate (and moisturize!). This keeps your skin clean, fresh and free of bacteria. One of my favorites is from bliss – just dab on a Clarisonic (worth every penny!), all over your face (especially the t-zone) for really glowing, bright skin. It’s great to use right before you apply makeup for a date.
If You Don’t Want Wrinkles
My mom started using anti-aging cream at 22, and I started at 21 by her recommendation. It took me a while to find a system that I really liked, and after Accutane, I realized just how much I needed a great moisturizer with SPF and collagen. I was given a Palladio Beauty set as a gift and I fell in love: I used the UV Defense Daily Moisturizer, the Revitalizing Night Repair Cream and the Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream every single day. Best part? It’s totally affordable.
Lotion That’s Not Too Much or Too Little
It’s hard to find something in between Bath & Body Works and Cetaphil. You might want a little bit of fragrance, but not too much that it gives you a headache, right? I’m a big fan of Ahava’s Mineral Botanic Honeysuckle & Lavender Body Lotion. It’s scented just the right amount and also really hydrating for your skin.
Want to win some of these products? Here’s how:
This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.