Today’s post is all about the simple clean beauty makeup look I’m wearing (minimum) once per week, nowadays. I’ve loved a bold red lip since my early 20’s but I took an extended break from it until very recently.
In March, April, and May of this year, anxious and isolated, I stopped wearing makeup entirely. During the summer, when mask-wearing ramped up, I didn’t return to wearing makeup, except occasionally in a rare burst of energy. As summer faded into autumn, and shelter-in-place fatigue set in, red lipstick—seeming both frivolous and banal—was the furthest thing from my mind. But as the year draws to a close, I’m beginning to feel a cautious optimism, even the first faint flickers of anticipation again when I contemplate a future beyond the grief, anxiety, exhaustion, and upheaval of 2020.
Alongside the optimism and anticipation comes the mindset for a red lip again! Enjoy this simple routine now (I’ll be wearing it on Christmas morning) or some other time, it’ll be waiting when you’re ready!
Jump to a specific section of this tutorial, if you prefer:
This look is all about the lip, which isn’t lipstick! It’s a lip liner and lip balm combination (lip liner for precision and staying power, lip balm for hydration).
This look is quick to create (ten to twelve minutes, depending on your dexterity with the lip liner) and results in a bold payoff without requiring advanced techniques, which is a must because I’m no expert! The focus is on the lips, with brows filled in and defined but nothing more than a swipe of mascara on the lashes as far as eye makeup goes.
What Is Clean Beauty?
I’d like to preface this post with some clarification about the terms “clean beauty” and “non-toxic beauty”. These terms aren’t regulated, and their definitions vary. For the purposes of this post, clean beauty is the subset (of the larger beauty industry) that is better for the health of humans, animals, and the planet than products optimized solely for performance (although I believe clean beauty products can and should perform as well as their conventional counterparts) or low manufacturing cost.
A quick note about the links in this post: some of them are affiliate links, which means that purchasing any of the products in this routine listed via my links will not charge you any extra money, but I’ll receive a small commission. Think of it as a referral bonus that enables me to keep on testing products, investigating brands, and publishing my recommendations.
Okay, so let’s talk products!
Clean Beauty Routine: Products
FOUNDATION | BARE MINERALS | Shade: Light Natural | Although this foundation is listed as full-coverage on the Bare Minerals site, this a medium-coverage matte (in my opinion). All Bare Minerals products are cruelty-free and formulated without parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, triclosan, triclocarban, propylene glycol, coal tar, or microbeads. I started using Bare Minerals liquid foundation a month or two ago, and one of my favorite things about it (aside from its built-in SPF protection) is the fact that it doesn’t accentuate skin texture. Yes, skin has texture. But I prefer a foundation that doesn’t spotlight it. I have combination skin, and this foundation doesn’t go on smoothly unless I prep with a facial oil, and use a damp Beautyblender sponge to spread it everywhere in a thin, even layer.
SETTING POWDER | ILIA | Shade: Translucent | ILIA is a brand in the clean beauty niche, but its translucent finishing powder is as good as any brand I’ve tried, ever. The product description emphasizes that this powder has been milled five times (setting powders are typically milled three times), and it is definitely so fine that it melts into the skin and creates an instant softening and blurring effect. One additional note about ILIA: they’re one of the few brands I have seen that feature age-inclusive advertising. My mother (68 years old) emailed me a few weeks ago with a link to ILIA, because she had seen a woman that looked as old as she is in an ILIA Facebook ad, and that inclusiveness had stood out as a differentiator to her! Kudos, ILIA.
BLUSH | LAWLESS | Shade: Indian Summer | I think LAWLESS’ description of Indian Summer on its website as “medium tawny rose” is accurate. It’s incredibly pigmented, too! LAWLESS is a brand that wasn’t on my radar until recently. To articulate its stance on cruelty-free, non-toxic environmental sustainability, its website states: We’re committed to providing beauty products that are always free of ingredients that harm your skin, your health, the earth, and animals. None of our ingredients are known to be cancer-causing or endocrine-disrupting.”
BROW PENCIL | ERE PEREZ | Shade: One Universal Shade | Ere Perez’s Almond Eyebrow Pencil only comes in one shade, which does match my natural color reasonably well, but more options would definitely be better to match brows that are much darker than mine. I like this brow pencil because it’s very creamy (especially when the skin is prepped with a facial oil), not to mention cruelty-free, non-GMO, and certified carbon neutral.
MASCARA | ILIA | Shade: After Midnight | This ILIA mascara only comes in one shade, but it’s my favorite at the moment because it is lengthening and thickening, and although I do struggle with clumps forming sometimes, it is a good “your lashes but better” option. Since it comes with a dual-sided brush, you’ll want to apply it in two steps: the side with the shorter bristles is meant to lift and deposit product, while the longer bristles lengthen and separate lashes.
LIP LINER | KJAER WEIS | Shade: Classic | This Kjaer Weis lip pencil is creamy and the Classic shade is a bright, versatile shade. On me, it doesn’t wear as a blue-toned red or an orange-toned red, but somewhere in-between.
Now let’s get started!
Clean Beauty Routine: Instructions
01. Starting with clean skin prepped with a facial oil, I apply my foundation all over, making sure to gently blend it into my hairline and down under my jaw.
02. I’m not wearing any contour, highlighter, bronzer, or concealer these days, so after I apply my foundation I move on to setting powder as the next step. I apply it all over my face—particularly on my nose and forehead where my skin produces the most oil throughout the day—with a kabuki brush. Some finishing powders leave an ashy effect unless time and effort is made to blend them in thoroughly, but the ILIA product requires only a literal minute to apply it so that it sets and smooths.
03. I apply the blush with the same kabuki brush as the setting powder, making sure to tap off the excess, apply no closer to my nose than the center of my eye, and then blend up and out toward the outer corners of my eyes.
04. The next step is the brow pencil, which I use to give my brows more color and definition. I keep the shape very basic and follow the shape of the natural hair growth. After I’m finished with the pencil, I wet the bristles of the tiny built-in brush use some bar soap to shape the brow hairs into the shape that I want them to stay in. Yes, bar soap. If you’re not familiar with the “soap brows” technique, here’s more information on it! It’s my minimalist way of using something that’s already in my routine to side-step the necessity of brow gel.
05. After brow pencil, I apply mascara. I have very short, straight lashes and if I don’t use mascara, my eyes look bald to me. While I rarely do full-fledged eye makeup, I rarely go without mascara.
06. Now it’s time for the lip liner! I’ve been using lip liner plus lip balm instead of lipstick for years, because lip liners are so much more precise than lipsticks, and have wonderful staying power, even though they’re usually not formulated to be “long-lasting” (with chemicals), per se. It’s important to smooth on lip balm after applying lip liner, however, for smoothness and shine. The lip balm gradually soaks into the lips for a more matte effect and can be re-applied over the lip liner again throughout the day.
There it is! A simple makeup look featuring toned-down eyes and a bold, colorful lip. Thanks for reading! I hope this post inspires an idea or two for your clean beauty routine.
Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any favorite clean beauty brands or non-toxic makeup products that you’d recommend! I’m always interested to discover new options.