A Retro Girl’s Go-To Makeup Guide

As Katie mentioned, she and I found a bond in debating makeup. It’s a great diversion from more serious things in life, and somedays, you need to break up the workday. Our styles are very different and that affects our makeup choices, but we’ve sorta gone on that journey together.

I never had a beauty guide in my life growing up. My mother never really wore makeup, nor did I ever really talk to the older generations of women in my family about it. Never once was there a conversation about shaving legs or other seemingly typical beauty routines with the women in my family. I find this kind of awesome, but it also found myself pretty clueless as I blossomed into my femme identity. I had to do a lot of research on my own, and all I can say is thank god for the internet.

Being the vintage gal that I am, my makeup style is very much inspired by the 50s and 60s–lots of distinct lines and pops of color. I also use a combination of higher end products and tried and true old-fashion techniques. Here’s how I make it work.



300Good skin starts with a good moisturizer. It will brighten up your skin and make you appear more awake and vivacious. I have skin on the drier side so this is super true for me. For night, I love Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar for Dry Skin. It’s on the pricey side at $40 for 40 ml, but you can often find deals online and it’s totally worth it. For day, I like to be traditional and go with a vanishing cream. Vanishing creams have been around forever, are lightweight, and absorb quickly into the skin (hence the “vanishing”). I really like the Boots Original  Formula Vanishing Day Cream. Lightweight and smells divine. I also swear by Boots Botanics Moisturizing Eye Cream for those that suffer from puffy undereyes. Works wonders.


Right now I’m in the middle of my seasonal foundation transition. As I generally have good skin, my foundation choices are on the lighter side, but I feel the need to change it up when I feel like my skin is melting off in the summer.

In the fall through the spring, I tend to stick with a powder foundation for the velvety finish. I start with a primer to smooth out the skin and even out my color. Unlike Katie, I can’t do Smashbox’s primer–it’s silicone-based and doesn’t mesh well with my skin (some people actually have allergic reactions to it, so be careful). I instead use Makeup Forever’s HD Microperfecting Primer in Blue. Like Katie, I am also very pale, so the blue base of the primer helps give me more of balanced porcelain glow. I follow with MAC’s Studio Fix Powder Foundation in N3. It’s lightweight, matte, and gives me just enough coverage. My skin leans toward cool-toned but it’s pretty middle of the road, so I’m glad this foundation comes in straight neutral.31niWtoBgpL

For the summer months, I switch gears and go for a slightly heavier coverage with a high SPF. In the DC heat, I would sweat anything else off. Instead of applying a primer and foundation, I opt for a BB cream. I first learned about BB creams a few years ago from Musings of a Muse. I consider her the internet authority on this topic. She has a great article explaining what a BB cream is, which I encourage you to read. It’s basically an all-in-one product that moisturizes, contains SPF, has acne fighting and anti-aging ingredients, while concealing and laying a foundation for your other makeup. However, according to Muse, none of the American BB Creams live up to their Asian counterparts. They’re basically just tinted moisturizers, so try to go for one on the market in Asia. My go-to is a South Korean brand, Missha M Perfect no. 13. It has the highest SPF of the BB Creams I’ve looked at and the widest variety of shades.

conceal and color

4-sephora-benefit-boing-636I’m loyal to Benefit for the rest of my facial make-up needs. I use Boing! concealer in light for any little blemishes and Erase Paste for an undereye concealer. The peach tone of Erase Paste is really effective in covering up undereye circles, which is a problem I tend to face.

For blush, I use Benefit’s tints most of the time.These are liquid tints that can be applied and blended with your fingers to cheeks and lips. They give a nice rosy glow that blends naturally into the face, while also adding definition. In the summer I prefer a pinker look, so I go with Posietint. In the darker months, I rock the classic Benetint.



LMEH-500x500Eyeshadow isn’t as essential to my look as I believe it is to Katie’s. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it or even searching for the best. One thing I’m adamant about though. Katie mentioned that you need to use a primer with Urban Decay shadows–I will go further and say, use it with all shadows. If you want brighter colors and no creasing or smudging, it will seriously make all the difference. I alternate between using bareMinerals Prime Time Eye Primer and Lime Crime’s Eyeshadow Helper. Both are as legit as Urban Decay’s in my mind.

For the shadow itself, I go with bland neutrals for the everyday–MAC’s eyeshadow in Vapour for the base and theBalm’s ShadyLady in Just this Once Jamie blended into the crease for definition. When I want to go heavy on the color (like for a 60s mod look) I love the pigmentation of Lime Crime’s shadows. Another cheaper option however, is to buy straight mica powder and glitter and mix it with a sealant. Easy way to get good color payoff.


I rock the classic cat-eye. It’s what I do. Thus for me, a good eyeliner is the number one most important product for my look. I’ve been on a quest for years for the perfect eyeliner that’s easy to apply, has great pigmentation, doesn’t smudge, and has staying power. I can’t say I’ve found the holy grail eyeliner, but I have a couple that are legit.

First, you can’t really go wrong with gel eyeliners. They are a cream that come in a pot and you apply with a brush. They tend to have great pigmentation and stay in place after they dry. It takes some practice to apply a gel liner, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to imagescreate a great cat eye. I’ve tried a number of gels, and MAC’s fluidline in Blacktrack is still my favorite. Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Liner in Blackest Black is a solid budget option.

If I’m using a liquid liner, I go with Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner in trooper. I have not found another black liquid liner I like anywhere near as much. It has a felt tip applicator, so it’s easy to apply, but still somehow has great pigmentation. It also dries super quickly, so you don’t have to worry about it smearing for five minutes after application. It’s pretty dummy-proof. It’s also compact and those easy to transport, so I use it frequently when I’m traveling.


Iloreal-paris-double-extension-renewal-serum-inside-mascara-mobile-wallpaper have a different problem with mascara than Katie does. For me, it always flakes off and smears under my eye so that I look sickly. I’ve turned to tubing mascaras. They are a godsend. Instead of using oils and/or waxes as the base, they use a polymer, which creates essentially a tube around each lash. because of this, it creates longer lashes and doesn’t smear. I use l’Oreal Double Extend Lash Boosting Serum + Mascara, which also helps with lash growth.


I have crazy, out of control eyebrows. The hairs are long and curly and it’s a mix of white and brown hairs. I pretty much pluck out half my eyebrows just so I can make them sensible. But again, my makeup look is all about stark and distinct lines, so a strong brow is essential. I’ve tried a lot of different types of products, but I always come back to the brow pencil. I’ve come to love Rimmel’s Professional Eyebrow Pencil in Hazel. It has a brow brush on the cap and the color isn’t too dark or light on me (which is a problem I often face as a redhead).


I’m not going to say much about lips, since I went into great detail about how I create my red pout previously. However, I don’t rock the intense red lips everyday. When I’m at the office or I know I’m going to be eating a lot of greasing foods, I opt for an easier and more sheer choice. Lipstick Queen is my go-to for fabulous colors at any level of opacity. Their Saint line has great classic matte colors (I use either Rogue or Rose most days) in a sheer form. I’m currently in love with the Liptropolis line for summer. They’re three universally-flattering peach-based shades, with opacity slightly higher than the Saint line. Perfect for Spring and Summer. If I want to go the gloss route instead, I love their Big Bang Theory line of glosses–just the right amount of pigmentation and they feel natural on the lips–not at all sticky.


1939-coty-powder-box-designsEspecially for stark and defined makeup looks, you want to make sure your makeup doesn’t move. You want the look to last, not smear and slip down your face.

For that velvety old-school glamor matte finish, you want to set with a powder. It’ll keep your makeup in place and also keep your oils in check. I stick with the tried and true classic, Coty Airspun, found in every drugstore for around $3. It has an awful, strong perfume smell, but that fades pretty quickly upon application. I don’t think powder is a product worth heavy investment, but it is a god call to have in your stash. Even if you don’t choose to use it everyday, it’s great to set your makeup before a big event or a long day.

Another setting option is to use a setting spray. There are a number of options out there, but I’ve only ever used Urban Decay’s All Nighter. These sprays adhere your makeup in place with alcohol. Because of the use of alcohol, they can be drying, so watch out.

Taking it Off

 vintage-ponds-adAfter all that work setting and holding makeup, you need a good way to get it off at the end of the day. This is another area where I lean toward the traditional. A good ole Cold Cream is all you need. Cold cream is an emulsion of water, beeswax, and mineral oil. It’s been used for 2000 years, and it’s cheap and effective. The go-to is Pond’s, but any drugstore generic will do. Just rub it on damp skin and wipe it off with a warm, moist washcloth. It will dissolve and pull off all your makeup and moisturize at the same time. A wonder product.

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