What’s Your Current Face Makeup Routine? (Here’s Mine)

Published in: Beauty Tips, Face, Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To, Skin Care

MAC Julia Petit Lipstick in Boca

Wearing my current face makeup routine…

Do you have 2 hours?

No! Just kidding. It doesn’t take me 2 hours, but it is a process. I mean, one thing I’ve learned along the way is that you can’t just slap a sh*t-ton of product on your face and expect it to look “natural.”


There’s definitely an art to getting the skin to look smooth and not so fussy, and I’m always tweaking my steps and products, but here are the broad strokes for my current routine…

For me, the first part has to be primer. I’m a big believer in primer. Bobbi Brown’s Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm and Smashbox Photo Finish Oil Free Foundation Primer Pore Minimizing — those are the two I’ve been keeping in my bag and using daily.

After primer I go in with some combination of lightweight medium to full-coverage foundations, which I mix because it’s difficult for me to find one color that matches my skin. Plus, you know, your skin is always changing (Bobbi Brown’s videos emphasize this). I may have gotten a little more sun yesterday, so I might have less noticeable yellow tones in my skin today and more pink or red. Or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep last night (happens often), so I look super tired.

Lately I’ve been mixing two or more (usually two) of these three together: NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, L’Oreal True Match Lumi, or the new Diorskin Nude Air Serum SPF 20.

MAC Bao Bao Wan Lipstick in Forbidden Sunrise

Another look with a similar foundation/concealer routine

And I don’t go heavy with this combo. I use as little foundation as I can — just the faintest amount — because it’s the next step that really helps get that more “flawless” look, or as close to it as I ever get. I take a small amount of that same foundation mix and add a full-coverage concealer, which I then use on my cheeks, around my mouth and around my nose.

Under-eye circles are a totally different story, though, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

I set the foundation combo with a powder, and one I’ve been loving lately is MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural. But I don’t just slap it on there willy-nilly. I take time to blend and buff it in so it doesn’t look like it’s sitting on top.

And that’s basically it for foundation.

I handle my under-eye situation separately, and I know it sounds involved, but I try to use as little of each product as possible to keep the area from looking cakey.

This time again, I start with a primer, and I’ve been using one called Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer.

It’s bomb!

Then I blend a trace, faint amount of NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer into the inner corners. After that’s blended out, I set it with a product that I’m not sure many people know about (heard about it from a friendly makeup artist) — Trish McAvoy’s Line Refiner.

Basically, it — and it’s kind of hard to explain — smooths and settles everything down so it looks less cakey. Then I set that, very lightly, with MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural.

Aaand that’s it for dark circles.

Now, this is my overall process for pictures, but, you know, I’ll modify things along the way when I don’t have time for everything here.

Messy reverse french braid


Like, if I’m in a hurry, I won’t use two primers. I’ll just use one primer. I won’t custom mix things. I’ll just use one foundation. Sometimes I’ll skip powder. The steps are very fluid.

How long this all takes depends on how pressed I am for time. If I’m dilly-dallying, heck yeah! — you can always tweak more things, and the whole foundation process can take up to 20 minutes.

Without dilly-dallying, though, 10 minutes. Yup. But I have all my crap laid out in front of me. I have it all where I need it to be, so I’m not reaching into different drawers or whatever. When I sit down to work, I have everything prepared.

How about you? What’s your current face makeup routine? (brief overview)

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 40 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Rachel says:

    I really want to try the Nars radiant creamy concealor, my purple eye bags are out of control! I recently bought a makeup forever concealer, but I find it to be a little drying and sort of enhances my fine lines. My routine is pretty minimal, Clinique moisturizer, Estée lauder primer, foundation and powder. A little blush from whoever, Estée lauder mascara, and Benefit brow filler. I usually put my lipstick on in the car, and only on the weekends when I have time I use eyeshadow and liner!

    • Cindy says:

      If you haven’t tried a peachy corrector, you should give them a try! A corrector (in contrast to concealer) works to neutralize the discoloration. Sometimes, you won’t need concealer on top but depending on how severe the purpleness is, you might want to add concealer to match with the rest of your face. My rule of thumb is that the more purple/blue my circles are, the more orange tones in my concealer. I like to use the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Medium with my skintone ( I’m MUFE 120/UD Naked Skin Foundation in 3 for reference) but many brands make them and they come in various formulas!
      Cindy recently posted … UNBOXING | Tarte “Be Your Own Tartetist” February Set

    • Laurie says:

      If you’re a light-to-medium skin tone, you might find the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Honey to be just what your purpley eye bags need. Honey is a peachy tone, which helps cancel out the blue/ purple of the under eye area. I apply mine (sparingly, as it’s buildable) with a Real Techniques deluxe crease brush and then pat it in with my fingertips. Lightly apply a brightener (Urban Decay’s Naked concealer works well for this, as surprisingly pigmented, super thin, *and* the shades run light) and/ or lightly apply your foundation over they Honey and you should notice the darkness is significantly reduced, if not eliminated.

  2. Lily S. says:

    Nice, pretty and fresh… love how you don’t feel you have to finish your looks with false eyelashes, truth is, we don’t wear them everyday and it’s ok!
    Lily S. recently posted … Lookbook ~ Featuring Tarte Tartelette Palette

  3. Katherine M says:

    I love your makeup looks! You always make it look natural. You blend your foundation very well, and I think each step is worth it.

    I can be out the door in 5 minutes, or I can take a half hour to do just makeup. My out-the-door-routine is BB or CC cream, blush, concealer for eyes and zits, and illuminating face powder.

    My half hour routine is usually when I’m doing something big with the eye makeup, but it’s rare that I have a half hour routine anymore. It’s more likely that I’ll have the 5 minute face with primer thrown in, and bronzer for contouring and better blending. Plus the 10 minutes for priming the eyes and deciding/executing what I want to do.

  4. That’s a great routine, Karen! I always start with applying primer (Smashbox on the face, Urban Decay on the eyes) and then I do my eye make-up, which is usually a smokey look featuring two or three shades from whatever palette or mono I like that day. Then I do my eyeliner, mascara and brows. And finally I apply some blush or bronzer, a bit of mattifying powder and I’m done. Yep, no foundation in my daily routine!
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick & Perfectly Defined Long-wear Brow Pencil

  5. Agata says:

    Your routine is definitely working because your skin looks flawless in these pictures. I can’t go without a primer either. My favorite foundation at the moment is L’Oreal pro-matte infallible. My dark circles are the biggest issue and I still haven’t exactly found a perfect product or combination of products. I do like Mac’s Prolongwear concealer but the pump drives me crazy and I waste so much product every time.
    Agata recently posted … What’s In My Makeup Bag- Las Vegas Edition

  6. Keis says:

    After a splash of Étude House essence and AlbaBotanica emollient sunscreen, I use a Black Radiance under eye kit and then pat Laneige BB cream on. I usually finish with Rimmel matte powder or a sebum absorbing powder from Innisfree.

    Your routine has your face glowing! So gorgeous.

  7. Tracy says:

    My 20 (sometimes 30) minute morning routine
    Cover FX Illuminating Primer
    Dior Hydra Life BB Creme (tiny amount/center of face only/blended out)
    Cover FX Contour Kit (i use this as “eyeshadow” too)
    MUFE HD Blush
    Cover FX Illuminating Setting Powder (love the press/roll technique)
    Anastasia Brow Wiz

    Tinted Lip Balm

  8. Fancie says:

    What is that orange on your lips?? I feel like I absolutely need it in my life lol. It looks AMAZING on you! Currently, my routine is pretty simple since I work from home and rarely leave the house unless for errands lol. Lately I’ve been priming with the NYX Honey Dew Me Up Primer Serum that I picked up recently. It’s pretty good! Next, I fill in my brows, apply a little liner (cat eye if I’m feeling jazzy lol), lashes and then lipstick. Maybe a little mascara here and there too
    Fancie recently posted … Milani Romantic Rose Blush Review

  9. Stacey says:

    Lately I’ve been sticking to very minimal makeup. Mostly just primer and lip balm due to the fact that I’m in the middle of moving.

  10. Sheryl says:

    Your face looks flawless! I would like to know what orange lipstick are you wearing?? It brightens up your whole look!!

  11. Erin says:

    Just moisturizer, Tarte foundation or NARS TM, and NARS concealer!
    Erin recently posted … Organic Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

  12. Kalli says:

    I think my face makeup routine is pretty straight-forward. For M-F office job makeup (I work in nonprofit, so it’s more relaxed anyway), I start with NYX Photo Loving Primer which is a nice, low-cost dupe of Smashbox’s primer. Then I use True Match Lumi, which I only recently bought but holy crap it’s the best for my dry skin. I use Hard Candy’s Glamoflague under my eyes and then set everything with NYX’s Set It, Don’t Fret It mineral setting powder. It’s pretty fine-milled and buffs everything to a nice finish for the office. After that, I go in with all the fun colored stuff!
    Kalli recently posted … MAC Candy Yum Yum for All Your Neon Pink Dreams

  13. Stephanie Smith says:

    First I start with an old lady cream, right now it’s Olay Regenerist something or other, then I use Urban Decay Naked bb Cream, because I have pretty good skin and I don’t have circles under my eyes, I was born with that, so I can get away with very sheer coverage. I’ll use a little Benefit Bo-ing under the bb cream if I have a little redness, but that’s it. Two minutes! Verrrrrrrry simple.

  14. Kate says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. I’m always interested in finding out how others achieve their best complexion look. I was shocked to discover after years of assuming that I was getting it right, that I had been using way too much foundation and I was just applying with my hands.
    Kate recently posted … world wide wednesdays :: by the numbers

  15. Trude says:

    This is just one of the things I love about living in a time where I can easily read/watch what everyone else does – it’s taught so much, including that it’s okay to mix formulas and products to get it to work for my unique skin situation. I’ve been skipping primer lately (Benefit’s The Porefessional) because it was emphasizing the dry cheek patches I’ve been fighting this winter. For foundation I’ve been mixing It Cosmetic’s Oxygen foundation with MUFE Mat Velvet Plus and applying it with a Beauty Blender. Then UD eye primer, NARS creamy concealer set with Laura Mercier’s Brightening undereye powder, MAC’s Studio Fix concealer as needed and set with MAC Studio Fix pressed powder. And of course a setting spray before I go!
    Trude recently posted … 5 Things

  16. Rachel R. says:

    Your routine sounds complicated, but your skin looks fantastic. I’m impressed you know how to mix products together to get what you need. It sounds like you have it down to a science.

    I start with Murad Acne Spot Fast Fix, if needed. Then Eslor Firming Collagen Day Cream, because at 45 I’m starting to get a little jowly. I follow that with NuSkin Moisture Restore Day Protective Lotion SPF 15. I rarely wear primer. Then, depending on how much coverage I need that day and how oily my skin is (at my age, it changes frequently), I use a BB Cream, foundation or powder foundation. I use e.l.f. Studio Maximum Coverage Concealer – Oil Free over acne, if needed. I set with powder. If I haven’t slept well, I use e.l.f. Studio HD Concealer in Brightening. I get dark circles, but not bags, and this works great and dries quickly. On my eyes, I use NuSkin TruFace Line Corrector, then primer (usually Too Faced Shadow Insurance or Urban Decay Primer Potion).

  17. Alix says:

    Urgh mine is so basic haha. Mostly I don’t bother to prime with anything other than my Avene moisturiser. I’ve tried several primers and so far none have given me the lightbulb moment for daytime looks.. for night time I’ll happy slap on the smashbox or even benefit’s porefessional..
    Foundation I buff either Chanel Vitalumiere or Makeup Atelier Paris HD liquid into my skin with a buffing brush or if I want a more dewy look I’ll use my beauty blender.. then I use a combination of maybelline age rewind and channel eclat lumiere pen on the under eye area to banish those pesky dark circles.. and use the eclat lumiere down the bridge of my nose, browbone and cheekbones to highlight before patting in. Any blemishes get a covering of benefit erase paste and then I set under eyes and t done with either MAC liberalize skin finish natural or Ben Nye banana powder. Phew. It takes me 5 mins – I can do it on the train, in the car etc.. a life of commuting means I’ve perfected it!

  18. Doreen says:

    Well, im always changing things out of boredom. Usually I use Temptu airbrush pod make up. The finish is beautiful! First
    Cleanse, tone, add moisturizer. Then hourglass mineral veil primer, cover fx under eye primer. I love several under eye concealer, day time usually perricone no concealer (spf 35) add rodial istalglam
    Eye brightener in aspen. Set with hourglass powder or nar’s setting illuminating powder. I Use same powder for setting face also. Temptu blush in bright coral or sheer berry. Bronzer temptu to go under cheek bones for contour and temples, neck and jaw line.
    Temptu highlighter or Kevin Aucoin celestial highlighter. Day time shadow, using nar’s eyelid primer, mally cream shadow sticks, sometimes only one to brighten eyes. It gel eyeliner with fork end brush usually just between eyelashes in black. Under eye either waterproof pencil or eyeshadow in a brown, only half way outer eye. Then younique 3-D fiber lash for the thickest fullest lashes on top lash.
    Bottom lash maybelline waterproof lash discovery in black. Then depending my mood, lipstick pencil Nars satin in more neutral or Queen gloss in tube with brush end in coral or fushia. Done! Takes maybe 20 minutes.

  19. Lulle says:

    I usually do really simple. First because I prefer a more natural look, second because my face tends to sweat as soon as I’m hot, and it’s almost all year round here… not glamorous when it melts your foundation 🙁
    So I moisturize real well, using a moisturizer with a high SPF if I can.
    Then I use either powder foundation (typically Clinique Almost Powder) or a light cream foundation (these days it’s Dior’s new Nude Air, which I think ROCKS) that I set with mattifying powder (MAC Blot). Sometime, especially on really warm days, I skip everything and only use my Blot powder.
    If I’m working towards a flawless face, I’ll add a bit of Clinique’s Redness Solutions yellow powder on my cheeks.
    I also use theBalm TimeBalm concealer under my eyes and set it with my Blot powder or the Redness Solutions powder, depending on my mood.
    That’s it!
    Lulle recently posted … 7 fun facts about Evian Facial Water Spray + giveaway!

  20. Laurie says:

    My foundation routine is pretty basic — it’s my pre-foundation skincare and under eye regimen that takes the most time. I’m not the biggest fan of primers, myself. My oily/ combo skin has just never gotten along that well with them and most of their silicone bases make me break out over time. 2 primers I will use (and occasionally rotate between) are the Too Faced Hangover Primer (silicone free!) and the Hourglass Mineral Veil. I’ll also sometimes use Hourglass’s Hyaluronic Skin Tint under my foundation, if I want a little added luminosity.

    Most days, though, I go sans primer and just make sure to exfoliate, prep and moisturize my skin well. Prior to foundation, in the colder months, I like to use Clinique’s Youth Surge Age Defying Moisturizer SPF 15; and in the warmer weather I’ll use a combo of Murad’s Skin Perfecting Moiturizing Lotion and Murad’s Anti-Aging Moisturizer.

    I wait a bit for the moisturizer to settle in, and then I apply my foundation. I have a few of those I like to rotate between, as well. Didn’t I say this would be basic? Sheesh! Anyway, right now I’ve been using Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Fluid Foundation on days when I don’t want/ need full coverage (it’s a medium coverage makeup) and the rest of the time, I’ve been using the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. I apply with either a Wayne Goss # 13 brush or the Sephora Pro Flawless Airbrush #56 brush. If I use a thicker foundation (like Clinique’s Beyond Perfecting, for instance), I prefer to apply with a damp beauty blender.

    Any remaining imperfections are covered/ blurred away with Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer. I set oily areas with NARS crystal powder and finish with Hourglass Ambient Lighting in either Dim or Diffused (or a combination of both), depending on my mood.

    See? So basic! 😛

  21. gabis says:

    My face makeup routine is minimal really. Partly because I’m always late, partly because I’m too much-so-very lazy and partly because my skin is very problematic and doesn’t react very well to makeup sometimes. So it’s basically primer – though lately I’ve changed to Clinique’s Pore Refining Solution Serum – and MUFE’s Face and Body foundation which I apply at work lol. When I feel it’s needed or have the energy for it I use a bit of either Josie Maran or Laura Mercier Secret Concealer around my dark circles and that’s it. Minimal! 🙂

  22. Keidra says:

    YSL Fusion Ink Foundation
    Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
    Kevyn Aucoin Bronzer or Sonia Kashuk Cream Bronzer
    Chanticaille Liquid Lumiere
    Caudalie Grape Water Mist

  23. Dollie says:

    Your foundation is so well blended, it looks totally flawless. But with two kids and in-laws, I truly don’t have that kind of time.It’s always makeup in a rush and I take just 10 minutes for the whole face, eyes lips, cheeks. Oh to have the time to carefully apply and blend….
    Dollie recently posted … Luxury Hotels In Jaipur Offering A Royal Stay

  24. Crystal says:

    The smashbox undereye is something I would love to try. My fave foundation is Jane Iredale’s purepressed base, have you ever tried those? Quite buildable and still very lightweight thanks to the compact powder texture. It changed my view of foundation
    Crystal recently posted … Hugo Woman

  25. Your skin looks absolutely stunning Karen! It truly does take a bit of time and careful application to get things to look just right and natural. I’m going to try mixing foundations and see how things turn out. My skin has been dry this winter and I have been mixing some Clarins Instant Light skin perfector or MAC Strobe cream into my foundation to get a glowy finish and to tone down the coverage a bit as well.
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … Heroine Make Volume & Curl Mascara Review // Japanese Drugstore Finds

  26. Iris says:

    Mine is simple. I put on sunscreen, face powder, an undereye concealer/primer. Next step is an eyeshadow primer and an eyeshadow. Lastly, I add lip colour and maybe some blush and/or concealer if needed.

  27. Serraqual says:

    Karen! Can you share the lip color you have on those 3 pictures? Love ’em!!!

  28. Sandy says:

    I am having problems with my concealer looking dry/cakey these both seem like good options. Do you use an eye cream underneath the Smashbox under eye primer? Or is the Smashbox hydrating enough?

  29. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is also my HG concealer for the undereye area. When I’m in a hurry, I also use it to cover my dark spots and blemishes. For the primer, foundation and powder, my favorite these days is Make Up For Ever. For color though, it’s Chanel or NARS, and Korean beauty brands.

    I can never finish my makeup too fast to make my husband jump in delight. The best I could do is 20 minutes. If I need to apply makeup in 10 minutes or less, that would be just powder foundation, a little blush, 1 coat of mascara and a quick swipe of lip color. Lol!
    Alyssa Melanie recently posted … Chanel Etienne Rouge Coco Lipstick (446) Review

  30. I conceal my undereye area first (MAC Concealer Palette), then go in with a BB Cream or TM, use a Paintpot on my lids, do my eyes and my brows, go back in with concealer on angry spots or dark scars,and finish with powder, blush and lips.
    Primer and Highlighter are rarely used.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Inspired by… Dior Kingdom of Colors Spring 2015

  31. Fran says:

    Thanks, Karen! I’m definitely going to try the Line Refiner, and probably the under-eye primer as well. I’ve been struggling with my fine lines lately — ever since the little bumps I’ve had under my eyes for years (fat pads? fluid retention? who knows?) suddenly started to recede all on their own, I find I’ve got a lot of loose skin to contend with in that area. Frustrating! Maybe these products will help a bit 🙂

  32. Anastassia says:

    Your skin looks very good in pictures. I usually wash with A-Derma face cleanser liquid. Then put on my day cream and then my shiseido make up foundation and afterwards some powder foundation and a blush. Mascara always. I usually put on light make up in the mornings. I prefer to wear concealer only at night or when I go out in the evenings. I do all this make up routine in 10-15 minutes in the morning because I have to prepare my child for school as well and my husband is waiting for bathroom as well. During summer I prefer more lightweight foundation like a BB or a CC cream instead of a regular foundation. My skin is combination to dry now that is winter still.

  33. Charlene says:

    I had to look hard in here to see where you take care of your skin with sun protection. I suppose you get a little if you use the Lumi or the the Diorskin foundations, but that’s it – if you just wear the Nars foundation, you don’t get any. It surprised me that you didn’t go out of your way do anything for that.

  34. caz says:

    Because the Aus sun is harsh I use a light or fuller coverage foundation with SPF. Then it’s 5 mins to do eyes, cheeks, brows & lips. No time for too many products! Karen – you & Lisa Eldridge are my fave beauty bloggers.

  35. Liza says:

    I’ve been loving using my hourglass primer and then contouring with the Chanel Bronze Universal and concealing/highlighting and then using a beauty blender to put the Nars All Day Luminous Powder foundation over it! It gives the most beautiful effect! That Nars powder foundation is pure magic especially with a beauty blender! And the look surprisingly has good coverage i think! I had been before using it to set liquid foundations but i think its amazing all by its self! If you haven’t tried it over cream contour and highlight DO! You will not regret!

  36. You are looking flawless Karen. I have just started with mixing foundations and really liking the results.. yet to have that time to blend in the powder perfectly into the skin.. like you !! 😛

    Thankfully under eye area is in a better shape so I can skip on heavy concealing !! 🙂
    Poo@beautyandmakeupmatters recently posted … Sleek Makeup Rio Rio I-Divine Eye Shadow Palette Review, Swatch, EOTD

  37. Zovesta says:

    You look beautiful! Would you ever be comfortable showing us a makeupless face? =o Getting some ideas on how to change my routine after reading yours. <3

  38. Dylan says:

    I start with Anastasia Brow Wiz and then use Anastasia brow gel on my brows. I use whatever primer (using Maybelline Baby Skin currently) and buff it into my face with the Becca The One Perfecting Brush. After that, I use a mini BeautyBlender under my eyes to buff in my Benefit concealer. I use a BeautyBlender with NARS Radiant Cream Foundation in Mont Blanc. Next, I take a Tarte Slenderizer brush and use that with the Anastasia Contour Kit to carve out my nonexistent cheekbones and contour my nose. I use Tarte’s Park Ave Princess bronzer to give the contour a matte finish. I use the same contour kit to highlight. I apply Benefit’s Benetint on the apples of my cheeks and then use the white slanted MAC Brush (maybe the 168?) with MAC’s Dainty blush. I then use theBALM’s Sexy Mama powder (with a Tarte Airbuki) to set my makeup and as a final touch, I use Ben Nye Final Seal setting spray which makes my makeup matte and sweatproof all day (it’s what the princesses at DisneyWorld use.)
    And that’s it. It really doesn’t take too long.
    If I’m in a rush, I’ll just do a quick contour with NARS South Beach Multiple and do concealer. Then I’ll set my makeup with powder + setting spray then be done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge