not a professional. just crazy.

I’m Finally Wearing Makeup Again. These Are My Fresh-Faced (Budgeproof) Favorites.

Photo: Rio Viera-Newton

After going barefaced for most of the past year, I’ve found myself, once again, indulging in a morning makeup routine. There were some nice things about my makeup hiatus: For one, I let my skin breathe, which, being acne-prone, it appreciated very much. But more importantly, for the first time (maybe ever), I got comfortable looking at my totally foundation-free face — I’m no longer shocked to see my blemishes and dark circles in the mirror.

But as a beauty obsessive, I really missed playing with makeup. Getting ever so close to the perfect winged liner, pairing a pretty eyeshadow and lipstick with outfits, testing different texture and color combinations — all of it is a genuine source of joy and a creative outlet. Sitting around in sweats all day for a year-plus, makeupless, made me realize that. So as things open, and I get out more, I’m excited to wipe away the dust that’s collected on my makeup and truly reenter the world.

And, as it turns out, I’m not the only one eager for a makeup routine: For the first time since March 2020, I’ve gotten texts and DMs asking for the best eyeliners, mascaras, and blushes. And perhaps the most exciting item to make a comeback … lipsticks.

Sure, I’m not wearing as much face makeup as I did pre-quarantine, but I’ve been loving a fresh face: A flushed cheek paired with a striking mascara-liner combination. I still wear masks daily, so I’ve adopted little tricks to keep my makeup from transferring.

Below, a list of makeup essentials for your outdoor cocktails, picnics, and any other post-COVID (fingers crossed) activities.

These days, I’m not really covering very much — I typically just take a bit of the edge off of dark circles or redness under my eyes and around my nose. For that, I love using this concealer from Kosas. It’s insanely creamy, hydrating, and can easily be blended into the skin for a barely there, no-makeup-makeup finish. This is an excellent choice for anyone with dry skin who just wants a little bit of coverage every day. I wear shade 03.

Let’s say a big ol’ zit sprouts on my chin (this recently happened, unfortunately). To blur it, I’ll apply concealer, and to make sure it stays put all day, I dust on some of this powder foundation over it with a small or large fluffy brush (depending on how large the area is). This powder’s finish is buildable and matte, and it’s not at all chalky or cakey. But since it’s a powder foundation and not just a regular setting powder, it provides that little extra kick of coverage when needed and has really great longwear, no-transfer capabilities.

I’m really obsessed with the cream-to-powder finish of this blush from Ilia. It goes on with a moisturizer-like texture, so it’s easy to buff and blend seamlessly into the skin with just your fingers for a really natural, everyday flush. But as it sets, it dries into a powder, which gives it a day-to-night wear that doesn’t easily rub completely off on the mask. The shades of this blush are also incredibly special — they always manage to give a realistic-looking flush that never comes across as makeup-y or clown-like. “Waking Up,” a warm terracotta, and “Sing,” which is a jammy berry, are both really beautiful.

Since masks are very much still a part of our lives, I tend to go all out on my eyes. Liners can add that special flare to a makeup look with minimal effort. One of my favorites, Fenty Flypencil, comes in 20 different colors, from an olive green (Bank Tank) to a rose-gold shimmer (She a Problem). There’s a shade for every mood — whether you’re feeling low-key and neutral or creative with an electric flash of color. The creamy, supersmooth formula makes for a zero-tug application, which is helpful for liner rookies or wobbly hands (ahem, me.)

I’ve written about this mascara so many times because I wholeheartedly believe it gives that perfect your-lashes-but-better effect without any smudginess or fallout. Basically, this is the perfect mascara for people who don’t really like mascara. It lengthens and gives a slight bit of volume to your lashes without it looking clumpy or obvious that you’ve put on a ton of it. I’ve repurchased this mascara time and time again because I really do think it’s one of the best out there.

While I’m not necessarily wearing lip color on the regular, on the days I do want to add a little bit of color, I almost always use this About Face Lip Liner. I don’t just line the outside of my lips. I apply this lip liner all over so I can ensure whatever I apply on top stays put for longer. I’m not sure what wizardry created this formula, but it does not budge. Seriously — even when I’ve swatched it on my hand and aggressively rubbed it, it doesn’t move! So naturally, it’s become an absolute staple of mine for days where I’m taking my mask on and off. It never transfers, smudges, or smears — even a bright red will stay crisp after a day of mask wearing. It’s something to behold! I like a lot of the shades, but I’m particularly obsessed with “Clockwork,” which is a latte-colored light brown.

Photo: Retailer

On its own, this liquid lip tint gives a sheer, subtle bitten effect. But applied on top of the About Face liner, the result is matte, velvety, and perfectly smudgey. It’s available in two shades — a soft pink or a berry-ish shade, both of which I adore for everyday daytime makeup.

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The Fresh-Faced Makeup I Keep Coming Back to for Summer