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After seven months of working from home, my apartment looks like a Sephora stockroom. Testing new makeup products is part of my job as a beauty editor, and it's an occupational hazard I'm very fortunate to have.
Pre-COVID, I would try the latest foundations, mascaras, and eyeshadow palettes from my favorite brands as soon as I got my hands on them, but throughout the pandemic, I just haven't felt inspired to experiment with makeup at all, and my stash has become yet another thing I need to dust in my apartment.
I haven't been going hard with colored eyeliner or bright eyeshadow most days, but there are a handful of products I'm still using on the regular. These are simple, easy-to-apply products that I put on to feel like I'm putting the best version of myself out on Zoom or simply want to put on some makeup in the morning to give myself some sort of pre-work routine.
From a three-in-one serum to super shiny lip gloss, these are the simple makeup products getting me through the pandemic. And yes, I wash my hands before applying them with my fingers.
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Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
I'll be honest: I'm skeptical of any product that promises to be a shortcut in my routine, but this Ilia serum is the real deal. It's a tinted SPF 40 with non-nano zinc oxide that also contains niacinamide, one of my favorite skincare ingredients because it treats a handful of common concerns such as hyperpigmentation and uneven texture. The serum blends like a dream when I apply it with my fingers, makes my skin look ridiculously glowy, and it doesn't pill or oxidize because it's formulated with hydrating squalane and hyaluronic acid. It gets the job done on mornings when I don't feel like going through the motions of my usual skincare and makeup routine...so, pretty much every day.
To buy: $46; iliabeauty.com.
Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra Longwear Concealer
Sorry to my family and friends who've had to listen to me complain about my breakouts for the past seven months. While it looks like we're going to be wearing masks and dealing with mask-adjacent acne for the foreseeable future, the good news is that I've found a concealer that covers the juiciest whiteheads and giant cystic bumps that have been covering my jawline since quarantine started in March. What's great about this creamy concealer is that it has long-wear, buildable coverage that doesn't feel heavy or cakey on my face and a natural dewy finish. I tap it on with a damp makeup sponge (I'm currently into Real Technique's blender) and (almost) forget that my skin looks worse than it did in high school.
To buy: $29; sephora.com.
Maybelline Cheek Heat Gel-Cream Blush
Whenever I'm obligated to turn my Zoom camera on, I reach for this little guy before joining the call. Its unique jelly texture melts into a cream so it leaves my cheeks a subtle rosy glow that isn't streaky or sparkly. The bit of color on my face makes me look alive, even though 2020 has made me feel dead inside.
To buy: $6; amazon.com.
Kosas The Sun Show Bronzer
One of the few good things to come out of spending so much time on Zoom is that my unforgiving web camera has finally got me to master bronzer. My skin is a dull greige (like a grey-beige paint your landlord would use) even when I use the "Touch Up My Appearance" feature. So, I started using this Kosas bronzer on a whim and it's quickly become one of the few products I use whenever I've been wearing makeup during the pandemic. Unlike other bronzers I've tried, it is possible to apply just a little bit of this one to give my face some extra definition. It's made with meadowfoam oil and shea butter to keep it from getting dried out and creating that notorious bronzer tiger stripe.
To buy: $34; kosas.com.
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
RMS' balmy highlighter is the perfect, simplest way to get that glazed doughnut-like glow. I like to tap it on my cheekbones straight from the pot with my finger. It works well with cream or powder blush and bronzer, or simply on its own.
To buy: $38; sephora.com.
Saie Mascara 101
This clean beauty brand's mascara does a little bit of everything. Saie's buildable formula lengthens, defines, and adds volume to lashes without ever getting clumpy. It's the ideal mascara for anyone who wants dramatic lashes but not too dramatic when the rest of your makeup look is low key.
To buy: $24; saiehello.com.
Glossier Boy Brow
My brow routine has always been minimal because thanks to 10 years of waxing, mine do not grow. That being said, whether your brows are on the thinner side like mine or you want to groom them at home without messing them up for your technician, Glossier's Boy Brow is your best bet. The tinted gel sets brows in place and makes them look fluffy and full — even when they're not.
To buy: $16; glossier.com.
Pat McGrath Labs Lust Gloss
I wasn't much of a lipstick person before COVID, but the few colors I did wear are collecting dust. Instead, I've been wearing lip gloss. Pat McGrath's Lust Gloss in Secret Lover has been my go-to because it's a soft pink that brightens up my entire face, but it comes in a number of shades and finishes, including shimmer. It's a no-fuss formula that isn't sticky or tacky and offers just enough pigment to balance the high shine finish.
To buy: $34; patmcgrathlabs.com.
Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation
The reoccurring theme of the makeup products I've been using is that they're so lightweight, it doesn't feel like I'm wearing makeup at all. Finding a medium to full coverage foundation that falls under this category is a tall order. That's where Armani's cult-favorite, award-winning liquid foundation comes in. It covers up every dark spot and zit on my face and leaves me with a healthy-looking glow.
To buy: $64; sephora.com.