How to Perfect your Makeup Routine in Just One Hour

Into every life comes that moment. You know the one. That morning when you look in the mirror and ask yourself: is it time for me to refresh my daily makeup routine? When that day arrives for you, dear reader, whether it’s because you have a job interview, a new beau, a birthday or just a change of season or of heart, what next? How do you navigate the beauty world without going batty? No worries. We have a simple solution for you. Here’s how to perfect your makeup routine in just one hour with a consultation.

life changes, and your makeup should, too

You’re at a turning point in your life. Is your makeup bag ready?

If not, don’t hit the panic button. You can successfully update your look in about an hour. You’re busy, you’re a person of substance, and you want to look great without having to enroll in beauty school.

While it would be wonderful if we could all enlist a skilled makeup artist to come to our home every morning to fluff us up and make us camera-ready. But if you can’t roll that way, there’s another solution.

One word: Sephora.

We’re not talking about a full-body transformation, or even a wholesale revision of every product you’re currently using. Just a quick refresh that will leave you feeling confident and happy, with a minimum of fuss.

navigating the world of beauty

If you’re like us, you find walking into the cosmetics area of a luxury department store completely overwhelming.

So we popped in for a one-hour consultation – scheduled in advance – at our local Sephora. They stock an incredible range of products, and they’re product-agnostic in their recommendations, which is exactly what you want.

If you spend $50 on products when the consultation is done, there’s no other cost. We emerged 60 minutes later with 5 specific new products to try, a commitment to regular exfoliation, and a much better understanding of contouring. Yay!

how to refresh your makeup routine in just one hour

If you decide to do this, either at Sephora or another retailer, here are 7 tips for how to get the most from your consultation:

1. Ask for a makeup artist skilled in your particular areas of concern 

When you make your appointment, be clear about what you need. For example, as a black woman, I wanted to be sure that my consultant had previously worked with people who have my coloring. I didn’t care what race they were, but I did care about whether or not they had every worked with someone who looks like me (I’m happy to be a pioneer in other ways, but not when it comes to getting the right shade of foundation).

2. At the start of the session, be really honest about the top 2-3 things

Focus on specifically what you want guidance and help on. Starting the session with a request to “just make me over” is not helpful for either you or the consultant, and makeup and moisturizer are not going to have the impact that a medical intervention would. So manage your expectations, focus on a realistic number of issues to address, and then be open to suggestions.

3. Be willing to learn.

If you often feel overwhelmed by all the beauty and skin care advertisements and editorials that come flying your way, like me you may be conditioned to tune a lot of it out. In this one instance, though, be open to hearing about what’s new and what might work for you. It’s just an hour, and you don’t have to act on any of it if you don’t want to, but there’s a lot of innovation going on in the category right now, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the solutions available for whatever you want to try to improve.

4. Take notes.

At Sephora (and at most beauty counters at other stores), there’ll be a notepad or even better, a sketch of a face where you can pencil in exactly what the tips and recommendations are for you. You think you’ll remember what the consultant is advising you to do, but you won’t. So write it down.

5. Do not get obsessed with having to buy everything.

It’s natural to feel that you should purchase everything at the end of a beauty consultation (or a facial). Resist the urge.

My make-up bag has in the past been cluttered with expensive products that I bought after a spa visit that sat there for months because I couldn’t remember what they were for, why I bought them, or how to use them. This is dopey and wasteful.

My new rule is nothing new comes in unless something old is going out. Go back to your 2-3 key areas of concern, and focus only on buying products that address them. If you want to circle back later for more new products in other areas, it’s a pretty good bet that the store will still be there.

6. Try what your consultant suggests in small sizes, and see what works 

Over the course of a few weeks, stick to the new routine and see what happens. I did my Sephora consultation, and then waited to pen this post until I saw which of the seven products I purchased that I actually ended up using, and how they performed for me over time.

The good news? I love about 80% of what I bought. There are a couple of things that my consultant recommended that I won’t buy again, but her hit rate was terrific in introducing me to new products that I will now incorporate into my regular routine.

7. Make it a habit to stop in for a tune-up once a year

Advances in the science of skin care and beauty are genuine and ongoing, so if you’re still using the same products you were using years ago, you’re probably missing out on something that would perform better for you. If you’re spending money on cosmetics, doesn’t it make sense to invest an hour to be sure you’re using the best ones for you?

we discovered some new brands we love

Because every person’s situation is different, I won’t give you a litany of the exact products that I’m now using.

However, I will say that I discovered some niche brands that I love: Hourglass, Make Up For Ever; Kat von D, and Skin Inc. As a result of my consultation, I have gone back to a couple of brands that I used to use but had wandered away from (Laura Mercier and Nars).

And I now have a streamlined morning routine that uses products from the drugstore all the way through to the crazy-expensive but totally worth it brands Sisley Paris and Natura Bisse. Which is as it should be. In the beauty category as with fashion, if you test and learn, you’ll find great solutions at every price point.

If you decide to do this, let us know how it goes. Good luck and have fun!

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