6 Tips for Putting on Your Face (Why I’m So Grateful for Makeup)

When I wake up every morning, always after several snoozes, I drag myself to the bathroom, pee, wash my face, pat it dry and take my first look in the mirror to say good morning to myself.

But if I’m honest, the first conscious thought I actually have at this moment is: “Thank GOD for makeup.”

Because it’s all I need to go from this:


To this:


I have been genetically blessed (both sides of my family have always looked about five to seven years younger than their actual age, myself included). But I am getting older, and I see it in under-eye circles, crow’s feet, forehead crinkles, a hazy, cranky glare…. you get the idea. Oh and let’s not forget the 10-plus years I spent abusing my body by drinking heavily, staying up late, sleeping very little, smoking cigarettes on and off (and on again) — all of which I’m sure have added to these delightful new facial developments.

Don’t get me wrong — I know I’m still a young(ish), vibrant, sober 38-year-old who is very lucky to be healthy and have such first world problems. But still, superficial as it may be, on most mornings I gleefully declare to the heavens: “THANK GOD FOR MAKEUP!”

So, since I gushed about the five spiritual things I do to practice gratitude last week, I thought I’d take a little bit of a different approach this week and share my six morning makeup musts. It might be superficial, but it doesn’t make my overwhelming appreciation for makeup any less real. Just look at that “before” photo. Am I right?

Plus, “putting on a face,” as my mom always says, makes me feel good about myself, which, in turn, makes me a happier, less moody and an all-around better person. It’s empowering to watch myself transform from a bleary- (and often crusty-) eyed Walking Dead-esque woman into an attractive, ready-to-take-on-the-day writer. So, in a nutshell, here’s my basic morning transformation routine.

1. The Wipe-Off. After washing my face, I use a Simple Cleansing Facial Wipe (Amazon.com, $5 for pack of 25 wipes) to make sure my skin is truly as clean as possible. (It’s amazing how much makeup and dirt is still left after a wipe-down.)

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes, $5 for 25, Amazon.com

2. Moisturizer Combo. I blend the following three products together in my palm: One pump of Clean & Clear Oil-Free Dual Action Moisturizer (Amazon.com, $10), because I still suffer from acne-prone skin, two pumps of Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin (Amazon.com, $13) and one pump of Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer Argan Illuminizer (Amazon.com, $50). Yes, the Illuminizer is expensive, but one bottle goes a long way, and it adds a truly natural-looking, healthy glow. Plus, I’ve found that the daily argan oil application has indeed made my skin softer, smoother and all-around clearer.

I mix these three products with both of my hands and apply all over my face, down to my neck.

Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer, $10, Amazon.com
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin, $13, Amazon.com
Josie Maran Argan Illuminizer, $50, Amazon.com

3. Foundation. After letting my moisture combo dry for about a minute, I apply Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup in Classic Ivory (Amazon.com, $15.50). It’s very light in both texture and shade, so I add a few dots to my forehead, checks, chin and nose, then blend

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup in Classic Ivory, $15.50, Amazon.com

4. Face Powder and Bronzer. In order to set the foundation, I immediately apply Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Face Powder (Amazon.com, $9.50) all over my face with a Kabuki brush. Then, I add a light dusting of Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzing Powder (Amazon.com, $30) or Prestige SunFlower Illuminating Bronzing Powder Face Bronzer in Sunkissed (Amazon.com, $10) — depending on my supply and financial sitch — to my forehead, nose and cheeks. This step gets rid of my pale-ass skin tone in a truly natural looking way.

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzing Powder, $30, Amazon.com

5. Under-Eye Concealer. Just a few dots of Benefit’s Erase Paste (Amazon, $26), put on with their handy spatula applicator, significantly minimizes my dark circles.

Benefit Cosmetics Erase Paste, $26, Amazon.com

6. Mascara. Finally, just two swipes of mascara makes a huge difference in my appearance — especially in the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed department. I curl them first, then apply two coats of my current fave, CoverGirl Lashblast Crush Clumper Mascara (Amazon.com, $5). And yes, it really works. As long as you buy a new one each month or so (which you should be doing with most of your mascaras anyway), it really does keep clumps at bay. Scout’s honor.

CoverGirl Lashblast Clump Crusher Mascara, $5,  Amazon.com

Of course, there’s more to it if I’m heading to an office, meeting or party (eye shadow, lipstick, etc.), but these are the essentials that I use everyday that make me so effing thankful for makeup.

Because man, does it make a difference! I’m sure my fellow TueNight staffers — in addition to anyone who has to come in contact with me in the morning — are grateful for my routine, as well.

(All Photos of Susan: Andy Kropa)

Tell Us in the Comments

What do you think?

12 Responses

  1. Joyce

    This is fabulous, Susan. Thanks for making me laugh and for the great makeup tips! You aren’t afraid to say or show anything, are you? I don’t think I could ever publicly post a “before” shot of myself like that (not that I think yours is that bad…)

    Have a great holiday!


  2. inLaurasWords

    I also shmush together multiple moisturizers as a first layer. You can get the moisture you like (mine is Kiehl’s for a nice light hydration) and the color you like (either a BB cream, a foundation, or a tinted moisturizer–currently using one by Laura Mercier). Anywho, I love all your tricks. For what it’s worth you look great before and after!

    • Susan Linney
      Susan Linney

      Thanks inLaurasWords! Mixing moisturizers is a great trick, also works nicely in the summer with sunscreen added to the mix.


  3. Rachel

    You are not alone, Susan! I look like an extra from Walking Dead myself most mornings before makeup 😉 I use mineral powder, which works wonders if you have redness or rosacea like I do. It covers like no other and this Thanksgiving, I can say I am thankful I can look put-together because of this stuff! Happy Turkey Day 🙂

    • Susan Linney
      Susan Linney

      Happy Turkey Day to you too, Rachel!

      Which mineral powder do you use? I love Physicians Formula, but am always on the look out for other goods ones, as well.


      • Rachel


        I actually use the ‘old lady’ stuff by Merle Norman. It’s a little more pricey, like Bare Minerals, but you get a ton. I only have to buy every 3-4 months. The colors are somewhat limited, but I am sort of pale and managed to find one that works 🙂 If there’s a store in your area, you should see if you can get a sample to try. I’ve never tried the Physician’s Formula kind, but I used to love this one concealer they made!

  4. Rachel

    I believe they have a pressed mineral powder also, but I use the loose minerals.

  5. Susan Linney
    Susan Linney

    Thanks Rachel! I’m going to give that “Old Lady” stuff a try! 🙂

    Have a great holiday!


  6. Emma

    Good tips you got here Susan! Must try this sometime. 🙂 Thanks!

  7. Valerie

    I loved both your articles on Tuenight on makeup. Every 5 years or so, I go to a makeup counter (sephora, Saks, blue mercury etc.) and come home with hundreds of dollars of makeup that I use 4 or 5 times only, because the routine isn’t right for me. Do you do consultations?

    (Ps also love your other ‘sobering’ articles – very heartfelt and brave of you!)

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