When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I quit everything, cold turkey. Meat. Dairy. Anti-perspirant. Heavy metals. I was very nearly vegan for the first couple of months (until I started chemo, ironically, when the only food that I occasionally had an appetite for was ribeye, pizza and Taco Bell. Calories, man…) — and my beauty routine, which has always been pretty simple and straightforward, was severely audited.

Now that it’s been a few years, I’m…somewhat less strict, let’s say. I’ll get flack for this, I know, but I’ve found there’s something to be said for still living your life. As in, yes I want to be living that life for as long as is humanly possible (for Lana, especially), but I also don’t want to be reminded of what was quite clearly the lowest time of my life every time I pick up a tube of shitty mineral mascara.

That said, I was going through my routine the other morning, and I realized that 80% of the products I use are still safer than what I was using before (including a pretty non-shitty natural mascara, of all things). And since I’ve been using and re-purchasing them for going on three years now, I figure they’ve earned their keep enough to share.

Skincare & Makeup Tips: My (Mostly) Natural Beauty Routine

Below are the items I wear daily, in the order of how they’re they’re applied.

About 80% of my beauty & makeup products are safer than what I was using before (like a pretty non-shitty natural mascara). Skin, lips, eyes...#protips

01 // 02 // 03 // 04 // 05 // 06 // 07 // 08
09 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13 // 14

1 // Organic Raw Unfiltered Honey YES, HONEY. Inspired by my friend and holistic beauty guru Lily Diamond, I start every morning washing my face with just honey and warm water, and my skin is the most balanced it’s been in years. (Everything you need to know is in this post.) I wash my face sinkside, which makes it a little messy, so I love the squeeze bottle for easy distribution. (If you do it in the shower (heh), the potential for sticky residue is a non-issue.)

2 // Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo Not on my face, but close enough. Also, this is one of those things where I plead ignorance — I just don’t look at the label. OK, lies. I’ve looked at the label. It’s not great. But! It’s effective, inexpensive and smells lovely — clean and not at all cloying. I wash my hair about twice a week, and on the days I don’t, I liberally spray this on my roots wherever they’re looking greasy and then gather all of my hair up into a loose wad on the top of my head and let it do its oil-absorbing thing while I do my makeup. 

3 // Elta MD Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen This is both my AM face moisturizer and my sunscreen — it is truly effective for both. I have combination skin — oily t-zone but dry patches around my nose — and this is the perfect balance. It goes on rich and creamy but it’s non-greasy. The active ingredient is 7.0% transparent zinc oxide, so it’s totally clear and there aren’t any funky chemical sunscreen agents involved. Dermatologist developed and recommended for post-procedure patients (think: face lifts and peels), so you know it’s pretty hardcore. And it’s a tremendous value for the amount you receive.

4 // Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream Here’s where this list is going to start sounding like a Biossance ad. (It’s not — not that I would be opposed…) A friend of ours works for the parent company that develops the Biossance line, and he gifted me my first Biossance products years ago, when the line was first launched. Since then, I use Biossance almost exclusively for my skincare. (And I pay for it out of pocket, to be clear.) The whole line is plant-based and super science-y, and I haven’t found anything that’s more effective for the value. This eye cream is a newer addition to my routine and I use it day and night. It’s super hydrating without feeling greasy or sticky, and it truly makes me look more bright-eyed.

5 // Biossance Squalane + Rose Vegan Lip Balm There are mixed reviews on this balm, but I find it to be lovely. The subtle rose scent feels like a mini spa treatment, but best of all, it plumps and even rosies up my lips a little — gives them a very youthful, just-been-kissed look that is too good. This goes on morning (pre-lip color, so it’s absorbed while I’m doing the rest of my makeup) and night, right before bed.

6 // Bare Minerals Faux Tan Bronzer True story: I’ve been using this for almost 10 years. I brought it along on my bachelorette weekend, and it looked just as natural and flawless on all the girls in our gang, with skin tones ranging from fair to medium/olive. Not for heavy contouring or anything, but it’s perfect for adding subtle, everyday definition without looking to warm or orange.

7 // NARS Blush in Orgasm I’m going to be honest: I haven’t spent much time looking into a healthier alternative to this one, because it’s just so good. A classic for a reason, and just a dab’ll do ya. The thousands of reviews don’t lie. It’s the ideal all-around flush.

8 // Pacifica Eyeshadow Palette in Beachy Punk All of Pacifica’s eyeshadow palettes are surprisingly good. The Pink Nudes one gets a lot of play over here, too, and it’s a fine alternative to everyone’s favorite Urban Decay Naked palettes. For daily wear, I apply either Tomboy or Blondie with a wet brush to my whole lid, add a smudge on the lower lid, and then blend just a dab of Rebel up onto my brow bone, but the rest of the palette is fun, too. (Just did a subtle, smokey eye with steely-blue Casbah and it was a fun departure from the usj.) And all Pacifica products are vegan, cruelty-free, and made without parabens and phthalates. 

9 // Pacifica Stellar Gaze Mascara in Supernova I have fairly short, fine lashes, so mascara is the most impactful item in my cosmetics arsenal, and this is one of the most dramatic natural mascaras I’ve found. I really load it on, and it does a fine job without clumping or flaking. (For more dramatic evening makeup, or when I need longer-wearing or tear-proof mascara, I use Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions, which is more or less falsies in a tube. LOTS of length, but not super buildable without clumping, so you have to get it right on the first swipe or two.)

10 // NYX Tinted Brow Mascara in Brunette Another drugstore find that I just haven’t found a natural dupe for, especially for the price. (I’ve given Glossier’s Boy Brow a go, and while I like it, I find that I need just a little more definition, even for the off-duty model look we’re all trying so hard to emulate.) There’s zero auburn tinge in the brunette color, so it’s a much more muted, natural look than some other colored brow mascaras I’ve used. I lightly stroke it on from the middle of my brows out, and then go back and define the inside of each brow a bit when there’s less product on the applicator.

11 // Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey Oh, hi, high school. Betting there’s a good chance you already have this in your makeup bag — or did, once upon a time. I’ve been wearing it off and on since the ’90s, and it’s still as good as it ever was. Especially over the Biossance Vegan Rose Lip Balm, the color goes on sheer and stain-y and youthful and flushed and — just do it. (Note: this is the only thing I’m not wearing in the photos above because it was in my car, and, well…lazy.)

12 // Thrive Causemetics Lip Mate in Rose Gold Shimmer Not feeling the Black Honey stuff? This gloss is so good I have one in my car, one in my daypack and one in my vanity. It’s shimmery, yes, but much less teeny-bopper than it looks online. Super hydrating and subtly glossy, not at all sticky. Even with a bare face, it brings a nice little lit-from-within thing to your kisser.

13 // Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil This is my in-shower face wash and makeup remover. (It doesn’t have to be used in the shower — that’s just where I find myself washing my face at the end of most days.) I apply one pump to my dry skin before wetting my face and it instantly dissolves even waterproof makeup, all while smelling like you walked into some fancy-ass spa. Rinses super clean, and it’s hydrating without being greasy.

14 // Biossance 100% Squalane Oil At this point, we should all be asking: “what is squalane?” — right? Supposedly there’s an agent in our own skin called squalene (with an “e”) that diminishes as we get older, and Biossance has found a way to produce something nearly identical from 100% plant-based, renewable sugarcane. This oil is just that: the pure stuff, and it’s totally hydrating, firming, redness-reducing, yadda yadda. That’s what the website says, so take it with a grain of salt. I say that it feels stellar on, a little goes a long way, and as my exclusive nighttime moisturizer, I’ve never gotten more compliments on my skin. (Seriously.) 

Shop My Daily Beauty Routine

And for your outtake pleasure: actual footage of me dispersing said dry shampoo. (Not really but kinda really.) I’m basically a beauty blogger now.

About 80% of my beauty & makeup products are safer than what I was using before (like a pretty non-shitty natural mascara). Skin, lips, eyes...#protips

xo!
Em

Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!

10 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much for this! I have been trying to make my routine more natural and really appreciate you sharing your finds! And I agree that the Pacifica mascara is the best natural one out there… after having tried four others, I settled on this one recently as well. Thank you again!

    • Haha, I love it! I seriously can’t quit the Black Honey these days — it’s SO good. Sheer, juicy, a little vampy. Glad I’m not alone!

  2. I’ve been cleaning my face with sweet almond oil for over a year, but now I’m going to have to try washing with honey in the mornings!
    I used to have a long and complicated skin care routine, but when I minimized and kept it to a few simple products (about 80% natural, like you) my skin liked it much better.

    • Would love to hear what you think when you try the honey — I’ll never quit it now that I’ve started! (And yes, sometimes simpler is better!)

  3. Welp, I just went down the Lily Diamond rabbit hole. Love her whole philosophy! I’d love to pare back to a simpler routine/one that doesn’t need to involve Rx acne medications and retinoids…

    • She’s phenomenal, isn’t she? Such a beautiful soul, too. (And hilarious in person.) A good rabbit hole to go down, for sure! 🙂

    • Ooof, I’ll have to get back to you on that. I am SO SO lazy when it comes to my hair — I literally wash it a couple of times a week, and right now I like the products I use but I don’t necessarily love them enough to recommend. Sounds like I need to do some homework! 🙂

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