I Narrowed My Makeup Collection Down to 6 Products For A Week

I am not a makeup guru, but since I am not blessed with good skin and have gotten several Sephora gift cards each birthday, I have quite the makeup collection—and I utilize it extensively. My daily routine usually goes like this: On my face, I do some light foundation (Nars Natural Radiant Longwear), concealer (Nars Radiant Creamy), blush (Glossier Cloud Paint or Nudestix Nudies Blush), and highlighter (Glossier Haloscope or Benefit Watt’s Up). I fill in and shape my brows with Glossier Boy Brow, and add some color to my eyelids with some sort of shimmery, single-color product (such as Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize Cream Eyeshadow or Glossier Lidstar), and finish with some mascara (Glossier Lash Slick and Milk Makeup Kush Mascara are my absolute favorites).

Although this routine involves a fair amount of products, I consider it fairly low-key because I can do it in under 20 minutes, using just a beauty blender for the foundation and my fingers to smudge and tap on the rest of the products. The resulting look is a glowy, natural, casual-yet-upgraded daily look. Essentially, it makes me look like how a pretty person would look with no makeup, which is the goal. Out of curiosity and pure laziness, I wanted to see if I could narrow my daily makeup products down to just six essentials and still go out into the world feeling just as put-together. I wanted to see how many different uses I could come up with for each individual product and to break out of my creative rut, so throughout the week, I experimented with new techniques and created different looks. The six products I used were my Glossier concealer, Milk mascara, Benefit highlighter, Nudestix blush, Glossier lip balm, and Benefit brow pencil. Here’s what happened.

Day 1

I started the week by simply using a couple of the products I had allotted myself the way they were intended—there was no creativity involved whatsoever. I have an 8 a.m. class on Mondays, so putting anything on my face is a feat in and of itself. I covered my blemishes and evened out my skin tone with concealer, dabbed some highlight on my brow bone, the tip of my nose, and my Cupid’s bow, filled in my brows, applied mascara, and threw on some lip balm. I was out the door in under 10 minutes, got to class early, and looked somewhat put-together. Monday’s result was a win on the look front, a loss on the creativity front, and a vow to do better on Tuesday.

Day 2

On Tuesday, I was able to get a bit more creative. I really missed having some sort of product on my eyelids on Monday, so I decided to use my blush as an eyeshadow. I followed the same look as Monday, but I also used a swipe of cream blush to my eyelids and tapped it in until it was diffused and blended. It added some pinkish-mauve color and made my eyes pop. I will definitely use it again, in lieu of actual eyeshadow. I’m a big fan because it looked good, and it felt nice to use a product in a creative, unconventional way. It made me feel like I was getting my money’s worth.

Day 3

On Wednesday, my laziness came back full force, but I pushed through. I applied my concealer, added a swipe of blush on each cheekbone, filled in my brows, did my mascara, and used some highlighter on my eyelids. Not to toot my own horn, but this move was kind of revolutionary for me. Benefit highlighter is more opaque than most, so it gave my whole eyelid a solid, shimmery champagne color and made me look like I’d slept more than five hours. My Spanish teacher told me she’d never seen me look so awake, which I think was kind of a diss. But moving on.

Day 4

I was really getting into experimenting with eye makeup by this point in the week, so I decided to do something totally new. While adding some sort of soft color or shimmer is nothing new, wearing anything resembling eyeliner is, and I decided to attempt to use my chunky eyebrow pencil as eyeliner. Suffice to say, my attempt at a wing was disastrous, so I just tightlined (read: almost stabbed my eye out), smudged some color onto the outer edges of my lower lash line, and did the rest of my makeup as usual. I went to class feeling irritated (physically and emotionally) but my eyes looked big, so I think it was worth it.

Day 5

On the last day, I wanted to try a technique I’d read about but never tried. Having eliminated contour from my list of products, I wanted to achieve the same chiseled effect but with blush, which is apparently a big trend right now. According to Marie Claire, blush "warms up the complexion, thins out the face a bit, and suggests you've got the circulation of a red-capped Renaissance child. It can even create the illusion of a lower hairline.” I need all of this. Following the advice of various internet tutorials, I applied blush to my cheekbones and to the upper part of my forehead and temples. I dragged a tiny bit below my chin, too. I think it looked pretty good, but I will say: be cautious with the color blush you use. Luckily, I had picked a brownish-nude color, which looked very natural as a contour.

I came out of this experience with a newfound appreciation for the variety of makeup products at my disposal, but it also showed me just how many products I don’t actually need. I have a feeling this will inspire me to be a bit more minimalistic with my makeup collection in the future, and it will save me a lot of money. I found that single-use products can actually be used for more than I think, and that when I use a product in multiple ways, I feel like I’m getting the most out of it, and that feels really good. This week inspired me to see makeup the way I used to—as a conduit for creativity and self-expression, and a different experience each day. Although I know I will probably go back to using more products and doing the same routine every day, I will feel freer to let go of products I don’t love or use all that much, and feel more emboldened to experiment with the way that I use the products that I do keep and love.