My Beauty Inspirations

So, in addition to having no qualifications other than my own obsessive interest, you may wonder from where my background in skincare enthusiasm comes. Of course, it came in phases; as a kid, I always loved the idea of a spa day, and then in my early 20s when I discovered the smokey eye and lots of blush, I got really into makeup. My obsession with skincare, however, is generally traceable to late spring/early summer 2012, when my dear friend (and fellow obsessive) Lisa came to visit me in DC; while she was here, we made one of our regular pilgrimages to the mega-sized Sephora at Pentagon City Mall, and I bought one of Ole Henriksen‘s “wonders”-themed kits. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, I’ve gone down many a rabbit hole learning about the why and the when and the where and the how of skincare; I’ve developed a well-acknowledged love of a Sunday night self-care routine, and I’ve earned my VIB Rouge status early in the year multiple years running. Here are some of the resources I turn to again and again:


Beautypedia used to be beauty expert Paula Begoun’s review site and sort-of content marketing for Paula’s Choice brand products. The timeline is murky, but I understand they’ve since separated into different entities. Still, the purpose is clear: expert review of product ingredients side-by-side with community (i.e. crowdsourced) reviews. Even if you don’t agree with 100% of their take, it’s a really useful tool to get your land legs in the wide world of skincare ingredients.

The Beauty Brains

The Beauty Brains are two cosmetic chemists, Perry Romanowski and Randy Schueller, who do a Q&A style review of beauty products on their blog and podcast (recently concluded) with questions as broad as “Are ceremides good anti-aging ingredients?” and as specific as “Is Charlotte Tilbury Multi-Miracle cream really miraculous?” With backgrounds at massive multi-national conglomerates like Unilever, these guys have a really great perspective on when and how you’re subjected to marketing strategy vs actual, effective ingredients. They’re always willing to be proved wrong, too (see: “Is hyaluronic acid a good anti-aging ingredient?“) and have the “goofy dad” vibe down pat.

Full Coverage

I only recently discovered Full Coverage, a podcast hosted by a makeup pro (Harriet Hadfield) and an “unprofessional beauty junkie” (Lindsey Kelk), but it immediately jumped into my rotation. I really appreciated the duo’s thorough product reviews and honest conversations about fraught issues like packaging, dupes, and injectables.

The Work Edit (formerly Capitol Hill Style)

Not officially a beauty or skincare outlet, but I’ve been reading The Work Edit since my first go at grad school, when it was still Capitol Hill Style. Abra/Belle’s voice is so relatable, she’s always down to try new products and share her thoughts, and her commitment to never doing paid promotions means you always get an honest review from her. And it was her blog that introduced me to Ole Henriksen so long ago!

Into the Gloss

I know Into the Gloss (and its sister brand Glossier) is not necessarily everyone’s favorite — the omnipresent cutesy millennial pink of it all can really get old, fast. Hell, they send STICKERS with your order like it’s some kind of Lisa Frank notebook. Still, their brand of beauty, focusing on skincare as the core tenet of your makeup routine and selling products that are virtually impossible to over-apply, is exactly what I’m after. ITG’s Top Shelf series is also perfect for the beauty voyeur in me; knowing what different fancy people keep in their cabinet and use on the regular is so, so fascinating to me.

My friend Lisa

I mentioned Lisa above, but truly, she’s at the core of all my obsession with skincare, makeup, and other beauty products. I first met Lisa when I was fresh out of college and we shared a desk at my first grown-up job; ten years later, I think it’s safe to share that we did very little work at that desk and instead browsed Sephora’s website nonstop. As we’ve aged, so has our taste (I can’t say I’ve ever gone back the overwhelming sparkles of NARS Orgasm) but our commitment has remained true. Whenever I am looking for a specific product, I ask her recommendation; whenever I have discovered something amazing (cough cough, It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye corrector), I immediately shoot off a text to her; whenever we visit one another, we build in a monster afternoon at Sephora or Ulta. And you’d better believe when I got married, one of the first requests I made was that she do my makeup!

So, those are my inspirations. But I always welcome more! Share yours if you’ve got ’em.

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