Q&A Beauty Edition

Welcome to my beauty index! You babes know that this post has been a long time coming. I promised that I would answer ALL of your beauty questions in one place and, after a very long weekend glued to my computer, I couldn't be more excited to share! I'm getting into the nitty-gritty of my beauty routine, what I wish I knew when I was younger, the products I've been disappointed by, how I get ready for a photo shoot, and so much more.

I am by no means a professional makeup artist or aesthetician, but I have always considered myself a beauty junkie. Ever since I can remember, I've been absolutely obsessed with makeup, hair color and styling, and teaching myself new techniques from beauty videos online. My hair has been every color you could imagine (yes, even jet black), I have spent more money on beauty products than I care to count, and for every dance or important "outing" in high school I was always the one with my beauty kit spread out on the floor, doing my friend's makeup one after the other for hours. I would revel in the before and after photos, and the smile that came across their faces when I would hand them the mirror and say "done!" 

A consistent theme in my life has been that I love helping people around me feel beautiful inside and out, which is a huge motivation behind my blog. Whether it's fashion, beauty, or healthy relationships, I'm passionate about people living their best life and feeling confident while doing so. 

*All products mentioned are linked at the bottom of this post to shop

Q: Who are your 3 favorite beauty gurus? 

A: Negin Mirsalehi, Taylor Morgan, and Amber Fillerup Clark are my current beauty inspiration. They are also 3 of my favorite fashion bloggers of all time. Their signature beauty aesthetic is natural, feminine, and relaxed. I love Taylor's makeup tricks on Instagram story videos, and Amber's hair braid tutorials on Youtube. Negin has the most beautiful long, thick hair I've ever seen, and is always sharing her flawless looks before events and shoots.  

Q: What is your daily skincare routine? 

A: I hate to admit this, but I'm actually very lazy with my daily skincare routine. I would love to add to it in the future, but for now it consists of baby oil (to remove my makeup at the end of the day), some kind of face wash (I've been using Aveeno's positively radiant skin brightening daily scrub), then moisturizer. Depending on how my skin is, whether it's breaking out or not (from hormonal acne), I'll use either Aveeno clear complexion daily moisturizer, or Aveeno positively radiant overnight hydrating facial. I know this is a lot of Aveeno, and honestly this isn't sponsored in any way, but Sam picked these products up at our grocery store and they kind of just stuck. I'm most obsessed with the Aveeno overnight hydrating facial. It's super thick and creamy and my face sucks in the moisture and makes me all glowy the next morning. 

Q: What is your worst skincare habit?

A: Falling asleep with my makeup on! If I don't take my makeup off and do my skincare routine before I sit down on the couch to relax after dinner, most of the time I'm too tired to get back up and do anything before going to sleep. I absolutely hate when I do this and I always regret it in the morning because it makes my skin feel oily and gross. 

Q: What is something you struggle with in the beauty realm? 

A: My arms and cheeks get irritated, red, and blotchy sometimes. I've seen dermatologists in the past about this and tried different prescriptions, but no one has been able to put a finger on what exactly it is. It doesn't happen as often as it used to (I'm convinced that it may have something to do with one of my food intolerances), but when I'm shooting and wearing something without sleeves, I'm definitely self-conscious of it. 

Q: What are your favorite skincare products? 

A: Aura Cacia Tea Tree Cleansing Oil (for breakouts), Aveeno overnight hydrating facial, Aveeno clear complexion daily moisturizer, Aveeno skin brightening daily scrub, Olay Micro-Sculpting Cream. 

Q: What are your must-have beauty products for traveling?

A: Master Lab sheet masks, Tarte Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer, Chapstick, Baby Oil, Moisturizer, Neutrogena Makeup Removing Wipes, Mini Hairspray, and 1 1/2 inch curling iron.

Q: What are your must-have hair products for the shower?

A: Olaplex No.3, Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Shampoo, Paul Mitchell Color Protect Daily Conditioner, Kristin Ess Signature Conditioner, Dove Purely Pampering Body Wash, and Paul Mitchell Platinum Blonde Shampoo.

Q: What are your must-have hair products for styling?

A: Kristin Ess Thickening Spray, Dove Dry Shampoo, Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play Volumizing Hairspray, Kristin Ess Dry Finish Working Texture spray, and Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Finishing Spray.

Q: What are your tips for growing long hair?

A: Collagen (ya'll know that I am absolutely obsessed with Vital Proteins - coconut creamer, beauty water, travel packs, etc), Biotin, and Olaplex (at home and the salon) for sure. Also, not using heat on your hair more than a couple times per week can help. My hair has never grown as quickly as it has over the past year and I definitely attribute it to these things. 

Q: How often do you color your hair? How do you keep your hair healthy after coloring?

A: At the moment, because my hair is so blonde for Summer and my wedding, I am making trips to my hair stylist much more often than I used to. I'm just guessing, but I think we're doing about 6 weeks between highlights/touch-up's right now. A lot of it has to do with how neurotic I am about my roots showing; the darker color peeking through bugs me, and when I'm shooting for the blog I'd rather just get it done so I don't have to avoid certain angles, etc. where it shows.

I can't take credit for my hair being as healthy as it currently is; that definitely has to do with my hair stylist, Megan, from Honeycomb Hair Artistry (in Catonsville, MD). I've been with Megan for over a year and she is the best stylist I've ever had, and she truly cares about the health of my hair. She does so much research when choosing products that are specific to me, and she's the one who introduced me to Olaplex because she uses it when doing my highlights. I recommend finding an excellent hair stylist in your area that you trust, and creating a long-term plan with them to achieve what you are looking for (whether that's length, health, or color). 

Q: How do you curl your hair for photo-shoots and events? 

A: First, I brush my hair out completely after blow-drying. Then, I take about an inch worth of hair, and wrap it around my 1 1/2 inch thick curling iron starting at the bottom and only going about halfway up. I always have the curling iron handle side up, curling outward/away from my face. Hold until you can feel the heat coming through the piece of hair. Continue until all pieces are curled. Next, let your hair cool down a bit before lightly brushing through each piece, smoothing it out. Hairspray and run your fingers through to give added texture/volume. 

Q: What are your favorite makeup products?

A: My top 3: Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray (cannot not use this now), Smashbox Photo Finish Primerizer (the most hydrating makeup product ever), Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights Baked Starburst (using a Kabuki Brush, I tap this all over my face for a pretty glow). 

Q: Favorite drugstore brand?

A: NYX because of the lipgloss! The prices (less than $5 each) are equally as amazing as the quality and colors.  

Q: Favorite high-end brand?

A: Urban Decay has been a partner of mine for a little over 6 months now, and it was one of the most exciting brands to bring on because I have loved their products for years already. My favorite products by them are the Naked2 Eyeshadow Palette, and the All Nighter Setting Spray. Their products are consistently high quality and truly worth the price. The dupes out there just don't even come close to Urban Decay. 

Q: Favorite natural beauty brand?

A: I really want to expand my collection of clean beauty, but for now I only have Primally Pure (the charcoal deodorant is my favorite - so effective and smells good while also allowing me to naturally sweat), and on occasion I use LUSH fresh face masks. 

Q: What products have you been disappointed in after purchasing?

A: Sadly, I was very disappointed in the high-end DryBar Detox dry shampoo ($23 was way too expensive to be less useful than Dove Refresh & Volume, my favorite, for $4). I was also disappointed in the YSL sheer lipstick that I bought a few years back. It was my first YSL purchase and I've probably only used it twice. You have to use a ridiculous amount of lipstick in order to get any color whatsoever and then it just looks sloppy. The packaging is beautiful (which is why I bought it, if I'm being honest), but it's not much more than a pretty prop at this point. 

Q: Do you have a favorite place to shop for makeup?

A: Definitely ULTA! I rarely shop for makeup anywhere else. They have everything I need and always have a good coupon to use. Make sure you sign up for their reward system if you haven't already; every time I shop, I check to see if I have points to use toward my purchase. It has saved me at least $100 over the past year alone. 

Q: Do you wear fake lashes? 

A: Not often anymore. A little over a year ago, I started getting lash extensions by a company in Baltimore and absolutely loved them! They were long, natural looking, and low maintenance in the beginning. They were a great fit for me for awhile and I continued to get fill-ins for quite a few months until I noticed that I needed to give my real lashes a break. I wanted to have my natural lashes long and full for my wedding day, so I quit the extensions and used falsh lashes in my photo shoots until they had a chance to grow back completely. Recently, I have been testing out Rodan & Fields Lash Boost after a coworker gave me a sample and I've already seen a huge difference in the natural growth and fullness. 

Q: How do you feel about plastic surgery and injections?

A: I have nothing against plastic surgery or injections. I think that it has to feel right to that specific person making the decision, and at the end of the day, if it helps them feel more confident and beautiful in their own skin, then I say go for it.

About 5 years ago, I got lip injections to make my lips appear more full. I've always had smaller lips and felt self-conscious when I laughed, so I did my research and found a great office in Annapolis that I trusted to get injections. The effects of it lasted about a year and then I got another set of injections from a different doctor that lasted about 8 months. When I got them, I always went with the natural look, so it honestly wasn't a huge difference from where I'm at now, but it definitely added that boost of confidence I needed when applying lipstick. Honestly, the only reason that I stopped getting lip injections is because it is so expensive (approx. $500 every 8 months), and it's not a priority of mine anymore. 

Q: What type of product do you buy the most of?

A: Lipgloss and face sheet masks for sure. I go through probably one NYX butter lipgloss per month because I use it so much. I always have at least 2 tubes of lipgloss in my bag at all times. Even if I only have mascara on, applying a quick layer of lipgloss makes me feel immediately put-together. I also have an obsession with sheet masks lately. My favorite thing to do at the end of a day is wash my face and apply a sheet mask to hang out on the couch while we watch bad reality TV. Facials in general are so relaxing and the sheet masks that I've been using lately give you an instant appearance of better skin. The 2 that I've found most effective are Master Lab Intensive Hydrating, and Master Lab Intensive Brightening. They are only $4/piece at ULTA and I've been using 1 per week. 

Q: What is your go-to makeup look? 

A: During the work week, I tend to go very natural with minimal makeup. Just like applying heat to your hair, I personally think that it's important to do a full face of makeup only 2-3 days per week to keep my skin clear. For work, my look usually consists of a little bronzer under the cheekbones, curled lashes with mascara, and a nude/pink lipgloss combo to help with a little color. On the weekends when I'm shooting, I spend much more time on my makeup with primer, foundation, powder, setting spray, etc., but I still stick with the natural lip combo. I very rarely wear bright lipstick anymore; I've found that I prefer light pinks and glittery nudes for a barely-there, glowy look.  

Q: What do you wish you knew about applying makeup when you were younger?

A: I wish I knew how to correctly contour when I was in high school and college. I mostly looked like an Umpa Lumpa throughout high school because I would use SO much self-tanner and bronzer all over my face and body; I was just one big orange blob. I think that if I had learned how to contour, I wouldn't have relied on being so tan to make myself feel confident. Learning how to contour when doing my makeup has given me the biggest jolt in confidence as an adult, and I think that it is one of the most important techniques to master. I also wish I knew that less is more and there's rarely ever a good time for a blue smokey eye (especially on a Tuesday morning for class). Light, natural makeup goes a long way. 

Q: What do you do to get ready for a photo-shoot? 

A: Oh gosh. I'm probably the most high-maintenance blogger I know when it comes to prepping for a photo shoot. My routine always starts the night before: steaming with a hot face towel, shaving my face, eyebrow clean-up, face sheet mask, ice roller, eyelash serum, teeth whitening (I'm obsessed with Smile Brilliant), a thick coat of moisturizer, and quality sleep. On the day of the shoot, I shower, use Kristin Ess Thickening Spray, blow dry my hair (upside down, always), ice roll, curl my hair and brush it out, do a full face of makeup, and then any last minute adjustments I need to make. It seems like a lot, but after doing this for a few years now, it has become an easy routine that I really enjoy. Every time I have a shoot planned, I have an excuse to seriously pamper myself; I love it! 

Q: What are your biggest tips for great skin?

A: Water, sleep, and healthy foods. You can try the hundreds of skincare products out there, but if you aren't taking care of yourself from the inside, it's undoubtedly going to show on the outside. For me, I take my sleep very seriously. Everyone that knows me jokes about it, but I truly need at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If I could, ideally I would sleep for up to 10 hours. I take time to listen to my body every single day and I honor it if I feel like I need rest. I have an extremely full schedule with a 9-5 corporate job, blogging, styling, and wedding planning, but there have been plenty of nights where those things all get pushed aside and I will eat dinner and go straight to bed instead. It doesn't do anyone good for me to half-ass something because I'm exhausted, or sick from not allowing my body to rest and relax, so I definitely make it my top priority.

"Your body boosts blood flow to the skin while you snooze, which means you wake to a healthy glow. Skimp on sleep and your complexion can look drab, ashen, or lifeless. Not only does not getting enough sleep negatively affect your body, it affects the moisture levels in your skin, decreasing them and also lowering your complexion's pH levels, which is why your skin looks less youthful." There's a reason why they call it beauty sleep, people. 

The same goes with water, I don't drink much else aside from it and I make sure that I'm filling up my bottle consistently throughout the day so that I never get dehydrated. Water and healthy foods should be a given, but a lot of people that I've talked to don't consider it much in relation to their skin issues. I'm absolutely not perfect with my clean eating habits, but I have reduced the amount of fried, processed, sugar-packed, and fast foods that I consume dramatically over the past few years. Gone are the days of Taco Bell at 1am, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Combos on the couch with ice cream. I still treat myself pretty often to dessert at restaurants and chocolate if I have a sweet tooth. But now that it's less often, I appreciate real ingredients more and in return they don't ruin my skin for the days that follow. I also add in foods to my diet every week that I know are good for my skin like spinach, lemons, salmon, olive oil, avocados, green tea, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, and berries.  

Photography by Jade Nikkole Photography

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What beauty tips do you wish you knew when you were younger? Comment on the last photo on my Instagram feed and tell me or tag your favorite beauty guru!

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xo Anna Elizabeth