Being excessive, in spite of its moral ambiguity, is fun. Having choice is luxurious. A full and various bathroom cabinet represents a full and various life. Or something.
But streamlining can be cool, too. Sometimes, less choice can make you feel somehow freer. So I tried to cut back on my options to things I really did need* (*as much as you can need a beauty product, blah blah, consumerism). And it turns out, there isn't truly that many. I got it down to eight. (And I challenge you to do better!)
For your face, you'll want something to get it clean, something for moisture, and a couple of targeted extras for your personal face business.
My face-cleaner of choice was the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. I think this is a marvel: you get a giant-sized bottle for mere pennies (pounds, in my case, but still) and it works perfectly well. I'm using the one for oily-faced babes at the moment, because I might think it helps prevent chacne (chin acne). The classic and waterproof-makeup-removing ones are good, too.
Next, I used a mysterious concoction of my own making because in my heart I only want to be a mad scientist. It's a simple rosewater (mine is from Boots, but it can be bought on Amazon and also everywhere) with some drops of tea tree oil in it, shaken (not stirred) in a spray bottle. I'm trying to stop using benzoyl peroxide at my boyfriend's request because I kept bleaching his beard after kissing him, but that's another story. So I've been supplementing with "nature's BP," and so far, maybe good? I use it as a toner.
Then serum: might be superfluous, but I do think my face has been noticeably softer and smoother since using this Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum, made popular by possibly the biggest beauty writing authority, Sali Hughes. It's extremely cheap and doesn't irritate me or do any clogging, but I'm afraid it's a UK-only product.
Finally: moisturizer. One thing that bugs me about England (except weather, politics, public transport, weather) is that Cetaphil is available and CeraVe isn't. I can still get CeraVe on Amazon, but quite honestly, who can organize when they might run out of something, and which address to then send it to? I need easy access, people! So I'm using this Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion, which is fine, but I don't like the ingredients list as much as the CeraVe.
OK, now the "fun" part: makeup.
Obviously, on a minimal product count, you won't be attempting anything fancy, but I do think I was a bit inventive even so.
Like every good girl, you must apply sunscreen. Mine did double duty as a slight skin-perfecting tint. La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Tinted Fluid reminds me a bit of the continental-US-only Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, with the bonus of 50+ SPF. It doesn't add coverage, thus only comes in one shade, but sort of evens things out a bit while giving a nice glow and protecting you from evil Mr. Sun.
For your coverage, look to concealer. I totally dig the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, except I have issues with the longevity. But that can be the price you pay for a natural, non-drying, nice-skinned finish. Put this where you want to, but you don't need me to tell you that.
Here is where some clever multitasking comes in. Put on mascara, then use the remnants of what's on the brush on your eyebrows. Eyebrows darker than your hair is a Cool Look, especially when your hair is baby pink. It's good to give your face some focus, since you won't be doing any exciting eye, cheek or lip work. Plus, a waterproof mascara will stay put, which is great. Brush upwards to achieve a subtler than WunderBrow but still fairly prominent vibe.
The biggest gem of my whole kit, though, is a surprise entry from a lowly Maybelline Baby Lips. This one is from the Electro collection in Berry Bomb. It's a typical Baby Lip in being a glossy, slightly pigmented and delightful-smelling stick balm, this color adding a soft plummy-pink sheen to the lips. But it can also be used on the cheeks, as a highlighting cream blush, and even on the eyelids, for a glossy pinkish lid. And if you put it on all three, it's a coordinated, cohesive makeup "look," the likes of which I never see from my full makeup collection. Think of it as a (very very) poor man's NARS Multiple.
This is obviously just a process that works for a weekend; you'd want a proper face-washing session, probably some face acid, a bright lipstick, etc. — you see how this becomes a slippery slope. But it's cool to test your products to the limits and see what they can achieve if you work together. Plus, more time for having weekend fun, like staring out of windows, taking photos of your makeup products, doing some stretching. Fun things!
• What would make your essential eight-product cut?
• Favorite multitasking products?
• Ever use lip gloss on your eyelids? I'm obsessed.