My 5 Favorite Beauty Products

by Melissa Cates
I will never forget when my mom first started allowing my sister to wear makeup to school. She had just started the sixth grade, which meant she had graduated to middle school. I was still hanging back at elementary school, but my infinitely cooler big sis had entered the elusive, desired, and somewhat scary world of preteens. Cheerleaders, pimples, and school dances… oh my! It wouldn’t be long before I applied my first swipe of mascara, tint of lipgloss, and necessary spots of concealer (thanks, hormones.) At first emulating my sister’s style, I quickly grew to love the artistry and creativity that came with applying all that “war paint.” There were some regrettable choices (goodbye, shimmery blue eye shadow), and some tricks that have stuck with me for almost 20 years (hello, white eyeliner for the inner rims of my tired eyes). 

I may have left the locker-lined, clique-filled hallways of middle school, and yes, I may spend most days before the eyes of two baby boys, but I still make a point to pay attention to myself. Spending a few minutes in the morning taking care of me makes me feel good and more… well…like a woman. Let me be clear, I am not saying that a woman needs a full face of make up and perfectly coiffed hair to feel good about herself. No, no, no. I am saying that she should know herself and be comfortable in her own skin and with her own wants and needs. It makes me feel more motivated, confident, and capable to take on my day when I take a little time to prepare myself for it. It is probably as much about the ritual of it as it is the way the eyelash curler wakes up my eyes. As you go through your routine, try to compliment yourself on your positive attributes, both physical and internal. 

“I have shining, blue eyes.”

“I am a generous person who cares for others.”

If a little, “I wish my nose wasn’t so wide,” slips in. Let it go. It’s only natural to scrutinize, but try to redirect your attention to your perks. There are so many!

Also important to note, I have a very simple daily routine. It works for me and the amount of time I have to devote to a little self-pampering. It's just enough so that when I catch myself in the mirror with a baby on my hip and a screaming toddler on my leg, I still think, "Go on, girl. You got this!" (Even if there's a little mac and cheese in my hair.)

Here are my 5 favorite go-to beauty items:

Grapeseed Oil- Momma knows best, and my mom shared this one with me. I apply it at night underneath my moisturizer. It is great for acne-prone skin with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps minimize pores, plump and moisturize to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and even reduces under-eye circles. Love this stuff!

Stainiac Lip Stain- I once went through a no-lipsick phase in favor of nude lips, but these days, I am all about a pink pout. This stuff is AH-MAZING. It gives you just the right amount of cherry stain, lasts for hours, and can even be dabbed on cheeks for a pretty flush. Don’t be fooled by it’s appearance in the tube, it is a very natural wash of color that can be layered for a deeper hue, if desired. 

Mascara- Even if I don’t do anything else, I put on mascara. Maybe it is because it has always been my favorite cosmetic; maybe it’s because it makes me look more bright eyed and bushy tailed. I have used them all, and really, it’s a personal preference. I do always use waterproof. It stays put and holds the curl better, in my opinion. 

L’oreal Boost It Volume Inject Mousse-  That’s quite a name, but it is one worth typing out. This stuff is so inexpensive, but it works better than ones I have paid $40 for in the salon. I apply it to my damp hair from root to tip, followed by a little heat-protectant spray, and it gives my medium length locks a real volume boost (I guess it is aptly named). You know what we say in the South: “The bigger the hair, the closer to God.” I abide by this rule. Flat hair is not, and never will be, for me. (Confession: When I first saw the “Bump It” infomercial, I laughed and rolled my eyes… and then secretly considered it’s value… Don’t tell anyone, but I just had to get that off my chest.)

Water- I know, I know… There is a broken record that won’t stop telling you to drink, drink, drink! Water, that is. Put down the cocktail. Unless it’s after 5, in which case you may pick it back up and continue to sip as you read. But seriously, when I drink lots of water, the next morning I look like a better version of myself. I feel better, too. It’s not always easy to remember, and my best advice is to keep a water bottle with you and just sip all day. Big chugs can make you feel icky and averse to drinking more. I also love sparkling water, a lemon slice, or even a splash of Austin’s apple juice to make it more attractive. Chin, chin!

The bottom line? Confidence and a positive attitude are always fetching. Do whatever it is that makes you shine your brightest everyday. 

Wishing you a little pampering and some really big hair,