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This award-winning brand got me out of my work-from-home beauty slump

The skin care benefits are the cherry on top.
Illustration of Alicia Tan and a selection of Ilia makeup products
Courtesy Alicia Tan

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I’ve never “rolled out of bed” as literally as I have during the pandemic. I have to admit that once month eight of this “Palm Springs”/”Russian Doll” reality arrived (sorry, I haven’t seen “Groundhog Day”), I started spending the day working in the same clothes I slept in. While this habit settled in, so did my laziness for my beauty routine.

I started making excuses for this. Why spend money on fun lipstick that only I will appreciate? Why waste the products I already have when most people see me through a screen? Will my skin thank me for giving it time and space? Why am I even thinking about this while a pandemic is happening?

But after a few months of this complete and utter disregard for the way I looked, I knew I needed something to make me feel like a real person again — someone who had things to do, people to see, a bright side to look forward to in the mornings.

Ilia makeup

So, when the award-winning beauty brand Ilia introduced makeup sets for the winter holidays, I convinced myself it was time to treat myself. While the set (available in two different themes) was a limited edition, everything in it is still available to purchase separately.

I snagged the Sunset Kit, which comes with the brand’s Travel Bag (in a limited-edition lavender); the Clean Line Gel Liner; the Multi-Stick; the Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil; and the Limitless Lash Mascara. But I’m going to talk about my three favorites from the group (I’ve tried to be an eyeliner gal, but every time I try, I hate it or just tolerate it.)

The Multi-Stick

I’d heard great things from friends about the mascara, but I was most curious about the Multi-Stick. A frequent Instagram stroller, I’d seen influencers and brand ambassadors daub creamy shades on their cheeks, eyelids, nose and lips — signs of a truly versatile product.

When I tried it on myself, it was super easy to apply. I prefer it on my cheeks, swiping a line across my apples and using two fingers to smudge it across my cheekbones and blending it in. I got the color At Last, which is a soft dusty rose that’s very feminine and perfect for the day or a night out.

I even use it when I’m not wearing my usual tinted moisturizer (I use Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint in G9, but I’m currently trying Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint with SPF 40 in Shela). It’s enough to add color to my face, and it gives me a warm, natural look that I hope makes me seem a little more put together and alert on video calls.

The Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil

While I do think lip gloss can be annoying during windy days when my hair is down, I am in no way a person who thinks gloss should stay in the nineties. I’m a sucker for a good clear or lightly shimmered lip gloss, but there’s one thing that makes Ilia’s Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil personal essential: hyaluronic acid. This is a key ingredient in products that claim to give your skin an extra hydration boost, and my constant chapped lips desperately need anything it can get.

Ilia’s gloss not only has hyaluronic acid but also a blend of botanicals, including Salicornia herbacea extract, which comes from a succulent that grows in the salt marshes along the coastline of South Korea.

I got the berry mauve color Linger, and it glides on smooth, giving my lips a more plump experience and a more cushioned feeling. While it’s not sticky like other glosses, knowing it’s on my mouth prevents me from licking them (licking is not good for chapped lips!). So while the outside world won’t be able to appreciate this beautiful color on me every day, I know I’m at least getting skin care benefits.

The Limitless Lash Mascara

Even after 27 years of being in this world, I’ve yet to find a mascara that actually delights me and surprises me. The Limitless Lash Mascara, which has received awards from both Allure and Glamour, did just that. I have short, thin lashes, but this clean mascara adds just the right amount of length and volume without making me look like a doll.

The brand says its 99% natural and 100% safe formula is made with a blend of bee and carnauba waxes, organic shea butter and arginine. The wax is meant to condition each lash without adding weight, so they stay lifted all day. The dual-sided brush has short bristles to curl and create volume, while the longer ones lift, lengthen and separate. My lashes separate beautifully without clumping or flaking, and I look bright and awake.

There is one downside I didn’t expect. During the windy, chilly months, my eyes get really watery. I usually notice when that’s the case. But one day I took a walk with my mascara on, and someone pointed out (half an hour later) that my mascara was all over my face.

Whether that’s from my involuntary crying or its lack of waterproofness is still up in the air. When I wear this indoors, I have no issues with smudging, which is still a win for my work-from-home beauty routine.

A new routine

For most of the WFH period, I’ve restrained myself from buying unnecessary products for reasons that include budget, guilt and an effort to live more minimally. And I saw makeup as something I did for other people — partners, coworkers, social media followers.

But investing in a few makeup products that make me feel good about myself, for myself, changed the way I view my beauty routine — and, ultimately, my morning routine. There’s nothing wrong with getting dressed up even if you’re not leaving the house or scheduling video calls.

And if it makes it easier to wake up and get through the day, do it.

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