My “What cancer?” makeup routine


Caution: I am not an expert in makeup. Most of you will view this and think, “Sheesh. This girl has a long way to go.” I totally get it. But I’m super bored right now and it’s super cold outside so I’m really just doing this to kill some time.

I mentioned a while back that I’m starting to experiment a little more with makeup. I have a birchbox monthly subscription where they send me all these cool face and hair product samples (saving the hair products for when I actually need them). I’ve been watching makeup videos and reading makeup reviews and have made a couple purchases over the past couple months to see what all the fuss is about. Hair? I knew hair. Mostly. Makeup? Not much. I would slap on the same foundation and eye liner and mascara and call it a day. Most days that was fine. I had a big heap of hair to distract from the fact that I really had no clue how to do makeup.

And now? I’m learning. I’m not great. But I’m learning. So I’ll share with you my current makeup routine. You can critique and make fun of me if you’d like. It’s totally fine.

So here we go.

FYI: the results of each step are shown in the following step. I hope that makes sense. 

Baseline = me just out of the shower with a bit of moisturizer.


So here I am in all my…er…glory. Things that make me self conscious? Lack of eyebrows/very light eyebrows, red/yellow tints around my eyes, sunspots on my cheeks, forehead and nose, dark upper lip, colorless lips and light eyelashes. Also remember, we’re talking makeup here. Obviously I’m not a fan of my current hairstyle, but that’s a topic for another day (and spoiler alert, I have a hair appt on Friday so maybe it won’t bother me as much after that).

From here on out I’ll be going through each item I currently use. Some days I do a lot more of the “minimum” look and use fewer products, but that’s less fun so I’m going to bring you through the full “What cancer?” look that I try to achieve.

Step 1: Foundation


Before foundation


Lesson 1: You’re not using enough. Well, I wasn’t using enough. I used to just dab some on a sponge and swirl it around my face trying my best to blend. And then I realized (by watching lots of makeup videos) that that only really works for people with perfect skin. Discoloration? Lots of sun spots? You need FULL coverage and you need a lot of it. That doesn’t mean it has to feel cakey, you just have to find a good foundation. I’m actually wearing Almay – a drugstore brand – because I read a lot of great reviews about it. I took a chance on the color because I ordered most of this online while I was neutropenic, and I think it actually works. It looks light, but I was going WAY too dark before.

Lesson 2: Use a brush or your fingers. Don’t use a sponge. Sponges and beauty blenders are for you light coverage gals. I now use a brush or my fingers. The brush is kind of weird because…well this is a liquid. I don’t know if I’m doing it right but I like that the mess isn’t on my hands. When the brush gets gross and needs a good cleaning, though, I just use my fingers.

Lesson 3: Don’t stop at foundation. With all that foundation, you should be good, right? WRONG. Even with full coverage foundation, I found that I still needed some extra help with concealer. The two go gloriously together. But remember to blend!

Step 2: Concealer


Before concealer


Lesson 1: Apply and blend. You can apply directly to your skin (like you’re drawing on it with a pencil) or you can put some on your fingertips and apply that way. I do the first one. Get. It. On There. I use it over all of my sunspots and any other red parts of my face. Which brings me to…

Lesson 2: Get that eye area. This thing works miracles on erasing those red/yellowish tinted eyelids and under eyes. Bu-bye side effect of cancer. You have met your match.

Step 3: Add the color back in.

Now that my skin has been spackled and corrected so it doesn’t look nuts, it’s time to get some color back in there.


I screwed up the camera angle here. You’re supposed to see me pointing to the blush I’m using. You can kind of see it if you look closely.


Lesson: Blush: Not everyone does blush, but I’ve always liked it. I just apply a brush stroke or two to the apples of my cheeks.



Again, not a great camera angle. I’m pointing to the bronzer/lighter one that looks used.


Lesson: Use bronzer…sparingly. This one is interesting. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials that show you how to use bronzer to contour your face. I have not perfected that. And also, that seems too drastic for my pasty Midwestern face. But I do like this one trick I learned…to go around the outside of your face with bronzer to still give you some color. So that’s what I do. And then I blend like crazy.

Step 4: Setting powder


It’s not the amazing Kat Von Dee Translucent setting powder that might cost your first born, but it had a lot of great reviews on Amazon, so I went for it. I use this to basically set everything on my face. In the old days, I would have used a matching beige powder to put on top of my foundation. But then, I educated myself. First off – that creates a cakey effect. Second, a good foundation should shine on its own. But with the setting powder, you can keep that look and also make sure you don’t get all oily and your makeup will run off. No oily makeup runoff for this girl…not with this little guy. But blend well because this is the thing celebs always get caught with that make people think there’s remnants of coke on their face if the flash goes off. I mean, it may also be coke on their faces. I don’t know.

Step 5: Eye shadow

This is where my lack of makeup expertise REALLY shows. I am terrible at creating a smokey eye. I am terrible at creating some holiday-party-worthy gold sparkly eye. What I can do is throw some purple on there and call it a day. Why purple? I’ve heard it works well with green eyes. So this old, crusty (but trusty) pallette has been my go to for a while.


Dark purple eye shadow


Lesson: Apply a darker shadow to your lid. Maybe even just the outside of your lid…I think that’s a thing people do. Also apply right above your eyelid.


Light sparkly purple eyeshadow


Lesson: Apply a light eyeshadow to the inner part of your eyelid. Sometimes if this gets too light, I go back over it with a little more of the darker eyeshadow.

Step 6: Eye liner


Black eyeshadow. NOT just for eyelids.


Alright kids. This is one they’re NOT going to show you in the tutorials. I learned this from my girlfriend many moons ago (Shout out to Drea!) and I’ve been doing this ever since. Instead of using actual eye liner, I use a black eye shadow. I take the edge of any applicator that comes with the pallete, rub it in the black, stretch my eyelid out and sweep it on like you would eye liner. Why do I do this? You guys, I’ve tried eye liner. It’s so…precise and fine pointed and I NEVER EVER get it looking right. To this day, I still try it once in a while and I feel like I’m always doing it wrong. But with this? It goes where it should AND it blends with the eyeshadow already on my eyes. If you’re going for a dramatic winged effect, this isn’t the right tool. If you’re looking for something that just helps outline your eyes and doesn’t go all squiggly? Then you should give this a try. I’m telling you, you’ll love it.

Step 7: Eyelash love


Eyelash curler and mascara are a must.


I don’t have any particularly useful lessons here. I curl my eyelashes and then I apply mascara. I don’t even know what kind of mascara works best. All I know is that I need something right now because all of my eyelashes are currently blonde. I don’t go overboard, I just do a coat or so on each eye and I’m done. Also, I don’t do my lower lashes. I’ve always just thought they’re too much on me.

Step 8: Lip stuff


Something that does Matte things.


This is an area where I WANT to be more adventurous. I just feel like with a short hair cut you can really bring attention to your face with a strong lip color. I’m just sort of…chicken…at this point, though. I found this one online, it got pretty good reviews. It supposed to be a “matte” lipstick. And yeah, maybe I do like that whole Kendall Jenner look even if I probably couldn’t ever pull it off, but a girl can dream, right? Next time I go out I’m going to find a makeup counter and do some experiments. For now, this is pretty good stuff.

Final step: Eyebrows


What is that expression? I apologize for my lack of camera skillz.


Okay. Let’s talk eyebrows. Eyebrows are cool right? We all like them? Maybe we like them a little TOO much in 2016? Maybe everyone is out of their damn minds with uber thick eyebrows or eyebrows that look like they’re cartoonish…clearly drawn on. That is not the look I’m going for. Mostly, I just want my dark unruly eyebrows back. But right now, I have very blonde, sort of there eyebrows. So I use an eyebrow pencil. I’ve tried a couple other products. Gels are weird…let me just say that. Some of them look like big ol’ crayons. Which might be fine if you’re filling in eyebrows that are already there. For me? The pencil with a fine point works the best. I can make teeny tiny strokes that sort of look like hair, and I just use the current shape of my eyebrows and go over that. So, wherever there is blonde eyebrow hair, I just go over that. When I first started doing this, I was going bigger and making outlines that were more in line with how my eyebrows used to be. It wasn’t good. I felt like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld. So now I’m back to just slight strokes and if they look thin, well at least they’ll look more real than super big drawn on eyebrows.

The final look…


So here it is. This is my “What cancer?” look. And the reason I have my glasses on is, well because I always have my glasses on. But also, sometimes when I’m doing my eye makeup I think “This looks so clownish! I’m just going to Target!” But then I see myself with my glasses on and I think, “Oh, I can’t even really see most of my eye makeup behind the glasses.” So it kind of reassures me that I don’t look that clownish.

Here’s the before and after, in case you’re interested…


I’m not going to be like, “I look amazing!” but I think I look normal. And that’s pretty much what I want to achieve with makeup on a daily basis. To just look and feel normal. The hair? It’s got a long ways to go. But at least I can know my face looks normal when I’m out in public. Or at least what I consider “normal.” 😉

So that’s it. That’s all I got. Stay warm!

7 thoughts on “My “What cancer?” makeup routine

  1. Marie says:

    I honestly don’t understand much of what I just read. I think I need an intervention. I have been using the same foundation and powder forever and that is it. I clearly am way past minimalist…care to take me on as a project over Christmas? I think we have similar skin tones. I should probably figure this out before Elizabeth starts asking questions. Otherwise, I will just have her call you up for advice. LOL!!! By the say though, you look AWESOME!!!

  2. Mom says:

    Nice job Jamie. Let me know if you want to come over to Herbergers when you are here, and get a makeover at the Lancome, Este Lauder or Clinique counter. I work with some nice gals that love doing that for clients.

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