Massive Beauty Q&A!

Oh. My. Goodness. I had the idea to do a beauty Q&A and had no idea I’d get so many questions!!!! Becca and I talk about this on the podcast but every time you (as a blogger, podcaster, or whatever) put the call out for questions there’s always that little worry of “what if no one writes in!?”

So that was definitely a problem here, and this Q&A is a LOT. And it took me an incredibly long time to write. So hopefully, I got it all and answered everything!!! There were a few duplicates so I consolidated where I could… but thanks to all who wrote in with questions, you made me feel very important (and hopefully helpful)! Keep in mind I’m not a doctor or derm or even an expert, I’m just a blogger who reaalllly loves skincare. And what works for me might not work for you… my own skin is super dry so if you have oilier skin my recs might not work for you.

Serums?!! 30s?!!! I don’t know how to handle my impending old age and there’s too many products to choose from. What’s actually important and when should I use it? 

First of all, LOLZ. 30’s is not impending old age. The first step in looking young is acting young, right? At least that’s my motto, ha ha. That being said, I really think that the most important thing you can do is to listen to your skin and give it what it needs. What’s right for me might not be right for you, but I like to stick to a pretty gentle routine and then give it a little something extra when it needs it. My everyday routine is pretty gentle. In the morning I splash my face with water, pat on SK-II and Vintner’s Daughter, and in the evening I do a double cleanse (I’ve been using this Caudalie oil cleanser and this exfoliating gel wash) and then just use the Dr. Bader Rich Cream but depending on how my skin is acting/feeling I have a few things I always keep on hand.

  • A really, really rich moisturizer for when nothing will help, especially if I’ve been sick and blowing my nose… or have a hangover. I love Chuda. It’s a lot like La Mer in consistency but less expensive.
  • An exfoliating solution (P50 is my jam, but Pixi’s Glow tonic is an awesome drugstore alternative.)
  • A good face scrub (LOVE this one)
  • A vitamin C serum (obsessed with my Kiehl’s – I was using it every day but now I probably use it 1-2x a week, swapping it out w/my Dr. Bader night cream the rest of the time)
  • A pimple treatment. I don’t break out very often but when I do it’s a monster one. (This natural one is my fav.)
  • Everyday Oil. It’s just an awesome everyday face oil. If my skin still feels dry after my night cream or the Kiehl’s, I put a layer of this on top. It’s always my last step… it smells amazing and locks in all of the active ingredients in my other products. (You can read more about the correct order to apply skincare products here.)

If you don’t know what you need I think you should go to Credo, Sephora, or your department store and speak to a consultant who can help you with that. Everyone’s skin concerns are so different!

How do you determine your skin type? This one felt like common sense to me but three of you asked! Dry skin typically feels flaky and sometimes tight/dehydrated. Oily skin means you get shiny really easily, and are more prone to break out. And combination is somewhere in between. A lot of people are oilier in the t-zone and dryer on the cheeks. I would recommend that you go to Sephora or a beauty shop and get a consultation if you’re not sure!

How do you / did you develop your skincare regimen? Did you go to Sephora or similar and discuss your skin type and goals and go from there, or was it more organic than that? I ask because… I’ve been using Clinique 3 step for about a decade, and I mix in a few other products for no other reason than I tried them from a recommendation or a Birchbox and liked it so kept using it. I have a million people trying to sell me Rodan and Fields as well…. but I’m curious if it’s time to break out of the set lineup and strike out on my own.  

Oyyyy I could vent all day about people trying to sell me Rodan and Fields. I avoid their products on principle – their MLM model drives me nuts. I’ve developed my skincare from trying different things and seeing what works. For example, I tried face oils five or six years ago and found my skin responds really well to them. And I get sent a lot of stuff so I test and see what works and kind of just adjust and go from there. If I were you I would go to Sephora or a department store and have them help you out. If you’re in New York, Heyday is also awesome… they do affordable facials and make great producgt suggestions… they sell everything there so you can buy the products (most of them are natural) if you like them.

What do you wish you had done differently at 25 (my age) if anything for your skin now? I’ve always been big into taking good care of my skin. I remember being in middle school and begging my mom to buy me face masks. When I was in college (it was 2000, people were stupid) I went tanning a few times and I really regret that. I guess if I had one regret it would be not using an anti-aging hand cream til now. I feel like my hands show my age. Also always wearing sunglasses and taking better care of the skin around my eyes… I feel like I look old when I smile.

What is a product you wish you had discovered sooner? Ooooh that’s such a tough one! I want to say this Kiehl’s Vitamin C Serum as it’s changed my skin, but it only just came out. Maybe P50? I tried it years ago but thought it was too strong for my skin. This time around I stuck with it and I really love it… makes my skin so smooth!

If you could only choose 1 luxury skincare product (like Vintner’s Daughter price point), what would it be? Definitely the Dr. Bader Cream. I realize it’s expensive but if you use it, you don’t need serum (he actually advises against it as he wants his cream to be the first thing to penetrate your skin) and you can use it as an eye cream. I use The Rich Cream as my skin is dry, and I like how high-tech it is. Besides leaving my skin suuuuper hydrated and glowy it also helps with fine lines. And I love, love, love Vintner’s Daughter but there are so many good facial oils out there. If I can only choose pick one thing, I’d pick the most high-tech product possible.

What’s your favorite daily sunscreen? This one!

What is one expensive product you invested in that you didn’t think was worth it? I am not going to name any names as I don’t believe in negative product reviews but there are a few. First of all I’ve tried a LOT of lash serums – none have worked besides Neulash (read my Neulash review here!). I’ve also tried a lot of expensive face creams where I’m kind of like, Olay (or Weleda Skin Food which I always say is like a La Mer dupe as it’s so rich + creamy) probably would have been just as good.

Have you tried any products from the brand The Ordinary? Would love to know your thoughts. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list. I’ve heard great things!

Have you tried Drunk Elephant? I have! There’s a review on my blog here.

What supplements, herbs etc do you like or use every so often for skin/beauty/stress reduction? I don’t take a lot of supplements or herbs. For anxiety I do have a passionflower + lemon balm tincture that my mom’s herbalist on Cape Cod makes. She puts a bottle of it in my Christmas stocking every year. I have tried Goop’s Glow supplement too. Honestly, the best thing you can do for your skin is to stay hydrated (I drink a ton, possibly an abnormal amount of water) and eat a balanced diet – lots of veggies!

I’d love to hear more about clean beauty resources to determine whether a product is clean or not. I already use EWG and the app Think Dirty but both don’t cover every product (obviously, as there are thousands and thousands out there). I mostly find out about brands one at a time that are clean or go through the tedious task of typing every ingredient into EWG if I’m interested in a specific product. So I don’t have a super efficient system right now and was just curious if I’m missing something obvious. You’re doing a better job than me! I use Think Dirty but that’s about it. I’m not the best at this. I try to use clean products when possible but am only at about 80/20.

I know Credo Beauty is a good store that offers only clean beauty products – are there any other similar retailers that you like?  Yes! Online, there is LeVert Beauty (I’m partial to them as their owner is a GEM and I like supporting businesses with nice owners), in Boston there is Follain, and also in New York there is CAP Beauty.

What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in your skin from your 20s to your 30s? Fine lines are the worst! They’re particularly visible especially when I smile. I have all these crinkles around my eyes whenever I smile and it drives me nuts. My skin is also a lot more dry than usual… even during the day I wear night cream!

How do you pair your face masks when you use more than one a day/night? I pair them by benefit! I’ll usually do something stronger like a deep cleansing or exfoliating mask followed by something soothing and hydrating.

For a deep clean I love this or this, and for something more soothing I love this or this.

And my go-to BEST EVER, super top-secret (but not really) combination (I’ll do it in the afternoon a few hours before a night out or event) is this resurfacing mask + this hydrating mask (for something less expensive than the black rose mask, Summer Fridays is great too. I like the black rose one better but yeah – it’s expensive). This combo is fab as the first step leaves you glowy and radiant and the second step leaves skin plumped up and dewy.

How often do you get a professional facial? This might surprise you for someone so high-maintenance, ha ha, but not very often. Maybe a couple times a year (with my own money – I am also occasionally invited to try facials at spas around the city and while that’s definitely nice, it’s more of a random thing that I do for work as opposed to doing it because my skin needs it). The thing is, it’s not that hard to take care of your skin and there are so many good at home products. And if I’m choosing between a facial and something else, I’d wayyyyy rather get a massage. And I mean… I do a lot of at home skincare so I don’t think it’s that necessary. It depends on your skin, especially if you need extractions. I tend to need a facial after a beachy/outdoorsy vacation where I’m wearing a ton of sunscreen and my pores are congested. Or if I’ve been traveling a lot and masks aren’t cutting it!

Can you suggest a night cream and/or sunscreen at a drugstore price? For night cream, I would recommend Olay, and for sunscreen I would recommend Neutrogena.

I am on a very tight budget and can’t afford to spend too much but want to start taking better care of my skin. Can you recommend some good cheap skincare lines? Totally understand the budget issue! Without knowing your exact skin type it’s hard to recommend a line or exact products. They aren’t natural, but I personally really like and really trust both Olay + Neutrogena. I worked for P&G for years and saw all of the research they put into Olay, and Neutrogena’s products are super gentle + they have great sunscreens. If you have dry or mature skin I LOVE L’Oreal’s bright reveal line – those peel pads are magical! At Target, there is a brand called Pixi and I really love all of their products – especially the whole “Glow” line. For something all natural, I LOVE S.W. Basics. Some of their products only have 3 or 4 ingredients. They’re super mild and soothing (but the downside is that they’re not at all high-tech). My friend Emma makes an amazing oil called Everyday Oil and it’s really wonderful – and a great price. You can use it on your face, body, + hair. When I travel, I literally use it as a face wash (massage it directly into dry skin and then rub it off with a warm, wet wash cloth and moisturizer – for both face and body. When skin is dry, pat in a few drops and use it as a moisturizer. It’s a great multi-tasker and one of the more affordable products around.

After doing a chemical exfoliation, what products are good to use and which should be avoided? Okay so I have questions here. Are you talking about going to a derm for this, or are you doing at home? If it’s the former your dermatologist should be the one telling you what to do (and giving you a specific plan for recovery) BUT what I would do is avoid the sun (apply sunscreen right after – your derm should give it to you after the procedure!) and stick to super gentle products for the next 3-4 days. Don’t use any exfoliating products for a few days afterward, and stick to super gentle products – a creamy cleanser, face oils, a mild but hydrating cream like Chuda.

What skincare type of products do you think it’s worth splurging on vs. saving. For example, should you spend more on a serum and buy a drugstore face wash? This really depends but yes, I would say serums + creams are where you should invest your money. I’ll personally use any old face wash but I’m far more particular about serums + creams. I gave a lot of good recs earlier in the post.

How often do you use face masks? Is every night too much? That really depends upon your skin and once again goes back to giving your skin what it needs. If it’s feeling oily or shiny, do a clay mask. If it’s feeling tight or dry, do something more hydrating. You could definitely do a mask every night but if you do a deep cleansing mask one night, maybe do a moisture mask the next night. I often mask every night if I’m in and have the time BUT I use a lot of really gentle masks… I probably only use a clay mask once or twice a week as I love the deep cleansing benefits but my skin would dry out if I did it too much.

Do you do any DIY face or hair masks? I don’t, I’m sorry! But this blog has a lot of good ideas for that! She always makes me want to be more of a beauty DIY-er.

Did you decide that natural deodorant enhancing soap was useful/helpful? (Background: I tested this charcoal soap and talked about it on my instagram story.) Honestly, it’s a nice soap and I still have it and use it, but it doesn’t do anything special. I didn’t feature it here simply because it just didn’t feel necessary or make a difference. There was a meme the other day about how women are told we need so many more products than we actually need (something about a moisturizer for an elbow?) and this is a good example of that!

I’m curious about oil cleansers! I just started using Biossance products which I’m really liking so far and it’s my first foray into oil cleansers. My question is whether I should use it morning and night or just at night. This depends on your personal routine. I don’t wash my face in the morning as my skin is pretty dry and I double cleanse at night to get all the makeup/city grime off of my skin (oil first, then gel). So washing it in the AM feels a little pointless… I usually splash with water and then apply serum and moisturizer. There are no hard and fast rules though… if your skin feels oily/greasy/dirty in the morning, definitely wash it. Using an oil cleanser in the AM is totally fine!

Which eye cream do you use? Lately I’ve just been using the Dr. Bader cream (which I know I’m talking about a lot – this isn’t sponsored!!) a lot, but two other favorites are The Cure (it’s also tinted, so you can skip concealer) and this one from Susanne Kaufmann.

What’s the best products to remove under eye bags???? I laughed at this question a little because nothing will actually remove them short of surgery (I had an old boss get the surgery!) You want something with tightening properties. In that case, the best products would be this one from Clark’s Botanicals or Verso’s Super Eye Serum.

I have been hearing about how essential oils in skincare can be irritating but so many brands use it for efficacy/fragrance. Do you have a stance on this? Just curious! I personally love when brands use essential oils. No real stance here but I do think that Sisley Paris does a great job with this… their products are the perfect blend of science/high-tech and nature!

Can you talk about how to select and use highlighters? This probably seems like a big question but I’ve never used them and feel like I should I just don’t even know where to start! That is a big question which is why I’ve actually done quite a few posts about highlighters – I love them! Watch the video in this post for my highlighter tutorial, and read this post for my current favorite highlighters. And if you’re a naturals-only person, here are my favorite organic highlighters.

What’s the best way to determine foundation color? Go to Sephora or a department store and get matched. I wracked my brain to see if I could think of something more creative or an at home way to do it, but you really do have to get matched!

How do you manage to keep your under eye concealer looking good all day long? This is why I don’t wear undereye concealer most days… it’s the worst! If you’re not careful it gets into fine lines and makes you look older. I’d rather just deal with dark circles. That being said there are two products that I think work. I’m a big fan of all things BareMinerals as their makeup never gets cakey or looks heavy. The concealer in this post lasted a full day without any funny business and for something a little bit more lightweight/minimal I love this tinted eye cream.

What’s your favorite eyeliner? Favorite mascara? Eyeliner + mascara are two products I think you can 100%  go drugstore on. I was a die hard Bobbi Brown gel liner fan until I tried this L’Oreal dupe (it’s basically the same exact thing) and for mascara I’m obsessed with this one from Maybelline. I also love this one from Wander Beauty which they will send me from time to time but if I’m spending my own money it’s always Maybelline – I don’t notice a big enough difference to warrant spending the extra $20. A late addition is the Glossier Mascara. I ordered this after seeing all of the hype and I have to say it lives up. It makes my lashes look a lot longer (+ slightly glossy) without too much thickness. It’s really natural and pretty.

Do you have any tips for how to keep skin looking fresh throughout the day? I have combination skin that gets super oily by the end of the work day. My own skin is pretty dry so it’s hard to recommend something for this. I asked a girlfriend and she suggested these blotting papers (how cute is that packaging!?) and/or translucent powder. I love refreshing my skin with my favorite face mist but I’m not sure how your skin will react to it. Honestly, oily skin sounds nice… maybe just blot your forehead + nose and embrace the dewiness!!! (This is coming from a person who slathers on face oil mid-day!!)

My mascara tends to smudge during the day and cause some black marks under my eyes, do you know any mascaras that stay put and won’t budge? I have never had this problem (I think it’s because my skin is so dry!) It sounds like you need something totally waterproof/smudge-proof. I was just sent this long wearing mascara from Lancome and love it. Does. Not. Budge. I also have been testing the new Glossier mascara (for only two days though) and that stayed completely put – even through a sweaty yoga class!

How do you keep your hair healthy between heat styling? Always, always, always use a heat protectant! I love this one!

WHEW. That was fun. And probably the most time consuming post I’ve ever written! I hope you enjoyed it/learned something, if you have more questions feel free to comment below!!!


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  1. I really appreciated your in-depth answers, especially about makeup! I’m a noob at makeup myself so it was great to learn so many new things! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    5.17.18 Reply
  2. Brianna Rooney:

    This is super helpful and I am sure I will reference again and again!

    My makeup smudges under my eyes and is pretty oily as well and instead of blotting papers (cute but overpriced) I use toilet seat covers! It’s the exact same material and gets all the oil off your face. I read that Jennifer Aniston does it in People YEARS ago and it just came up at lunch today and I am glad I am not alone.

    5.17.18 Reply
  3. Leigh Anna:

    I definitely need an anti-anging hand cream, I didn’t even know that was a thing! What do you recommend? My hands TOTALLY show my age, blech.

    5.17.18 Reply
  4. What a thorough post, thank you! I love trying new fave masks, but I’m also very skeptical of them, so it’s nice to find good recommendations! If you’re looking to try anything else new I really love my silk pillowcase. I swear it makes a difference! xAllie

    5.17.18 Reply
    • Thanks Allie! I LOVE my silk pillowcase too! I sleep with one from Slip AND their eye mask. #highmaintenance haha

      5.18.18 Reply
  5. Piper:

    Will you please tell me where you got your shower curtain? I love the gold grommets!!

    5.17.18 Reply
  6. Cristina:

    Re: Mascara smudging- I have the same problem and the ONLY mascaras that stay put are the smudge proof ones. I use the Estee Lauder one, and recommend it. but I know other brands make them as well. The trick is to find a tubing mascara. Allure has an article about here:

    5.17.18 Reply
  7. Halle:

    Absolutely loved this post! This is probably a dumb q, but how long do you wait between putting on products? At night, if I am doing a toner, serum, moisturizer, oil, should I be waiting long periods of time between? Ha, now that I am typing this it seems kind of silly…but typically I just slather it all on and I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t…

    5.17.18 Reply
    • It depends on the product but I just wait til it’s totally absorbed! Sometimes my serum takes longer to absorb so I’ll brush my teeth and then put on night cream. It really depends on the day though (and the humidity, haha)

      5.18.18 Reply
  8. Cory:

    This post is great! Definitely bookmarking it for future reference. Thanks!

    5.17.18 Reply
  9. Wow, that was a very comprehensive and informative post!! Thanks so much for sharing! Now I want to start saving my pennies for that Dr. Bader cream you mentioned, it looks wonderful!

    5.17.18 Reply
  10. Katie:

    Where is your shower curtain from? Can you please link it? I love the gold details!

    5.17.18 Reply
  11. Katie:

    Now I want a Q&A from you on every subject, I so enjoyed reading this!

    5.17.18 Reply
  12. I was sold on the Dr Bader cream, then I clicked through and laughed out loud at the price: $265?? I didn’t know that kind of price existed. I have a $50 gift card for Nordstrom that I’ve been saving for a fancy face product (maybe the Kiehls vitamin C thing, to be determined), which will be the first time I’ve spent more than $25 on a single product. Donny, I’m out of my element!

    5.18.18 Reply
    • I know it’s a lot – I’m sorry. That’s why I did my best to try to provide some good drugstore recs too! For anti-aging definitely give L’Oreal Bright Reveal a try !!!

      5.18.18 Reply
  13. Taylor:

    Such a great Q&A! Right after I graduated college was when I knew I needed to actually invest in good skincare products and quickly got on the Kiehl’s bandwagon. Now I’m using a combination of Kiehl’s, Tula, and Drunk Elephant and my skin looks and feels so great. I love trying out face masks and you’ve inspired me to try out some combinations of masks, so thank you for the inspiration in this post as well! Looking forward to my night in tonight with my face masks and wine 🙂

    I thought it was so interesting that your Drunk Elephant post was from 2015! I thought they were a newer brand just based on how popular it’s become. Their products are seriously changing the texture of my skin and helping get rid of hyperpigmention from acne. I’ve been using it on my hands at night to help combat aging there too (another tip I’ve learned from you!)

    Thanks again for posting, I know myself and your other readers are so appreciate of the time and effort you put into answering these questions!

    xo, Taylor

    5.18.18 Reply
    • Haha I know. I tried it soooooo long ago – when I hear about a cool new brand I try to get ahead of the curve. Doesn’t always happen but was the case with this one! xx

      5.18.18 Reply
  14. Katie:

    One of my favorite quotes/ideas is “Aging is a privileged denied to many”. You all are beautiful!

    5.18.18 Reply
  15. Stephanie:

    Excellent post Grace, so interesting. But I notice you don’t use toner. It helps with the PH balance of your skin so maybe would help with the dryness?

    Separately, Sailor by Captain Blankenship is at Target and a good natural product line at much less $$ than most. For during the day … instead of blotting you can also spray your face with a rose hydrosol. You can spray over your makeup and it is a miracle worker. I like Purvari best.

    5.21.18 Reply