My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Cup of Jo editor Caroline is AMAZING AND ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT’S UP. (She told me to say that, but I also think it’s true.) Here, she shares her beauty uniform, including her secret morning ritual, an offbeat shampoo and the one tool she can’t live without…


What’s your daily skincare routine?
I’m epically bad at mornings, so I keep my shower routine as simple as possible. I wash with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, which tingles a little and helps me wake up. For overall moisturizing, I was on the coconut oil bandwagon for a while, but I got tired of smelling like an Almond Joy. Now I use avocado oil, which is equally cheap and blissfully fragrance-free.

What do you use on your face?
For my face, I swear by NUDE Nourishing Cleansing Oil, which is made with 100% natural plant oils. Oil cleansing has made a huge difference in my skin—it completely eliminated dry patches, oily spots and break-outs. For daytime, I’ll smooth on Clinique Smart Repair Serum, a genius product that figures out your specific skin needs (dryness, dark spots, wrinkles, etc.) then fixes them, via the majesty of science. At night, I wash my face again and go to bed without putting anything on it. A dermatologist once told me that your skin needs to breathe and re-balance itself overnight, and that’s what I’ve done ever since.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

We know you love lipstick. Do you wear other makeup?
I wear makeup every day, but try to keep it light—I’m hoping people will think I look nice, not that my makeup looks nice. I use MAC Face & Body Foundation, which is lightweight and slightly dewy—it doesn’t completely erase imperfections, just makes you look like a better version of yourself. For under-eye circles or blemishes, I love Tarte Amazonian Clay concealer. On weekdays, I’ll usually wear a neutral lip (Lipstick Queen’s Jean Queen is especially foolproof) and then dab a bit of that same lipstick on my cheeks. Finally, I’ll curl my eyelashes to look more awake and finish with a coat of mascara. I get the Maybelline Great Lash with the “Lots of Lashes” brush—the brush is key.

What if you’re dressing up?
If it’s a special occasion or I have more time to play, I’ll swipe on some highlighter (NARS Copacabana) and apply one of my (many) lipsticks. I’m currently obsessed with All Fired Up, a matte reddish fuchsia. It’s a beautiful color that feels like a fresh alternative to red.

Caroline Donofrio

What do you love about your look, even if it’s unconventional?
When I was in middle school, the mean girls made fun of my furry, slightly conjoined eyebrows. (“Um, have you ever heard of a tweezer?”) Now bold eyebrows are back in style and I actually try to make them look bigger. Take that, bullies!

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Do you have any game-changing beauty products?
Two! Benefit Gimme Brow is an eyebrow gel that makes brows look darker and fuller. It’s much easier than using an eyebrow pencil but still gives you definition. I use it every day, even when forgoing other makeup, since it helps frame your whole face. And if I’m especially sleepy (or hungover), MAC Fast Response Eye Cream is a lifesaver for tired eyes. You dab a little on, wait a few minutes, and your eyes are noticeably de-puffed. It’s wizardry. It really works.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Do you have any favorite tools?
It might be the least sexy thing ever, but my tiny shaver is a total necessity. It’s the best at removing a scary nose hair or Teen Wolf-esque sideburns. I have random hairs that grow in places I don’t want them (I’m looking at you, lone goat chin hair), and this is the easiest, fastest way to make them go away. I’d bring it to a desert island.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Do you have any regrettable beauty moments?
Yes. The entire decade spanning from 1996 to 2006 was spent making questionable aesthetic decisions. These include but are not limited to: over-tweezed eyebrows, liner that was darker than the lipstick within, one big stripe of bleached-blond hair à la Rogue from X-Men and glitter. So much glitter. Sigh.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of JoMy Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Are there any foods or drinks that help you feel your best?
Food is one area where I definitely don’t lead by example—I would live inside of a doughnut if I could. But I’m fanatical about hydration, and find that drinking obscene quantities of water makes a huge difference in how I look and feel. Drinking peppermint tea or hot water with lemon does wonders to cure bloating. And when I’m feeling stressed or having trouble sleeping, I’ll make this drink to help calm my nerves.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Do you have any other rituals that help you feel good?
I don’t look at my phone after 10pm—or even bring it in my bedroom. If I do, I’ll never fall asleep. It’s important to have sacred, uninterrupted space! I’ll usually read a book before bed (I just finished this one) and write a few thoughts in a notebook. Last but not least, I surround myself with pretty candles, crystals and lots of green plants. While you probably can’t prove that these things have magical properties, they make me feel better, and that’s evidence enough for me.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

What do you do to care for your hair?
My aunt recently gave me WEN Cleansing Conditioner (a shampoo and conditioner in one), and it has completely changed my hair. You put it on at the beginning of your shower, leave it in while you shave or whatever, then rinse it off at the end. I’ve been using it for a month now and my hair is much sleeker and completely frizz-free! I may never go back to regular shampoo. I wash my hair every other day, and on the off days, I use Lulu Organics dry shampoo. I love the lavender scent, but mostly am a sucker for the pretty packaging.

And for styling?
I always use my magic hot air brush. And Bumble and Bumble Cityswept Finish is magic in a can for creating shiny, tousled, slightly messy looks.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Do you have a signature scent?
Right now I’m into solid perfumes, since I can tuck them in my bag for on-the-go touch-ups. My current go-to is Nirvana Black, which smells dusty and sexy, like violet and sandalwood. My long-time favorite, though, is Eau Duelle. It has a warm, subtly spicy vanilla scent. I was once told (by a male) that it smelled like “a sexy marshmallow,” which was meant as a compliment.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

What was a time in your life when you felt beautiful?
Every morning, I spend my commute listening to an uplifting song. It can be anything from Fleetwood Mac to Sam Cooke—whatever mood I happen to be in that day. This morning, for example, I embraced the cheese and indulged in…Taylor Swift. Taylor was like, “WELCOME TO NEW YORK,” as the skyline breezed by. It was the ultimate in ridiculousness. There’s nothing better than sharing a train with a bunch of stony-faced businessmen, smiling to myself because of what’s secretly streaming out of my headphones. Happy music makes me feel alive and like I can tackle whatever comes my way—and that, to me, is beautiful.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Were there any influential “beauty figures” in your life?
I grew up doing a ton of community theater, where experimenting with makeup and costumes was part of the process. This also meant spending time in a communal dressing room with older women who were completely comfortable with themselves, regardless of their age, size, shape…not to mention willing to don a coconut bra, a Colonial lady outfit or whatever their role required. I loved how they thought of makeup as play and that they didn’t take it—or themselves—too seriously!

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of JoMy Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Last but certainly not least: do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Do what makes you feel great, and don’t feel too pressured by trends or the overall pull of society. I often feel torn because lord knows I LOVE my beauty products, but then I’ll wander into Sephora and feel suffocated by all the things being marketed exclusively to women. I’ll think: If I added up all the time I spend applying makeup or straightening my hair and spent that time working instead, would I have a Pulitzer by now? Ultimately, though, I think beauty can be a positive force. Anything that makes you feel great isn’t silly; it’s empowering. The trick is blocking out all the other noise (“Wear these! Wax this! Tweeze that!”) until you’re left with whatever makes you feel best.

My Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of JoMy Beauty Uniform: Caroline Donofrio | A Cup of Jo

Thank you so much, Caroline!

P.S. More lovely women share their beauty uniforms and Caroline’s 30-day lipstick challenge.

(Photos via Caroline’s Instagram)

  1. Great post! Love Caroline’s style and poise. I’ve been a big fan of Caroline from the start and was so excited to read about her beauty tips. I think Caroline and I have much in common: tiny shavers, listening to Taylor Swift and bright lips! :)

  2. This is totally random but I reeaaaalllly think vblogger Ingrid Nilsen is Caroline’s doppelganger. Anyone else think so?

  3. Simone says...

    oh my god, how OLD is Caroline? I am nineteen (NINETEEN!) and if she told me she was my age, I wouldn’t bat an eye. she has unreal skin.

  4. Holly says...

    It was great reading this post! Something drew me to the NUDE cleansing oil you mentioned in your beauty uniform. You mentioned how it made a huge difference on your skin; I tend to read a lot of reviews before I buy something, because I tend to fluctuate wildly between using the cheapest drugstore finds and higher-end products. I was going through a particularly rough time with my skin (dry, flaky skin, seemingly uncontrollable breakouts, etc), and on a whim bought the cleansing oil. Your statement was 100% true for me as well. It has completely changed my skin for the better. Thank you so much for turning me on to this amazing product!

  5. Caroline, you are a true beauty! I love the part about being picked on for having thick eyebrows… My youngest (13) is going through the same thing. I can’t wait to show her this post. :)

  6. Caroline, I have a question about your Wen cleansing conditioner. I’ve been tempted to try it, yet have heard mixed reviews. What is your hair type and what are the ups and downs of the product? Help!

  7. Jo says...

    I don’t know how I missed this fabulous post even though I stop by every. single. day…?!

    What a precious gem of an addition to Cup of Jo Caroline has been. She’s totally a breath of fresh air! (And so beautiful!)

    Thank you for such a great post and happy Valentine’s weekend!

  8. After the first mention of the hot air brush, I was intrigued. After this post, I pulled the trigger. My John Frieda hot air brush arrived this morning (about $27 on Amazon, same at Target) and I am in love! Where have you been all my life?? SOOO much easier than a round brush and blow dryer. It’s literally like having a large round brush with the blow dryer built into it. That means you have a free hand to separate your hair and wrap it around the brush. Finally someone with zero hairstyling talent like me can actually accomplish the at-home blow out. Plus, this thing is super light weight so it’s easy to use without your arm getting tired. FWIW, I have medium length (about 2 inches past my collar bones) very thin hair that is pin straight and always falls limp. This gave me a soft turned-under blowout with volume at the roots. I wish I had discovered this years ago.

  9. Gosh I just love Caroline!

  10. I love this series <3 I discovered your blog recently and i just really, really love it !

  11. I really enjoyed this interview! It was thoughtful and funny. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Great tips! My new year’s resolution was to turn off all electronics after my daughter goes to bed at 8pm, and it has made feel feel so relaxed in the evening!

  13. A friend just emailed me the other day to ask some advice on beauty products, so I forwarded a couple of my favorite posts from this series! It’s so great to see what other people are doing and I especially love that you ask about each woman’s beauty philosophy. I’ve always felt shy about asking people what they do as part of their beauty routine, mostly feeling like I should already have it together, so thanks for inspiring and opening up the conversation :)

  14. Love it all! Thanks!!! Alright, I have had the hot air brush on my Amazon wish list since you all mentioned it the first time. I don’t want to push buy until I see it in action! Tutorial, pretty please!!!

  15. Love her! And love all the plants in her home- it looks very relaxed and welcoming.

  16. SL says...

    What a fun post to read! Thank you Caroline for your honesty, humor and awesome tips.

  17. Caroline, I had eyebrow troubles in middle school, too! I never really thought of them much until one day my dad (whom I didn’t see often b/c my parents are divorced), in his very blunt, russian way, said in this exasperated voice “Natalie, who does your eyebrows??” I was like, “Uh… does what to them?” Lol, I was 12 and hadn’t really noticed the near unibrow I was sporting. Needless to say, I got a bit of a complex about them. Now I love how dark and prominent they are, and I’ve started defining them a bit more, too. = )

  18. Love this. Caroline, your sun hat in the photo above is perfect. Could you share where it’s from? Thanks!

  19. Caroline is beautiful! I also use WEN and have for years. I will never use shampoo again. My daughters love it as well. Really enjoyed this post.

  20. Lovely! I am a 26 year old brazilian, and I have to say… Although I love your blog and admire everything that you do and write, I dont have a family yet so the addition of Caroline to this space just made me connect and love it even more! I love you both! Thanks for the tips caroline!

  21. I really love how much these beauty posts emphasize inner beauty and just generally feeling comfortable with yourself. It’s a really departure from what you often find out there, and it’s soooo welcome!

  22. Smelling like “a sexy marshmallow,” is the best line out of this whole thing. Brilliant compliment, I wish more guys were that clever!

  23. I absolutely love this series! I always end up pinning them and trying out some new products. Plus the women that have been picked so far are so refreshing, it’s like getting advice from a big sister.

  24. Caroline- u inspired me. I went out to buy the Nude Oil
    Cleanser:) just curious, when during the day do you use it? Morning or evening? I just used it and ready my face feels amazing!!

  25. Ok… I have to say, Caroline has the best smile! Most of her pics on your blog she has mysterious face on, but she lights up when she smiles. She actually almost looks like a different person, haha. I can see you must have fun together!

  26. agreed- Benefit Gimme Brow is THE JAM. love the stuff.

  27. When I grow up I want to be just like Caroline!

  28. Loved this so much – thanks for sharing, Caroline!

  29. She’s great!

  30. I, too, just started using WEN cleansing conditioner about a month ago and LOVE it! Thanks for the tips, beautiful. :)


  31. Thanks Caroline! You are so nice and such a great fit for cup of jo. But what about your new haircut?! I wanted to see more photos of it!

  32. Clinique Smart is the best! It erased all of my acne and sunspots. I even have my husband using it at night!

  33. I love this series! Caroline is effortlessly beautiful. Do you thing we can get a tutorial on that magic brush thingie? I’m scared to get it without knowing how to use it. Would it be good on thin hair?

  34. Caroline, you are the cutest! I really enjoy your voice—you and Jo are such a fun duo!

  35. I enjoyed reading about Caroline’s beauty routine, thank you :)
    I sometimes wonder, too, like one of the commentators, would I have enough to share if someone asked me about my beauty uniform…
    I would also like to know how Caroline is doing post-break up with her long-term boyfriend. I myself broke up with a boyfriend of 2 years 4 months ago, and did not feel good at all at the start, but now am feeling much better :)

  36. Caroline, you sound like someone I’d love to be friends with. I love how down-to-earth this post is! Thank you!

  37. Really love these posts and this one is great.

    So, you’ve now mentioned the magic hot air brush twice. Will you consider a tutorial??

  38. Love this post and TOTALLY agree that putting yourself in the right space with a good song can totally make you feel beautiful. (I’ve been totally guilty of doing the same thing with Taylor Swift on these cold morning commutes!) Also — must try that cleansing conditioner you recommended — thanks!

    Krista (

  39. Thank you, Caroline; you inspire me! xo

  40. Great post! Love Caroline’s style and poise. I am monumentally confused though — did I miss the follow-up post where she DIDN’T cut off her hair after you asked us to weigh in on a few styles?

  41. Love it! You really do know WHAT’S UP, Caroline :)

  42. Caroline, thank you for sharing. You have such a lovely and endearing voice, honesty and sense of humor. I’m so happy you joined Cup of Jo! I love reading posts about your make up adventures and life reflections.

  43. Even though I always enjoy the “My beauty uniform” posts, I found this one particularly entertaining and refreshing, mostly because of her “don’t take yourself (or beauty, for that matter) too seriously” approach! And the thought about the Pulitzer award totally hit home, since I think of the same thing when handing in university assignments!

  44. Haha, lone goat chin hair. I know exactly what you mean!!

  45. nice one! thanks for sharing Caroline!

  46. She’s a cutie!

  47. Kind, funny, great eyebrows — Caroline, you’re the whole package!

  48. “I’m hoping people will think I look nice, not that my makeup looks nice”. Love this, and Caroline!

  49. Gosh I love Caroline – you really did the right thing bringing her in, Jo! She has such a great voice in her writing, and she’s just so damn cool.

    I really like her quote here about things that make you feel great being empowering, not silly – it’s so true! And I know that I feel more productive and confident when I feel great.

  50. This was my favorite Beauty Uniform installment. Caroline’s comments are so fun to read and seems like a gal everyone wants to be friends with!

  51. What a beaut! I love your fresh faced look and completely agree about wanting people to think that you look good, not that your makeup looks good. And as someone who can relate all too well to your tale of random strangers thinking you’re younger than you are, I think you totally rock the baby-faced-bad-ass look that I myself aspire to. :)

  52. Caroline! It’s so great seeing you on Cup of Jo! I’m sure Razorbill misses you but you clearly made the right move. Best, Sam

  53. Love love love!!!!

  54. I think Caroline and I have much in common: tiny shavers, listening to Taylor Swift and bright lips! :)

  55. Thank you so much for doing this! I’ve been a big fan of Caroline from the start and was so excited to read about her beauty tips. Go Caroline!

  56. I love Caroline. She is so beautiful and sunny. She feels like somebody I would want to be friends with. Plus her beauty routine is so perfect and simple! I can’t wait to try that Wen shampoo-conditioner!

  57. Great! I am definitely a Caroline fan.

  58. Caroline, you are inspirational and real! Loved this beauty routine. Also going to have to try out that brow gel.

  59. Caroline is such a lovely person inside and out. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  60. Thank you for sharing all of this, but I must say that I find great comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one who needs to take care of an errant nose and/or chin hair occasionally! None of my girlfriends have this problem, so I was starting to think I was alone!!

  61. Wonderful! I never really felt like I knew enough about Caroline in your blog so this is great!

  62. Nice post! But, what happened to the new hairdo?

  63. Caroline does not take a bad picture! Beautiful and so comfortable in her own skin for her age specially!

  64. Aww, what a natural beauty! I love that quote… “People should think I look nice and not my makeup…” Truth! Beautiful, beautiful!

    Circus & Bloom

  65. She’s SO beautiful! And such great tips… I absolutely loved the photo with the black hat, so glamorous!


  66. Aw, love her writing style! Great tips, too.

    Thanks to you both!

  67. quick question…didn’t she cut off all her hair? I remember a picture and I’d love to see what it looks like now.

  68. Caroline, you rock! I love this series. Thank you for sharing and inspiring. Have a wonderful week.

  69. Caroline, you rock! I love this series. Thank you for sharing and inspiring. Have a wonderful week.

  70. She is so beautiful!!! I loved all of the tips and can’t wait to try some of them. Especially the magic air brush. Who knew? :)

  71. LK says...

    This was a great interview and I especially love that last bit. She seems like she would be a really cool friend.

  72. Thanks for the great tips, Caroline! Isn’t the tarte Amazonian clay line amazing?!

    Kim .. What blogging means to me?!

  73. caroline is so awesome. i really enjoyed this piece. just ordered the cleansing conditoner…my hair is so frizzy right now so here’s hoping it does the trick!

    joanna, i have a quick beauty question for you– i remember you recommeneded josie maran’s argan daily moisturizer w/ spf a few years back which i started using and LOVED –until they changed the formula. the new stuff is a little too heavy/greasy for me. do you use the new formula or have you found something another product similar to the original formula? thanks so much!! xx

  74. I love getting to know Caroline more! So funny and wise. And, you know I had that big bleached strip in my hair from 1997-1998! Oy.

  75. Love this post! Caroline, you seem like a gem!

  76. I love the dress that Caroline is wearing in the second photo! Can you share where it comes from please?

  77. YAY!!!! So glad you did Caroline’s beauty uniform. :) Caroline, you always look so sweet and classically beautiful!

  78. caroline what color lipstick are you wearing in the last photo?

    great piece btw. happy you joined the team. yay brooklyn ladies!

  79. I’m not even sorry that I have a total girl crush on you, Caroline.

  80. “The trick is blocking out all the other noise (“Wear these! Wax this! Tweeze that!”) until you’re left with whatever makes you feel best.” – such a great outlook, Caroline! Thanks so much for sharing, you made my day.

  81. yup. every time i read a caroline article, i want to be her friend even more! more so now that i know we share a love of nirvana-black perfume :-)

  82. this is a very down to earth interview! fresh perspectives on what is expected of us. thanks for sharing Caroline, you gave us some good tips!

  83. While I’m really disappointed not to have photos of the regrettable beauty moments, (so let down when I clicked on that link, and it was rogue, not Caroline) I loved this post. You’re adorable, Caroline!

  84. I love this series! I’m still terrible at beauty routines and was imagining my own answers to these questions (definitely not an example to follow) but maybe one day I’ll be grown up enough to be exemplary! :)

    Becks xo

  85. Ugh, I want to be Caroline’s best friend. So beautiful and so authentic.

  86. I want to be Caroline’s friend! How dear. Enjoyed this!

  87. I have eyebrow baggage from middle school too, which led to years of overplucking. Loved reading this one! Thanks, Caroline!

  88. I just love this series! I inevitably end up trying at least one new thing after reading them which is so fun! And Caroline, you are hilarious :). I literally lol’d when you said you were tired of smelling like an Almond Joy 👏👏. Keep up the good work ladies!!

  89. She just seems pretty great overall. Thanks for the tips, Caroline! :)