Last fall, I met Cailin at our neighborhood playground. While our kids climbed up the slide, we chatted about books and babies. When it was time to leave, I mustered up the courage to ask for her number. Happily, we’ve been friends ever since! She works for Elizabeth Arden and is a genius with makeup. Here, she shares her tricks, including a sweet marriage tip and the lipstick that lasts all day…

What’s your morning routine?
We always get up early since my two-year-old son, Julian, wakes up at 5:30 these days. One of us goes to get him and we all snuggle in bed until 6:15. Then I jump in the shower while my husband Eric makes breakfast. In the shower, I use Aveeno Foaming Face Wash for sensitive skin and Dove body wash. For body moisturizer, I’m pretty loyal to Kiehl’s Creme de Corps. It’s a magical product that somehow doesn’t feel heavy in the summer but is still hydrating enough in the winter. It leaves the most subtle sheen on your skin as well. For my face, I like Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future moisturizer, followed by the hydrating eye cream Ceramides Premiere.

Do you wear makeup?
Yes, yes, yes. I love makeup. I love the transformative power of it—subtle or extreme. It’s always so exciting to me to buy a new product, no matter if it’s from Rite Aid or Barneys.

What do you put on your face everyday?
For years, I’ve used Laura Mercier primer and tinted moisturizer for a base. Then I’ll put on Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Plum Wine. I originally bought it because I thought the name was fun. (Seriously.) Thankfully the product is just as good. I love the texture, which is better than a traditional cream blush since it has a powdery finish on your face. Sometimes I’ll use NARS The Multiple in Orgasm, which is a lifesaver when you don’t have much time. I use it mostly on my cheeks but have put it on my lips and eyes, too. This was one of two products I brought with me to the hospital (along with Maybelline BB cream) when I had Julian. Those two things were exactly what I needed to pull myself together.

What about eye makeup?
I like to highlight the inner corners of my eyes, my brow bones and cheeks with the amazing NARS Copacabana. It’s a very light highlighter and brightens up my whole face. I’ve also used it on my eyelids before. I also love liquid eyeliner and am obsessed with Eyeko Eye Do. It’s really easy to control and glides on for a smooth application. Mascara is something that I’m willing to pay anything for, since it completely transforms your look. There’s an amazing amount of technology behind the brushes and formulas that fascinates me. My favorite, though, is the wonderful Lancôme Hypnose. It never flakes or runs and the brush gives lashes a beautiful separation. Kevyn Aucoin eyelash curler makes a huge difference—it makes lashes look much thicker and longer.

Finally, I’ve always had very thin eyebrows—I would look ridiculous if I try to compete with Cara Delevingne, so I attempt something natural. I use Bobbi Brown eyeshadow to fill in my brows, make them stand out more and frame my face.

Do you remember when you first got into makeup?
Growing up with older sisters, I’d always steal their products. But I remember one time in college, I was reading Allure magazine and there was a picture of a blond model with this perfect red-blue lipstick. I tore out the page, hopped in my car and went to a Clinique counter (which was the least intimidating one). I handed the woman the picture and was like, “Make me look like this.” She sat there until she matched the exact lipstick color for me, and that’s when I realized the power of makeup.

Speaking of lipstick, do you have any recommendations?
A good lipstick can make your skin look better and your eyes more awake; it’s the quickest way to look like you tried. Whenever I say to my husband, “I have nothing to wear tonight” he always responds, “It doesn’t really matter, just wear red lipstick.” NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil in Cruella is amazing—it doesn’t budge. Ilia Beauty, a natural brand, has lovely lip conditioners—I use Arabian Knights, a nice sheer berry. And Fresh Lip Treatment in Rose is great when I just want a hint of color.

How do you change it up for special occasions?
To be honest, I don’t! I think beauty is a lot more democratic than it used to be. I remember growing up, when my mom wore Chanel No. 5, I would think, “It must be their anniversary.” When she dressed up, it was such a different feeling. But now, I like to wear special things all the time. For a fancy party, I would probably wear the same red lipstick I wore to work that day!

What about the makeup for your wedding?
I actually did my own makeup. I had a fear of not looking like myself, and I was terrified of someone else doing it. I figured, if there was one day I wanted to be my true self, it was my wedding day. I was alone in my room, and I felt very nervous while I was putting it on. I wore Stila liquid lipstick in red, and it lasted all night.

How long have you and Eric been married and how did you meet?
I’ve been married for eight-and-a-half years. We became friends in high school, where we were part of the same crew. We tried dating one summer when I was home from college, and when we went back to our separate schools we stayed friends. After college, I moved to LA and he moved to New York. Then a few years later, we bumped into each other at our best friends’ wedding and we were like, “Something’s different.” We dated long distance for a year, and then I moved to New York and it finally became official!

That’s a great story! It reminds me of When Harry Met Sally. Do you have any marriage tips?
Pre-Julian, we had lots of late-night dance parties. We would be up at one in the morning, dancing around the apartment to Kanye. Sometimes we’d go out with friends and would be like, “This is boring. Let’s go home and have a dance party!” It was so much fun. (Now we have family dance parties, but they happen in the daytime.)

What music are you into right now?
On weekday mornings, we tend to play a lot of stuff like Diiv, Father John Misty, Real Estate, Tame Impala. At the end of the work day when we get home with Julian, we have a dance party that usually includes Phoenix, Charlie XCX and Sky Ferreira. Lazy weekend mornings tend to be things like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Panda Bear, Elliott Smith, The Beach Boys. Music makes everything better.

Do you have any funny little tips or tricks that you swear by?
This might sound completely ridiculous but here it is: Always blow your nose before you do your makeup. It sounds silly, but anyone that has had to do it right after putting on foundation or tinted moisturizer will understand.

What are your “game-changing” beauty products?
I just got the Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask and it is as good as I had hoped—it’s my new favorite product.

How do you care for your hair?
My hair is definitely the most neglected part of my beauty routine. I have a hard time remembering to wash it! My hair is naturally wavy so I never brush it when it’s dry. I am fiercely loyal to Frederic Fekkai Glossing Cream for styling. It is the best for smoothing frizz while not making hair greasy. Sometimes I use Salty Dog Texturizing Spray to help make it a bit more piece-y.

Have you ever tried any daring haircuts?
Not too long ago, I had my head shaved underneath in the back—you couldn’t see it unless my hair was in a ponytail. I got inspired when I was standing behind some girl in line at the grocery store and was staring at the back of her partially-shaved head. I would never be able to shave the side of my head like Rhianna, but this felt like an easier way to do something different. I didn’t have to dye or cut it, and when I wore it down, I could still walk into a meeting and nobody would know the difference. Once Miley Cyrus shaved her head and became “Miley,” I started growing it out, which was terrible, because I couldn’t put my hair up for a year. I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again!

What is your nighttime/bedtime routine?
Eric and I are desperately trying to get to bed early now that we wake up before dawn, but it’s been largely unsuccessful since we’re both night people. We need to have time to sit and be, just the two of us. We’ll maybe watch a movie or a television show (we just started watching Better Call Saul). Then I wash my face, apply Philosophy Help Me Retinol Treatment, then moisturize with either Prevage night cream or Crème de La Mer. I also read magazines and blogs before bed, but try not to do it for too long so that I can zone out and truly unwind.

Tell us more about your work! It sounds like a dream job.
I work in global marketing and product development for Elizabeth Arden Fragrances. It’s work, like anything else, but it is fun. I love working on things that will be personal to other people, things they will wear for their most important moments. When they spray a fragrance, it’s because they’re going somewhere special—a date, an event… When you think of something that you’ve worked on and all the places it goes, that’s an amazing feeling.

As someone who works in fragrance, do you have a signature scent?
Fragrance was my escape to a more glamorous life when I was growing up. Right now I’m obsessed with Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt. I’ll be wearing that for a while, but as springtime rolls around, I will incorporate a fresh scent like Untold, and then in the summer, Bronze Goddess. My new FAVORITE fragrance, though, is Bergamote 22. It’s gorgeous—not too feminine or overpowering—but you inhale it and it’s just dreamlike. Oddly enough, every time I ask Eric if I smell good, he can’t tell the difference. Other people will compliment me, and he’ll still be like, “I can’t smell anything.”

What did the women in your family teach you about beauty?
I am one of six kids. It was a pretty crazy household, to say the least, but my mom always made time for herself—even if it was a five-minute shower. She made time to see friends and be her own person. Looking back, I see how amazing that was, and it’s inspiring to me now that I have a child.

As the mom of a young son, what would you like Julian to learn about beauty, especially as he grows older?
No matter what you look like, people are drawn to the person in the room who is having the best time. Laughter is the most beautiful.

Is there any product or treatment you’ll never do?
I’ll never say never to anything, but I want to try to follow the Frances McDormand aging philosophy if I can!

Last but certainly not least: Do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
I love the worlds of fashion and beauty because they are endlessly creative and fun. But sometimes it’s hard for me not to compare myself to some of those flawless images. When I feel like it’s becoming more harmful than good, I take a break. Time feels like it’s on fast forward since I had Julian and I don’t want to waste any time spinning out on negativity. Sometimes it’s best for me to put down the fashion magazines and just find the perfect song for our little tribe to dance to.

Thank you so much, Cailin!

P.S. Twelve women share their beauty uniforms and how to look extra pretty on a date.

(Photos courtesy of Cailin McCarthy. Interview by Caroline Donofrio)