caroline donofrio

In the past few weeks, I’ve gotten lots of beauty questions, especially when it comes to at-home tips and treatments. Since there are few things I love chatting about more than beauty recs, today I’m answering the 10 things I’ve heard the most…

Q. What do you currently use on your skin?
A. These days, I’m loyal to Jordan Samuel The After Show treatment cleanser. It’s a thick, oil-based gel. You rub it on a dry face, and it removes any traces of dirt and makeup. It smells amazing — like standing in the middle of an orange grove while someone nearby makes freshly squeezed orange juice. I love how it doesn’t strip my skin and leaves it feeling soft.

When it comes to other skincare products, I’ve tried absolutely everything over the years — toners, serums, eye cream, night creams, overnight masks, you name it — but I find that the simpler my routine, the better my skin. Right now, my everyday arsenal is down to ONE product: Monastery Attar Floral Repair Concentrate. It’s a rich balm, and I scoop out a teeny blob and use it all over my face, including near my eyes and down onto my neck. It smells like you just stuck your face into someone’s lush, organic garden. (Does anyone remember the opening credits of the Martha Stewart Show, when she walked through her gardens in Connecticut? That’s what I think of when I smell this.) It’s a splurge for sure, but it makes my skin look and feel better than a multi-step skincare routine, with just this one jar.

caroline donofrio

Q. How do you groom your eyebrows at home? I can’t get them waxed right now, and tweezing hurts so much! I look like Bigfoot.
A. I always do my own eyebrows, so that actually hasn’t changed! I find that the tweezer you use makes a huge difference, in terms of both pain and performance. I ONLY use Tweezerman. Their tweezers are sharper than any others I’ve tried, and make it easy to grip the hairs. The key is to slide — not pull — the hairs out, in the direction they are already growing.

When it comes to getting the right shape, my trick is that I brush them upward and pencil them in first, so I can see the overall shape I want — otherwise it’s easy to take too much or tweeze from the wrong spots. Once the area is filled in, I pluck any hairs that fall outside the lines. My rule is if a hair does not connect to anything else, it goes.

Q. I am always terrible at remembering to drink water, and since I’ve been home, it’s gotten worse. Do you have any tips for staying hydrated?
A. When I get up in the morning, I don’t let myself have coffee (or anything else, for that matter) until I’ve had a full glass of water, so the day starts off on the right foot. For the rest of the day, I keep my water in a refillable bottle (vs a glass) because it helps me keep track of how much I’ve had and encourages me to drink more. When I feel like I’m in a rut, I’ll try to jazz it up by adding a squeeze of lemon or a splash of juice.

Beauty Q&A

Q. How do you choose a lipstick color that’s right for you?
A. In regular times, I would tell you to get thee to a store and try the color in person, on your face. Colors look different on every person, and a lipstick will look different on your face than it will on your hand or on a model. Now, going to a germy, germy store would be both impossible and unwise. So, the best we can do, when ordering online or shopping at a drug store without testers, is to do your research.

When you find a color you like, do a quick google search for the brand and shade name, as there’s a pretty good chance you can find a beauty vlogger (or 12) who has swatched it on different skin tones or on their own face. It can help give you a better sense of how the color wears outside the tube.

If that fails, look at the undertones and compare them to other colors that work well for you. Is the color warm or cool? Do you like wearing warm orange or yellow clothing? Then a red lipstick with warm, orange undertones will probably look great on you. Do you gravitate toward wearing cool tones, like icy blues and pinks? Then that bright fuchsia or plum nude sounds like a good bet. If you have no idea, that’s okay, too. Many stores (including Nordstrom and Sephora) allow you to return cosmetics, even if you’ve tried them, so you needn’t worry about getting stuck with some disastrous shade.

My final trick is to remember that no one says you must wear a color straight out of the tube. Try mixing it with another shade you already own to make it a little lighter, darker, warmer, cooler — whatever you need. My favorite everyday lip color is actually created by layering a light brown shade with a classic red, smooshing my lips together, and then blotting. It takes three extra seconds and makes a world of difference!

Q. How can I make my eyelashes look better without mascara? I used to wear it, but it was constantly smudging and I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I just stopped.
A. I hear you. I HATE mascara. I wear it, but I do not like it. I used to be one of those people who could wear mascara all day with no problem, but now, within a few hours, I’ll glance into the bathroom mirror to discover it’s migrated all over my face and I look like I got into a prize fight. So now, I’m using Blinc mascara, which washes off in little rubbery tubes. It’s the only thing I’ve found that never smears. You can also try a clear mascara, which helps lashes look glossy and separated, without any threat of smudging. If you’re really over mascara, there is always an eyelash curler (this one is the gold standard). A quick squeeze makes lashes appear longer and eyes look more awake.

caroline donofrio

Q. My hands are really dry from washing them 8,497 times a day. What’s the best hand cream?
A. Look no further than the incredible, multi-purpose Skin Food. While a dab on your cheekbones makes for an excellent, sparkle-free luminizer, its real mission in life is to moisturize and it does so like a champ. It goes on greasy, but be patient for a few minutes and allow your skin to drink it up. I also like to slather it on before bed, so it can work its magic overnight, putting a little extra on my cuticles.

Q. What are your go-to nail colors? Have you been doing your own nails at home?
A. I’m a reformed nail biter, so I always keep them groomed, otherwise I feel the need to “fix” them and wind up relapsing. I keep them pretty short and file them often. When it comes to my feet, I always opt for red — Geranium for orange-red and Russian Roulette for a classic red. But I’m bad at painting my own fingernails. So, on my hands, I’ll usually do a coat of Sally Hansen Hard as Nails with the pink tint. My mom always kept a bottle in the fridge when I was growing up (apparently that makes it last longer, though the jury is still out), and I feel like a “real” adult when I apply it. It makes nails super shiny and gives them a subtle pink gleam, like Dior Nail Glow, but half the price!

Q. I recently stayed in a hotel with one of those magnifying mirrors and noticed I have a few whiskers above my upper lip. I’ve never noticed them before. Is it fine if I just leave them there? How do you remove unwanted facial hair?
A. How to deal with upper lip hair is the question I’ve heard the most, so YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Now, as far as I’m concerned, anything that requires magnification to be seen does not require action. But you do you! Lots of friends get their lips waxed, or use at-home waxing strips. As for me, I tend to avoid magnifying mirrors (no good ever came from one!) and only tackle what is plain to see. For any random, stand-alone hairs (lonely chin hair, I’m looking at you), I’ll tweeze. But for groupings of hairs (like nose hairs, longer upper lip hairs, or a fuzzy not-quite-sideburn situation), my tiny shaver is my weapon of choice. It’s instant, painless and foolproof.

caroline donofrio

Q. Are you loyal to a certain shampoo and conditioner?
A. Nope! However, years ago, I read that sulfates make your hair frizzy, and that one piece of knowledge made a huge difference for me. Sulfate-free is my one big rule when it comes to hair care, otherwise I’m not particularly brand loyal and will switch things up every so often. Lately, I’ve been using the Ethique shampoo bar to cut back on packaging, along with my regular conditioner on the ends. I’ve also had great results with shampoos from the natural brands Acure and (the fancier) Rahua.

Q. How has your overall approach to beauty changed in the last few years? I’ve never been into products and the whole industry makes me feel insecure. Have you gained any wisdom or have any advice to share?
A. In recent years, beauty has become more about how I feel than how I look. (And now that I’ve been inside my apartment for 64 days and counting, this is more true than ever!) I’ve spent years fixating over various aspects of my appearance, but in the end, it’s like the goose that laid the golden egg. As soon as one thing is “fixed,” something else will pop up, and the whole cycle brings me zero joy. But I can have an effect over how I feel, and that is everything. So practically, beauty means trying to move my body every day, getting a glimpse of the daylight, staying hydrated, connecting with people I care about, kissing my dog’s head, remembering to eat a vegetable, and reading things that make me feel enriched. My routine works for me, but you could just as easily find joy in using zero products or using 20. My approach to beauty is welcoming each new layer of experience and learning how to feel comfortable in my skin, one day at a time.

Do you have any other questions? (Or tips you’d like to share?) Leave them in the comments! And please stay tuned for more beauty Q&As, on all different topics, in the future.

P.S. Five great eyebrow products and the makeup Joanna wears every single day.

(Top photo by Christine Han. All other photos via Caroline’s Instagram.)

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