Beauty, Beauty Capsules, Beauty Tutorials, Capsules

Cotton Stem Beauty Capsule – Prep, Foundation and Contour! (easy and quick makeup routine for busy moms and gals)

I’m so excited to share my #CottonStemBeautyCapsule with y’all!  These are my favorite products that I go back to time and time again from all different price points, and I’ll show you some of my quick and easy techniques from my beauty routine!  All in all, it takes me about 10 minutes to do the entire thing, and really….that’s about 8 minutes too long somedays!  πŸ˜‰  At least that’s what Baby tells me.  He he.  Anyway, I hope this is useful to you, and let me know what you think below!

**NOTE: I am not a makeup expert by ANY means, and I know all face shapes, skin types and beauty budgets are as different as can be.  Only sharing what works for me, because I love learning about new products and techniques from others, too!

(*Not a sponsored post, FYI.  Just what I use and love!)

Part One: Prep, Foundation and Contour Makeup

1. Moisturize and SPF it up!

My very favorite basic moisturizer is St. Ives Collagen Elastin Moisturizer in the big tub.  I love the creaminess and how it doesn’t leave my face feeling greasy.  It feels moisturized and lotioned for a minute, but then it just feels….good!  Not sure how else to describe it!  πŸ˜‚  I’m so helpful, yes?!  Anyway, I’ve been using this stuff for probably six or seven years, and I keep going back.  Since turning 30, I’ve started trying out different anti-aging blah blah creams, but I haven’t found one I just love.  This St. Ives stuff isn’t really a fancy schmancy anit-wrinkle situation, but for yummy basic moisturizer, it’s a win in my book!

Next I apply a bit of facial sunscreen with broad spectrum SPF yadda yadda.  I like this one from Neutrogena because it’s formulated for a face–not super heavy or greasy!  Both of these prep products are pretty inexpensive, too.  WIN.

2. Foundation

So here’s the thing about makeup for me: I don’t like a lot of it.  Now, don’t get me wrong: for dates or church or girls’ night out, I’ll get a full face going…but on the daily?  Not really for me.  I might be in the minority, but I really don’t want to look all that different after a face of makeup.  If someone ran into me withOUT makeup on (which…is often πŸ˜‚), I don’t want them to be shocked beyond belief at how different I look without it.

I want to look like me…just well-rested. πŸ˜‰

During the summer months, I either use a light BB cream or just a tinted moisturizer, because who wants to sweat off a face caked with heavy makeup?  I want to feel like I’m barely wearing anything on my face, and these lighter formulas help spruce me up without COVERING me up, if that makes any sense.  However, I canNOT find a BB cream or tinted moisturizer that I just love and want to return to.  However, I do love this next product.

Now, I’d say this Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfector that I very much love is sort of between a tinted moisturizer and a full-coverage liquid foundation.  And, to take it a step further in the summer, I’ll just thin it out a bit with a tiny dollop of the St. Ives Moisturizer or the Neutrogena SPF to sort of DIY it into a tinted moisturizer.  That’s one little secret I’d try out sometime: if you love love love your full-coverage foundation but want to go lighter in the summer BUT can’t find a BB cream or tinted moisturizer you like, just thin out your liquid foundation a bit!  Boom.  Tinted moisturizer that you know you’ll love. πŸ™ŒπŸ»

I apply my foundation, whether full strength or DIY’d into a tinted moisturizer, with a Bdellium Tools brush number 957, working small pea-sized amounts into my skin in outward, circular motions.  I like this brush because of the flat head of bristles which are some of the softest and least shed-y that I’ve used!  I love this line of brushes all around!  Also, I apply a bit of the makeup to my neck as it is ALWAYS so much lighter than my face.  This way, things are a bit more balanced.

3. Highlight and Conceal

Y’all know how much I love NYX Butter Gloss if we are buddies on my Instagram, and I also really like their line of NYX HD Photogenic Concealers!  Now…bear in mind that I do not really like HEAVY concealer.  I want my freckles to show through and I want to still look like No-Makeup Erin…just a little more polished/well-rested.  πŸ˜‰  This NYX formula covers well without being cakey or too thick, and I like to mix their Yellow with either Light or Medium depending on the time of year and my skin tone.  I have redness in places, and the yellow helps to tone that down!

I start by dotting under my eyes and down the side of my nose to sort of form a pie-piece shape.  My redness is really centered around my nose, so that’s why I bring the concealer down that far.  I like to sweep it up to my temple to sort of draw the eye upward using the shadow and light techniques of highlighting and contouring.  I’ll put a few dots under my brow bone, down the center of my nose and on my chin.

Using a Real Techniques Expert Face brush, I gently blend in the two different colors to create a nicely balanced tone on those areas of my face.  These brushes are great and I’ve seen them recently at Target, so woo hoo!

4. Easy Contour

I know sometimes the terms “highlight and contour” can sound intimidating, but they really are pretty easy once you sort of get in your groove.  Up above was the simple and quick “highlight” part of the technique, so now let’s talk about the contour.  And when I say contour, I do not mean bronzing…so different, but sometimes people use one product for both techniques, and it ends up look sparkly in places it shouldn’t really sparkle.  Here’s what I mean:

The biggest difference between contouring and bronzing is in the placement and the product used.  Bronzing adds an overall glow to the skin, and most of the time bronzers are made with a bit of sparkle and sheen in them  For contouring, you really want to use something with no sparkle and with a matte finish.  You’re trying to create shadows on your face, and shadows don’t sparkle!  πŸ˜‰  Let me show you:

Think of the places on your face that are naturally shadowed, like below your cheekbones, or places that would get a little darker than others due to being touched by the sun, like the top of your forehead.  Those are the places I like to apply this flat, matte skin-shadow-colored Too Faced Chocolate Soeil contour powder in Light/Medium!  This is the most expensive product so far, but you guys….I’ve tried EVERYTHING ELSE.  πŸ˜‚  Nothing else has come close to beating this product as far as natural skin-shadow-tone goes, plus…it smells like chocolate.  How can you beat that??!

Not only do I use it to deepen the shadow under my cheekbones (which then in turn makes them more pronounced when combined with the highlight we already did on the skin under the eye), I also touch the top of my forehead where the sun would hit it, and I run the thinnest, lightest little line down the sides of my nose to sort of contour it a bit as well.  Blend each contour area very well–no one wants a harsh makeup line.  It should just look like a shadow!

The brush I like to use for this step is the IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe dual-end brush–I’m all about products that do double duty AND take up less space in my makeup bags, and I can use one brush for two steps!  The wide end is used for under cheekbones and top of forehead, while the other end contours the nose…and does something else that I’ll save for my next post.  πŸ˜‰

5.  Highlight Powder…for a bit of natural glow!

To add a bit of natural glow to my skin, I use Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone, and, while it is another of the higher priced products I use, I have never found a better highlight powder!  Sometimes these types of products can look like children’s makeup with large flecks of glitter or they can be so chalky that they end up sitting on top of the skin in an unflattering way.  This Becca powder is so so finely grained and it creates just a perfect, natural, dewy touch to the skin–I keep going back!

I like to just barely touch the places on my face where the light would: tops of my cheek bones, and…a couple more places I’ll show you next post… πŸ˜‰  This product basically just makes it look like you are always well-lit on the outside and also sort of lit from within!  It’s my fave!

To apply, I use another dual-ended brush by BareMinerals, applying just a light amount to the cheekbones.  I’ll show you what the other end is for in the next post of the #CottonStemBeautyCapsule series soon!

6. Blushing Blush!

The final step for this first part of the beauty series is blush!  I’m obsessed with this blush, Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso. It’s the perfect glowy, peachy-pink shade, plus…it’s cheap!  Win win!  πŸ™ŒπŸ»  I like to apply blush on my cheekbones only going downward until juuuuuust before the apples of my cheeks.  I feel like when I apply heavily to the apples of my cheeks, it looks good when I’m smiling and my facial muscles are raised…but then when they drop into resting position, the heavy blush does too, almost causing my face to look droopier than when I apply it juuuuuust a bit further out towards my hairline.  Does that make sense?

I use another brush by Real Techniques, the Blush Brush, and I love that tip is just slightly tapered to help control the placement of the blush.  We don’t need our entire face getting a peachy sheen, just riiiiiiight down the cheek bone stopping before the apple.

There you have it!  Prep, foundation and contour from the #CottonStemBeautyCapsule, done and done!  βœ…  I’ll be back soon with eyes and lips…can’t wait to share with you all!

Oh, and before I go, LOOK at these cutie makeup bags I’ve been using!  πŸ˜  I can’t handle these, you guys!  I use one for products and the other for brushes, and I’m smitten.  These are from Southern Farm Co [HERE]…check out her cute shop!

So….whatcha think about the beauty capsule so far?!  Anything you hadn’t tried before?  Anything that I should try?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and stop by to say hi on Instagram and Facebook, too!  I appreciate y’all reading and giving up time to say hello!


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  1. Stephanie says:

    Trying out that moisturizer for sure! Thanks for sharing

  2. Arianne says:

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Kathleen says:

    I love those makeup bags! So cute!

  4. Squirrels says:

    Love the thinning out tip!! πŸ‘πŸΌ

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Why didn’t I think of this earlier…? I mean, that’s basically what a tinted moisturizer IS. πŸ˜‚

  5. Morgan says:

    Awesome tips! I’m hoping the next post will be about your eye makeup because I always think yours looks fab! (And if I only have time for something speedy in the morning I will do moisturizer and eye makeup….I gotta at least TRY and look somewhat awake πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚)

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh totally. I have a whole other routine for THOSE kinds of days, ha!! πŸ˜‚ Eyes next!

  6. Gp says:

    Question, if you don’t mind me asking!?…..
    How old are you? U look great! I recently just turned 31 and feel like the whole anti aging thing is creeping up on me! I def like to keep it simple in all aspects too which is why I instantly fell in love with your IG account and now ur blog (seriously just came across u a few days ago!)..

    Another Question 😁😁😁 you said you had four girls right? How do u stay in such great shape?! Any tips tricks or insights!? I’m trying to STILL lose baby weight 3 years later and it just gets worse and worse!
    What’s like a daily go to meal? Or typical diet that helps u maintain weight? Help! πŸ˜‚ lol

    Thanks for any feed back!! Xoxo

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Well hey there! πŸ™‹πŸ» Glad you are along for the ride! I’m mid-thirties and I feel ya. Where did these wrinkles come from suddenly!?!? 😩 And the fitness/meal stuff…think others might be interested in that, too? I hesitate to talk about body things, because…well, you know how that can be touchy. Never want to offend or anything, but I wonder if it would be a good blog post someday?

      • Morgan says:

        Yes! Please do a blog post about fitness routines, etc! And I’m always looking for healthy meal tips! I just started a blog 2 months ago and am having trouble scheduling my workouts now! How do you fit it all in? Tips and tricks? My workouts before weren’t all that long, but they were at least something! But maybe things will level out as I figure things out/get faster? (Fingers crossed! πŸ˜‰

      • Gp says:

        Offend!? No way! We just want to know what it’s like in the typical day of Ms. Erin πŸ˜πŸ™ƒπŸ˜Ž and I second the eye makeup request! πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

  7. Alisha says:

    I’ve been wanting to try the Milani blush and now I think I’m going to. I’m a creature of habit as well and my makeup routine is rather boring. I suppose I’ve had a capsule all this time and didn’t know it. Lol. I hate clutter especially bathroom clutter so I don’t keep tons of products.

  8. Hannah Hargis says:

    I love that you are doing makeup posts ! One of the things I loved about your old blog πŸ™‚ I love to try new products that people had actually tried and can recommend personally ❀

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Uh oh, then you might be bored with this series….not much has changed!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Creature of habit. Also…I hate change. πŸ™‹πŸ»πŸ˜‰

  9. Areeba adnan says:

    I love the Milano blush and the becca highlighter – the latter is definitely worth all the investment! I also keep going back to the body shop bb cream and have been using it religiously for the past 5 years. Looking forward to the eyes section of the capsule!!

  10. Sara K says:

    I love this! I’m also a natural makeup kinda gal, I think it’s great to teach our daughters this as well! 😍Be who you are, a little help to make it look like you weren’t up all night with a little babe.

  11. Laura Miller says:

    So glad you are doing this beauty post. I have been wanting to ask about your eye makeup for awhile & yay it’s next!!!! Always look forward to your stories while I sit & nurse by baby!

  12. Cathy says:

    I use a few of those items as well!!!! You’re a doll…and I need those make up bags!!!!! πŸ™‹πŸ»

  13. Bobbye Booth says:

    Can’t wait for eyes and lips!!! I use the same blush! ❀️

  14. Kayla Edgeller says:

    Ahhh I’ve been waiting ever so patiently for this post!! 😁 I love your natural and classy look. I have freckles too and have always tended to hide them, but recently wanted to tone it down and embrace them. Thanks so much for sharing and being so down to earth while doing it!

  15. Nicole says:

    Thanks for the suggestions – 30 is creeping up on me and I’m on the hunt for a great moisturizer while protecting my face at the pool! I appreciate you taking the time to share! πŸ€—

  16. Jackie Anderson says:

    I’m so excited about this. I’ve used Bare Minerals for years, and I decided it’s time to start going slightly heavier with my makeup. At 32 with 2 littles, I’m certainly not looking any younger. I’ll be trying out all of this stuff. Thank you!

  17. Marti says:

    I enjoyed this very much. I’m always interested in learning about products I haven’t tried before.
    Even though I’m a lot older than you, I found it helpful because I need to start using a more natural look. Too much makes me look older and accentuates wrinkles.
    I liked the format too. It was clear and easy to follow. A joy to read. Thank you!

  18. Jackie Anderson says:

    I just thought of a question. What do you use to wash your face? I’m in the market for a new cleanser.

  19. Aly says:

    Try PIXIE H2O Skin tint, I get mine at Target. Great light coverage for the summer! And leaves skin feeling dewy (not shinny or greasy) and youthful!

  20. Jennifer LaCombe says:

    I was soooo hoping you would share your make up favs and how- to’s. Yayyy thanks. Can’t wait for the eye and lips post. πŸ‘πŸΌ

  21. Tammy Bryant says:

    Thanks for this post! I have been loving the IT Cosmetics CC cream. It is a little pricey but has sun screen, serum, moisturizer (I still use moisturizer tho as my skin is always dry and dehydrated). I also absolutely love Pixie Glow tonic as well….so awesome!

  22. wordwiles says:

    Erin– you must be wearing something on your eyes. That’s the part I was really curious about! Please share!

  23. Jana says:

    Patricia Wexler skin brightening daily moisturizer. It’s tinted and has spf in it. Game. Changer. 😊

  24. Deidri harper says:

    Ladies…. as someone almost at the big 5-0 do not, I repeat do NOT forget lotion on your neck and chest !!! I was so diligent with my face and I am now seeing the difference and it’s huge!!!! 😘

  25. Nicole says:

    We have some of the same faves!! The matte bronzer, highlighter, and blush, all in my kit too!! I got the Fiona Stiles Contour Palette on a deep sale and it is GREAT for contouring! You should give it a shot if you like the Too Faced one. It’s got 3 shades so you can use throughout the year, and it’s got great texture and color. πŸ™‚

  26. Heather says:

    I love love love watching you!! Yourbthe cutest πŸ™‚ Your like me and like it light and fresh! I just turned 30 and stepped up my skin care game. A Mom to 3 kiddos ( ages 5, 4, and 9 months I need it done quick!!) Mostly Natural products and not a ton. I do a ton of masks, slather coconut oil on, invest in a good cleanser, toner, and serum. In the am it’s only a Spf 50 face lotion, too faced Hangover primer (love the fresh coconut water used to hydrate!) IT c.c cream ** huge game changer**, a quick eye crayon to swipe on, Lancome juicy shakers on lips, cream blush, and concelor under eyes boom done! A glowy and well -fake- slept look πŸ™‚

  27. lynn rose lanuza says:

    love the way you want to keep the natural look, the natural you! that’s what i love about your posts in IG and blogs, just keeping everythihg real!😘😘😘

  28. Caitlin says:

    What is the main difference between the bdellium tools brush 957 and the real techniques expert face brush? Could you use one for both the foundation and concealer? Also, what do you use to clean them?

  29. Mandee says:

    Love, Erin!!! Thanks for sharing..Have you done a blog on eye makeup yet?

  30. Delilah says:

    Please do a makeup video that would be both amazing and helpful!

  31. Ree says:

    Would you please confirm what shade of Too Faced Chocolate Soeil you use? You mention light/medium but the container in the photo says medium/deep. Thanks so much!

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Hey! Depends on the season and how tan I am, but I usually use the light/medium. I have one in the medium/deep for summer, but I don’t use it as often!

  32. Ree says:

    Thanks Erin. I’m pretty pale so best go with the lighter shade! I appreciate you sharing your beauty capsule. Would love to see a video too!

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      I’ve been considering filming a few videos for the blog or maybe YouTube….will keep thinking!!

  33. Nicole says:

    I LOVE your makeup tips! If u ever do a video of this portion of your makeup routine I’d love to see it. I’m very visual & need to SEE it done rather than read it to fully understand. Thank u tons! πŸ’

  34. Dana says:

    Thank you so much for taking time to write all this out!! It has motivated me (this and your wardrobe capsule) to GET RID OF CRAP!! I buy, buy, buy and seem to never throw away. Now i’m purging and taking time to really think about what I use and what I don’t. NOW i’m trying to capsule my 4 kiddos wardrobes…for fall!! They are very excited becasue they see me being excited about it. I don’t want to teach my children opulence!! I want to teach them finding joy in simplicity!! Thank you!!


  35. Imelda Phillips says:

    Running to the drug store tomorrow to buy the face moisturizer!!!!! Thank you!

  36. Becky says:

    I love that you use “regular” products that are at a working mom’s price point! Thanks for sharing!

  37. Eleanor says:

    I cannot finds the lips information.

  38. kathy says:

    I just love seeing other ladies’ makeup tips!
    Did you order your It cosmetics brush from Amazon? I only asked because sometimes it seems the products from there aren’t the real thing.

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