I change up my signature look about once a decade.
In my teens, I took the dramatic step of lobbing off my long hair for a bisexual bob and I didn’t leave the house without foundation and a swipe of subtle brown eyeliner. During my senior year of college, I converted to a stacked inverted bob that was very short in the back and my standard makeup look was shimmery white and purple eyeshadows and navy blue eyeliner all around my eyes. In my early 30’s, I kept the bob-length hair on top and got an undercut all the way around my head and I switched to a dramatic cat eye with black gel liner with red, red lipstick. In these pandemic times, I’m currently working on an undercut grow-out and my pandemic makeup look is centered on a bold lip and fast-and-easy products that look good enough for Zoom.
I’ve been some version of femme for as long as I remember, whether I called it “just being a typical feminine 90’s teen girl a la Seventeen magazine inspiration” or my queer power femme era in college or my current hard femme, lazy femme aesthetic. These days, the faster I can get through my routine, the better. I’m working full-time. I’m chasing a small kid around. I’m generally doing too many things at once and I’m probably carrying my phone in my hand in some poorly executed attempt to multitask. And I like to look cute doing it–not just for Zoom, for myself! And I like to be pampered, but with limited time, I’m all about products and routines that work with my busy schedule. I’m obviously not lazy, but if lazy femme is the antithesis to high femme, I’m very much that.
Here are some of my favorite daily products and must-haves that help me get through a busy day, affirm my hard femme heart, and fit easily into my super-charged lazy femme lifestyle.
Ultra Aesthetics MSM Facial Wash
This face wash! It smells great, a light citrusy-ish scent. It foams up and deep cleans, but is gentle enough for daily use. It’s super hippy-dippy. I originally found it at a natural food store. It has no sulfates, parabens, alcohol, chemicals, is cruelty-free, non-GMO, made with organic pixie dust, etc. This works great for my combination skin and keeps acne at bay. I swear it makes my skin look brighter and slightly diminishes acne scars, too. You also only need a bit per use. One bottle lasts me about 150 days of twice-daily use. I’ve been using this face wash or some version of it for over a decade! It’s tried and true.
SeoulCeuticals Snail Repair Cream
I’m not saying this cream is going to change your life, but I’m not not saying that either. This cream works wonders on my combination skin. It’s not greasy, it absorbs quickly, and it leaves your skin looking plump and fresh with a little hint of glow. I can’t get over it and while it’s a bit of a splurge, it delivers high-end K-beauty results at an accessible price point. I was using a face cream that was twice as expensive before I found this one! You also don’t need to use a lot so one 2 oz jar lasts a long time. It’s the perfect day cream and I can’t get over how good it feels on my skin!
Yes, snail mucin is a main ingredient and I’m a believer! It supposedly helps with wrinkles and fine lines, improves cell renewal, and stimulates collagen production. I dunno if all of that is true but my face looks amazing. Seriously, I get compliments on my skin all the time and (to my chagrin) people regularly assume I’m in my twenties (so annoying), not close to 40. SeoulCeuticals is based in the U.S. and uses cruelty-free practices to source their snail mucin, according to their website. They also say all their products are vegan and as a former vegan, I feel like the snail mucin part makes it not vegan. But either way, it’s good for your skin and it isn’t harvested in a way that hurts the snails.
stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
When it comes to wearing eyeliner, I’m definitely a go big or go home kind of gal. If you’re not going to have fun with it, why do it? Do you want a super dramatic cat eye? You need liquid or gel liner.
Stila makes the absolute best waterproof liquid liner in a marker on the market. I used to mess around with gel liner in the little pots, but I don’t have time for that anymore. I want the precision and the intense black that gel gives with the time-saving factor of a felt-tip liquid liner, and this stila liner doesn’t disappoint. It comes in two tip sizes, regular and microtip, and you can get it in a dual-ended version that has both tips for a slightly higher price point. It comes in six classic liner shades; I’m partial to jet black. It dries matte with just a hint of sheen and it really does stay on all day. This isn’t the most waterproof liner out there, but it resists melting due to sweat, rain, tears, etc. It even stays put if you put it on without any base. That said, it comes off fairly easily with regular soap and water or if you rub it hard with water, which I actually prefer. I don’t like messing around with eye makeup remover. I don’t appreciate extra steps in my nighttime routine!
NYX Professional Makeup HD Studio Finishing Loose Translucent Powder
I don’t wear foundation. I hate the way it feels on my skin and you can’t convince me otherwise. So I don’t use this “finishing powder” as finishing powder, I use it as my base over my lotion. I use a teeny amount, applied with a very fluffy brush. Sometimes I just do a sweep of this powder over my eyes to lay down a base for my eye makeup. I have no idea how it performs as a finishing powder, but it’s perfectly translucent and light as a base for my very lazy femme typical makeup look (this powder, a little eyeshadow, cat eyeliner, lightly fill in brows with a pencil, liquid lipstick, DONE). It’s not the most luxurious ever. It smells a little like… well, like loose powder smells if you don’t add any fragrance to it. But it works. And that works for me!
Natural Tea Tree Oil
Friend, I ask you, what can’t tea tree oil do? I have hidradenitis suppurativa and found my way to tea tree oil as a homeopathic remedy for my flare-ups. It’s naturally antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal. I use it almost daily for just general refreshing of my skin and to treat any breakouts or blemishes. Fuck salicylic acid. Try tea tree oil. Dilute it with water and use as it a toner. Mix it with a carrier like coconut oil and use it as a salve. Dilute some and use it to freshen up your stinky bits after the gym or on days when you can’t shower. It’s naturally good at killing bacteria! It has a fresh herbal smell! You can even make your own deodorant out of it. I will not be making my own deodorant because I’m busy and lazy, but I use a deodorant that someone else has made in a factory that has tea tree oil as the main ingredient!
That said, your mileage may vary. It can irritate more sensitive skin because it’s very potent. Waffle, my spouse, actually hates the smell and it has been known to cause occasional marital disputes when I use a lot of it. I will never give up my tea tree oil, though. It’s a must-have!
Sinful Colors Sinful Shine with Gel Tech Nail Polish
When it comes to nail polish, I’m too busy to go get my nails done and I work from home so it just seems excessive to go out and do it. But I love fun colors! A theme in my life, truly. And I’m a parent, so I’m hard on my nails between baths and dishes and constantly cleaning things up. I’ve tried a whole range of home gel polishes because I love a shiny topcoat and long wear, but I don’t want or have time for an actual gel manicure. This is my current favorite home gel polish. It’s not a true gel. It doesn’t require UV light. It stays on for an absurdly long time, requires just two coats of the step 1 polish plus one coat of step 2 topcoat, and dries super fast. The quick dry time is sooooo important to me! It dries so fast that I use it when my wiggly kid wants me to paint her nails. It lasts for several days without chipping and then wears fairly slowly. You remove it with regular nail polish remover and don’t need to soak or scrape.
The Gel Tech polish from this drug store brand is particularly good. I pick some up whenever I see it at the grocery store! The topcoat is fast drying, which also means it starts to get tacky and dried out when you’re about halfway through the bottle, but it’s so inexpensive that it’s not a problem. Plus, I rarely leave my house these days, so if I have some bubbles in my topcoat, who’s going to know?
Kiss imPRESS Press-On Nails
When I don’t have the time or patience to even paint my nails with a quick-dry topcoat, or when I’ve fallen into my old habit of biting my nails, enter drug store press-on nails. Kiss imPress is my current favorite and I have a box floating around most of the time. Their patented Super Hold Adhesive is really just super sticky gooey rubber cement-like glue stuff, but it works and it’s already on the nail so you just have to peel and stick onto your natural nail! I can wear these for a few days without losing them, even while doing the dishes or taking a shower.
I looooove that they come in a short length and I sometimes cut them down even shorter. One box will usually get me through two full manicures because they come with 30 nails. Your ability to use up the extra nails may vary based on how many of the included sizes work for you. They look real, in my opinion, and I love how easy they are to put on and maintain!
Sephora Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick
“01 Always Red.”
That’s what I tell people when they want to know what lipstick I’m wearing. This shade and this liquid matte lipstick is the one I wear most often. It’s a perfectly balanced red that looks good on any shade of skin. I love Sephora’s lip stain, in particular. It’s not completely smudge-proof, but it also isn’t drying or uncomfortable. In fact, my lips don’t dry out even if I wear the lip stain all day and reapply it. For a non-drying lip stain, it stays on well. It doesn’t bleed or feather. I have this lip stain in about a dozen bright matte colors and am always adding more. The metallics are beautiful, too!
Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick
Want a lipstick that really is mask-proof? That won’t come off no matter what you do until you either scrub your lips raw or use a strong makeup remover? This isn’t a lazy femme option for me, it’s an affordable mask-proof option and I reach for it on the odd occasion that I go out. No other liquid lipstick stays like this one, no matter the price point. You could go swimming in this lipstick and it wouldn’t budge. There are so many pretty, saturated matte colors to collect. In fact, I need more!
I DEW CARE Space Kitten Exfoliating Galactic Black Peel Off Mask
THIS MASK HAS HOLOGRAPHIC GLITTER. I love the emotional release of a good peel-off mask. I also love putting on a mask because I can slap it on quickly, go about my business getting myself and my kid ready for the day, and multitask easily while it dries. I got this one originally as a sample with a bunch of other I DEW CARE masks. It’s worth buying the full size! It has charcoal, which helps draw impurities out of your skin and clear blackheads and clogged pores. It’s a peel-off, but it doesn’t hurt or pull your skin too much. I’ve tried (and actually like to use, occasionally, because I’m a beauty masochist) the super-strong charcoal peel-off masks that leave your face gutted. This one gets some gunk out, but isn’t painful or damaging to your skin. Plus, also, did I mention the holographic glitter?!
If charcoal is too drying for you and you’re looking for a moisturizing mask instead or you want to look like a queer intergalactic space traveler, try the I DEW CARE Sugar Kitten mask. They both feel and smell great and are so much fun!
Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinol Serum
I got a sample size of this when I did a brief subscription to Sephora’s Play subscription box. This serum was a real standout and they recommend using two pumps on the label, but I only need a little pump to cover my face, so this investment bottle lasts a long time. I like to rub it in at night after I wash my face once or twice per week. It’s silky, lightly pigmented, and absorbs quickly and it leaves my skin totally refreshed and glowing in the morning. Sometimes I put my SeoulCeuticals snail repair cream on top and sometimes I just go to bed with this retinol serum. It has a high dose of retinol and blue-green algae, Hawaiian white honey, cactus, and ginger, and other things that soothe the skin. I’m obsessed!
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel
I’m saving the most controversial and luxurious for last. Now, I want to be clear that I welcome getting older. I love the wisdom and lack of fucks that come with each passing year. I love my silvery grey hair. I can’t wait to turn 40! All that said, I also love this at-home chemical peel system! It blasts any fun adult acne. It helps me control the blackheads I get on my nose and shrink those pores. It just makes my skin look and feel healthy and I can’t recommend it enough. This is a two-part system. The chemical peel solution comes in little individually packaged sets of wipes. You use the first wipe, let it sit for one minute, then use the second wipe. I use the extra strength daily peel, but they make less strong versions for more sensitive skin.
I like the sensation of the peel–it stings a little at first. It’s first-rate beauty masochism with almost immediately visible results. It really hits all the buttons for me, personally! If that sounds like an unpleasant experience for you, I think you should probably pass on this one. The results are great, but not so dramatic that it’s worth being uncomfortable. If you’ve been thinking of trying an at-home chemical peel or if you like a slight burning sensation that feels very productive on your face, this is the one to get! It’s a huge splurge; some people cut up the pads and put them in ziplock bags, using only half pads to get two treatments out of each peel set. I do it every few days instead of every day, which makes the investment last longer!
Buy it: $88 (You can try a travel size for $17)
Let me know if you try any of these or have any of your own recommendations for my lazy femme lifestyle! I love trying new products, especially beauty products that give good results and don’t take too much time or effort!
Essential oils like tea tree oil aren’t homeopathic. Herbs have a lot of science verifying their effectiveness while homeopathy does not. It’s an easy mistake to make, but it weakens the general public’s potential to understand herbalism and that makes me sad. Otherwise very useful article!
I truly didn’t know the difference. I have learned something today.
Wow! I didn’t know this either. Thanks Ashley 🌿
For lazy femmes on a limited budget, I recommend the Lacura brand of day and night creams at the Aldi supermarket. Smells fresh and they are about 4 dollars each.
Ooooh! Will check out!
KaeLyn, I crave a sunscreen recommendation if you have one! Signed, someone who just ordered half this list, thank you
Ahaha. I hope you aren’t disappointed with your purchases.
Truly, I’m also not the best at remembering to put it on. If I’m honest with myself, it’s partially because I hate how it feels on my skin. It irks me if it’s too greasy or heavy. So I tend to use my kiddo’s baby sunscreens. For whatever reason they seem gentler on the skin, less thick, and have high SPF aNd are even tear free. Right now we have a Babyganics and a Banana Boat kids version circulating around the household.
I have tried some others and like the Bare Republic line. It’s not too heavy and absorbs we’ll. It’s a little too oily for my face, but great for the body. It comes in a clear version that doesn’t leave white streaks. I’ve also tried the shimmery Bare Public Golden Dare version which has a metallic shimmer like 90’s body glitter. I haven’t tried it, but heard the gel version works well for the face.
For grown up sunscreen, I have had
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen!
Hello! 👋🏼 Fellow peel-off mask enthusiast here. Kaelyn, what are your recommendations for “super-strong charcoal peel-off masks that leave your face gutted”?
Oh any of the horrible ones you can basically only get online because they’re really not advisable from any aesthetician. I think the one I have right now is Sunatoria Black Mask. It’s like a Biore strip level of pain but for your whole face.
As someone who went on a deep skincare rabbit hole journey after Heather’s article, thank you!!!!
Kaelyn. Thank you. I consider myself high/hard femme but these days, lazy femme is what I can manage. I used to do a dramatic makeup routine every day but I am now also chasing a small child around, wearing a mask 8+ hours a day, and just…tired. This list is the perfect middle ground and I appreciate it so, so much.
We’re all doing the best we can! Hope you are inspired to throw a mask on or do whatever feels good to you one in a while. It’s tough out there!
Same! I just spent a lot on skincare today, and I hope it helps! I’m struggling through some adult acne today and crying. I’m 30 years old!!
Another great option if you want the benefits of salicylic acid but not the harsh chemical-ness is to go straight to the natural source that it was synthesized from – namely liquid willow bark extract. I buy gallons of it from wholesalers for (relatively) super cheap and apply it directly to my face with a cotton pad after showering, and it’s the only thing I’ve ever found that both keeps my skin clear AND is really gentle and never burns. The only downside is that it dries a bit tacky, but I just put a layer of moisturizer over it and I’m good to go.
Ok that sounds amazing! Looking into it!
Ooh, thanks for this tip! I was about to give up on what I’ve come to call ‘stupid exfoliating toners’ but will try pure willow bark extract before doing that!
Thank you so much for these recommendations! I’ve been struggling with my skin for my entire life and am looking for some new products to try. Can’t wait!
Good luck finding what works for you. <3
As someone who has very few beauty products, I am so excited for several of the items on the list, including the lipstick and nail polish. Thanks for sharing, KaeLyn!
Woohoo! Have fun!
Good recommendations I’ll come back to, thanks!
My version of lazy femme is no makeup, workout gear (even though I didn’t work out), and hair in a quick bun or ponytail. I used to wear makeup most days and get dressed for work, but for the past year and a half I just can’t work up the energy to do anything much more than a few times a month.
I hear you on “workout gear even though I did’t work out.” I think I’m done with underwire bras, fitted shirts, and non-stretchy pants forever. I’ve found throwing on a lipstick and/or earrings always helps me feel more “dressed” even if I’m definitely not. Whatever the equivalent of that is for you, I hope you find things that make you feel great!
seconding the maybelline super stay rec. that stuff is gold
The staying power is intense! It looks amazing and it’s soooo hard to remove without makeup remover which I rarely have on hand. I love the wear and hate the removal process.
Seriously it’s amazing. But I’ve also had to accept if I wear it. I’m going to have a little bit off a lip stain the next day because even with using lip scrub and makeup remover I’m left with a little bit of discoloration
Truly. It’s near impossible to remove. If anyone has the secret recipe to clean removal, I need to know. Basically sanding my lips down to remove it can’t be the answer. Though bonus points for frantic exfoliation.
For a less intense retinol I love the Sunday Riley Luna night oil. It has a polarizing scent that I’m obsessed with.
Ooh, I’ll check it out! I love a polarizing scent. Haha