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AM/PM: A Skincare Routine For the Mom Friend On Vacation

Welcome to AM/PM, where Autostraddle team members break down and share their skincare routines, makeup looks and more!

Christinas photo atop a background of the beach with text that reads "Hello There! It is I Christina, co-host of Wait Is This a Date, your dedicated No Filer columnist, and the designated mom friend! Like, one time I wore a cowl neck sweater to the club type mom friend. I know. It's a living."

I’ve always loved makeup and skincare — all those mysterious little pots of goo and color, the soothing feeling of performing a routine, the way putting on my face for the day makes me feel more like myself. But when it comes down to it, I don’t have great skin and I don’t like looking at it, it is that simple!

As a person who is rather self-conscious about her bad skin — I’ve got some hyperpigmentation, scars, bumps, and more recently, constant mask-induced acne — the beach always presents a bit of an issue. It’s a fool’s errand to wear foundation on the beach, I know that. I love the ocean and swimming in it more than almost anything! I do not think there is a product out there that is waterproof enough to hold up to that.

I just need a little something to cover the worst of the scars and spots, something subtle enough that it can fade over the course of the day and I won’t lose my mind about it. And if I’m on a weeklong vacation, I’ll bring a few extra products to really jazz up my face if we’re grabbing dinner somewhere. Believe it or not, this is my pared-down traveling routine.

First things first, we must prep the skin!

I am not particularly committed to one face washing product or brand, but Tatcha was the Sephora birthday gift deal this year, and I do really like their Rice Wash! It feels nice on my skin, it gets my makeup off without too much fuss, and I don’t feel dried out and tight after I use it. Then comes Paula’s Choice exfoliant. I’ve used a bunch of different kinds of AHA or BHA exfoliators, and this is my favorite. It feels good on the skin, and it keeps the ingrown hairs I’m prone to in check. I try to use less of it in the summer because chemical exfoliators do make your skin more sensitive to the sun, I aim for two to three times a week with this one. The Ultra Repair cream has been the love of my life for years, I simply do not know a better moisturizer! Especially after I have spent days covered in salt water, feeling my skin rehydrate when I pop this bad boy on is truly heavenly.

We all are wearing sunscreen every day, yes? I do not need to explain how important that step is? Good!

I love this EltaMD one, it is moisturizing and not greasy and it does not leave that horrid white cast on my glorious brown skin. Alright, now that the skin is prepped, it’s time for the makeup part. If I am doing a day on the beach, I just rub in a bit of the BareMinerals Complexion rescue moisturizer — and yes, I often have to mix in a little of the Maybelline one as well to get an actual match to my skin tone. Depends on how long I’ve been at the beach and in the sun! I try to keep my face as protected as possible, but at the end of the day, I tan pretty deeply and it does look a biiiit bonkers if I have an entirely different color face. I get my brows into submission with the Surratt clear brow pomade — which is fine, I got it as a sample but it’s nothing to write home about. When I am out of it I’ll probably return to literally any drugstore clear brow gel. And that is it! To the beach I go!

two photos of Christina on vacation atop a photo of the beach.

Okay, so you have noticed that there are still a bunch of products I did not mention, good looking out! Sometimes, you trudge back up to the beach house and no one feels like cooking and there is a spot down the street that serves a killer rum punch in like, giant pitchers. They also have incredible fried fish sandwiches and a deck where you can hear a mildly good live band and look at the ocean. In that very specific scenario that is in no way pulled from my real life, I want to look a biiiit more pulled together in the face, but still beachy, casual, and cool.

So, I rewash and prep my skin. This time, I start with the Wet n Wild primer — this is currently my favorite color correcting one, it has a super pretty glowy effect all on its own. I reapply the tinted moisturizers, and instead of the clear brow gel, I’ll give the brows a bit more definition with the Microfilling Pen. I am pretty blessed in the brow department, so I just fill in here and there.

One thing you must know about me is that I am simply addicted to highlighter, I love to look like a glowy, magical creature who came straight from the heavens. I bought the Laura Mercier glow powder on an absolute whim a few months ago (before I got laid off, el oh el) and I love it so much? It’s super versatile, I usually dust some just under my brows and on the high points of my face — cheekbones, nose, chin, and forehead. Then, because I am a lunatic, I’ll hit the nose, upper lip, and cheekbones with the Wet n Wild MegaGlo. I’ve used a trillion different kinds of highlighter in my life and honestly, this one rocks. Super pigmented, super glowy, and it’s ten bucks!

I used to not be a person who used blush a lot, but something (two years of doing a full face of makeup to sit around in my house) changed and now I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t have a little bit of color on the face. This Natasha Deonna one is also kind of a highlighter, which we know I love, so it has been my go-to for a year and change.

Then I swipe on a bit of mascara — currently, it’s this Anastasia Beverly Hills one — but honestly, my secret is that I get whatever mascara sample Sephora is offering when I order something. Finally, a swipe of tinted Nivea lip balm, and I’m done!

And that’s it!

Yes, it is still a bit bonkers for a casual beach day look, yes it is fully fourteen products long, and yes, this was the first time I have really sat and looked at how much my whole skincare and makeup routine costs. But honestly, what kind of mom friend would I be without a full bag of travel beauty products? Plus, it makes me feel good and that, my friends, is priceless.

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Christina Tucker

Christina Tucker is writer and podcaster living in Philadelphia. Find her on Twitter or Instagram!

Christina has written 285 articles for us.


  1. Christina, a question if you will from a fellow person with bad skin: does that blush bother your skim at all? I’m interested in maybe experimenting with blush but my skin hates pretty much everything I put on it, rashes, breakouts, etc.

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