Makeup Products and Tips My Sister Swears By

June 5, 2017

My sister, Gabbi, is constantly receiving compliments on her flawless skin and radiant makeup. A couple weekends ago, while at a hotel in Miami for my birthday weekend, my friends were literally lining up to have her apply highlighter, bronzer, eyeshadow and more onto their faces. She isn't a professional, but she studies makeup tutorials like there's no tomorrow and has transformed her desk into a vanity resembling a Sephora boutique store. Her skills when it comes to brushes and palettes are made evident in the photos above and below - she always looks either natural, healthy and glowy, or glam without looking overdone. After weeks of hounding her to spill some of her secrets, she finally agreed to take time out of her YouTube tutorial watching and makeup applying to share some of her favorite products and application tips with me. Read 'em, practice 'em, wear 'em and soak in the compliments. 

*Products I also love


A moisturizing gel that doesn't feel greasy on my skin (FYI - my skin type is normal)

This is my favorite moisturizer ever! It feels great and has SPF 47 - important for preventing fine lines and wrinkles! It does get a little greasy after a while, though, so you should definitely add a primer on top.

*Neutrogena Visibly Even Daily Moisturizer, $14.19

Steph here! This moisturizer not only has SPF - it also dramatically reduced the appearance of my scars and any redness/blotchiness. I've been using it for years and have no plans to stop.


A silicone primer that keeps your pores from looking too noticeable, and smooths everything out to turn your face into the perfect canvas.

Steph again. I have combination skin (my T-zone tends to get oily, and my pores are somewhat noticeable) and I also swear by this brand! The pore minimizing one works like magic. 

On days when I don't want to wear too much makeup, I spritz myself with this. It feels refreshing on the skin and most important, it works. I also use it as a setting spray.

Foundation/Beauty Sponges and Brushes

Beauty Blender, $20

A favorite among beauty bloggers, the Beauty Blender does a great job of applying, blending and perfecting liquid foundation. 

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Beauty Blender, $6.97

The price is awesome, it doesn't soak up too much of the product, and it gives me a great overall finish. It's my favorite.

Real Techniques brushes, prices vary 

They are the BEST you can get for this price. You can find them at Walmart, Target, Walgreens and pretty much any drugstore. 

Morphe sponges, brushes and eye shadow brushes, prices vary

These are my favorite brushes that are not available at drugstores, but are still very affordable. The brushes don't fall apart after I wash them, and they do an amazing job of blending. 


Smashbox BB Water, $44 - my current favorite 

This is a medium to full coverage foundation that gives a very natural finish. The BB water also acts like a primer. I love using this during the day because it has SPF, feels so lightweight on the skin and has amazing staying power. I also use it for nighttime! Another plus: this foundation has no flashback, meaning the white of the sunscreen won't show up on camera. Smashbox actually tests all of their base makeups under different lightings to ensure the makeup always look the same on camera. They're also cruelty free.

This foundation is a fan favorite. I've been using this for years and I still love it. It has great staying power and looks so beautiful on the skin. You can also create fuller coverage by adding layers. This foundation also has a wide shade range to fit different undertones. It's perfect for my yellow undertone skin.

This is my all-time favorite drugstore price foundation. You can purchase it online or wherever they sell LA Girl. This foundation is very similar to the Make Up Forever HD, from the formula to the packaging. I have nothing bad to say about it, except that it has a pink undertone ... but I make it work! It is very tacky, so you definitely have to set it, but it has a beautiful finish that leaves your skin looking flawless.

This is my most recent foundation find (I'm wearing it for the first time right now!), but for $5, it gets the job done.  


*Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer (light and light medium), $25

Best. Concealer Ever. Seriously. I love it. For everything. It's matte without being drying. The coverage is amazing - no other concealer beats it.

Maybelline Fit Me, $6.49 

My favorite drugstore concealer. It's comparable to the concealer below -but you definitely have to set this one. 

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (in custard), $30

Great coverage and leaves a very luminous finish.


*Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, $14.99

This bronzer leaves you looking like you just got a tan on an island. It smells like Aruba … or Bora Bora … you know, somewhere tropical. It leaves you with a nice sheen. 

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer, $29

This bronzer has a warmer color and works great for contouring.


A peachy, glowy blush that provide a glow even when you aren't wearing highlighter. My go-to bronzer-and-blush ritual is the Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer paired with this blush.

A cult favorite for good reason, this blush works better for a night out, as it gives a stronger color. 



*Smashbox X Casey Holmes Spotlight Palette (in Pearl), $35

Oh. My. God. This collab between Casey Holmes and Smashbox (one of my favorite YouTubers and one of my favorite brands) is life-changing. I can't travel without it. If it ever goes out of stock, I'll buy five at a time. 

*Tarte Skin Twinkle Palette, $42

This is more for a night out, as it has a strong gold champagne color and rosy color. It's beautiful and, if I'm being honest, blinding (in the best way).

*The Balm Mary Louminizer, $24

It gives a great highlight (a bit more powdery, but works great) and looks really pretty in the inner corners of your eye, too.

Essence Pure Nude Highlighter, $4.49

This works great when I'm going for an everyday, natural and minimal look. It gives a subtle golden glow that's so pretty.

Wet 'n' Wild Mega Glow Highlighting Powder (in Precious Petals), $4.68

This has a rose-y pink undertone and it's a great highlighter for the price.

Translucent Powders

*Soap and Glory Kick Ass Powder, $13.99

A translucent powder that's great on all skin types. It isn't drying at all, and has a nice blurring effect in photos. I use it to set my under eye concealer and foundation. 

*Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $38

Another great setting powder; just avoid it if you have drier skin.

Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, $26

This one is fine and gentle enough to set your under-eye concealer if it creases.

RMCA No-Color Powder, $23

A good powder to use if you have drier skin.

Setting Spray 

If used correctly, this spray will keep a full face of makeup intact throughout a night of dancing and sweating. 

Eyebrow Filling/Shaping

I have naturally full eyebrows, but I still like to fill in those tiny blank areas and give them a perfect shape. This brush with subtle color does the trick.

Sure, the puppy filter makes everything look better ...
but this look was just as gorgeous without the filter

Eyeshadow Primer and Palettes

*Urban Decay Eyeshadow Potion (primer), $12 - $24

This keeps my eyeshadow on all day and night. 

*Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics, $54

All the mattes you'll ever need. It's beautiful, the packaging is gorgeous, the mirror is great and the eyeshadows have great pigmentation and are easy to blend.

*Morphe x Kathleen Lights (no longer available)

Probably one of my favorite palettes. The eyeshadows are so creamy, pigmented and easy to blend, and the colors are gorgeous. 

*Carli Bybel Original (no longer available)

Perfect mauve colors and the highlighters are great, too.

Morphe 35O Color Nature Glow, $22.99

It's basically a sun set in a palette - a lot of reds and oranges, and some darker tones. 

Morphe 35T Color Taupe, $22.99

Perfect for mauves; a really nice palette to wear in Autumn.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance, $42

Such beautiful colors! But, they do have a bit of fall-out, as they are very powdery. 

Eyelash Curler

Tweezerman Pro-Curl Eyelash Curler, $22

I've tried a bunch … this one is my favorite. It's gentle on the lashes and doesn't catch too much makeup.


*Urban Decay Perversion, $22

My favorite mascara - it's very volumizing and it gives your lashes great length; it's awesome. It's also a true black and it doesn't flake off.

*Benefit They're Real!, $24

Steph here. This is my current favorite. It makes your lashes look extra long and flirty. The first time I used it, my friends asked me if I was wearing fake lashes (they only asked because they had seen my pre-Benefit lashes) … the mascara gives a great, natural looking finish.

Benefit Roller Lash, $24

Very lengthening! It doesn't clump at all, which I love.

*Better Than Sex, $23

Probably the most voluminous your lashes will every be - but it does tend to flake. P.S. They also make a waterproof version (in the coolest packaging!) that works really well.

Maybelline Lash Sensational, $8.99

This is a dupe for the Benefit Roller Lash. It works really well. 


We've both tried numerous liquid eyeliners, and this one takes the cake. It's incredible. It also has a solid eyeliner stick on the other end. 


*Colourpop Aquarius (glossy, satin and matte), bundle available for $15
*Colourpop Lumiere Lippie Stix, $5
*Colourpop ChiChi Lippie Stix, $5
*Colourpop Alyssa Ultra Satin Lip, $6

For being so inexpensive, Colourpop puts out great quality products that you can tell they really care about as a brand. They have the best formulas - and I love that they do so many collabs with YouTubers. 

*Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte Liquid Lip in Ashton, $20

It's probably one of my favorite colors year-round. It goes with a lot of looks and doesn't really come off (however, it can be a bit drying … stay hydrated!)

*NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in London, $4.49 
*NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm, $5.99

These smell like cake batter, have a really nice mousse-y texture and great pigmentation. 

*Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Daringly Nude, $7.99

A great nude drugstore lip stick that I've been wearing a lot lately. It's matte but glides on creamy. 

*Smashbox L.A. Lights Cheek & Lip Color in Lauren Canyon Coral, $29

The perfect summer shade that also doubles as a cheek stain! It has pretty impressive lasting power. Wear it on both lips and cheeks for a fun and trendy look!


Skin care is very important. The base is the most important part (you can't paint a masterpiece on a crappy canvas!) Make sure to exfoliate twice a week. Before doing your makeup, put on a moisturizer and let that sink in for about 5 minutes. Then, put on primer and let that sink in for a few minutes so it can disguise your pores. After you've put on your foundation, set it lightly with either translucent powder or foundation powder. Once you've finished doing your makeup, spritz on setting spray. This will ensure your makeup stays on all day and night. Also, you should NEVER sleep with your makeup up on. It's terrible for your skin ... some say your face ages two days every time you do!