Already Prettypoll: Eyes, Lips, Cheeks

I still maintain that I’m a total amateur when it comes to makeup, but I sure as hell use more of the stuff than I used to! And my routine has quite a few steps more than you’d expect considering how un-made-up I look when it’s done. I still refuse to do daily eye makeup and don’t generally do anything beyond tinted lip balm unless I’m going somewhere for a meeting, but I have really come to feel odd and naked without a bit of blush. If I had to choose, I’d go for the cheeks every time.

How about you? If you are a regular makeup wearer and you could only apply makeup to your eyes, lips, OR cheeks, which would you choose and why?

  • Toni

    I must be feeling contrary today, because I refuse to pick! I always think it looks uneven to have made up two parts of your face but left another one undone. I used to never wear eye makeup as well, because whenever I tried, it seemed like I wound up with it everyplace besides where I wanted it. But I didn’t like having my eyes undefined, or looking and feeling unfinished. Now I do just a swipe of mascara, and I find that makes all the difference.

    • TexasAggieMom

      I agree with Toni, and support her refusal to choose one element! My three essentials are concealer, mascara and tinted lip gloss. Of course, in Texas makeup is much more a part of the culture than other regions. Even in my mid-50’s, I don’t ever leave the house without those three basics, even if I’m just going for a five mile run. My daily makeup routine takes about thirty minutes, but looks more natural than when I rush through it. The best tip I’ve gotten lately is that Monistat’s anti-chafing gel (about $6) is exactly the same formula as Smashbox primer! That tip alone made the makeup artist for my daughter’s wedding worth the money we spent. I’ve been experimenting since then, and it’s worth the time to take that extra step. I apply foundation around 8:00 a.m. and it’s still in place at 8:00 p.m. if I use the primer over my moisturizer. Makeup can be viewed as a mask or an effort to hide who a woman really is, but I prefer to think of it as something nice I do for myself every day. Looking my best helps me BE my best.

      • Sallie

        Yes! I use the anti-chafing gel also and it has been a game changer! And it IS exactly like the Smashbox primer which I used for years. Hello savings!

  • Crowgirl

    Lips! Lipstick, balm, gloss — whatever: I love it all. I really get impatient with ‘makeup routines’ and I tried doing the ‘full face’ thing for awhile but I found that it made my skin (already sensitive and prone to breakouts) worse, made me self-conscious, and, here in Boston, didn’t last out the walk from the T to work! When I started commuting entirely by foot, it was even worse.

    Lip color I can carry in my pocket, put on when I want, take off when I want, change when I want. Perfect!

    • Anna

      Ditto on lips! I have several lipsticks in my purse at all times, and I always put on lipstick before I get out of the car. It was the one thing that I really wanted to wear as a kid but was never allowed to. :) It also helps that I’ve found a line of moisturizing lipsticks that don’t dry out my lips if I wear them everyday. The only other thing I use sometimes is a powder compact, but I almost never wear a full face of makeup because it irritates my skin (sensitive and acne prone as well). I hear ya! :)

  • Carol

    Eyes. I’m a typical Northern European. Fair skin, blue eyes, light hair. That applies to my eyelashes as well. So since I’m going to put on mascara before I leave the house, I might as well put a bit of liner on, too. Second would be lips, at least to keep them hydrated. Cheeks are last on my list.

    • Erin


  • Ros

    This might be weird… but eyebrows. Given only one choice, a bit of eyebrow pencil and it just feels like my entire face is outlined. It’s a small thing, but it does seriously make a difference!

    (Standard routine involves eyebrow pencil, blush, occasionally a light brown eye pencil but usually not, and tinted lip balm. It works for me!)

    • Emily

      Me too! I am really fair and if I don’t use eyebrow pencil it looks like I only have half a brow. It’s the one thing I don’t go anywhere without.

      • Anna

        Same here. Eyebrows always. Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm always. A thin line of eyeliner, top only, almost always. That’s enough for most days.

    • Devon

      I agree with the eyebrows. When they show before/after glamour shots, the eyebrows have always been enhanced to give more shape to the face, and they seem to make more of a difference than foundation, blush, or eyeshadow.
      (I actually wear glasses with a strong top frame, so I don’t have to do my eyebrows, so I go for lip color instead. Sometimes I add light bronzer powder to my cheeks for a bit of contrast and “healthy” tone.)

    • Trish

      I have dark brown hair and eyes and I wear glasses. My brows are 1930s thin almost, so I really need the eyebrow pencil, not powder, which doesn’t taper to the end the way I like. I use a charcoal gray by Cover Girl. They are the only ones who make this color. Blacks are way too dark, browns are too red and black-browns just aren’t right. Charcoal just disappears!

  • Nanne

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for a couple of years, and I think it might be the first time I’m leaving a comment. I particularly love your “Lovely Links” feature. Regarding makeup, I’d definitely go for eyes. I have naturally rosy cheeks and rarely wear lipstick, but I need some help to make my eyes look awake!

  • Tammy

    Eyebrows. Doing them gives my eyes a visual lift. Plus they’re uneven from a childhood scar.

  • Alex

    Tinted lip balm for the win!

    Thank you for describing your make-up routine: as a makeup minimalist (and inept maker-upper), I found your description hugely helpful.

  • Sonia

    EYES. They are pretty, but small, with blonde eyelashes. AND I wear glasses, so I feel like my eyes are quite well-hidden without mascara and eyeliner.

    • Maya

      Yes me too! I have bright blue eyes and they are also a bit hidden by my glasses so I always use an eyeliner to bring them out. Its great because at least now people notice how blue there are, before it was only my sister who got commented on her eyes, she has the same colour but doesnt wear glasses

  • Galena

    I’m going to cheat a bit and say that over ANYTHING else I have to put on my spf foundation. I have problematic skin and this cuts down on my overproductive oil and also covers up blemishes.

    But after that, if I were to choose, I would pick eyes. I at least put on mascara when I go out because my lashes are blond and don’t show up very well without mascara on them.

    • Jen

      I was going to say the same thing, although it wasn’t an option. I still have red, uneven skin, acne scarring, and fresh acne (usually just a little). I’m 29, and I worry that I’ll be dealing with wrinkles and zits at the same time. I don’t feel comfortable leaving the house without foundation, unfortunately.

      After that, it’s blush, especially as my winter skin color leaves me looking lifeless. I do wear eyeshadow, mascara, eye liner, and lipstick/lipgloss, but usually only on days I’ll be going out. I work at home, but I do see people every day because I co-run a home daycare.

    • Passerina

      I agree! I have thick, dark eyebrows, rosy cheeks, and dark lips. I’m most self-conscious about my red and splotchy skin-tone. I’ll take a little SPF foundation over anything else. (I’d also burn in a flash without it!)

  • Cynthia

    Eyebrows, followed by lips. My skin is clear and even, and my eyes are well-enough defined when the eyebrows are done, so really that’s my only makeup routine anyway.

  • Tragic Sandwich

    Lips, appparently, because if I’m only putting on one thing, it’s tinted lip balm.

    Mind you, I just started wearing makeup again this month, after years of not. My entire regimen consists of primer, tinted moisturizer, cheek gel, and tinted balm/gloss.

  • Shaye

    Eyes. I don’t even do much, but if I had to pick between eyebrow pencil/mascara, blush, and lipstick/gloss/whatever, I definitely pick eyes. I have smallish eyes for my face, and using a little mascara does wonders for how much they stand out. And if I could pick only one cosmetic product from here on out, even above my mineral foundation I’d pick eyebrow pencil. My brows are thinning and I look unfinished without brows!

    Although I do wear mascara every day, I wear anything else (eyeshadow, eye pencil, etc) maybe once or twice a month.

  • Di

    Concealer! Oh my word, concealer, and thanks to Allie, at Wardrobe Oxygen, I just started added a primer to my routine. I don’t use it every day, but it helps balance the redness from my winter-chapped, rosacea-prone skin.

    I almost never wear eye makeup. To the point where, the one time I *did* my kids thought I looked like a famous movie star. Or a princess.

  • Kelly

    I never leave the house without foundation and mascara, for two reasons. Foundations alway, because I have rosacea and need the coverage and SPF. Mascara because I have a friend who turned up at work one day having forgotten to do her mascara, and all day long she fielded questions about what had happened – was she alright? she looked downright unwell, and all she had forgotten was her mascara! I took a lesson from that, LOL.

    • Nora

      Do you mind if I ask what foundation you use? Fellow rosacea sufferer here, starting to be self conscious about it, but afraid of making it worse.

      • Erin

        I have rosacea and *also* am lucky enough to be allergic to chemical sunscreens. Yay! I find Nars Sheer Glow and the Maybelline BB cream to be my go-tos. (I can tolerate zinc and titanium just fine for my SPF.) Sometimes with Cover Girl compact powder over top.

      • Kelly

        Sorry to respond so late – we’ve had snowmageddon here in Virginia!! I use Bare Minerals, love, love love it! My rosacea is under control for the most part now, but after years of trying to get there, I’ve got tons of broken capillaries and I find the coverage to be great for that!

  • Becky

    Eyes, definitely. I have hereditary dark circles around my eyes. Concealer, a bit of shadow and some mascara make me look happier and better rested.

    I *should* pay better attention to my lips, since they are always dry and peeling and generally awful looking. But my husband had sensory issues and hated the feel of lip stuff; he couldn’t bring himself kiss me if I was wearing any. And I’d rather be kissed than be pretty! :-) Now that he’s gone, I’m trying to establish a habit of using lip balm, but I keep forgetting. It just occurred to me that I could set some reminders in my phone.

    • Kim

      while you are working lip product back into your daily routine, try out a lip scrub from Lush or Fresh Sugar. I find it helps with the dry and flaking that can be a problem if I’m sick or wearing a really drying lipstick often. Always good to create a better foundation for the days you remember your balm.

  • Scarlet

    Lips. Cheeks would be second priority and eyes third. I have very full but very pale lips. They need the color most, and I like the feeling of moisture on them. I like to add color to my cheeks as well, but I don’t bother with eye makeup every day. I have dark, defined lashes and brows so it’s not crucial to play them up.

  • Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    Lips for me – mine are a lovely pale no-color naturally. If I can only slap on one thing, it’s lipstick! Fun poll.

  • Barb

    My absolute must is a tinted moisturizer with high SPF and an oil-free formulation, like Stila’s or Clinique City Block Plus. I have a tendency to develop large brown spots otherwise, and I like the way the sheer coverage evens out slighter skin blotchiness.

    After that, a sheer red lipcolor like Lipstick Queen Medieval or Stila Fever, or a clear, sheer, bright pink – Tangee Natural really does work for me! This prevents the undead look my pale skin and fading mouth color would otherwise suggest.

    I still have dark eyebrows and lashes, so I could skip eye makeup even though I usually do add a coat of mascara.

    With the bright lip color I could skip blush if I had to but I usually don’t!

    • Barb

      Correction: the “Fever” lipcolor is Tarte, not Stila! It’s one of those chubby twist-up lip balm thingies.

  • julie

    eyes! I try to re-apply lipstick or gloss, I have a few tucked in my purse, but I hardly ever remember, but once I put my eye-makeup on, it doesn’t go anywhere. I am growing my brows thicker, so that includes brows these days otherwise they look messy. Usually I like eyeliner and mascara, and I often wear eyeshadow too. I wear glasses almost every day and it helps make sure I am not fading away behind my cute little cat-eye frames.

  • bubu

    Definitely eyes – I’m in that same fair skin-and-hair bracket as others, where my eyes look twice the size if I curl and add a bit of mascara. I also recently discovered eyebrow pencil and am continually amazed at the difference it makes. My cheeks tend to be rosy on their own, so I can leave them alone. Much as I love the look of lipstick, I am bad at keeping it on all day (and often don’t even bother) because 1) I am klutzy and prone to smudging and 2) I drink water all day, so it just seems to come off faster than I can put it on.

  • Karen Olson

    I’m one of those full makeup people who can’t choose, but I now have the luxury of never having to worry about my eyebrows again: I had them tattooed a few years ago! They were getting shorter as I age (pushing 66) and I knew from looking at my mother’s nonexistent brows, that mine were headed in the same direction. Inspired by older women with full brows, I could see how much they add to the face.
    It wasn’t overly painful – felt more like tugging than pricking. The cost, at least in the Twin Cities, MN area, seems to be between $400 and $500. I get frequent compliments from friends and many have now gone the permanent makeup route as well. A friend has had her eyeliner done and I’m thinking about it . . . .

  • A.B.

    I have rosacea, and have no need for blush. I have in fact not worn blush since I was first experimenting with makeup many years ago. Probably lips then, if I had to pick one of the above. Although most days is no makeup. It’s hot here, I sweat it off quickly.

  • Beth

    It’s gotta be the eyes! They’re the focal point of the face. Although it probably depends on which of your features “require” emphasis. I have very small eyes, so adding mascara and shading with eye shadow to make them stand out more makes a much bigger difference in my appearance than applying lipstick or blush. But I like that other people are mentioning eyebrows (maybe that counts as part of the eyes?) because they are so crucial to framing the face.

  • Anamarie

    I prefer full makeup, but I have my routine down to a science that takes about 7 minutes if that’s all I have. Lots of mascara. Then foundation, a little blush, eyeshadow primer, multi shade shadows if I’m going with neutral lip, one neutral shadow if I’m wearing brighter lip, a smudge of shadow on lower lash line, brown or black eyeliner on top just to accent, and lipstick or gloss depending on my outfit and eyeshadow.

    If I HAD to choose, it would be mascara. I have long, dark lashes but they are invisible without mascara. I could also cheat and use the mascara close to the lash line to simulate eyeliner! :)

  • Gracey the Giant

    Eyes. Mine are pretty small and my lashes are stubby as heck so I always wear eye liner and mascara.

  • LinB

    Lips. I am old and faded, and I need bright lips to make me feel less old and faded. Eyes are too buried behind eyeball glasses to even be seen, much, so I pretty much ignore my eyes. Cheeks remain flushed most of the time because of rosacea, so no need to waste money on rouge.

  • Jean

    Another vote for eyes, specifically eyebrows and lashes. My eyebrows in particular have faded as I’ve gotten older, so I feel the need to fill them in for more emphasis.

    But honestly? I feel no compunction about leaving the house bare-faced. Makeup is just another accessory for me, so I don’t feel that I NEED makeup to go anywhere.

  • Annabeth

    If it were only one, the lips. I have very pale coloring, and I feel like color on my lips is the single most important element of my makeup. Luckily I have strong eyebrows and thick eyelashes, so I could do without eye makeup if I had to. Cheeks – I like to have a bit of color there, but I find pale cheeks and bright lips has more of an effect on my appearance than the opposite.

  • Lisa

    Lips, but I’d always do something to even out my skin because bold lip colours need a good complexion. :)

  • Molly

    I’m a tinted lip balm sort of person, with concealer when I’ve got something that needs covering up. I’d stick with lips if I had to choose one thing. It’s easy, I’ve been doing it since middle school, and some bright lips can make a person look a lot less drained and sleepy.

    I did get a black eye recently, due to someone else’s drunken’s flailing, and I wished that I knew more about wearing large quantities of makeup than I actually do.

  • Shawna

    I am quite willing to go completely without makeup and often do. I think my most minimal makeup picks would be a few dots of concealer as needed and a swipe of tinted lip balm.

  • Diana

    I am not a regular makeup wearer by any stretch of the imagination, but if I could only pick one thing to put makeup on, it would be my eyes. This is because they are by FAR my worst feature: small, asymmetrical, short-lashed, and shallow, and definitely benefit the most from a little makeup. My lips are pretty decent on their own and I think blush makes me look like a clown, so eyes it is.

  • Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    Lips! It used to be that I wouldn’t leave the house without lipstick. I’m not quite so adamant now, but even thru all my cancer treatments, I made a point of wearing a bit of lipstick to the doctor’s office. I may be bald & have felt like crap, but I wanted to look a tiny bit girlie still & a dark lipstick color helped a ton.

    Black eyeliner is my other everyday makeup. Anything beyond that is for evening events or special occasions.

  • KimM.

    If I had to choose just one it would be my powder foundation. To keep the shine down to a tolerable level. My usual routine consists of LM powder foundation (the original one not the crap that’s just come out recently and gets horrible reviews), Nars Gaiety blush because I’m very pale with no cheek color whatsoever, mascara after curling my lashes, and lip balm. My lips are quite dark so I don’t have to have color. Oh, I just discovered eyebrow tinting so now I don’t have to do my eyebrows everyday.

  • Jennifer

    Tinted lip balm. I fail at everything else.

    I have very thick lashes and every attempt to wear mascara made me look like Tammy Faye Bakker. I also stay away from all other makeup. If I put any on I get this irresistible urge to touch my face all day, and smudge it all around. I just can’t do it.

    • Justine

      I have this issue, with lashes so long that I trim the tips off them. I know that May sound bizarre, but they seem to keep growing and look wispy on the ends and touch my sunglasses lenses if I leave ’em. If I trim the wispy ends off, the lashes look much thicker and better. I do sometimes use mascara, but I apply it by wiping some onto my fingertip, then wipe that very lightly against the base of my upper lashes only. Otherwise it’s dolly territory for me. Aside from sunscreen, I only must must must have lip colour (massive range of every variety to chose from as that’s my favourite makeup!) and cheek colour (love the Bobbi Brown chocolate cherry pot rouge applied lightly with smashbox skunk brush).

      • LinB

        Oh, girls, rejoice in the wonder of your thick, long lashes! I, too, used to have the problem of too-long lashes. Age-related alopecia will soon enough take care of that problem for you.

  • Heidi

    If I can’t have concealer I would take red lipstick every time since it will liven up your whole face.Or to cheat you could use it as blush too.

    Heidi in L.A.

  • Caterina

    I’m with the concealer tribe and those of Northern European descent — blue eyes, dark hair, light skin. I have hereditary dark circles and look a million times better with some “Erase Paste” by Benefit. After that, I’d take mascara. Nothing except lip balm on my lips and no blush.

  • Katy

    When I am going some place nice or want to take a little extra time I’ll do the whole face routine – concealer, foundation, blush, bronzer, under-eye concealer, eye concealer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, sealing powder, etc… But when I’m just doing my everyday I’ll to light eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara with a lipgloss. – Katy

  • Samantha

    Eyes for me. Since I wear glasses I feel like I’m not quite the same without a bit of mascara and if I have time some under eye concealer. My glasses MAGNIFY everything which means I want to have my eyes looking just a bit better. I agree with you about the Cheeks though – sometimes wearing blush makes such a difference to how I’m feeling. It’s definitely my go to if my eyes are a bit sensitive and it’s a no mascara type of day.

  • Lady Harriet

    Absolutely lips. If I’m wearing any makeup, it almost always includes lip stain. Second would be concealer for blemishes, but if I don’t have time I’ll skip that. I have lots of freckles, so with bright lips to draw the eye the blemishes aren’t too noticeable anyhow. If I have time for a third product it would be nude eyeliner on my lower waterline. I don’t even own blush, but I’ve thought about it. I don’t want to have more than one, so I’m willing to wait for the perfect one to come along at a price I can afford.

  • Trina Dubya

    Definitely eyes. My brows are pretty sparse, even more so after I’ve shaped/plucked them, so they need a little boost with pencil. I line my eyes and then apply mascara to my upper lashes.

    This plus lip balm and a bit of blush is all I can be bothered with for work.

  • Angela Moore

    Lipstick – even a sheer shimmery natural product – is my absolute must have. I could also get by with just eyeliner, instead of the 4 products I put on my eyes daily.

  • MLC

    If eyebrows count, then eyebrows for sure! Mine are so sparse, I need a bit of pencil to give my eye area more definition and to frame my face.

  • Melanie

    Lips. I’m a makeup minimalist anyway: eye makeup irritates my eyes so I stopped wearing it for any but the most special occasions years ago. I have naturally strong, dark brows and rosy cheeks, so I don’t need eyebrow pencil or blush. But I always wear tinted lip balm or gloss or something on my lips.

  • Jem

    Lips! Not only am I naturally white as a sheet of paper (with faded freckles), but my lips have almost no pigment at all. So I MUST have some color on my lips at all times, regardless of how plain and unadorned I may look otherwise. Not to mention my absolute need to be able to always feel something balm-y or lipstick-y on my lips. Hate the feel of dry lips.

  • Anne

    Having blonde eyelashes I always need mascara and being pale I always wear a light foundation and blush. as I get older I am trying to wear colour on my lips I think it makes you look polished.

  • Patricia

    I actually don’t own blush. Should I? Probably. But extra steps ugh… my morning routine currently fits perfectly into an episode of Welcome to Night Vale and I loathe having to change that.

    When I’m pressed for time (i.e. running way late, near the end of my Night Vale episode, or both) I just put on mascara. If I’m wearing two things, it’s mascara and lipstick; three adds foundation (tinted SPF moisturizer, really), four is usually eyeshadow or eyeliner, and if I’m feeling extra fancy it’s all those things plus concealer. This has no logic behind it other than haphazard laziness and the fact that I feel like mascara and lipstick make the biggest difference in terms of looking made-up versus not made-up. I have very pale lips and lashes.

  • Johannah

    I have to admit that only in the last 4-5 years I’ve started enjoying going out without anything on my face. I am happy about my new relaxed attitude because in my eyes it was a step towards feeling ok about who I am and is faster and giving the skin “a day off”. I’ve been actively working on it and “forcing” For years I’ve felt more like myself and more beautiful with make up on, and I’ve been wearing make up daily ever since I was 13-14years old.
    I still love wearing makeup because I love the process of applying it. It’s my daily dose of painting. I love painting with oil color and making up is also a creative painting process for me – I can enhance the features of my face as I like it and play with colors. For my face, a minimum make up consists of coloured eyebrow gel, a touch of blusher and the latest addition: a good concealer for my recently very dark undereye circles.

  • Sarah O

    I usually just got for the tinted lip balm on a day to day basis, but if I’m going out for a night-cap in the evening, I sometimes just do up the eyes.

  • Allison

    Lips, and only lips. Any other makeup maybe three times a year.

    It would be fun to see a similar survey of how many of us wear makeup at all, and where we live. Here in northern California, anything more than one product at a time stands out as “made up”, and seeing full makeup is a rare event.

    • LinB

      In the South, extreme humidity and heat make it nearly impossible to keep on a face for more than an hour at a time, unless you stay inside and keep the air conditioning cranked up high. Few of my friends and colleagues wear much on their faces except sunscreen and a smile, from April-October.

  • Belle

    My standard makeup routine is spf lotion, lip balm. I use gel eyeliner on my lids and then use my eyeliner to shade in my eyebrows.

    I am picking eyes since that is the only visible portion of my makeup routine.