"In college, I did something called dance production, and I often would have a big break between the numbers I was in. I would do these crazy, intricate liner looks on myself because I had so much time. And then people would come backstage and be like, ‘This isn’t Cirque de Soleil, what do you think you’re doing?’ I was never a makeup artist, but I’ve drawn and painted my whole life, so I think that was when I realized I could use makeup as an art form as well. I’ve been doing my blog for seven years, and I’ve had my YouTube channel for five.
I think the people who consistently come back to my channel come back because I make things easy. But I like to experiment, too—like right now I’m mixing a cream and a liquid highlighter to make my own [foundation]. But I try to do the everyday woman’s makeup. I used to put so much pressure on myself to get out one video every week, but I’m in this transitional place where I’m like, let’s just focus on good work. I edit all my own videos. I have people help me with other stuff, but I’ll always do that myself.
I change my skincare routine every day. If I’m focusing more on hydration, I’ll use the Guidance to Glow Copper Complex Peptide, which is hyaluronic acid. It’s a serum that absorbs right into your skin. I’ll usually follow with a bit of a heavier moisturizer. That’s usually in the colder months when my skin is a lot drier. I also use this moisturizer that’s formulated by plastic surgeons and dermatologists for people who suffer from eczema. It’s called the Reconstructive Cream by Hymed. It’s very medical kind of stuff. The packaging is not cute at all, it’s very sterile. But it’s a nice rich moisturizer that I use in the winter when my skin is really dry. In the summer it would clog my pores. If it’s summer, I’d just go with the PCA Hyaluronic Acid Serum—so two serums instead of a serum and a cream. You just have to listen to your skin for what it wants. I also use the Active Serum by IS Clinical—I don’t know what the active ingredient in it is, I just know it’s magic. I went to Shani Darden in LA, and she was like, ‘You need this.’ It’s a life-changer—she was right. It’s a serum, but it’s very watery. I put it on and I find I get way fewer breakouts and improvements in texture, and just an overall smoothness to my skin. I also use retinol products, which I feel are crucial to any skincare routine. I love [Shani’s] retinol, the Sunday Riley Luna Oil, and Guidance to Glow's Retinol Radiance. Shani’s is exceptionally good. Hydration, retinol...if you do nothing else, those are key for skincare.
My skin is on the dry side, so I like sheet masks. Dr. Jart makes a hydrating mask. And Murad has a really good two-step sheet mask. It comes with an exfoliating swab, and the other one is super hydrating. I like hydrating masks because it helps your makeup look smoother. Especially if you’re going for something minimal, you definitely want something that’s going to leave your skin in the best shape possible. I also want to be makeup optional at all times. That’s my goal, to keep my skin in the shape where if I feel like it, I do put on makeup, and if I don’t feel like it, I won’t. It’s a very powerful feeling actually, as opposed to being a slave to your makeup. It’s a timesaver too!
I love primers. Laura Mercier Hydrating Primer is great, the Makeup Forever Nourishing Primer is really good. Smashbox makes a priming oil that’s really good. I feel like the one I use the most is the Makeup Forever. It’s really light. With makeup, I do a lot of blending with my fingers—they’re my best tool. Laura Mercier has this Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation that I like. It’s not super full coverage, but it’s enough for someone like me, where I can still feel like it still covers everything. Tarte Shape Tape and Too Faced Born This Way are really good concealers. I just like a concealer to not be heavy. Yes, cover well, but make like you’re not on my face. Sometimes, concealers are really opaque and heavy and if you put a lot it gets cakey. These do a good job of looking very natural and covering well. I just kind of use some in the center of my face to brighten and conceal. I feel like less is more, because it’s better for the skin. I also love this brush by Shiseido. It came with one of their new foundations, and I like it because it’s small enough to use for both my foundation and my concealer. Then the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Bronzer is one of my favorites right now. Sometimes bronzers just aren’t opaque enough, they don’t give off enough color, but this one is really great. A really good brush is Hourglass’ No. 2. It’s nice and fluffy, and it’s great for bronzer. Earlier today, I did a beauty feature where I was showing my favorite products for the fall and I had to demo them. One of them was a face tanning towelette—it’s by Tarte, and it’s usually my favorite, but I just put it on and I forget to take it off. So I’m tan as fuck right now. Whoops! Just a little healthy, warm glow. [Laughs]
Most days I won't wear eyeliner at all, but if I want to add something, I’ll line at the top lash line, and just smudge it out. Doing that makes so much of a difference. It looks like you did a lot, but you really didn’t. Next, I’ll smoke the eye a bit. I think it’s important to take in mind your eye shape. If you have hooded eyes, you’re not going to do a really intense smokey eye or drag it up really high. Or, if you have really round eyes, you’re not going to bring most of that darkness into the center, because that’s going to make your eyes look closer together. You’ll want to focus most of it on the outer corners to lift and separate the eyes. Do a smokey eye that compliments, instead of a generic [template] smokey eye, because there’s no real one way to do it. I just do it with my fingers, but some people do six steps for a smokey eye. That’s totally up to personal preference. I use this Laura Mercier’s Caviar Stick, but the matte version, in Caramel. It’s the perfect matte, nude shade. I use that with liner—I go in with a line and smudge it out. The liner is by Jouer. It’s their Slim Crème Eyeliner in Matte Black. Just those two together, and you can create an amazing smokey eye—just a nude and black. I like shimmer, but if I use shimmer, I probably wouldn’t’ use a liner. Shimmer already commands so much attention.
My favorite gloss at the moment is by Maybelline—Vivid Hot Lacquer in Unreal. I had been begging them for a really good nude that just looks like coffee with a lot of creamer in it. Nudes tend have a lot of pink in them, and I just like a nice, true nude, so that’s why this one’s good. If I’m going to do a red lip, I’m probably not going to do much else on the rest of my face because that attracts most of the attention and you don’t want your eyes fighting with your face. I’d probably put on mascara and keep a glow-y face, and have that red really stand out. It all depends on my mood at the moment. I do like matte lips, but not as much as gloss. Gloss is much sexier and I feel like it’s more me. A lot of people opt for the matte lip, and it’s beautiful. With gloss, you do have to reapply it more because it’s slicker and wears away as you eat and whatever else, but I don’t mind. I just feel better with a glossy lip.
I have this picture on my refrigerator from when I was nine years old, and I was looking at it and realized, ‘I need to get those brows back!’ I do my brows myself. I like them a very particular way. I tweeze or occasionally I’ll wax because I have really thick, full brows. At the moment I’m using the Gimme Brow by Benefit. It just kind of sets my brows. I like using brow products that have a spoolie to help fill in, instead of using a brow pencil and then going in with a brow product. When you fill in your brows, you want to make those little hash marks that look like hairs, not like long lines. Then I’m going to go in with some Colossal Spider Effect Mascara by Maybelline—this is my favorite by them. It has a very unique skill set. It kind of makes the lashes look piece-y, kind of edgy. It works great for a messy smokey eye.
I hardly ever wear blush because I always feel like it fights the rest of the look. That said, I’m doing something a little more minimalist—barely anything on the eyes and a light gloss on the lips—then yeah, I’ll really go for it, because that pretty flushed pink look looks really nice. I think it would look ridiculous with a smokey or lined eye. Sometimes, I just take the bronzer and drag it a little further up towards the apples of my cheeks instead of the hollows, to give that natural look.
You know what’s funny? I went to the Givaudan fragrance house in France last year, and every fragrance you’ve ever worn is probably made there. The lady who works there had a knack for telling each person which fragrance they were. I’m thinking she’s going to recommend me something really floral and fresh because I fancy myself ingénue, and she goes, ‘I’m going to give you Tom Ford’s Black Orchid because you’re very sexy and seductive.’ At first, I fought it, now, I love it. She was right! That’s my go-to. If I’m going to see a guy, I’ll wear it. Otherwise, I’ll wear Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue. That’s an all-time favorite."
—as told to ITG
Teni Penosian photographed by Tom Newton on August 29, 2017.