13 min read

Beauty Adventures With Florence

by Sarah Hollowell

Hey, guys, gals, and nonbinary pals! Welcome back to my channel. I’m Florence Darrow, and this is Beauty Adventures with Florence, where I try out new makeup and skincare products so you don’t have to.

I have a lot planned for this video, but first I wanted to thank you so much for 100,000 subscribers! I never thought that when I posted that first video way back when - ugh, don’t go watch it, it’s so cringey - that a hundred thousand people would want to hear what I have to say about makeup and skincare. There are so many beauty YouTubers out there, like, who was going to notice little ol’ me? But you did, and I’m so grateful.

In honor of this milestone, I wanted to tackle a much-requested topic: my full daily beauty routine. I know that’s a pretty basic video for other beauty YouTubers, but I’ve kind of resisted it. I’ll talk about some of my favorite products but I’ve never given you my full routine and product list because, well - it breaks some rules. I’m worried people will think it’s just weird and say “wow, she knows nothing about anything”.

But that’s the anxiety talking. And thank you, too, for all of the support when I talk about my anxiety. I get comments all the time telling me that knowing I struggle with anxiety has helped people. It means a lot to me that it means a lot to you. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that being open about mental illness is new for me. I was worried about that, too - but it’s gone really well.

So why not try another new thing? Hopefully you’ll like it.

Okay, guys, so the foundations of beauty to me are cliche, but true: sleep and water. They aren’t a magic potion. They won’t make everything flawless on their own. Everyone has something different happening with their skin and it’s condescending to pretend like someone with hormonal acne just needs to get a little more sleep or drink a little more water.

But they do help. They help get your skin to your baseline, where product can take over.

This is also going to sound maybe condescending or - I don’t know, pretentious? I have a specific kind of water that I like to hydrate with.

Oh gosh - sorry, I’m so nervous, I can’t stop laughing. That’s what editing is for, right?

Okay, okay. Focus, Florence.

I almost exclusively drink - here’s my huge water bottle so I can show you - swamp water. I’m lucky, because I have family and friends who ship it to me for free from their swamps. I used to be able to just get it myself all the time but moving out here to the desert made it so much harder. Anyway, even if you don’t live in a swamp or know someone who does, if you look in the right places, you can get it shipped to you. I’ll put some links in the description box.

I know what you’re thinking. Florence, that water looks super gross. Isn’t it super gross?

It’s not as gross as you think! It’s just not for everyone. Uhm...gosh. How do I explain this. Of course, no beauty product is for everyone, but swamp water is...really not for everyone. It’s more for people who...Hm. Are of the swamp, is I guess what I’d say?

Maybe I’ll come back to that and try to explain a little better.

Sleep is simple. Schedules differ and what works for you differs, but I need a lot of sleep. Ideally nine hours or more. Oh, tip for hair care, which I know I don’t do a lot - satin or silk pillowcases are key. Bonus if it’s been sewn by a village woman with a golden-haired daughter, but not one hundred percent necessary. And of course you can keep going with quality - make sure the daughter is tall, she’s never touched a wild animal, she’s never seen the sunrise. A good village woman will keep records of all these things. You have to be careful because there’s no regulations and they can lie, but...sometimes you can tell in your gut when it’s right.

Okay, so, sleep, water, everyone knows that. Let’s move on to skincare products.

I’ve tried loads of stuff for my channel, as you know, but of course I have my favorites that I use every day when I’m not testing. I don’t have too many steps to mine - I have a cleanser, exfoliator, toner, moisturizer, and under-eye moisturizer. I know other people have all kinds of serums they like, but I’ve never gotten the hang of them myself, not for daily use. I have this one, oh, lemme find it, one second, it’s back in some drawer somewhere.

Oh yeah okay I have this one serum that I keep around and use on, like, self-care spa days. A friend gave it to me as a gift. It’s super fancy, it’s made from a - ugh the text is so tiny - a moonlight gallows fruit. I’ve never heard of that but the name seems pretty self-explanatory! Anyway, it’s super nourishing, you can feel the lost time sinking into your skin, but it’s soooo expensive, I’d never be able to get it myself, so that’s why it’s for spa day only.

The other stuff is pretty basic, like, I try to keep my daily routine to affordable products that I could pick up at Target or in the non-prestige side of Ulta. Like, I used to use a Philosophy acid exfoliator and it was amazing but way too pricey to keep buying, so now I’m trying out this Skin Food pineapple stuff. It’s like $11 and so far I love it.

My favorite cleanser is just Garnier micellar water, my favorite toner is Thayer’s witch hazel - who doesn’t love witch hazel, right? Whether you need to make your enemies suffer a slow death through secret ingestion or clear your skin, witch hazel is there for you.

Uhm, what else - moisturizer! I love Neutrogena’s hydro boost line. The exfoliating cleanser and regular cleanser didn’t really work for me, but their moisturizers? Oh my gosh. I use the one with sunscreen, the normal one, the one for extra-dry skin when things are getting a little scaly, you know, the scales are coming out. It’s also a great winter moisturizer, in my opinion.

Sooo you do all that, and now you have a beautiful hydrated canvas to work your makeup magic on.

Now, I’m also maybe basic in my daily makeup. I’m not super into contouring unless it’s like a very fancy event or I’m going to be getting my picture taken a whole bunch. I also struggle to find a setting spray that doesn’t dry me out like whoa, so I tend to want all of my products to have their own decent staying power - at least enough to get me through a day of work.

That all begins with primer.

I have a few primers that I go back and forth between. I have this mattifying Julep primer, I have NYX Angel Veil, but the one I’m into right now is actually off of Etsy. Did y’all know that you can get loads of makeup off Etsy? And of course I’ll link all this in the description box, althouuugh this primer might be sold out. Hmm. I’m looking for it now actually, just so I could get some more details for you guys, and the seller might be totally gone. I just bought this a few weeks ago and…


Anyway, according to the label - look how professional this looks, I wouldn’t have expected it from a brand so indie they sell on Etsy, but it looks, like, Sephora-ready. Okay okay according to the label this is a cruelty-free vegan primer that nourishes and mattifies. It’s made by soaking ship-dashing rocks off a cruel coast in a seaweed solution. Wow, I wonder if it kind of works like that serum.

However it works - how does any of this stuff work, really? I’m not a beauty science channel, though shout out to those because they do cool work - I’ve been using it for a few weeks and I love it. I know some primers and foundations claim to make your skin better as you use it but this one totally actually is!

Speaking of foundation, I just use the Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation. It’s super cheap and it has the kind of medium coverage I like. My shade is “warm honey”. They do have a pretty decent shade range, too, I think over thirty shades. Now I’m a big Beauty Blender kinda girl, I don’t really like foundation brushes, but I also don’t love spending too much money as you know. If you don’t want to spend money on a brand-name Beauty Blender, the Real Techniques sponges work just as well - maybe better!

I use the same thing for my concealer, because they have that nice sharp point for under the eyes. My concealer is another indie brand. This is one that’s actually at a local shop here, but they do have some of their stuff available online, I think including their concealer. It, uh - let’s see. Vegan, cruelty free, of course. “Full coverage concealer that will shock you with its ability to hide even the most stubborn facial leylines, scales, and constellations, without drying you out!” Ugh, so important. Now I just go in with it in that little triangle under my eyes, in my problem areas, and bounce-bounce-bounce with the sponge until it’s blended in.

Since I’m showing you a daily look, the rest of the makeup isn’t anything wild. I’m doing the daily look I do when I have more time, so I’ll do some simple eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, a little highlight, and - not sure about the lipstick yet. Maybe a liquid lip, maybe just a swipe of a ColourPop lippie. We’ll see when we get there.

Let’s start with eyeshadow. I know some people do eye makeup before foundation and all that, but I’ve never really mastered doing foundation around eye makeup, and anyway I’m not doing anything too complex. Shouldn’t be any significant fallout.

My favorite eyeshadow palette is from the same store that makes my concealer. Their shadows are sooo pigmented. Ha! Oh, Manny. Don’t worry, I’m not doing a copper eye and a nude lip.

No, I’m feeling more in the purples today. Even when I’m not doing a big look, I love bold colors on the eyes. Some people with horizontal pupils like to downplay their eye makeup to draw attention away from it, but, I don’t know, it’s something I don’t like to hide. I like it when people look at my eyes, even if they’re kind of scared! Sometimes especially if they’re scared, haha. And like my mom always says - if the eyes don’t scare them off, the teeth will!

So since I’m not doing anything elaborate, I’m not going to use primer on my eyes. My main primer is Urban Decay and, again, pricey! Instead I’m just dabbing on some concealer. Then I go in with just a basic shadow brush, nothing fancy, no Morphe here, and I blend out my base purple, which is this kind of muted, almost gray-tone purple. I’m a sparkly sort of girl so I’m going to do a similar purple on the lid, but this one is shimmer.

I don’t know exactly how they make their eyeshadows so creamy and long-lasting, especially the shimmers. I’ve talked to the owner, Cassandra, a bunch since I’m kind of a regular at the store. She said that she couldn’t tell me any secrets but it did involve crushed-up dreams, and the solution they use to bring it all together is drawn up from the Mariana Trench. I guess they use that in a lot of their stuff, actually. Cassandra said they have people who go down in these super innovative deep-sea vessels that she funded - she’s, like, pretty well-off I think - but not everyone comes back up every time.

Oh my gosh, look at that shimmer. It’s not too much for daytime, but it’s definitely noticeable. Ugh. Love it.

Eyeliner is just NYX matte liquid liner. I love brush tips. I didn’t used to, but I’ve found they’re just a lot easier for me to use. I am not going to embarrass myself trying to do a wing on camera, though, they take me foreverrr.

You know, I’m actually not gonna do mascara today. I like what the eyeliner is doing on its own and I’m a clumsy mascara girl, I’m afraid I’ll heck up everything else. If I was going to do mascara, Lash Paradise or Cassandra’s black hole mascara.

Actually, Cassandra has this whole really cool space line. I love themed makeup, and I looove her highlighter. She has it in a lot of cool colors, and it’s creamy highlighter, kind of like ColourPop Super Shock? That’s my other favorite brand. But this is one of Cassandra’s - I know, I know, I’m using a lot of her stuff, but it’s just so good. This is her starshine highlighter.

Oh my gosh, story time. She showed me how they make this highlighter! It’s this super complex thing where they have to go way way out of town, like, into the deep desert, where there’s no manmade lighting, just the stars. They have all these mirrors and magnifiers and they need a living receptacle to accept the light, and she said I was a great candidate! She offered me lots of free product for it, full disclosure, but this video isn’t sponsored and that’s not why I love her stuff.

Now, I kind of hate the desert. Aesthetically, yes, gorgeous, but I don’t know why I chose a college in Arizona where it’s all just dry and hot. My house is filled with humidifiers, I can never skip moisturizing, and when I can, I actually bathe in the swamp water. Oh, hey - you know what I think would be a huge moneymaker for some clever swamp entrepreneur? Swamptrepreneur, if you will? Swamp bath bombs. I know bath bombs mostly just change the color but surely there’s some sort of alchemic process that can be put in a pretty bath bomb package to turn normal water into swamp water.

I know, I know, shut up about the swamp water already, Florence! But I love it, and if you’re of the swamp, you know what I’m talking about. Other than reminding me of home, it just revitalizes me and really helps to make the scales more manageable. You know how when you get super dry, the scales just seem to not only multiply but get more textured? They can’t lay flat and if they can’t lay flat, they’re going to mess up your whole look.

Let me tell you, getting this pretty outside the swamp is a chore.

That said, I love Cassandra and I love her products, so when she gave me the chance to not only watch them make the starshine highlighter, but participate? Well. No amount of dry desert air was going to keep me away.

So I slathered on the deepest moisturizer I have and met them in the desert at midnight. It was the night of the new moon - because you can’t have the moonlight interfering - and guys? I’ve never seen stars like that. I’m used to either city lights or tree canopy blocking the view. It was amazing.

Cassandra had me sit in this weird crystal chair, and her crew stood around me in a big circle, and we just waited. I stared up at the stars and they seemed to get brighter and brighter and my skin got so hot - and then I blacked out.

I don’t know how long I was out - hours, days, weeks? Time is so meaningless in the deep desert, and all isolated places not meant for human or humanoid life! - but when I did wake up, Cassandra showed me all the highlighter they were able to make! This is one of them! It’s so creamy you can just dab it on and blend it with your fingers, like this, and look at how just one layer makes you shine.

I love it. Cassandra even gave me a discount code! You can’t get all of her stuff online - some of it is way too volatile to ship - but I have a link to her store in the description and use code FLORENCE for 10% off!

Since I have been using so much indie, harder to find stuff - though Cassandra’s makeup is cheap, and I highly recommend it - for the lip I think I will just do a ColourPop lippie. Uhm...gosh, I have so many. Maybe my next video should be a declutter video! Those have been pretty popular and they’re sooo satisfying. What do people do with the makeup that’s unfit for donation? Like they put it in trash bags, but then what? Isn’t it a biohazard once it’s bonded with your toxic skin? Can you burn it? Eh, I’ll do some research.

Anyway, the rest of my makeup is a little bold so I’ll go with something just a little more subdued - but not too subdued, you know me! Here. This one is in Lumiére. Oh gosh, yes, I think that pulls it all together.

And that’s it! This might have seemed like a lot. Before I got started on this channel, the idea of things like primer and toners and foundation and concealer - for the longest time it was just concealer for me - all of that seemed like so many extra steps that I couldn’t imagine incorporating it into my routine. And I don’t want you to feel like you have to do it. Skincare and makeup are about what work for you. Some people like or even need more basic routines. Some people like or need more complex routines.

It’s all about what works for you and your skin, and the secrets you want or need to keep. It’s amazing what even a few swipes of good concealer and a decent moisturizer at night can do to keep a hidden form secure.

As always, thank you so much for watching, and thank you again for 100k! I hope you stick around. Bye!

Sarah Hollowell is a Hoosier writer of essays, poetry, and young adult fiction. Her essays have appeared at The Butter, The Gloss, and Women Write About Comics, among other places, and if you want to brave YouTube you can find her TEDx talk. Her poetry has been in Apex and Cicada and one of her short stories can be found in Fireside Fiction. She’s working on a YA novel that will be done soon, dammit.
(Ed. Note: If you know what's good for you, you'll check out her amazing Patreon and follow her on Twitter.)