Today’s post is with one of the first beauty bloggers that I ever read (and watched on YouTube) – Jen of From Head to Toe. Jen is an designer, beauty blogger and makeup artist whose YouTube videos have been viewed over 37 million times, and for good reason. Jen is not only incredibly talented at what she does – creating beautiful makeup looks – but she is also able to do it in a way that’s relatable and clear to even novice beauty dunces like myself. Reading and watching Jen over the years has helped me learn so many tips on beauty, skincare, and more – and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Jen. Enjoy meeting her!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Jen “From Head To Toe” and I’m a designer/beauty blogger born and raised in the good ‘ole Midwest.
I have to ask this. Just how big is your beauty collection?
Seriously, it’s pretty embarrassing. I’ve never actually counted how many items are in my beauty collection, but suffice it to say that my lipsticks alone fill about three drawers. I’m due for a major makeup purge but I get attached to some items past their expiration date and it’s tough to throw them out. I’m also constantly getting new items in for PR samples as well so it can be a big project just to organize and maintain a reasonable collection.
What’s a tip/trick about makeup or skincare that you wish you had known earlier on?
There are two major things that stand out for me.
1. I wish I had known about eyeshadow primer (Urban Decay Primer Potion is my holy grail) when I first began experimenting with drugstore eyeshadows and was disappointed in the pigmentation and lasting powder.
2. I wish I knew what mascaras would hold a curl for my straight, Asian lashes. Although it’s long discontinued in the States, Max Factor 2000 Calorie waterproof mascara really opened my eyes (haha) to the world of visible lashes. My drugstore standby is Covergirl Lash Exact Waterproof mascara while my current favorite is Urban Decay’s Cannonball mascara.
What are some of your favorite products of all time?
Ahh, what a difficult question! Since “all time” seems to transcend “current favorite” I’m going to go with items that I’ve been loving for years and keep repurchasing time and time again.
First is Seche Vite top coat. It literally dries nails to the touch in under a minute and nearly indestructible in about three. I’m impatient in waiting for nails to dry and I haven’t found a top coat that leaves my nails as glossy and dent-free as this one.
Next is the Shiseido eyelash curler. It’s pricier than drugstore $5 curlers but there’s something magical about the curve of the curler and the springs that keep it taut. This curler was one of my first beauty splurges ever and I’ve never looked back.
Finally, my favorite eyeshadow palette that I recommend every girl to have is the original Urban Decay Naked Palette. This one neutral palette has gotten me through endless day-to-night looks and the value for the number of shadows you get for the quality is unbeatable. After two years, I still grab this more often than any other selection of eyeshadows I own, and trust me, I own a lot.
What type of products would you suggest scrimping on (buying at the drugstore) vs. splurge on (purchase at department stores), and why?
Since I have sensitive, acne-prone skin my rule of thumb is to skimp on eye products and splurge on face products. Especially in the last couple of years, drugstores have really stepped their game up with quality eyeshadows, liners, and mascaras. It is possible find a good drugstore foundation or concealer but it’s much more difficult just because you usually can’t test out the products or get color-matched before you buy it. I’ve had better luck finding a good match that doesn’t break me out at mid-to-high end retailers like Sephora or department stores. Rules can always be broken though, so the most reliable thing to do is research before you buy.
What’s the most expensive makeup item that you’ve ever purchased? Was it worth it? How about some favorite cheapies?
Does the Clarisonic count as a makeup item? At $120 it’s by far the most expensive beauty/skincare item I’ve purchased and although I love it, I do think it’s a luxury item. It leaves a lovely, smooth feeling on my skin immediately after use and cleanses the skin well but I approach it as an exfoliating product since I’ve been warned by both my dermatologist and aesthetician that it shouldn’t be overused. I stick to 2-3 times per week and I’m happy with it.
Some of my favorite cheapies include Covergirl waterproof mascaras, Eucerin Everyday Protection SPF30 face lotion, Wet & Wild Mega Eyes Creme Liner, and Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait.
I love that you post photos without makeup. Can you share more about your thoughts behind this – do you go makeup free a lot?
I’m a huge advocate of finding confidence and beauty in yourself from the inside out. While that’s easy to say, it’s much more difficult hearing that message when we are constantly bombarded by images of airbrushed perfection in every magazine and TV screen. It’s important to remember that we are all human with our flaws and imperfections intertwined with our natural beauty. I don’t think makeup should be a mask to hide what we are afraid of, but instead a means of expressing creativity and feeling beautiful and confident! Once we embrace ourselves in our most vulnerable state we can appreciate the fun of things like makeup and fashion that much more.
I try to go makeup-free whenever I can since it’s best for your skin. Obviously not on filming days or when I’m meeting with companies or clients, but when I’m staying at home and need to run to the post office, I don’t mind stepping out bare-faced.
I’d love to hear about your style. What’s a typical day look for you, and what are some of your most worn and favorite items?
My style is a mixture of casual and classic staples with some bright colors and patterns splashed in. I might wear a neon yellow tee with a black blazer and dark skinny jeans or a silk blouse with white shorts. The more defining part of my style is probably my jewelry since I collect gold and sterling silver rings and I love to stack them on several fingers. My favorites include a vintage sterling artichoke ring which was a prized eBay find!
Can you share a piece of advice about style and shopping that you’ve learned over the years?
This is a continual learning process for me, but I’ve learned that it’s more important to splurge on a few select things that you passionately love than to buy pieces just because it was on sale and was a really good value. If an eyeliner was on sale for $5 but you never used it, it has a really expensive value per use compared to a $40 lipstick that you use everyday. Fashion works the same way in that I try to only keep the shoes I love and wear the most and bags that I can use on a regular basis even if they were initially expensive.
What are your other hobbies and passions?
I’ve always had artistic tendencies like painting and drawing and have a special place in my heart for illustrators like Audrey Kawasaki. I also love anything creative like photography, music, dancing, and acting, although I don’t claim to be particularly noteworthy in any of those areas. “Away We Happened” was quite the fun acting experience for me since it was very much outside the box compared to my daily life but it definitely filled up my creative happy meter. I’m also a huge bookworm and am currently on book four of the Game of Thrones A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Finally – please share something surprising about yourself!
I actually didn’t wear makeup on a regular basis until I was a junior in college, about 21 years old, because I wanted people I met to judge me by my character instead of my face. Since I had been suffering from fairly bad acne for 10 years prior, I had fought to accept the fact that I was not traditionally beautiful but gained my confidence through my head and my heart. Difficult experiences can really change a lot about a person and I’m really hopeful that being honest about what I’ve gone through can give hope to others who are struggling to love themselves because no amount of makeup can create that real, true beauty.
I had acne when I was younger and still struggle with the occasional breakout myself (am I just going to have to go from worrying about pimples to worrying about wrinkles?) and so Jen’s words really spoke to me. It’s clear that Jen is humble, hardworking, and as beautiful inside as she is out. I am so happy to have been able to follow Jen’s journey these past years and I’m sure that there are many more successes to come. Jen thank you for taking the time to share some of your life and learnings with us today – and for more of Jen please check out her blog here, and YouTube channel, here.