vanity_james2James_Barneys_small copy

I’ve been asked by several of you for an update on my current beauty routine, which I am happy to oblige. One of the perks of being an editor at Mother is that it allows me to try new products all the time, which is not only fun, but it also introduces me to some really great new lines that I most likely wouldn’t have tried otherwise. One thing that I would like to mention that has really helped my complexion is drinking a lot of water. I notice that when I don’t drink a lot of it throughout the day my skin looks a little dull, so the more the merrier. Without further ado, here are all of the skin care, makeup, and hair essentials that I am using right now and why.

Verso Foaming Cleanser. I use this cleanser in the shower each morning with my Clarisonic or a Konjac Cleansing Sponge, which is a great alternative to the Clarisonic with similar results. This cleanser leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean, without over drying. At night, I usually use cleansing oil to remove make up. I like Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil and the Milk Cleansing Oil from First Aid Beauty. Both literally dissolve foundation and leave skin ultra soft, without any residue. I am also completely obsessed with Bioderma Crealine Micelle Solution. It’s a French pharmaceutical product that is a favorite among women, beauty editors, and makeup artists around the world. It’s inexpensive, removes eye makeup like no other, and is water-based as opposed to oil-based, which is something I dislike about most eye makeup removers.

Somme Institute Transport Pads. These will take you back to the days of fighting pimples with Oxy Pads back in junior high school, only these actually work and are a lot more expensive. I cut these babies in half, because you really don’t need a full one to swipe your face, and it makes the price tag much more affordable. They tone the skin and go deep to even out skin tone, tighten, and prevent bumps and acne. I love them! Totally worth the extra bucks, but remember, cut them in half.

Verso Super Eye Serum. This stuff kicks ass! It has retinol 8 as one of its main ingredients and really fights fine lines and wrinkles. I see dramatic results and can’t preach enough about it. One bottle has lasted me well over 7 months, too, so do the math—it’s well worth it. I still love my Tatcha Brightening Serum that I have been using for years, but have found a couple of other great ones that are less of an investment. Aria’s Firming Serum and Earth Tu Face’s Nourish + Balance are both great alternatives.

Rodin Olio Lusso. Okay, okay, this “luxury” face oil has a lot of hype. Truth is, I didn’t really get it when I first started using it, about a year ago. Sure it was lighter than most other oils I have tried, but I wasn’t a fan of the smell. It smells like jasmine and if you’re not a fan of jasmine, which I am not, it will take some getting used to. The price is a little steep, as well, but this stuff lasts a really long time, so in actuality it’s not too bad. After a few weeks of continual use I became a believer and keep coming back for more. It really is incredible. It sinks into the skin quickly and leaves it looking heathy and beautiful. That said, there are plenty of other oils out there that offer similar results—some less expensive, some more expensive. I’ve tried several, but I keep coming back to this one because all of the others seem to lack somewhere. I still moisturize after applying my sacred Rodin oil. I use Embryolisse, which is another French pharmaceutical industry fave. It works wonders for my skin and I can order it from Amazon on the cheap.

Dr. Jart BB Cream. I apply this every day, instead of foundation, using my fingertips. It has SPF 25, as well as some other really great botanicals that nourish the face. It’s much lighter than regular foundation, but still delivers a good amount of coverage. The only problem I can see with it is that it comes in one “universal” shade, and I don’t see how people with darker complexions could use this. If I have a slight tan in the summer, it’s too light for my liking. There are several other BB creams on the market that are up to par, but this one is my favorite. When I need a little extra coverage I reach for my trusty NARS Sheer Glow Foundation. It’s not cake-y, like other foundations. When I apply it I use this brush. I only started using a brush to apply foundation in the past year, and the difference in even application is huge.

YSL Touche Éclat. Hands down, the best concealer ever.

It’s So Big! Mascara. I’ve tried dozens and dozens of mascaras over the years, hoping that they would do what they claim to do. Many of them have delivered somewhat, but none as much as It’s So Big. Try it—your lashes will thank you. I really don’t wear too much eye makeup these days, usually just a few coats of mascara and a little brow love using Anastasia’s Brow Wiz in soft brown along with a clear brow gel. But, when I’m dressing up a for an event, a night out or am wanting a more dramatic look, I use the same Stila Liquid Eyeliner I’ve been using for years.

Earth Tu Face Skin Stick. Buy this! It’s amazing! I keep this in my purse and use it throughout the day. Mostly on my lips for a dose of serious moisture without a lot of shine, but it can also be used on dry skin. It smells good, too! I love a good red lip from time to time and have found the perfect shade for my skin tone. It’s called Wild Child by Ilia—love it.

Aesop Resurrection Hand Balm. My skin gets really dry in the winter—especially my hands. This concentrated cream works to keep them soft. For my body, I use several different products. Two favorites have been the Earth Tu Face Body Butter and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. Both are really wonderful. I also exfoliate once a week. My husband bought me a really nice one from Omorovicza to pamper myself with earlier this year—and I’m not going to lie, it’s F-ing great—but it’s too expensive and I won’t be replacing it. Burt’s Bees actually makes a pretty decent body scrub and it gets the job done. I also recently tried Fat & The Moon Deodorant and it’s so, so good. Seriously, I don’t think I’ll ever use anything else. And it’s all natural—bonus!

Le Labo Santal 33. I found this scent right around the time I got married—I’ll be wearing it for the next ten years.

Davines Momo Anti-Frizz Fluid. I’m a wash and go kinda girl, but with all of the heavy dyeing I’ve done to my hair over the years, and then attempting to get back to my natural color, came a lot of damage and breakage, which left me with crazy fly-aways and unmanageable frizz. I found this miracle liquid recently and let me tell you, it has been a life saver. I brush my hair after I shower, apply a quarter size of this starting at the ends up to the roots and let air dry. Sometimes I will blow dry the very front of my hair to calm crazy cowlicks, but my hair routine is really so simple, which is a plus when you have little time to dedicate to getting ready each day.

Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Bleubird.


  • Mia M

    Thanks for the post as always James. Also I know you do a 52 pics of the kids but I would love also you doing a 52 segment on yourself maybe entitled “Just James” just a thought. Thanks for blogging and sharing the new products.

    Avid reader,


  • katie a.

    lovely post. I am always looking to update my makeup bag. I use the same BB cream as you, it is amazing! I’m looking forward to trying out your other suggestions, especially the anti-frizz fluid because my hair can get crazy! thanks for this xx

  • India

    Hi James,
    last time you said you popped a vitamin e capsule each night and applied to your face, just curious, do you still keep this up?
    thanks :)

    • James Kicinski-McCoy

      Not since trying and using other face oils, but vitamin E oil does work great. It’s very sticky though and doesn’t sink into the skin well, which can be annoying.

  • Alexandra

    I read the piece on Mother about a BB cream and it’s been on my mind – glad to know what you recommend. I’m also so so curious to smell that fragrance fit for a decade. :)

    Warm Regards,

  • johnnie

    so happy you shared this! I’ve actually almost bought the MILK cleanser about 5 times, ill definitely be do it now. thanks for sharing your talents, interests and beautiful family with all of us.


  • Charis

    Love these illustrations. I might have to give the deodorant a go, I’ve been searching for an all-natural one.;..

  • Erin

    Would love to see your face in these. Seems relevant to the discussion at hand and we get a peek at what the products are doing for you as your routine evolves.

  • Yolanda

    Just thought you might want to fix this – the correct usage is “without further ado”

  • Kathryn

    This was a great post! I love hearing about other people’s skin care routines. I have an ongoing list of products to slowly try, and I’ve added a couple of these!

    I also found that drinking water makes a huge difference. It’s by far the simplest, cheapest thing that has had big results on my skin!

    xx Kathryn

  • S.L.

    I’m curious if you look at cosmetics that are not tested on animals.

  • Natalie | Circus & Bloom

    I’m so excited to look these products out and hopefully try a few! Thanks for the recommendations.

  • Valerie

    I need some of these in my life. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Sarah @ Hello Brick Row

    Ugh, YES. I met a new friend last year and when I hugged him goodbye, I insisted on knowing what scent he had on. In fact, I punched him in the arm and yelled “WHAAAAAAT ARE YOU WEARING?” because a) wine and b) it’s hands down the sexiest scent that’s ever been in my nose. Turns out it was Le Labo Santal 33. Next time I’m in NYC I’m snagging some for sure, as my friend has moved to LA and I don’t know how I’ll live without it.

  • Pachi

    So amazing of you to take the time to write this post. After two pregnancies my beauty routine has tanked considerably, but you just inspired me to reclaim it again, i have triedsome of these products and see the obsession one might have with some of these. A grateful reader.

  • Teah

    Awesome! Can’t wait to try that mascara. I’ve been searching and searching for a go-to without any luck. Also, curious as to what brush or comb you use. Been told not to brush after the shower/when hair is wet, but my hair is really thick and wavy/curly, so it seems to need it! Any advice there?

  • Tori / My Om Life

    Such good recommendations! Can’t wait to try applying my foundation with a brush! And also stoked about trying Fat and the Moon deodorant. I was gifted some of Aesop’s Resurrection Hand Balm and LOVED it until I discovered it contained wheat in the ingredients, which was not doing good things for the gluten-intolerant skin irritations on my hands. Thought I’d share for other GF people out there. Thanks James!

    Much love,

  • Meg

    I love this post– such good info! I really appreciate the deodorant recommendation– so excited to try it!

  • Adrienne

    Just curious how the cleansing oils you mentioned compare with good ol’ fashioned Ponds?

    Also love your ombre. Did they lift the color or add?

    • Kelli

      Despite accolades in fashion magazines, this isn’t a must-have facial oil, at least if you’re looking for great skin care. Instead of exposing your skin to the numerous irritants this oil contains, try applying plain sweet almond, apricot, olive, or evening primrose oil to dry areas. You’ll see the benefits this product can provide but eliminate the risk of irritation (and save a lot of money, it’s $150/oz, absolutely ridiculous).

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