52 Faces: Kelly Dawson

by Megan Beauchamp

eHow editor Kelly Dawson is down-to-earth, quick-witted and always has the best podcast recommendations. Today, she shares her beauty routine, including the ultra flattering (and affordable!) lip stain she swears by, the post-shower ritual everyone should try, and the reason why shopping for makeup at the drugstore is so much better than visiting the makeup counter at a department store.

What's your daily skincare routine?

I have always been a little restless when it comes to a skin care routine — I want it to be as quick as possible so that I can get to bed or eat breakfast that much faster. The most consistent aspect of my routine is that I always do it while listening to music. In the mornings, I usually play Van Morrison or Toots and the Maytals while washing my face with Cetaphil. At night, I look forward to taking off my makeup with Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes — the cucumber and sage scent is so calming. Then, it's Cetaphil again, Burt's Bees scrub, and Stevie Wonder. Yes, I listen to the same music as a lot of dads. I try to use Boots Botanics Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask twice a week, just to keep blemishes at bay.

What makeup do you wear regularly?

My sister and closest friends can attest to this: I am extremely minimal when it comes to makeup. It's not that I don't like it, or that I'm jumping on the #nomakeup trend — I simply prefer to keep it light. But, I did learn a thing or two when my sister got married last year and I realized that those wedding photos would be around for-ev-er. I love Smashbox's photo finish primer water because nothing will wake you up faster than a spray of water to the face. I follow that up with Tarte's liquid foundation and Revlon’s powder blush in Racy Rose. For anything that needs a cover-up, I stick to Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. Genetics did me a solid by giving me long, full lashes, so if I do wear mascara, I use clear mascara to give ‘em an extra lift — it also saves me from wondering if any has rubbed off under my eyes during the day. Sometimes I wear Benefit BADgal lash mascara when I’m feeling fancy.

Since my makeup is basic, I try to keep my eyebrows in check. That's where a brush and a Tweezerman comes into play. Lastly, I'm a big fan of Revlon's balm stain in Romantic because I legitimately can't mess it up: I usually apply it while singing in the car. And speaking of products you can find in drugstores, I have been using Olay's Complete All Day Moisturizer and night cream — especially on my neck, thanks to Nora Ephron — for more than a decade, and it's not going anywhere. And maybe this isn’t makeup, but my get-up isn’t complete with a few sprays of Marc Jacobs perfume, another reliable mainstay.

i'm starting a series called, "girl sitting on a long bench by herself."

A photo posted by Kelly Dawson (@atthecrosswalk) on

How would you describe your approach to beauty?

This may change as I get older, but my approach to beauty is very casual. I don't necessarily feel like myself when I'm all done up, and I like knowing that my makeup essentials can fit comfortably in a carry-on bag. Also, I will never get tired of visiting a drugstore for some products because I love that I can pick them up alongside a few magazines — plus, drugstores play pretty great 80s and 90s throwbacks. I want to do everything I can to keep my skin looking bright and clear naturally, so I try to drink a ton of water every day, keep my sugar intake to a minimum, and wear sunscreen. It's a very straightforward approach, perhaps even a little boring, but I like simplicity.

Are there any hair care products you swear by?

I have naturally curly hair, but in true grass-is-greener fashion, I like it straight. So, I swear by a solid hair straighter. I spray my hair with Bumble and Bumble's Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Primer before getting to work, and finish up with Biosilk Silk Therapy to keep things smooth (tip: the travel size option lasts such a long time, and you can obviously take it anywhere). I'm also a big fan of free tools women already own — hands! I love hair that's just a little bit messy, and nothing looks more effortlessly cool to me than locks that have been tousled by the flick of a few fingers.

What's the last product you used until there was nothing left?

Believe it or not, I use Chapsticks until they're nothing but sad, little empty tubes. I keep a bunch of them all over the place — in my favorite pairs of jeans (always a risk on laundry day), in my desk, my purse, and so on. My one desert island non-essential item would be lip balm because I can't stand when I have dry lips.

stripes on stripes.

A photo posted by Kelly Dawson (@atthecrosswalk) on

Are you a bath or shower woman?

Showers all the way. I once tried to see if I was wrong about this and made a very nice bath for myself, but then quickly discovered that it's definitely not for me. The water gets too cold too fast, the pages of a book get wet, the potential for slipping increases, and I start wondering what would happen if that lit candle fell over. I know, my imagination doesn't lend itself well to relaxation. I shower with Dr. Bronner's lavender soap, and I've convinced myself that the scent makes me just as relaxed as if I were in a bath.

How do you take your coffee?

I relate a lot to Anthony Bourdain when it comes to coffee: I want it black, I want it hot, and I want it fast. And in keeping with the Bourdain sentiment, my affection for black coffee came from my travels: I wanted to be able to order it wherever I was without much hassle. I drink a cup in the morning and maybe a half a cup in the afternoon, and I particularly love when I can drink it outside. Every once in awhile I’ll make an exception, but it will never include foam or designs — I’m just not into it.

let's go back to the beginning of summer.

A photo posted by Kelly Dawson (@atthecrosswalk) on

What's something you haven't tried yet but would love to?

I’m happiest when I feel like I’m on an adventure. I love being on the road, I don’t mind long flights, and I think the best sleep I’ve ever gotten was on an overnight train (I feel like I’m writing a love letter to Bourdain right now. Hey, Tony.). I’ve been lucky enough to have lived and travelled abroad, but lately I find myself more interested in what America has to offer than what can be seen overseas. I want to visit Grand Teton National Park, and I really want to eat to my heart’s content in New Orleans and Nashville.

What are you currently listening to?

I take the coastal road to work every day, and I think it's so fun to roll down the windows, open the sunroof, and blast fun, cheesy songs like this one (you’re welcome). On the way home, I am a big fan of listening to the podcast "Death, Sex and Money" — it's not as scandalous as it sounds. I love how the host, Anne Sale, has such heartfelt and thought-provoking conversations with her subjects. I may or may not cry... sometimes.

and i want to paint it black.

A photo posted by Kelly Dawson (@atthecrosswalk) on

What's one thing you do every day that makes you feel great?

A few years ago, I was staying with a friend in Portland who spent a good portion of her mornings in a very plush robe. Ever since then, I've followed in her example. Everyone, spend a least a few minutes a day in a cozy robe. It feels indulgent even when it's not because I got my robe from Costco. Shoutout to Costco — I love you, Costco! My post-shower ritual is to put on a robe and read the New York Times, or a chapter of a book. Again, I seem to have a lot in common with middle-aged dads.

What's the best beauty tip you've learned from your mom?

When I think about my mom's beauty routine, minimal makeup and a bold red lip comes to mind. Clearly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But it's funny, when I think about her drawer of red lipsticks, I envision her smile. My mom has a very infectious personality—she is always the first person on the dance floor and never misses an opportunity to tell a joke. I think she taught me how inner and outer beauty are intertwined: There's no point in wearing a beautiful red lip if you have nothing kind to say. But, at the same time, don't let your style speak for you — have the confidence to back it up.

my maid of honor dress made me feel like a guest of gatsby -- but our post-wedding bash was way more fun!

A photo posted by Kelly Dawson (@atthecrosswalk) on

If you could grab cocktails with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you order?

OK, I am going to make a caveat to this question by using two people who have the same first name. I would get margaritas with Maya Rudolph in a dark corner booth somewhere, and she can talk really loud in her Oprah impression and make everyone think that Oprah is drunk in a corner booth somewhere. Secondly, I would order bourbon with Maya Angelou (don’t you think she probably drank bourbon once upon a time?) and I’d listen to her thoughts on love and family and courage. Right before our second round, I'd ask her to read "The Health Food Diner" because it always makes me smile. I also just love the sound of her voice.

When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?

I feel the most comfortable in my own skin when I'm barefoot and in jeans. If that's not the most Southern California girl answer to this question, then I don't know what is.

...but sideways glances are totally cool.

A photo posted by Kelly Dawson (@atthecrosswalk) on

Be sure to follow Kelly on Instagram and check back next week for the latest installment of 52 Faces, a weekly series that spotlights a real woman's beauty routine. Last week, eHow contributor and lifestyle blogger Gaby Burger shared her beauty secrets, fitness routine and more, including the affordable French shampoo she swears by and the most beloved item of clothing in her wardrobe. Read the whole feature here.

About the Author

Megan Beauchamp is a lifestyle editor at eHow. Her writing has appeared on Bustle, The Kind, Brit+Co., and BUST, among others.