MSA is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read the full disclosure.

My Daily Makeup Routine: 2021 vs 2020

I think when you are a makeup and beauty addict, changing up your routine is just part of adding to your collection. And it is a lot of fun! But, for me, something a little more drastic happened between 2020 and 2021 in terms of my favorite types of formulas, and the levels of coverage I am comfortable wearing every day. I really approach my daily look in a completely different way.

Here is how my daily makeup has changed:

Concealer

NOW: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops – Buy for $34.00

Ok, ok, I know these Glow Recipe drops are totally not concealer. But I haven’t been wearing any! Instead, I have been using these drops for a radiance boost that camouflages imperfections instead of covering them up. They also provide a great base for my makeup and a nice dose of anti-redness niacinamide.

THEN: Billion Dollar Brows Flash & Filter: Highlighter & Concealer – Buy for $18.00

I still love this effortless concealer. It has two shades and is creamy and perfect for using a little or a lot (see below). I will still totally utilize this stuff on fancier days or extra spotty days, but for now I am fine without it.

Obviously, this is a drastic change. I used to use A LOT of concealer! (I promise I blended out these stripes too.)

Foundation / Base

NOW: Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm – Buy for $36.00

I absolutely love this stuff. Somehow it is the perfect shade for me and evens out my skintone without adding a lot of coverage. And it has SPF30 inside which is a major plus in my book.

THEN: IT Cosmetics CC+ Full -Coverage Cream with SPF 50+ – Buy for $39.50

While I still really love this formula, I just don’t need full coverage anymore. Maybe I never did? Hmm. It does get extra points for being an SPF50 cream though!

I feel like you can see the difference here. Both sides look nice, but the CC cream on the right is obviously heavier and almost enhances my pore size and texture. The BB cream on the left has a radiant finish and smooths my texture.

Powder

NOW: * crickets *

Well, I don’t use powders daily anymore. I still can see myself applying them if I need my makeup to last all day, but for the most part, I don’t need that right now.

THEN: Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Setting Powder – Buy for $34.00

This is such a great powder if you do need one! It is light, non-cakey, and the puff applicator combined with the mesh sifter inside makes for a perfect application every single time.

Blush

NOW: Glossier Cloud Paint in ‘Puff’ – Buy for $18.00

2019 Megan was very anti-cream blush, mainly because they didn’t work well over my heavier foundation and powder under or on top of a formula like this was a mess. Since I use a lighter BB cream these days and no powder, cream blushes help me create this very natural flush that I love! Glossier’s formula is more like a creamy gel, but it isn’t thick at all, allowing me to use just a little for a hint of pink or more to build up the color.

THEN: Kat Von D Lolita Blush & Eyeshadow

I was sad to find this shade was discontinued because it is such a goodie! Both a lip and cheek formula, this dusty brick pink is sexy and so wearable. I have to be a little light-handed on my cheeks, but I always loved applying it with a larger fluffy brush. Even though I don’t wear a lot of powdered blush right now, I will be keeping this one for the days I do!

I still love both of these looks. And since most of you know I am a blush addict, I am sure I will continue to use both cream and powder, though cream is my preference right now.

Highlighter

NOW: Benefit Cosmetics Dandelion Twinkle Highlighter – Buy for $30.00

THEN: Benefit Cosmetics Dandelion Twinkle Highlighter – Buy for $30.00

FOREVER: Benefit Cosmetics Dandelion Twinkle Highlighter – Buy for $30.00

This has been my favorite highlighter for years and I don’t see that ever changing. It is just the perfect balance of radiance and shimmer, and it is milled so finely that it never feels like too much. It also smells so good and applies just as well with a brush as it does with my fingertips.

I love you, always, forever.

Eyeshadow

NOW: Habit Cosmetics BRIGHT LIGHTS Vegan + Organic Creme Highlighter in ‘Starchild’ – Buy for $28.00

I am obsessed with cream formulas that can be worn as shadows or highlighters. This is my current favorite because I think the lilac shade is so cute and its an easy and subtle way to wear purple lids. The formulas also feels more gentle to the delicate skin of my eyelids.

THEN: A Powder Shadow Palette (the one used in this post is the now discontinued Too Faced Palm Springs Dreams Palette)

Don’t get me wrong. I am still absolutely obsessed with my big, fun, and colorful powder shadow palettes! They just feel more like a special occasion sort of deal for me now. They also require a little more time and finesse than my creams.

While both of these shades and formulas are flattering, I can’t recommend trying out cream formulas enough if you have been on the fence! I think you will love them too.

Mascara

NOW: PAT McGRATH LABS FetishEyes Lengthening Mascara – Buy for $30.00

This is a newer obsession thanks to my recent IPSY Glam Bag X delivery. It is a very easy mascara to love. It has a great scent (weird but worth mentioning), creates length and volume with one swipe, and doesn’t irritate my eyes over time. The look here is a little more whispy and natural that I used to aim for, but I love how it opens my eyes.

THEN: Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara – Buy for $26.00

This mascara adds a little more volume and drama than my new favorite, so if you still want that big bold black lash look, I highly recommend this mascara still.

You can really see the difference here along the lash line.

Brows

NOW: Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel – Buy for $24.00

THEN: Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel – Buy for $24.00

No real change here. I cheat on my Gimmie Brow sometimes with Glossier’s Boy Brow, but I always come home. Just a few flicks and my patchy brows are filled in beautifully while still looking a little wild and bushy.

It’s great for just a little shaping and filling.

Lips

NOW: Glossier Balm Dotcom – Buy for $12.00

This is such a basic product but I love it dearly. Especially since I wear a mask so often now and I hate when the inside is covered in lipstick smears! The shade above was a limited edition but most of the Balm Dotcom flavors have a fun little tint to them. They add just enough color without creating a mess inside my mask or across my face.

THEN: Touch in Soul Pretty Filter Soul Velvet Lipstick in ‘Seoul Rose’ – Buy for $16.00

Hey, you all know I am all about a bold lip. It might be my favorite makeup statement! Alas, right now it just isn’t working. The last time I wore a bight lip under a mask I ended up with all over the tip of my nose!

I am really looking forward to the days coming soon where I can rock these bold shades every single day!

2021 vs 2020

I still love both of these looks. And, frankly, 2020 taught me a lot about how much makeup I need to wear vs how much I enjoy wearing. I learned I actually don’t need a ton of coverage when it comes to foundation, and that my face looks and feels better with something on the sheer side. I also learned to love the versatility and comfort of cream formulas, especially ones that have multi-uses. I think last year was about me learning to lean into a “myself, but better” approach to makeup, though I am looking forward to 2021 bringing more occasions to go all out with shadows again and rock those bright lips!

Has your daily makeup routine changed from 2020 to 2021? What products did you leave behind? What are your new favorites?

Written by Megan Kirkland

Megan Kirkland

I love natural/vegan beauty products, Korean skincare, unique jewelry, and weird candies from far away places. When I am not waiting for my next exciting box you can find me painting or taking photographs of interesting people. I never leave home without pug hair somewhere on my shirt and a bold lipstick on my smile.

Comments (45)

  1. This is exactly the kind of article I LOVE to find on MSA.com after I ready through all the beauty spoilers and reviews!

    I really like the “A year of” articles too!

    • We’re very happy to hear that. Thank you for those kind words, Dany!

  2. This was so great!! I love seeing the difference.

    Just curious how others with oily skin have changed up their makeup routine through the pandemic? It seems like pairing down products and going with a more natural dewy look is all the rage and definitely looks young and fresh. I can’t find a BB or CC cream that isn’t greasy in 5 minutes with my oily skin. Most shy away from powder because it is aging, but that’s the only way I can make it through the day without makeup literally melting off my face.

    Is it possible to refresh your look and go lighter if you have oily skin? I would love any advice. If I need a look to last until I get to the office or zoom meeting, it must be the full routine –mattifying primer, oil-free foundation, powder, and setting spray. I’m not fond of all the steps now or then.

  3. Both looks are flattering, but the post Covid look makes you look younger. You skin looks incredibly healthy! And now I want that mascara.

  4. Great post! Enjoyed seeing the difference in the two sides. I loved the way the Dr. Jart looks on your skin. Thanks.

  5. Great post!

    I occasionally use Dr. Jart BB Cream in the gold tube. I can’t stand foundations or most base products (that It CC Cream was way too thick!), but the Dr. Jart is perfect. Only a tiny amount covers any redness and has a natural finish!

    I’m still wearing lipstick (very carefully) under my mask lol. Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink and Sephora Brand Cream Lip Stain work well.

  6. Great post! I have seen a drastic change in my makeup use over the last year… Mainly only wearing foundation these days since all of my interactions are over zoom. I’m going to pick up the BB cream you mentioned and a few things from Glow Recipe to try! Still too hesitant to try cream blushes 🙂

  7. I am also a fan of the Benefit Dandelion Twinkle & Gimme Brow. I wear these everyday! I love the cream shadow on you !

  8. Why bother commenting? She doesn’t follow up on any comments to her posts.

    • Hi Colleen.

      Actually, I generally try to respond to comments. It’s just that I don’t monitor them every single day because a lot of my time is spent writing content, working on non-MSA projects, or simply taking the occasional day off. I am sure that over the last few years, some posts have fallen through the cracks, but it certainly isn’t ever my intention.

      I generally am also offline over the weekend, but I happened to see this comment and wanted to give you some background that I hope provided some clarity to you.

      Hope that helped and that you have a great weekend!

  9. Megan, you really know your colors and what works best for you!!!👍❤️😊

    • Thanks, Stephanie! I feel like I need to get maybe a little more adventurous but its going to have to wait until maybe 2022 haha!

  10. I love this! I feel like the only person on earth who’s been wearing more make-up since the pandemic. Suddenly all my clients expected Zoom meetings instead of phone calls and I feel like I look so wretched without makeup on camera. I used to feel fine going to work with nothing on my face, but when I have to see myself on screen every day, I can’t do it. My new challenge is readjusting my make-up for in person. I’ve mastered what looks good for my camera with the lighting at my desk, but I’m going to have to modify it when we return to the office and people can see me up close and from all angles.

    • I def have a few Zoom secrets! It always involved way too much highlighter. But it looks great over the screen 😂

      • Megan you should do a post on your zoom secrets. Please!

    • Same here! I don’t wear much make-up but definitely more for Zoom.

  11. Both looks look amazing, Megan! Mine hasn’t really changed. I’ve always only used concealer for my under eye circles and then just my eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. I still use blush and a little highlighter. When I do wear lipstick I’ve always used liquid matte so I still use it sometimes. I like knowing that I have lipstick on hidden under my mask. Plus, it doesn’t transfer so I don’t have to worry about it getting everywhere under my mask.

    I have stepped up my skincare game. I have so much from my subscription boxes and it has been fun experimenting. I’ve discovered items that are now my HG and I’ll continue to use.

    • Hey, the esthy in me is thrilled to hear the skincare game is even more of a priority!
      I need to dig out my mattes and try your lipstick under the mask trick. I bet it is a confidence booster!

  12. This is a great, really fun post. I like the updated look a lot

  13. What a fun post! Thank you so much for doing this. Like the commenter above, I really enjoy seeing what all of you reviewers “actually” use on a day to day basis. Since you have access to so many products and try it all, to me it is fascinating to see what you cull from everything as your actual go-to’s.

    I am going to order the niacinamide drops right now. They really give you a lovely glow! I also have mild rosacea and I’ve struggled with acne my entire life so I’m hoping they will work for me as well. Thank you again! 🙂

    • You are welcome JoJoB! It was a lot of fun. The drops are one of my favorite 2021 purchases! I bought them on a whim (someone gifted me a Sephora card) so they were a blind, non-box tested purchase. I hope you love them too!

  14. I recently discovered the Puff glossier Cloud Paint, and I love it! I also really like the Benetint blushes from Benefit. Not sure which I like more. Anyone have a preference?

    • Oooooh this is hard. I also love the original benetint! But I think the cloud paint inches out a little because the cream is easier for me to work with. Which is.. totally a user error issue and not a reflection of the product of course!

  15. Not only was this fun, but it was super useful especially since you guys review SO much. I love seeing your go-tos and the different looks on your face. I would love to see more posts like this!!!

    • Hi Boxy Fox! I will totally pass your feedback on to the team. We are actively trying out fin new things like this so your feedback is appreciated. I will pass it on. ♥️

  16. Love this Megan! I have to say, I think your lighter 2021 look really brings out your natural beauty! ☺️

    • Thank you for doing this. ‘Now vs then’ is so true to these times. I try no to put color lipstick so it doesn’t get stuck on my mask.

    • Thanks, Brandi 🤗

  17. Sadly I had to leave lipstick behind as well. That is my favorite product to use. I know want to try the Dr. Jart BB cream. I tend to use those but I gave those up with mask wearing.
    I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing.

  18. I Love your 2021 look! It makes you look so healthy and naturally vibrant!

    I’ve actually gone the other way, pre-pandemic me was always pretty light on the makeup, I was just always in a rush and could rarely dedicate more than 5 minutes to a makeup routine in the mornings. But since I’ve been working from home, I’ve had more time to experiment and play around with makeup. It’s also easier to have a bright look on zoom (hides my less than perfect makeup application), but I’m worried it’ll look ridiculous once I’m back to in person social events again!

    • rach with all this time to practice I bet you are a lot better at it now than you realize and I’m sure you will look amazing when we are all back in public again!

      • Thanks JoJoB! 🙂

    • I bet you will look beautiful! Any new favorite products on your radar from all that practice?

  19. From me this would not be an interesting post because I haven’t worn a single bit of makeup since March 2020…

    I also haven’t worn anything but yoga pants, sweatpants, and pajama pants, plus t-shirts and Cat Lady Box hoodies in that time. Sports bras for exercise but no bras otherwise.

    Can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve brushed my hair, which is now down to my rear end and surprisingly not tangled. I have dyed it myself four whole times in twelve months.

    Didn’t do much in the way of skincare for most of 2020, back at it in 2021 mostly just to use products up. Haven’t worn contacts. Probably need a new glasses prescription.

    At least buying makeup is not a temptation right now.

    • Ugh, I still am super tempted. When I literally have NO business buying makeup or skincare. I have developed quite an affinity for loungewear though..

  20. Oh I just love this so much! And how funny….I was looking at 2016 vs 2021 make up looks featured in an article and wow am I glad things have settled down on the make up frontier lol.

    Quick note Megan. I think you are missing a word in the very first paragraph, last sentence 😊

    Any how, as someone who has pretty much worn a full face of make up since eighth grade, I have really eliminated a lot from my routine (due to the pandemic and just plain getting old.) I feel so much more free since I ditched the palettes and eyeliners, but I am loving that lilac cream shadow you are wearing, Megan!

    Taking good care of my skin has eliminated the need for extra concealer and heavy foundation as well but boy do I wish I can permanently eliminate redness!

    Again, this was such fun reading. Thanks for sharing your go-to products and I must say both “sides” look fresh and fantastic!

    • Thanks Snow. I think I got it. Honestly, I think all the words blend together at times!
      I cannot recommend that lilac shadow enough. I am kind of bummed it has been sold out recently. The Glossier lilac cream shade is a good dupe as far as I can tell.

      I am with you on fighting redness. Its hard! Maybe 2021 will have the answer for both of us!

  21. What a cool way to show then and now! I really enjoyed reading this, thank you Megan.

    • My pleasure, Indigo! Thanks for readng! ♥️

  22. The Dr. Jart looks absolutely beautiful on your skin and the other one looks heavier. Your new way looks like a healthy glow. Love both of the lip colors. Gimme Brow is also my go to no matter what. I really liked this comparison.

    • What an interesting post! I haven’t worn makeup hardly since the beginning of the pandemic. I wear makeup maybe once or twice a week since March ‘20. Your skin looks flawless! I just can’t give up setting powders.

    • Happy to hear it was a fun read! I will also forever love Gimmie Brow. If it goes away I will be lost.

  23. I loved this, Megan! Thanks for sharing!
    To anyone who loves the Benefit Gimme Brow gel like Megan (or anyone who wants to try it), it’s currently 50% off today only at both Ulta and Sephora 🙂

    • Thanks Jessica! I had just run out- so I picked one up. Along with the Sunscreen set that had been sitting in my cart for a week. 😊

    • I managed to snag one. Never a bad idea to have a backup. Thank you!

Please do not enter your email address in the Name field or in the comment content!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Remember to post with kindness and respect. Comments with offensive language, cruelness to others, etc will not be approved. See our full comment policy here.