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How to Look Good When You Feel Like Crap, From a Beauty Editor with Depression

She’s got decades of therapy and beauty-product testing on her résumé. Her regimen works when you just want to hide but have to show up.
A woman's eye looking through a hole in a giant leaf
Drew Dizzy Graham/Unsplash

If this were “Dear Abby,” our source might be Depressed Beauty, but here at Mental we don’t use mental health conditions as adjectives. So we’ll just call her X (we’re also super clever).

And though she’d rather not state her name, what she’s not keeping to herself is the good stuff: this get-ready-quick-with-the-least-effort-possible regimen, which she uses when depression has spiked but she’s got to see people and be presentable.

The tl;dr: Creams that go on fast and smooth, mascara bristles that leave no clumps, shades that subtly brighten, and nail color that doesn’t require 80 coats and an hour under the dryer. Now for the full details—her direct words, uncensored.


Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water, $16.99

“Depressed people need wipes, but my skin has been really reactive lately, so I use this micellar water with cotton rounds. It’s actually easy and doesn’t feel like any more of a job than using a wipe. And it doesn’t leave a film like a lot of wipes do. You can immediately slap on moisturizer.”

MENTAL NOTE: If you prefer wipes, we recommend Yes To Cucumbers Calming Facial Wipes, $11.95, which are wet enough to feel like you’ve actually cleansed but not greasy so there’s no residue left on skin. Oh, and they’re gentle enough to remove eye makeup, too.


St. Tropez Gradual Tan Classic Daily Youth Boosting Cream, $29

“For when I’m not catatonic, so I look like I actually socialize and go outside a little, because maybe I’m sickly pale or maybe have redness from rosacea. It’s moisturizing and gives a nice glow and you can apply it every day or whenever you can deal with the effort to look like you’ve joined the living. (It also has a molecule in it that eats the self-tanner rank smell, Pac Man-style.)”

Dry Shampoo

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, $18

“Most dry shampoo leaves my hands feeling gross and coated when I touch my hair. My fave is Klorane Dry Shampoo because it seems to be the best at actually sucking up oil and not just mattifying my hair.”

GOTTA READ: 5 Signs of Depression That’ll Make You Say WUT


Revlon PhotoReady Candid Glow Foundation, $10.78

“A cream foundation in an easy squeeze tube that brightens your skin without screaming ‘makeup.’ Takes five seconds to apply and looks great.”


Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, $31

“This is not playin’! Comes in a wand form, like lip gloss, and it’s very creamy, doesn’t cake, but really disguises dark circles, puffiness from crying, and rosacea (let it dry for 10 seconds, then pat over it)—which I get when I’m anxious and/or depressed.”

Eye Shadow

Thrive Causemetics Brilliant Eye Brighteners, $24 each

“They’re roll-up cream eyeshadow sticks that you just scribble on your lids (I use Anise, a bronze, there, and I don’t find I need to blend) and at the inner corners of your eyes (I use Stella, a slightly shimmery champagne) to look less dead when you feel dead inside. And they’re kind to animals, which I love. Can’t rave about these enough.”


CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume, $5.43

“Easy to put on and layer, with silicone bristles, and it does not clump. Layer it for longer lashes and drag it out at the outer lashes to look more alive than you actually feel. Plus, it’s Leaping Bunny-certified.”

MENTAL NOTE: Leaping Bunny is a third-party certification that means a product wasn’t tested on animals.

Brow Groomer

Benefit Gimme Brow+ Tinted Volumizing Eyebrow Gel, $24

“If I really want to look like I have a look (without dealing with eyeliner, which is major effort), I run Benefit Gimme Brow through my overtweezed brows. It’s like a little mascara wand loaded with creamy pigments and fibers to thicken your brows in a few seconds. And way more natural than other similar products.”

Cheek & Lip Color

Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks, $35

“It’s got a nice creamy texture, not the dry type you have to warm up by whipping it around forever to get it to smear nicely on your skin. I just rub two fingers against it and then blend with the same two fingers for about two seconds. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll also dab it over my lips. Lips are so high-maintenance, but I sometimes use Burt’s Bees Tinted Balms.”

MENTAL NOTE: If you prefer not touching your lips with your fingers, try Glossier Generation G Sheer Matte Lipstick, $18. Swipe it over the center of lips and press together—done.

Nail Polish

Deborah Lippmann Gel Pro Lab in Baby Love, $20

“For fingernails that don’t require effort, when I’m not catatonic I brush on one coat of this. It’s the perfect sheer natural shade for any skin tone and just makes your nails look a little finished—not painted. Wearing something on my nails helps me pick at my nails and fingers less (a bad anxious habit). It’s 7-free and lasts well, even without topcoat.”

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