The first time I tried makeup, I was 11 or 12 years old and I attended a Mary Kay party with my mother. It was at my aunt’s house, a place as a kid I considered to be a mansion with all of its white furniture, curving staircase, and a catwalk. I don’t remember who was at this Mary Kay party, but I would imagine my grandmother and other aunts were in attendance, eating mini cucumber sandwiches and drinking iced tea as we tried tiny samples of lipstick. I had never worn makeup before, but I had always seen my mother’s light pink compacts of blush, a soft rectangle of rouge for her cheeks. At this party, my mother let me try a few items—blush, a pale lipgloss, maybe a little eyeshadow even. The glamorous family member throwing the party applied the makeup for me and then revealed my new look, bragging on my youthful skin. She had only applied two or three items of makeup, but I remember feeling glamorous. Like a grown-up. Like a lady.
After this party, my eyeshadow game took a turn for the worst (dark grey eyeshadow and white highlighter, so popular in the 90s and early 2000s), but I still used several Mary Kay products. I remember a perfume and skincare line called Velocity (that not longer exists) that I loved. It came in this orange shimmery bottle and I was clearly cooler than anyone else at school when I packed that around in my sequined bag from Gadzooks.
I slowly moved on from Mary Kay products, but I still know those pink Cadillacs when I see them. So when I was approached by Karhlee Zambos to try some skincare and makeup from Mary Kay, I was definitely intrigued. Karhlee is a twenty-something, she’s not an old lady with clip on earrings. She’s young and stylish and has awesome tattoos and loves Harry Potter. How could she be a Mary Kay lady?
I met with Karhlee over coffee first, and we instantly clicked. She told me she works for Mary Kay full time now, and explained to me all the amazing perks and quality of the business. She loves what she does, and seeing a young woman who is completely self-sufficient with a direct sales job is pretty remarkable. There’s a reason this company has been around for so long — there products are classic, and they give back to their employees and to millions of other women.
Karhlee invited me to her brand new apartment to try some products and meet her #girlboss, Jamie Taylor, a National Sales Director for Mary Kay. When I was arriving at Karhlee’s apartment, I followed a big pink Cadillac down the street — of course, that was Jamie.
Jamie was warm, bubbly, and extremely knowledgeable about the products we tried and Mary Kay as a company. They asked me about my skin, what type of makeup I typically wear, and how I wanted my skin to feel. I explained that I am a skincare junkie, and love to try new products. With that being said, I was truly impressed with the skincare I tried. It made me wonder why I hadn’t been using it for the last 15 years.
Karhlee set us up in her adorable sun room (great lighting), with a delicious-smelling candle and fresh flowers. First, I tried their classic 3-in-1 Cleanser, which is a gentle face wash that is good for every day, twice a day. I loved how creamy it felt on my skin, while it gently exfoliates. They also had me try the Day Solution, which is an SPF you apply underneath of your moisturizer. It is super lightweight and sinks right into the skin. I also tried the Night Solution on the back of my hand, which is a gel formula with tiny microcapsules of vitamins and antioxidants that burst when you apply it. Again, this felt very light and refreshing to my skin. On top of the Day Solution, I applied their classic Age-Fighting Moisturizer (it’s never too early, right?). I have dry skin, so I need hydration, but nothing too thick. I loved how this moisturizer gave me a fresh glow without feeling greasy.
At this point, I was feel refreshed and new, thinking that this Mary Kay experience was totally different from what I remembered. And then, Jamie whipped out the Extra Emollient Night Cream and I was instantly transported to my aunt’s living room again. The pink salve’s distinct smell shook me so hard that I think I may have jumped a little bit when Karhlee applied it to my hand. “I’m having a memory,” I said. “I am in my aunt’s living room right now.” That smell took me back to my memories of Mary Kay and family gatherings and the old ladies I so love. Jamie told me this product has remained the same since the 1960’s when it was invented, and is the reason so many of our grandmother’s look so beautiful and radiant into their old age. She said its smell always takes her back to her childhood when her grandmother would kiss her goodnight. This classic is here to stay. It can be used as a heavy nightly moisturizer, for dry elbows or cuticles, pretty much anything. And it’s only $14, which I find insane. (Spoiler alert: This one is going in my shopping cart for sure.)
Karhlee offered me the Satin Lips mask to try, which goes on thick and white and makes you look as crazy as you think. But it totally works. I left that on for a few minutes while we tried their Microdermabrasion scrub on our elbows. This would be a once-a-week step for your skin, as it is a rougher treatment. However, Jamie informed me of something interesting regarding microdermabrasion scrubs. She said that typically these scrubs use particles that are square in shape, which actually cause microscopic tears in your skin, which causes that redness after such treatments. But the Mary Kay version uses spherical particles, which do not tear at the skin. I only practiced with this product on my elbow, but it did not feel too rough, which is nice. Also, my left elbow is still ten times smoother than my right.
After a few minutes, I removed the lip mask and my lips looked and felt softer and more supple. I applied the lip balm that comes with the Satin Lips kit, and absolutely loved how rich it was. This will be a must-have for the cold winter months.
We moved onto makeup, which Jamie and Karhlee told me would be their classic “Dash Out the Door” look. Karhlee explained to me that Mary Kay is really modeled for women on the go (aka every woman alive today), and at this point in my life, that’s the kind of products I need. I used to do my eyeliner every single day, or rock purple eyeshadow like it was my job; but now, I need products that are versatile and easy and last for a million hours. After applying their Foundation Primer, the ladies matched me up with their CC Cream in the shade “light to medium.” They explained that their CC creams only come in five shades, but use color-matching technology to match your skin. Karhlee said she only needs one shade year-round, which I find amazing. That is one of the most annoying things about foundation to me, so the idea that I wouldn’t need several different shades is pretty great. I loved how this CC cream felt on my skin, and it never felt greasy or caked on. I told Karhlee and Jamie that my biggest skin concern was my dark circles under my eyes, because they are always there, no matter how much sleep I get. I have allergy problems all the time, so I just stay dark under my eyes. They recommended the Under Eye Corrector, which comes in one peachy shade to help counteract the blueness of dark circles. Guys. I have tried hundreds (not exaggerating) of concealers, and this is in the top three. It didn’t look like I had on concealer, but I looked away and refreshed. I was definitely impressed.
I use a little bronzer, blush, and brow gel every day, so Jamie recommended the right things to match up with that routine. I tried their Bronzing Powder, which is a nice matte finish that adds just enough warmth to the face. Karhlee also talked me into trying a cream blush, their Cheek Tint in Razzleberry, which I also really liked. It was easy to blend and would be perfect for travel. Next up was the Brow Definer Pencil and I seriously couldn’t get over how good it was. It went on so easily, was easy to blend, and didn’t smudge. The Brow Gel is clear and holds everything in place without feeling too tacky or glued down.
For eyeshadow, Karhlee recommended their Cream Eyeshadows in the shade Iced Cocoa (a golden bronze) and Beach Blonde (a cream highlighting shade). These are super easy to just swipe on and go, which I love. Then, I tried the Ultimate Mascara which went on nice and smooth, and I definitely felt like it separated my lashes well. I like my mascara to be a little more thickening, but I only applied one coat, so another coat may have fixed that.
After all of this, I finally got to what I was most excited about in the makeup line: lipstick. Karhlee and Jamie had a ton of lipsticks for me to choose from, but thinking of the upcoming fall season, I chose a darker shade, Crushed Berry, in the Semi-Matte formula. Both Karhlee and Jamie were wearing this formula and it looked beautiful on them. I love the idea of a matte lipstick that doesn’t feel drying, so this was a true winner for me. One in every color, please. *insert lipstick emoji here*
Karhlee finally spritzed my face with a little Finishing Spray, which is made by the same company that makes the Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray, which retails for nearly twice the price. Go figure.
Mary Kay is no longer just a brand of my grandmother’s generation. Karhlee and Jamie showed me a new, modern side to it, and while the company still boasts many of its classic products, they are classics for a reason. There’s something adorably southern about using Mary Kay, and I don’t mind being included in that demographic. If you have been writing off Mary Kay as outdated or old, consider this my official endorsement. Give it a try. It might surprise you.