I Tried Kim Kardashian's Makeup Routine — & Here’s What Happened

Photographed by Martin Mendizabal
Instagram: @meiammartin
I'm a total beauty novice when compared to most of my coworkers. In fact, my makeup routine hasn’t changed much since high school — tinted moisturizer, a little bronzer, some smudgy gray eyeliner, and drugstore mascara is all I wear on the regular. In most cases, I'm still using the exact same formulas, too.

What's more, when I landed my job at Refinery29 as an associate social media editor, working alongside our beauty team, I barely knew what contouring was and could have confused a Beautyblender for a marshmallow Peep. Of course, that changed quickly, but my makeup bag still hadn't.

Volunteering to try Kim Kardashian's makeup routine for a story? I thought of it as a personal challenge to understand what an in-depth morning-primping regime would be like. Plus, I'd likely discover some great new products. After all, if you’re looking to understand any subject, what better way to do so than to learn from the ultimate pro? Kim K. would be my makeup Socrates, and I, her impressionable Plato.

The Challenge
For five days straight, I used this story as a guide to navigating the contour queen's routine. Spoiler: It took upwards of 35 products per day to pull off — about 31 more than I normally opt for. Even with a few small substitutions (some of the products aren't available), this is, by far, the most I'll ever have in common with Kim K. — so let's jump right into how it went down.

Kim K. would be my makeup Socrates, and I, her impressionable Plato.

Day 1
Doing my makeup on the first day took me almost an hour. Since I didn't have an exact step-by-step tutorial — just the products and a brief description of how they're used — most of what I did was more of an educated guess than an exact science.

Let’s just say the learning curve was steep. I later realized I was using undereye concealer as a cream highlighter and brow powder as eyeshadow. My poor brushes were a hodgepodge of different colors from mixing and matching where I probably shouldn’t have. It became clear to me that I would need some extra guidance if I was going to get through this week without looking like a glittery Oompa Loompa.
Day 2
The next day I asked our beauty writer, Mi-Anne Chan, to walk me through the process in our office bathroom. She showed me how to dampen my Beautyblender, what areas to contour with bronzer, where to apply my highlighter, and more. But extra guidance didn't make me feel any more comfortable with all the extra makeup I was wearing — even if it was starting to look better. I realized this would take some adjusting in my mind, too.
Photographed by Nicola Pardy
Instagram: @nicolapardy

Day 3
By day three, I was feeling a bit more confident in what I was doing and the whole routine started to feel therapeutic. I would liken it to cooking — a calmness that results from being creative but also following a planned-out recipe. On this day, I figured out a setup that made the organization of the products a lot more enjoyable to work with, too. Sitting on the floor in front of my full-length mirror, surrounded by empty yogurt jars full of water to dampen my many brushes, I contentedly worked away — who’s to say I wasn’t an artist in the making?
Day 4
So, I got a little cocky. Instead of waking up an hour early to do my makeup, as I had on previous mornings, I convinced myself that 30 minutes would be sufficient. I was late for work and embarrassed that I had to text my team explaining why. Luckily, they took it well.

That evening, I rushed straight from the office to a hot-yoga class, forgetting I was, essentially, wearing an entire Sephora aisle on my face. Have you ever wondered what happens when you spend an hour in a 105-degree room wearing four different types of eyeliner and three eyeshadow shades? It’s not pretty, let me tell you. Which begs the question: What makeup does Kim Kardashian wear to work out? Perhaps that routine would best work as my everyday one? Note to self: Find out and try it.
Day 5
On my final day doing the routine, I asked myself why I still felt like such a farce. I looked at myself in the mirror before leaving for work: All week I had put thought into my outfits, but for this particular summer Friday I was wearing mom jeans, a flannel shirt, and my Chuck Taylors, with my hair pulled back in a messy bun. Yet my eyelids were glittery, cheeks sculpted, and lips lined.

I realized this: Makeup is all about context. Part of its transformative power is you being able to be who you want to be at the moment you want. When you rock red lips or a daring cat-eye, it’s because you’re expressing that part of your personality. Needless to say, on the days I wasn’t feeling, or dressing, for the Kim K. part, I looked, and felt, pretty silly.
Photographed by Martin Mendizabal
Instagram: @meiammartin
Final Thoughts
Did this experience make me rethink my entire makeup routine? Not really, but for the first time I am experimenting with defining my brows — and I am starting to play with a little light contouring. However, my real takeaway something even better.

Kim K.'s entire career is based on a persona that is constantly scrutinized in the public eye. Her life is luxe, but she doesn’t necessarily have the luxury of being able to present herself in a way that reflects how she’s feeling at all times. Never in my life did I think I’d be saying that she lacks a luxury I’m able to enjoy, but it's true. If I don't want to wear makeup, I don't really have to, and if I want to wake up early to zone out creating a beautifully sculpted look? That's cool, too.

The following Saturday night, I cooked dinner at home with some friends, and we made the last-minute decision to end the night at a party. In five minutes flat, I threw on a pair of shorts and my Chucks and was out the door — but I didn't touch my face. And you know what? It felt very luxurious.


More from Makeup