InTruBeauty: What I wished I knew then...Makeup for Beginners

Friday, January 27, 2012

What I wished I knew then...Makeup for Beginners

I am newer to the makeup junkie fold. I attribute this to going to an all girls school where no one cared about makeup or how they looked. We just wore sweats and pony tails and we loved it. I've always been kind of a mix between a girly girl and a sporty girl...if that makes sense. It's only been in the last couple years that my love for everything makeup has taken over. It has been about the last year to year in a half that I started wearing and buying higher end makeup....thanks a lot Justina!!!!! Justina has been a makeup junkie since middle school and I've learned a ton from her.

Here are the things I've learned in the last couple years that I wish I had known then. This post focuses more on preparation than application. I would suggest starting out to follow these steps. Don't worry at first about trying to figure out the perfect smokey dramatic eye, false lashes, mascara, etc. Start out with the basics for a natural look.

1. Your eyebrows are your everything
Your eyebrows shape the entire way your face looks. Well done eyebrows can make a world of difference. If you haven't plucked or waxed your eyebrows before, I would suggest going to a salon you trust and tell them that you want yours still very natural, but you basically want them to shape your brows. This will make it much easier to keep up with your brows by plucking. This will run you around $15, but it is well worth it. It is something where you will see instant results. A well shaped brow can lift up your eye area, making your eyes appear bigger. If you're lucky, you have a friend like Justina who is an expert at waxing and you can save yourself some money.

Once you have a great brow shape down, pencil this in by using light strokes. I highly recommend ybf universal taupe, $10-20 depending on packaging or Mabyelline Define a Brow, $5 range. Look at how much more lifted and larger my right eye looks than my left.

2. Blush
I use to think: "I have rosy cheeks, why on earth would I apply blush?" Now, blush is one of my absolute must haves before leaving the house. You can find so many great affordable blushes that will instantly brighten up your face and make you look healthier and more rested.

It seems kind of odd that I will first use foundation or powder to even out my skin tone and then add a red color onto what use to be my rosy cheeks. But this allows you to apply the color where you want it, giving you the look that you want. You can use blush to contour your face. Contoruing basically means using different colors (usually matte bronzers) to shape the way your face looks. You can also contour with blush.

The easiest way to apply blush is just to smile and apply it on the apples of your cheeks and brush this upwards to your temple. You want to bring the blush out to your hair line. You can also apply blush just on your cheek bone and then apply a highlighter color on top of that. Play around with blushes, bronzers, and highlighters, take pictures and look in the mirror to discover what looks best on you.

Great starter blush: Covergirl cheekers ($2-3), Phsycian's Formula happy booster blush in Rose ($9), E.l.f. Studio Blush Passion Pink ($3) or Fushia Fusion
Best upgrade blush: Benefit Belle Bamba, $28, The Balm Hot Mama  (retails $20, but I found a three piece set of the Balm products at TJ Maxx for $10 total including this blush!)

3. Contour
You are going to want to find a good matte bronzer to contour with. Again, contouring is using different powders (sometimes creams like ybf) to create contours in your face. The most common place to contour would probably be the hollows of your cheeks. Putting a darker color into that area makes it appear even more sunken in, giving your face a skinnier appearance.

Other places to contour include right under your chin and following through to the sides of your face and then lightly applying some powder downwards onto your neck. You can also contour at your hair line to make your forehead appear smaller or on the outsides of your nose. What contoruing you should use depends on what face shape you have and what you are trying to accomplish. I think a great starting point is to just apply the contour in the hollows of your cheeks for a slimmer look.

Best starter contour: NYC Bronzer in Sunny($2 range), Rimmel bronzer ($6 range)
Best upgrade contour: Too Faced Chocolate Soliel Bronzer ($30) and actually smells of chocolate!!

4. Highlight
A good highlight color is going to do wonders for you. You can apply this down the center of your nose to make your nose appear narrower, right underneath your eyebrow, the inner corners of your eye, cheek bone, power V area of your face (above eyebrow down to cheek bone in V shape), and your cupids bow. Basically anywhere you want the light to hit and reflect. Or the opposite almost of the contour.

Best starter highlight: Maybelline single eyeshadow in Champagne Fizz ($3) or Covergirl single eyeshadow in Champagne ($2). And yes apparently I own both of these and they are nearly the same color! Physician's Formula Mineral Glow Powder ($11)
Best upgrade highlight: The Balm Mary Lou iluminizer ($22-25 range), Benefit High Beam ($25 range)

Your can use products specifically meant to be highlighters or you can just use lighter shade eyeshadows.

5. Your skin is your canvas
If you're like me, you may have some artistic vision or ability, but not necessarily be able to get that down on paper or another more conventional way. Therefore, I put my creative instincts and love for playing with colors into makeup which can be an art form. :) This makes your skin your canvas.

The makeup, foundation, primer, and overall look that I do day to day depends on how my skin is looking.
Am I breaking out? Apply spot treatments like MAD Skincare acne gel or AcneFree spot treatment.
Is my skin dry? Apply a more moisturizing mineral based primer like bareMinerals face primer or mix my foundation with lotion. Avoid certain powder products.
Does my skin look very uneven? Use a neutralizing powder (usually yellow) and Estee Lauder Double Wear Light or Neutrogena Healthy Skin foundations.
Do I have dark circles underneath my eyes? Use Tarte Maracuja Concealer.

The better your skin looks, the better your makeup will look. So take great care of your skin and be sure to do an assessment in the morning so you know which products are going to improve your appearance and not make your face look worse. When my skin is looking good I may just apply a light powder like Palladio Rice Powder in Natural or Almay Smart Shade foundation which gives very light coverage.

Best starter foundation: Rimmel Clean Finish ($5-$7 range), Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation ($12 range), Revlon Photoready
Best upgrade foundation: L'ancome Teinte Idole, Estee Lauder Double Wear/Double Wear Light

6. Prime, prime, prime
I'll admit it. I use to be like what the hell is a primer and what is it's purpose. Well now I know! There are a wide variety of primers, but basically they are going to prime your face or lids for makeup. This often smooths out any imperfections leaving a smooth canvas to apply makeup or which can hide imperfections. This is also going to make your makeup last longer and for eyeshadows especially, the shade will appear more vibrant. This allows you to actually use less product because it will last longer and the color payoff will be better.

This is also a must for any eye products that are prone to creasing, you know when the product cakes up in the crease of your lid or any tiny line?!? I hate creasing! Most drug store cream shadows are notorious for doing this (with the exception of the newest Maybelline color tattoos)

I gave my mom some bareMinerals primer for Christmas, she has never used a product like that and actually called to say that her foundation lasted so much longer and it looked better and smoother. I love turning other people onto these great products. You only need a small amount of a primer so whatever product you use you will not have to repurchase for awhile. I would recommend a nude colored primer if you have imperfections on your lid regarding uneven color, etc that you want to tone down.

Great starter face primer: Palladio Herbal primer (sally's beauty) $7 range, Hard Candy Sheer Envy ($6-8), Rimmel Fix and Perfect ($7)
Best upgrade face primer: bareMinerals, Benefit That Gal

Best starter eye primer: Palladio herbal primer (sally's beauty) $6, E.l.f. mineral primer ($1)
Best upgrade eye primer: Urban Decay Primer Potion $18, Too Faced Shadow Insurance $18

7. Double & triple duty eyeshadows
Look for eyeshadows that can be worn either wet or dry and used as a shadow or a liner. This will make the shadow more versatile since you can wear it in three different ways. Applying a shadow wet by applying some water to the brush or spritzing water onto your eyeshadow brush can make the shadow much more dramatic. You can also use a lot of shadows as eyeliners. Simply take an eyeliner pencil, dip it in the product, and line your lash line. I find these to work the best on the lower lash line. I will apply a good staying liner on my water line such as Stila Smudgestick ($20) and then apply the shadow underneath on the lash line. If you have an eyeliner that is a little bit wetter or sticker when first applied, you can layer the shadow over top this and it will stick great and gives your liner more staying power too.

Example: the Balm eye shadows & liners. This is a higher end brand, but you can also find these at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx for close to 1/2 the price.

8. The brush makes all the difference
One of the first leaps I took into the makeup world was getting some good makeup brushes. Now I completely see why there is such a fuss over brushes and why there are so many. They make a ton of difference! I started out slowly building up my collection and haven't quite taken the leap to get some of the more higher end recommended brushes although I do have some Tarte and bareMinerals brushes. Sigma and MAC are often high end brushes that are mentioned ad nauseum.

The essentials: Blush brush, Flat eyeshadow brush, Eyeliner brush, Crease brush, Kabuki brush
The best starter brushes: E.l.f. ($1-3), Eco tools ($3-10), Kirkland (10 piece set at COSTCO $25), Sonia Kashuk at Target ($4-$20)

The brush I use the most would have to be the Kabuki brush. This is mainly for applying powder. I use a flat head Kabuki to apply my finishing powder (Palladio Rice Powder) and swirl the powder into my face using this brush in order to provide a seamless finish to my look and seal in my foundation. I also have a looser fluffier Kabuki brush which I use to just apply an all over brightening powder or all over face color.

As you can see, a lot of great tips regarding makeup is more about the application, preparation, and methods rather than the colors, etc. Of course you also want to pick complimentary colors, but with these tips you are set to pretty much rock any look! If you use these prep steps and apply some blush you will be amazed at how much better your skin appears.

Yours in Beauty, 

If there is anything you wish I had touched on, please leave a comment below!


  1. Great post, and very informative. I didn't start getting really into makeup until several years back. Before then, I never wore it! But once you start, it kind of takes you over! Makeup is such an amazing expression, and I love learning new things and getting creative.

  2. It really is! I love just looking at different color shadows, blushes, lipsticks, taking it all in, blending and picking the colors that work well together and match your hair, outfit, etc. It is extremely addicting and fun! My stila palette looks like a paint palette almost, so it makes me feel all artistic using it lol.

    Thanks for the nice comment. We love hearing from you :)


  3. Totally agree - especially about the eyebrows!! I'm so grateful mine grew back after the teen-tweeze years!!!!! xx

  4. Thanks Scarlett. Your eyebrows always looks absolutely perfect!


  5. Thank you so much for this post!! I rarely wear makeup because I don't feel confident doing more than the very basics. I love coming to your blog for tips and ideas, but I especially love how informative this is. I need to buy some new makeup brushes for sure now. I used to have an eco-tools set and I lost it somewhere between moves but I remember it being really nice for the price.



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