Concealer, highlighters, primers, powders, oh my! Makeup can be overwhelming. There are so many different options to choose from, at so many different price points, that’s it’s hard to know where to start. Today, however, we’re taking you by the hand and making sense of all the confusion. We’ll talk about finding the right colors, how to know when to save your money and when to splurge, and (this is the part we get excited about) how to look like a million bucks!
How to Buy Makeup
Everyone has their favorite places to pick up new makeup, from online marketplaces like Sephora to QVC to their local grocery store. In fact, part of the appeal of makeup is getting to experiment and try new things.
Wherever you decide to shop, here are a few tips to make the process painless:
If you need help choosing colors, go to a specialty store like a MAC counter in a mall or a Sephora, where somebody can swatch you and find a match for you
Check out the return policy, as some drugstores allow you to return makeup even once it’s been opened
It’s also a good idea to sign up for the membership clubs or email newsletters for stores such as Ulta or CVS, who send discounts and coupons regularly.
Bonus Makeup Tip
Bonus Makeup Tip
We’re about to share the top seven makeup essentials that will make a huge difference for you, but keep in mind that the canvas–i.e., your face–is the most important part of the process. Good skin is arguably more important than good makeup. Wash your face at night with a good quality cleanser and moisturize. Dermatologists argue about a lot of things, but they all agree retinol is the key to keeping away the wrinkles and other signs of aging, so make sure you use that, too.
You wouldn’t build a house without laying a foundation first, would you? Primer is to your face what a foundation is to the rest of the house! A small dab of a good quality primer will help your pores disappear, smooth over fine lines and wrinkles, plump and moisturize dry skin, and even out skin tone. It keeps your foundation from settling into your pores, lines, and imperfections and even allows you to use less foundation and achieve a more natural, “I just woke up like this” look.
It will also help to keep your foundation from wearing off as you sweat and encounter the elements. You can find good primers at any price point (many drugstore primers now work as well as the ultra expensive ones). If you tend to have oily skin or have trouble with makeup sweating off, you’ll want a heavy-duty primer that is oil-free. There are also primers made for sensitive skin and dry skin, so if you struggle with one of those, you’re covered (no pun intended!).
Pro tip: apply your primer over your daily moisturizer, but make sure it dries completely before adding additional makeup.
Concealer can be a bit tricky because if it’s not applied correctly or if you’re using the wrong color, it will show. For your first concealer purchase, we usually recommend going to a makeup counter that can help you get a good match.
Concealer serves a variety of purposes: it conceals blemishes and draws the eye toward certain areas to highlight them (like the brows). It’s one of the pieces that will make you look more finished.
Here are two common mistakes newbies make with concealer:
- Covering too much. If you have a blemish, you should use a small concealer brush directly to the blemish itself, but not the skin around the blemish. Otherwise, you still see the blemish–it’s just a different color.
- Filling in the bags under your eye with concealer. This calls more attention to how tired you are. Instead, draw an inverted triangle from the corner of your eye, down the side of your nose, and back up to just under the circle under your eye. This is the area to brighten with concealer for a much more professional look!
Now we’re ready for the foundation! This might be the part that has you the most nervous, but don’t fear! First, decide what kind of coverage you want. Do you want a flawless, matte look? These are beautiful, but usually, take a bit more skill to achieve, plus they can be more difficult to keep up throughout the day. A more natural look is usually a better place to start, and we also love that it allows your personality and individuality to shine through!
Once you’ve decided the amount of coverage you’d like, choose the type of foundation. Do you want a liquid foundation? These are typically necessary for dry skin, and what you’ll use if you’re looking for full coverage. They can be applied with your hands, though beauty experts usually recommend using a foundation brush or beauty blender. You’ll also want to set the foundation with a light dusting of powder.
Powder foundation, on the other hand, is often a great choice for people with oily skin, as it will help to soak up the oil. You can use a pressed foundation or a loose powder. It’s easy to apply (though it can make a mess!). Finally, another great choice is a BB cream or a CC cream. Both are creams that do double (or triple!) duty, providing tinted coverage as well as moisturizing, primer, and concealer all in one. This is a great option if you don’t have time for all the extras, but still, want to look polished.
Bronzer and blush can be worn together, or they can be worn separately. There are many great drugstore options for both! If you’re having trouble finding your color, we recommend going with a neutral bronze (not too dark, not too light) for your bronzer to start out and a soft pink color– most people look great in pink–for your blush. If you use a liquid foundation, you can use a cream blush, but if you use a powder foundation, you’ll need to use a powder blush.
To apply bronzer, trace a three on each side of your face, starting at the peak of your forehead. Lightly dust your hairline at your temples, just under your cheekbone, and the edge of your chin. You can also lightly draw the very top of your nose–essentially, apply bronzer wherever the sun would hit naturally! To apply blush, smile so that the apples of your cheeks pop out–that’s where blush goes!
The days of plucking eyebrows to thin points are gone–today, big, natural eyebrows are in! We love the look since it helps open up the eye and make us look more away and polished, but if you’re like most of us and don’t have delightfully bushy eyebrows, there are lots of beauty products to help achieve the look. You can choose eyebrow wands (like mascara wands), brow pencils, or brow powders that are applied with a brush.
Pro tip: we love the Anastasia Brow Kit for beginners since it comes with everything you need, even templates and detailed instructions!
Like bronzer and blush, eyeshadow and eyeliner can be worn simultaneously, or you can just wear eyeliner or just wear eyeshadow. Depending on how your eyes are shaped, a skillful application can make you look more awake. In fact, you can even change the shape of your eyes with careful practice! We recommend starting with a good neutral color palette for eyeshadow and either a brown pencil for eyeliner.
Pro tip: do not line your entire eye! This makes most people’s eyes look smaller. Instead, just line the top, or line till about the middle of your pupil.
The coup de gras of makeup, mascara adds the final touch and makes your eyes pop! There are about as many different kinds of mascara as there are people (it seems like that, at least!), but you don’t have to bust the budget for this one–there are many drugstore products that are favorites of experienced makeup professionals!
Pro tip: the hot trend in makeup these days is to skip mascara altogether in favor of lash extensions. If you’d like to skip a few seconds in your makeup routine, this might be a great option for you!
We’ve given you our best tips and tricks on makeup essentials, but the best beauty product can’t be bought in a jar–it’s confidence! Find the freedom to love yourself just as you are, and you’ll be beautiful no matter what.