Today we’re continuing Makeup 101, in which I share with you what I’d buy/suggest if we were shopping together and you were a makeup newbie or a teen, putting together your first makeup kit. Yesterday we went over skin makeup, BB Creams, foundation, concealer and powder.
Today, it’s time for the fun stuff! Color! After much debate, how much to discuss, I’ve decided to do basics (well, what my basics are), with neutral colors. Most of these steps really are optional, you can pick and choose which ones you want to do. Tomorrow we’ll go over what order I apply all of this stuff in, because it isn’t in the order that I’ve presented so far, and the order changes up depend upon what I’m wearing that day.
Obviously changing up your eye makeup can make a huge impact on your look. Whether you want a very natural look, something fun and colorful or a soft and neutral every day look, much of the look is in which shadows you use and where you place them. For the beginner, I recommend starting with a soft and neutral look, that will be appropriate no matter where you are or what you’re doing. School, brunch with relatives, work or a job interview. Soft and neutral works for all of those settings. When you’re first starting out, I recommend using a trio or quad palette. This limits the color options to shades that already work together, so you won’t look crazy and you’ll save time.
I’ve tried shadows from just about every brand in the mass/drugstore markets and the higher end department store/prestige brands. My preference is for shadows that are well pigmented (so you don’t spend forever applying more layers of shadow), blend easily and last all day. Below are my favorite starter palette picks, but I’ll also tell you just in general which brands I do like for shadows.
Too Faced Natural Eyes (my Too Faced Natural Eyes review), if you need darker shades try Natural at Night, and if you want more options I’d go for the Too Faced Return of Sexy Palette, which is basically 3 quads in one palette.
Urban Decay Naked Basics (my Urban Decay Naked Basics review), this is a great collection of matte shadows. You can create some great looks with just this palette (here are my favorite Naked Basics tutorials), but this palette is perfect for adding in one or two other shades for a great look.
In general: Too Faced, Urban Decay, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, Stila, Cargo, LORAC, Smashbox, NARS, Tarina Tarantino, Clinique, Chanel, Lancome, Make Up For Ever, Tarte
CoverGirl Eye Enhancers in Urban Basics 320 shown, also try Sheer Nude 265, Pure Romance 235 and Coffee Shop 260.
Wet’N’Wild Color Icon Collection Eyeshadow Trio in Walking On Eggshells shown, also try Silent Treatment.
In general: Wet’N’Wild, CoverGirl, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Prestige
If you’re going to wear shadow, then I consider the companion primer to be not an option. Not at all. Primer will make your shadow more vibrant, prevent it from creasing and smudging and make it last hours longer than it would when used alone. This is 15 seconds well spent!
Note that even if you aren’t going to wear shadow that day, I still recommend wearing a primer or concealer to even out your lids. Well, I recommend this if you’re like me, a pale girl with a lot of visible blood vessels in my lids. I few pats of the NYX Eye Shadow Base (my pick because it is the same color as my skin tone) evens things out and really pulls my look together, even without any shadow over top.
There are a lot of great shadow primers out there, try a few out and pick the one that works best for you. It won’t necessarily be the same one that works great for me, everyone has a different amount of oil in their lids and that seems to affect things quite a bit. Also keep in mind that there are “basic” primers like I’ve featured here, different colors of primer (Too Faced has several) and there are even glitter primers for the days that you want to use a glittery or very powdery shadow (ELF and Too Faced make the best glitter primers).
Another not so optional add-on if you’re going to wear shadow. The brushes that come with most palettes really don’t do a great job. They’re either too big, too small, not the right shape or just won’t release the product evenly. You’ll need a big, expensive palette like the Urban Decay Naked3 palette to get a decent brush.
There are 6 different brush shapes that I think everyone needs, but that’s my personal bias as these are the ones I use the most often. The good news is that you can get really good brushes from ELF to fulfill all of these needs. All of the brushes you see above can be purchased for a grand total of $6. Yes. And they’re really good quality, I find myself reaching for my ELF brushes over much more expensive brushes every single morning.
e.l.f. Essential Eye Shadow Brush: I own about 6 of this brush, it’s great for everything. I swipe shadow onto my entire lid, the brow bone and sometimes blend with this brush.
e.l.f. Essential Smudge Brush: I’ll mention this brush more in a few minutes with liner, but I think you should be blending your liner a bit, unless you’re going for a very stark, liquid lined look.
e.l.f. Essential Eye Crease Brush: I could only get a small picture of this one, but the brush is the same size as the others. It is a bit longer and pointier than the blending brush, I use it in my crease and to apply shadow to very specific areas like my outer or inner corner.
e.l.f. Essential Blending Eye Brush: I like to run this over everything to blend it together a bit. It definitely makes my eye shadow look better!
e.l.f. Essential Eyeliner Brush: Great for lining the eyes with shadow or just blending liner (again, discussed under eye liner below).
e.l.f. Essential Brow Comb + Brush: I have the ELF version of this, but if you can find a metal comb version (mine is from Sephora, they don’t always sell it), then grab one! I use my metal comb version more often. I use the comb for de-clumping my mascara, the brush is great for grooming brows.
MAC, Laura Mercier, Sephora
ELF, Real Techniques (at ULTA), Sonia Kashuk (Target), and Coastal Scents (on-line)
**Note there are a lot of You-Tubers who swear by Sigma brushes, and they fall into this price category. I’ve heard mixed reviews from those that aren’t affiliates, but they’re mostly dupes for MAC brushes at a lower price point. I’ve never tried them, but I did want to mention them as an option.
5. Eye Liner
Eye liner is optional, and it’s even optional for a lined eye look. If you’re just starting with liner, I recommend sticking with a sharp, brown pencil (black is usually too harsh), and applying it basically into your lash line. Just smoosh it in there, pretending your lashes aren’t in the way. The line doesn’t need to be perfect, but it shouldn’t be 4 mm above your lashes at one point and non-existent at another. Just consistently in your lash line works. Then grab that smudge brush I mentioned above and run it along your lash line. The imperfections will be gone, you’ll have a pretty smudged brown liner and your lashes will look instantly thicker!
I’ve been blending my liner like this since high school, but over at MaskCara you’ll find a great post about blended eye liner. The key is to not stress about needing to draw a “line”. People who do that usually draw a line a little over their lash line, and the gap always looks a bit strange.
If the pencil is too intimidating for you, I recommend using the eye liner brush with the darkest color from your shadow palette. Press the brush into your lash line, and wiggle it around a little. You can do this with your brush wet or dry, but wet will give you more intense results. The powder will last all day, but the look is softer than with the pencil.
Mascara is one of those things that I don’t like to leave the house without. Strange but true, my lashes feel naked without a little mascara. The mascara I’m reaching for every morning is currently the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, but I have a lot of favorite mascaras, and a lot of mascara application tips.
If you’re going to be wearing mascara, I really do think that using one of those crazy looking lash curlers is an absolute must. It doesn’t hurt, and it won’t pull out your lashes. Unless you are much too close to the base of your lashes, in that case you should unclamp and move out a few millimeters. I’ve tried a lot of lash curlers over the years, and I really do think that you get what you pay for. Cheaper curlers are more likely to be loose and accidentally grab your lashes. The curl will also last longer with a better curler. My favorite curler is the Tweezerman ProCurl, but I also like the Shu Uemura Lash Curler.
CoverGirl Clump Crusher is pictured here, but I think all CoverGirl mascaras are great (really, CoverGirl is all kinds of amazing in my book). L’Oreal also makes great mascaras, and most Maybelline ones are also good.
Brows seem like they should be more advanced, but they can make a huge difference in how you look. You can read a lot more about how I groom my brows (aka- obsess over them), but I do have to say that I like them a lot more since I started having them professionally done every 3-4 weeks. I have big, bushy brows that grow fast, so if you have skinnier brows you probably won’t need to go as often as me. But it is definitely worth the money!
I think the easiest way to fill in your brows is to use a pencil. A few well placed strokes with a pencil can make a big difference, and a pencil is much harder to mess up than a gel or even a powder. My favorite pencil, the IT Cosmetics one, is a little bit of an ashy brown and works for pretty much every brow color. Look for a pencil that is a little lighter than your brows (unless they are blonde, then you need to go darker) and the color should be a bit grey-ish.
The tinted brow gel seen here is very easy to just run through your brows, it makes it look like you’ve filled them in without being obvious. Super easy!
NYX Auto Eyebrow Pencil, also look for pencils from CoverGirl and L’Oreal.
Blush is obviously optional, and there are some days that I skip it all together. Pinks, peaches, plums… what works for you depends a lot on your skin tone and what other makeup you’re wearing that day. I recommend using a blush brush for powder application, a brush or your fingers will work for creams/gels. For longer lasting blush, I like to layer a cream with a powder.
If you haven’t been wearing much other than plain lip balm, the transition to color can either be fun, or almost feel like and out of body experience. I recommend starting with a lip stain under your regular balm (my fave is Julia’s Lip Tint, which now comes in a very easy to use bottle with an applicator inside, I need to take pics still), or a tinted balm. Tinted balms come at all price points. From there I’d move up in pigmentation to a gloss or a glossy stain before finally trying a lipstick.
Julia’s Lip Tint