Everything you'll ever need to know about makeup

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on April 13, 2011

A guest post by Jen Fulwiler
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I used to want to be a makeup artist. My friends and I would spend hours doing our makeup in different styles, then we’d take photos and analyze which looks worked and which didn’t. I pored over books about the craft, and I was a fixture at a local boutique makeup studio run by a well-known professional makeup artist, literally sitting at his feet to soak up his wisdom. Though I ended up abandoning my ambitions for a far nerdier path (I became a programmer after college), my love of makeup has always stuck with me, and I’ve continued to experiment and learn over the years. Women look beautiful without makeup, of course, but I love the way it can give you a fresh new look with just a little effort.

I was talking to Hallie about this the other day, and she suggested that I distill everything I’ve learned into one post. I love the idea! I hope it might be helpful to those of you who have rarely used makeup much but might like to try, or even those of you who do wear makeup but have never spent zillions of hours studying it.

Rather than tell you how to do your makeup (which is covered very well in the books at the bottom of this post), I’ll offer an overview of the basic elements of makeup, as well as some foundational items like moisturizer, tweezers, etc. For each one, I’ll explain whether or not it’s essential, where to get it, and give a rough overview of how to use it. Let’s get started!

 

MAKEUP BASICS

 

CONCEALER

For most light-skinned women, dabbing on a bit of concealer can be a one-step makeover! I naturally have dark circles under my eyes, and I look like a new person when I apply concealer over them. In fact, people sometimes ask me if I’m sick on the rare days that I don’t use it!

  • I highly recommend swinging by the Lancome counter in your local mall and trying out their samples of different concealer colors (they provide alcohol swabs for sanitary sampling). That way you can find the perfect shade for you.
  • You know you’ve found the right color when it covers blemishes by disappearing into your skin.
  • Apply it to under eye circles, eye lids, the inner corners of your eyes, and any blemishes you’d like to minimize.
  • If you want to cover an area bigger than the size of a quarter, you should probably use foundation instead of concealer (see below).
  • This is probably the product where I’ve noticed the single biggest difference between expensive and inexpensive brands — the cheap ones just don’t cut it. They have poor coverage, look blotchy, and rub off easily. Invest in a department store brand like Lancome or Bobbi Brown.
My top recommendation: Lancome Maquicomplet Concealer

 

MASCARA

After concealer, I think that mascara is the most impactful makeup item for most women.

  • To avoid a clumpy, overdone look, wipe off the mascara wand with a tissue for the first 5 – 10 uses. A new tube of mascara tends to go on way too thick at first.
  • I have tried every brand under the sun, in every price range, and there is only one I like: Maybelline Lash Discovery. And it’s cheap! You can find it at pretty much any drug store or grocery store. (But, again, wipe off the bristles with a tissue before applying it the first few times you use it, otherwise it will be too thick and clumpy.)
  • If your eyelashes are short, or point down or straight ahead, do get a cheap eyelash curler and use it before you apply mascara. After you apply it, push up on the base of your lashes as they dry for a few seconds.
My top recommendation: Maybelline Lash Discovery

 

BLUSH

Unless you have very dark skin, a good blush is an essential item. It’ll give your face a healthy, vibrant glow.

  • Throw out your old powder blushes! They tend to go on too dark and look unnatural.
  • Get a nice cream blush and put it on over moisturizer. Apply it with your fingers.
  • The goal is to get the same coloring you’d get after a brisk walk — it shouldn’t look like you have makeup on.
  • This is a product that’s worth spending a little money on. The higher-end blushes sold at department stores will give you a much more natural look, and they’ll last a long time. (I’ve had my current one for seven years.)

My top recommendation: Bobbi Brown Pot Rogue for Lips and Cheeks

 

LIPSTICK OR GLOSS

Lipstick can completely transform your appearance. Experiment with different colors — see how you feel with a sassy red, then try a more neutral mauve.

  • If you’re new to wearing lipstick, start with a colored gloss at first (they’re liquidy and come in tubes rather than sticks). It can really perk up your appearance but is subtle and doesn’t require precision to apply.
  • Also try putting a clear gloss over your regular lipstick — it’ll give you a whole new look!
  • I’ve tried all types of lipstick, and don’t see a difference between the grocery store brands and the high-end brands, so just get whatever’s cheap at your store.
My top recommendations: I swoon over Bobbi Brown’s astoundingly awesome lip glosses, but it’s really not necessary to go that expensive. Just pick up something cute next time you go get groceries!

 

FOUNDATION

You probably don’t need this. Unless you have a very uneven skin tone, applying foundation likely won’t make much of a difference, and may give you an overly made up look.

  • Instead of foundation, just use a good concealer to smooth over uneven spots on the skin.
  • If you do feel like you need foundation, invest in a good one (from a department store brand), and sample it before you buy it. The grocery store brands sometimes look caked on.
  • If you do put some on, make sure to go past your chin-line down to your neck, otherwise you can get a “masked” effect.
My top recommendation: Estee Lauder Resilience

 

LIP LINER

I love lip liner for defining the shape of the lips, but it’s not an essential item.

  • Find a soft color a bit lighter than your normal shade of lipstick — light colors also give you more room for error when you’re just starting out.
  • After you line your lips, color in the entire lip area — this will help your color stay on throughout the day.
  • If you’re new to using makeup and/or want to keep it simple, skip lip liner.

 

EYE SHADOW

You do not have to wear eye shadow to perk up your appearance with makeup, but it can make a big difference if applied well

  • If you don’t get the right color or don’t apply it in a flattering way, eye shadow can detract from your appearance. The books below each have great, specific instructions for how to apply eye shadow for a wide range of looks, from light and natural to dark and dramatic.
  • Higher-end eye shadows are better, because they have more pigment and less filler — which means the color is richer and they last longer. But the store brands are okay too. If you’re just starting out, just pick up some colors you like next time you’re at the grocery store.
My top recommendation: Clinique Colour Surge Eye Shadow Duo (or whatever looks good at the store)

 

EYE LINER

I have so much fun with eye liner. I just love it. Like eye shadow, it can make a big difference in your appearance — but is not an essential item.

  • If you do want to play with eye liner, I recommend getting one of the books below for tips about how to use it most effectively.
  • The expensive department store brands are a little better, but grocery store brands are good too. Keep in mind that an eyeliner pencil will last a long time (I’ve had mine for five years).
  • If you haven’t used eyeliner much before, give yourself time to get it right, and don’t feel frustrated if it takes some trial and error — almost nobody does it perfectly the first few times they apply it.
  • Lean in very close to your mirror or, better yet, get a magnified makeup mirror. This makes a big difference in precision application.
  • If you’re just starting to wear makeup and feel overwhelmed, skip eyeliner for now.
My top recommendation: Bobbi Brown Creamy Eye Pencil (but grocery store brands work well too if that’s not in your budget)

 

POWDER

Powder can come in the form of a compact, or loose powder that you apply with a brush. Unless you have oily skin, you probably won’t use either one much.

  • Powder is most useful to put on the eyelids to make your eye shadow go on smooth and last longer, and to dab on overly shiny areas like the chin or forehead.
  • I do see a difference in quality between expensive and inexpensive brands; however, unless you think you’ll use it a lot (e.g. if you have very oily skin), I don’t think it’s worth the money to get a high-end brand. Just grab a basic compact from your grocery store.
  • If you have dry skin, you can safely skip this altogether.
My top recommendation: Revlon Colorstay Pressed Powder
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FOUNDATIONAL ITEMS
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TWEEZERS
Tweezers are a must-have item for any woman’s makeup drawer. Cleaning up the stray hairs around your main eyebrow line can make a surprising amount of difference in your overall appearance!
  • Tweezers with square tips are useless. Get ones with a very pointy tip. They cost more, but are worth the investment. (I bought mine for $18 in 1997 and still use them!)
  • Don’t worry about all the elaborate eyebrow shaping tips that are out there. Just pick out any hairs that are obviously outside of your main eyebrow line.
  • A warm washcloth before and after plucking can ease any discomfort.

 

EYE MAKEUP REMOVER

One of my most essential items is a special makeup remover that concentrates on eye makeup.

  • This is important because it’s formulated to take off mascara and eye liner with minimal rubbing on the sensitive skin around your eyes.
  • The high-end brands are much less greasy than the store brands, but either will get the job done. (Lancome usually has them as part of their free gifts with purchase, which is how I keep in stock.)

 

MOISTURIZER

Keeping your skin moisturized not only makes makeup go on better, but it makes wrinkles slower to appear. Other than simply having a balanced lifestyle, one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy, vibrant look is to get a good moisturizer and apply it regularly.

  • I do see a significant difference in the quality of expensive and inexpensive moisturizers. However, the lower-end brands aren’t terrible. If you can treat yourself to Lancome, Kiehl’s or Bobbi Brown moisturizer, do so! (Might be a nice thing to ask for for Christmas.) But a bottle of Oil of Olay from your grocery store is better than nothing.
My top recommendation: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer

 

EYELASH CURLER

An eyelash curlier will give your eyelashes a bit of a lift before applying mascara, which really helps open up your eyes.

  • If your eyelashes naturally curl upwards, you don’t need one. Just push them up with your fingers for a moment before and after you apply mascara.
  • If your eyelashes naturally point down or straight ahead, you’ll probably like having one of these, and might be amazed by the difference it makes.
  • Use it before you apply mascara.
  • You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this; the cheap ones are fine.

My top recommendation: Tweezerman Deluxe Metal Eyelash Curler

 

BRUSHES

If there were to be a fire at my house, my makeup brushes are in the top five of my list of things I’d grab once everyone was out safely. I love them! But I wouldn’t say they’re essential to basic makeup.

  • If you’re just starting out or want to keep things simple, don’t worry about makeup brushes.
  • If you find that you’re enjoying wearing makeup and would like to take it to the next level, definitely invest in quality brushes. You won’t believe the difference they make in applying everything from shadow to blush to lipstick to concealer!
  • Don’t even think about wasting your money on cheap brushes. Go to one of the high-end makeup counters at the mall (Lancome, Chanel, Bobbi Brown, NARS, MAC, etc.) and invest in some high-quality brushes.
  • If you’ve never used them before, consider buying them in person so that a trained sales person can show you how to use them effectively.
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LEARNING

BOOKS

Here are my three favorite books that show you how to apply a wide variety of makeup looks. Each has practical, step-by-step tutorials that really work:

  • Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin
  • Bobbi Brown Beauty by Bobbi Brown
  • Face Forward by Kevyn Aucoin (unfortunately the late Mr. Aucoin takes some liberties to share his political views in this book, which is inappropriate, but his makeup lessons are spot-on)
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IN SUMMARY
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If you want to keep it really simple, just start with concealer, mascara, and lipstick or gloss. Applying only those three things can freshen up your appearance and give you a whole new look. Once you feel comfortable with that, add in a little cream blush and lip liner. Then, once you’re ready to really play around with more dramatic looks, break out the eye liner and eye shadow. And, most of all, have fun and remember that you’re beautiful with and without makeup!

I hope this has been helpful! For fellow makeup fans, what are some of your favorite products and tips?

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Lady Caitie in the Pretty City April 13, 2011 at 5:40 am

Fantastic! I love this post! :) Make-up is so much fun!

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Kendra April 13, 2011 at 6:34 am

This was so wonderful!

I'll just stick with the most useful part for me: I've spent my teenage/adult life looking for a good mascara and never found one I liked. I seriously switch brands every time I need a new bottle, and they always sort of suck :-P. I'm really hoping the one you recommended works out well!

Thanks for the great post :-)

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Jennie C. April 13, 2011 at 10:20 am

Thank you very much! I am the daughter of a woman who never did wear makeup and the mother of several girls who think it might be nice. I have never had a clue where to even begin, so I'm very much appreciating this post right now. :-)

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Jennifer April 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Great post! I don't wear a lot of makeup and this was very informative.

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iagd April 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm

It's about to get really girly up in here…

Great post! I'm definitely a make-up basics kind of girl most days of the week, but for me that means powder foundation, mascara, and lip gloss. I hate gloppy cream and liquid foundations, but the new mineral powder lines that are out now are great — they're light, easy to apply, and I find that they give me an even, matte look that I can't get with just concealer (though I definitely use the latter for under-eye circles, too!).

I use this guy (http://goo.gl/RADHT), but you can also get starter kits from lines like BareMinerals; I actually use their blush powder and some of their shadows, too.

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Ashley April 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Great post!

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Christine the Soccer Mom April 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Awesome! Jennifer, you should do a series of videos, starting with how to apply creme blush, which I have never done. Well, I did once, when I was in eighth grade & went to a Mary Kay party, but I came home overly made-up and went right back to powder blush. (I do tend to use a large fluffy brush to blend the powder blush, since I know it can come off very … stripy and dark.)

Thanks, too, for the recommendation on the mascara. I'm about due to buy new stuff for myself and my 12 year old, and inexpensive is a good thing.

I usually just don't put on makeup, but my mother won't even go in her backyard to do gardening without it! LOL! I used to be more careful to do it daily, and I know it makes a difference. I'll have to resolve to pull it out more often.

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Sarah April 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm

LOVE this post. At age 30, I am just learning how to apply makeup. SO helpful.

Unfortunately, I have very oily and uneven skin due to cystic acne, scarring and what looks like rosacia. Ugh. Double ugh. I've been like this since puberty. So, the very first thing I learned to apply as a teen was foundation, and I think I will need it for the rest of my life (ugh!!!). I rarely wear blush because of the natural redness in my skin that I am always fighting off. But I wonder if I should experiment with blush over foundation?

The other issue I have is that wearing make-up often breaks me out worse, causing me to need more make-up. I am now looking for the "healthy skin" type foundations to try to both treat and conceal.

One last thought: When I first started applying eyeshadow, I found the cheap "made for your eye color" (blue/brown etc) kits so helpful.

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Gloria November 20, 2011 at 1:59 am

Hi Sarah. I tend to break out more with make-up also, but the Neutrogena compact powder foundations have worked for me to cover acne scarring (not from the cystic kind though), and they even seem to help my skin heal faster! I hope this can help. :)

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Brianna Heldt April 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm

so fun! i love seeing what other makeup brands people are wearing.

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Cari April 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm

My eyelashes are so short that I can't curl them. Think about that. The lashes are so short that they don't reach into the curler. It's awful.
So lengthening mascara is a mild obsession of mine, and I'm currently singing the praises of Maybelline's "The Falsies" mascara. It makes me look like I actually *have* lashes!

I'm also a lipstick junkie. I have approximately 345,677,209 tubes of lip pigment product in my house. Right now I'm favoring a combo of Avon's perfect wear lipstick in Totally Twig and Cover Girl's Lipslicks in Bronze Goddess. I *LOVE* Cover Girl's lipslicks.

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Therese Z April 13, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Sarah:

You sound like me: cystic acne, rosacea, scarring.

I wore different foundations for years and I think they either didn't look good (although I did get very good at application over time) and I think they made me break out worse.

I found that mineral powder foundations made a HUGE difference in both my skin quality and the ability to cover and blur the imperfections. Don't buy cheap: buy the Ulta version or the Bare Escentuals.

Good luck. We get very little understanding from the makeup market.

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carpeveritatem April 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Wow, that was awesome! It's great timing because I have recently started wearing make-up on a more regular basis. I have found that as I get older, that soap and water, fresh faced complexion I used to have, is sadly no longer. I need a little help other than the occasionally swipe of lipstick.

I feel better about my appearance when I go out, and I have noticed my husband looking at me a bit differently (in a totally good way – wink!).

My favorite tip is the concealer. I need to get some. I never have used it because I thought you had to put foundation over it and foundation is the ONE thing I can not do. I don't like the way it feels on my skin. Now I know if I find the right concealer, it's going to look great.

Thanks Jen!

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Andrea April 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I love makeup and I love this post!

I am in the market for a new moisturizer and was happy to see some suggestions!

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Kathleen April 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I definitely identify with Sarah and Therese Z. My skin is very oily and whenever I go get my makeup done professionally, my face breaks out even more and I end up looking worse. :( Because it seems like I am constantly battling with my makeup (and because I have a 6 month old and a 24 month old), I can count on one hand the number of times I've worn makeup in the last two years.

Jen, I'd be interested to know your recommendations for oily skin. I have read about using moisturizer in magazines when I was a teenager, but just disregarded it thinking that it would just add fuel to my oily fire. I hadn't heard of using a powder before (other than a powder foundation) so that might be something I'll look into. For those special occasions when I do wear makeup, I find that the bareMinerals makeup doesn't make my skin so upset.

Thanks again for all your insight, Jen!

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Jennifer @ Conversion Diary April 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Jen, I'd be interested to know your recommendations for oily skin.

Kathleen – Hmmm. I don't have any specific recommendations, but what I would do is go buy something in person. Almost all high-end brands carry products that are specifically formulated for oily and/or sensitive skin, so I'm sure that someone could point you in the right direction.

If there's a Bobbi Brown counter near you, start there (click here for a list of locations). Her products are known for using the bare minimum ingredients and working with all skin types. But if that's not convenient, just go to your local department store and seek out the Lancome or Clinique counter. I'm sure someone there could help you!

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Jen Ambrose April 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Thank you for this post. I am a fan of Laura Mercier. When I was in my 20s and early 30s all I needed was her tinted moisturizer, sometimes even diluted with regular moisturizer. Even now, though, I feel like I look better with it on.

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Betty Beguiles April 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Thank you so much for this, Jen! You're awesome, my talented friend. And a true genius when it comes to these things. I've seen it with my own eyes. :)

Must go now. I have to find Mr. Beguiles so we can talk about increasing my make-up budget… ;)

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priest's wife April 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

yay! I don't wear much makeup- but if I don't have mascara on (my lashes are blonde)- everybody thinks I am at death's door

My tip- be very careful about sun exposure- even up North

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Sarah April 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Therese and Jen – thank you for the recommendations! I will definitely be looking further into these options. Yes, having oily and sensitive (and uneven combination *SCREAM* lol) skin can be a make-up nightmare. :)

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Sarah April 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Kathleen (sorry to post so much – this blog always inspires me to post more than once because it's so interesting lol)… but in regards to moisturizer. I recommend using a non-greasy, for-oily-skin moisturizer because it may actually tame the oil (skin will think, "Oh! I am already moisturized so maybe I don't need to go crazy today!").

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Anonymous April 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm

@Carrie; get to your doctor asap and get a Rx for Latisse. It's about $100 – that's what I pay at my local wholesale warehouse prescription place – and worth every penny. My lashes have grown so long they look false; I love it! Once they grow in, you don't have to use it daily.

And for those with severely red or ruddy skin tones, you do know about the pale green corrector to wear under foundation, right? Sounds awful, but the green cancels out the red. Best go to a pro to learn how to use it.

And no one should ever be using soap and water on their face.

And yes: sun block, on the face, neck, chest and hands, every single day of your life. The sun damage that changes your skin's texture can't be covered up, so avoid it as much as you can. SPF 60 is easier and cheaper than chemical peels and facelifts!

Oh, and regarding oily skin: most of us don't do well with cream blush; it can almost drip off. But on the other hand, the constant moisturizing of the oils on the skin keeps skin looking younger.

exModel

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Lacey April 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

We have more in common than I realized (besides our both being very tall redheaded Catholic converts): I too had a brief makeup artist stint… even did a few weddings. Great advice– very thorough!

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Anne April 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

What a FUN post!! And practical–I need to go find some decent concealer; now I know where to start looking!

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Rachel Bostwick April 14, 2011 at 1:43 am

Thank you very much for sharing this. I am an uber-geek-tomboy mom but I would like to do better. You have inspired me.

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Christina April 14, 2011 at 2:28 am

well…it appears to have eaten my other post, if this is a duplicate you can just delete the first (this has the right makeup brand).

Sarah, I've also had acne my whole life. It turns out it's an allergy of sorts to milk products. It took several months to clear out, but there has been a noticeable improvement and a clearer cause-effect (those three slices of pizza showed up a week later).

I've started using Physicians Formula to reduce breakouts and it seemed to help. Any thoughts on that brand.

Another question – my lips can't handle lipstick at all, they dry and crack (then form blisters). Best I've been able to do is liner with chap stick. I didn't really want to do a trial and error of lipsticks, so any thoughts on that?

I'm excited about these suggestions and hope to try them soon.

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J.C. April 14, 2011 at 2:48 am

Next month I hit those upper 30's and I consider make-up my friend! I remember being fascinated as a child watching my mom go through her very elaborate make-up routine! She spent the whole first year of her marriage going to bed with all her make-up on so my dad wouldn't see her without! :)

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Second Chances April 14, 2011 at 3:20 am

I love to talk makeup! It's seriously something I love to experiment with. Weird, I know.

Christina: After I moisturize my face after my shower, I apply a very thin layer of Vaseline just to my lips. I do this every morning and no longer have problems with dry/chapped/cracked lips. In the winter I carry a travel size tube of vaseline in my purse and use it to remoisturize my lips throughout the day. It's the cheapest fix ever! Hope that helps you too!

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Jessica April 14, 2011 at 4:32 am

It's funny you say square-tipped tweezers are useless because that's the only kind that works for me! I find that angled-tipped (I've never tried pointed-tipped) ones give me a harder time. Square means more of an edge with with to grab onto the hair! Am I alone in this?

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Judy@Learningtoletgo April 14, 2011 at 6:07 am

Thanks for this great post, Jen! Since you asked for our favourites and tips, here are mine. First, I probably should say that I didn't start wearing foundation until in my sixties, but now I wish I had started earlier!

OK, I use Estee Lauder's Re-Nutriv foundation, and it is fabulous! So light you don't feel like you have anything on your skin, yet it lasts 18 hours without retouching! Also, I swear by L'Oreal Gentle Eye Makeup Remover. My eyes are really sensitive, and that one gives me no problems. Third, I have "The 5-Minute Face" book by Carmindy and find it really helpful.

Also, once my husband started watching "What Not To Wear" and could see how much difference a little light makeup made on women, he totally changed his attitude (he previously preferred the all-natural look) and now doesn't mind at all when I spend money on makeup. Give it a try, ladies!

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Carolina April 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

Great post! I Use the Rodan and Fields Reverse cleaning system. Mouisturize and then use the Bare Minierals line. Honey bisque as a concelear and the tinted mineral for all over powder. I really like their product line and it has SPF. Then masccara and lipstick. Lipstick is the one thing I don't leave the house without….I fell naked without lipstick. If I were stranded on an island I would HAVE to have my lipstick! I buy lipstick like some women buy shoes. And the funny thing is that sometimes I come home with a color that I already have!!!

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Smoochagator April 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Thanks to Jen for writing this post and thanks to Mrs. Beguiles for giving her the platform. I rarely wear makeup, so when I do I feel sort of like an imposter, as if I just can't fit in with the "big girls." I want to add more polish to my appearance, especially since I'm in my thirties now and the "freshly washed teenager" look isn't working as well for me.

Jen, I will admit that my inner germaphobe flipped out a little when you said you've had your eye liner pencil for five years now. I've heard over and over that eye makeup should be changed out fairly often (every three to six months) for sanitary reasons. Perhaps that's just the party line from the makeup companies to get us to buy more :-D

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Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

This has been *amazingly* helpful — thank you! My hubby is going away to a conference this weekend… I think I'll do my make up shopping in the meantime and figure out how to apply it. Then surprise the man when he gets home. :) Fun, fun!

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Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Great post, thanks Jen! You, me and other Lacey who posted here are all tall redheads! :) Ditto to the commenter Cari who uses Avon Totally Twig lipstick — that is one of my go-to lipsticks (I'm wearing it right now) and it goes really well with my complexion and red hair.

I've pretty much adapted the 5 minute face from Carmindy at What Not to Wear. My skin tone is fair, a bit uneven and I have mild rosacea on my cheeks, so I have to wear some sort of powdered foundation everyday. (I'm not a fan of liquid, too messy for me). I've used MAC Studio Fix N4 ever since my wedding makeup trial 5 years ago and I love it. Super easy to apply and evens out my complexion without it looking cakey.

I also use mostly powdered eyeliner with an eyeliner brush (NARS Night Porter is my favorite as it is highly pigmented and lasts all day), lately I have been trying MAC Fluidline Gel Liner also. If you get the right eyeliner brush, it goes on very smooth and is hard to screw up. I just don't have a steady enough hand to apply liquid eyeliner.

My favorite eye shadows are from NARS and MAC – they are the best and last.

I've starting using L'Occitane products for my skin as they really helped rehab my skin after a bad experience with the Clinique 3 step program. I think it was the toner that was too harsh. Ugh I am never using those Clinique products again! L'Occitane is expensive, but the products work!

And ditto to the commenter who uses the square tip tweezer — it is the only kind that works for me!

Lacey :)

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carriekwi April 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

The older I get, the less I wear makeup at all. I see a lot of women trying desperately to get the "perfect look" they see on magazines covers to impress. We need a more realistic, and I would say, lovely, definition of beauty- if not for our sake, than for our daughters.

Ladies, you look beautiful just the way God made you.

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Cathy April 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Wow! Jen, you simplified an otherwise overwhelming topic down to some practical basics that I can use!

Thank you for taking the time to post.

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Judy April 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

As I've aged (I'm 51 now), I've found that I do look better with foundation. To avoid crossing the line between enough and too much, I've been making my own tinted moisturizer. Just mix your favorite foundation about half-and-half with your favorite moisturizer. I put it in those travel tubes that you can get at places like Target. It goes on smoother and lighter than the foundation by itself.

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Eliz April 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I too love makeup and loved this post.

I so love Bobbi Brown's products and her outlook about makeup and beauty that she's my perpetual #3 on the "If you could invite 5 people, living or dead, to dinner …" list (after Christ and the pope, of course, but before Shakespeare and Tina Fey). If I could add to Jen's stellar advice:

The No. 1 thing that will keep you looking beautiful, longer, is sunscreen. Buy one and use it! If you hate the feel of foundation, get a good tinted moisturizer with SPF. (And hey! Wouldn't you know — Bobbi Brown makes two formulations, one lighter and one more moisturizey.)

The three things that will make you look older are powder (except a quick pat to set your concealer), lip liner (sorry, Jen) and opaque, matte lipstick. BB makes a Rich Color Gloss that is fab-u-lous. It's got the color payoff of a lipstick, the shine of a gloss, but it's not as sticky as a gloss and it lasts longer.

What Jen said about good-quality brushes. They'll last forever if you take care of them.

I also can't live without: BB longwear gel eyeliner, her cream shadows (last all day) and her two-step concealer deal (if you have serious dark circles like I do).

The best part is the BB artists will apply anything you'd like to try and will show you how to use it.

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Margaret Dybash April 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I also recommend "Makeup your Mind" by Francois Nars. It's a great book!

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Lacey April 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm

@Lacey –
Two tall redheaded Laceys who spell Lacey right? My faith in the world is restored! =)

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Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm

The best and cheapest eye make-up remover in my experience is baby oil (any brand).

Thanks for a great post!

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Jenn K April 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

My advice, for all that it's worth is to (1) use a foundation brush if you are going to use liquid foundation. I have found the brush allows me to apply a thinner, smoother layer, and allows me to blend in better at the neck/chin line. (2) I love using a powder for my eye liner. I find it isn't as severe as a pencil or liquid eye liner can be, all you need is a good angle brush. (3) I love my Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF. I just get the stuff for sensitive skin, and it takes care of my moisturizing and sun screen in one fell swoop.

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Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm

I say, skip the lipstick and just use a neutral lipliner. As a 40 year old, I find lipstick just bleeds out on me, but lipliner when used to outline and then fill in my lips, defines them all day. Cover with some tinted gloss, and you always have a great smile at hand!

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Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm

@ the other Lacey: Yes, it is spelled right!! Not "Lacy" or "Lacie"! lol too funny

Other Lacey :)

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Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Now we need one on skincare. My biggest challenge is finding a good but affordable line for women 40+.

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Sarah Boyle Webber April 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I have combination skin that is sooooooo fussy and I've been using Mary Kay on it for the last couple of years and found that to work best. I still have breakouts, though, so I'm wondering if it might be milk. I loooove milk. Dang. And cheese. That would be a bummer.

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Anonymous April 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Your hair is dyed red.
I am a natural red head.

Pamela
Ohio

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Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 12:47 am

any thoughts as to whether it is acceptable to wear eyeshadow without mascara? (I have some real problems with wearing mascara on a daily basis – no matter how good of mascara I get – my eyelashes just don't like it, and then neither do my eyes!)

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Lainey April 15, 2011 at 1:15 am

What's your point, Pamela? Am I missing something?

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Ruthie April 15, 2011 at 2:14 am

Thank you so much! The concealer tip is huge for me!

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Headless Mom April 15, 2011 at 4:38 am

Someone above mentioned skin care for those of us that are 40+….I wash my face and moisturize with Cetaphil products and I love them. They are reasonably priced and the moisturizer comes in a couple of different formulas depending on your skin type. I read somewhere that everyone over 40 must moisturize a lot and it has really helped me!

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Susan Thompson April 15, 2011 at 5:27 am

I prefer pointy-tipped tweezers. Also, eyebrow waxing is great to do a couple times a year with tweezer touch-ups in between. It costs about $10, takes 5 minutes, and makes you feel like a million bucks!

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An Occasional Reader April 15, 2011 at 8:39 am

Thank you so much! My mother wore make up when I was tiny, and then started again when I left home, and I've never been organised enough to investigate the subject systematically! I'm glad to be able to stop worrying about whether to buy more expensive stuff, and thank you for the mascara tip.

I was surprised you rate powder so low. If I'm just nipping into town for something, or just to go to weekday Mass, all I do is powder my face. Makes a huge difference. I have grotty skin with enlarged pores and old spots etc etc, but a bit of powder brings instant order to the mess – without it, you can't see my face for the blotches (I exaggerate, but it's that kind of effect).

Mind you, a good red lippie has a similar effect :D

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Moira April 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Betty,
I was just sent this and I thought you and Jen would like to see it.

http://www.afterglowcosmetics.com/201010RL_10-things.pdf

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Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm

When I headed off to college I was clueless about make up (had not been allowed to wear it in high school), so I had several make up disasters at first! Finally, I went to a fancy salon & paid $$ for a professional makeover. Then I bought *exactly* what the stylist used on my face & applied it exactly like she did everyday. It was really comforting to me that I didn't have to worry if my "style sense" was good or not because I was copying a professional. I recommend it to anyone who really feels clueless about where to start with make up. There's a decent upfront cost, but I really think I've saved money in the end because I never buy a lipstick shade I don't like (I just go back to the same salon and buy the same lipstick year after year!) Hence, no waste. :)

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Catherine April 15, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Great post Jen! My two cents…love Bobbi Brown makeup, esp. her Skin Foundation, which is very light, has SPF, and looks natural but oh, so much better! Gel eyeliner also a must, but then I like to soften it a bit by using eye liner pencil over it (a tip I learned at the BB counter at Neiman Marcus). Finally, the best cleanser I've found is Philosophy's Purity, and the Microdelivery exfoliating wash. Late 40's and combo/sensitive skin. Oh, and a big believer in the whole sunscreen thing. Absolutely essential!
Thanks again Jen, Betty, & the other posters! A fun & interesting read!

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Catherine April 16, 2011 at 12:39 am

Oh, I almost forgot what I was originally going to post! I too love the BB make-up brushes, and over at etsy.com another Catholic convert has a shop called "aux belles choses" and she custom made a beautiful make-up roll to hold the brushes, that matches an equally beautiful make-up bag! Her shop mostly shows aprons, but the girl can make anything and does a beautiful job of it! Just send her an email.

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Maryann Faro April 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Thanks for the advice! I too have light skin and undereye circles, and as much as I love a bargain, I have to agree with you that dept. store brands are better than drug store brands. I've tried both, and the cheaper stuff is a thinner consistency, doesn't last as long and sometimes irritates my skin. Personally I love the Estee Lauder concealer in the blue tube but I'm sure Lancome is great too.

Can't wait to try the mascara you mentioned. Ever since Max Factor stopped being sold in the US, my beloved 2000 Calorie Mascara is gone (sob!). After trying dozens of cheaper brands that I didn't like, I gave up and got the pricey Lancome Definicils. However, I didn't try the Mascara Lash Exact (just tried the Great Lash, which didn't stand up to my eye-drop use).

Regarding moisturizer, I think the Olay Regenerist line is pretty good for the cost. Sometimes you can get coupons in the Sunday paper.

Side note to Smoochigator: My understanding on keeping eyeliner a long time is that it's ok with a pencil, because you're not really using the same bit of eyeliner over and over. Each time you sharpen it, you're getting a new piece, which hasn't been exposed to air and germs. But I'm not an expert, it's just what I've read somewhere.

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Janet April 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm

oh wow. I love makeup but have been going without since my newest little one. But you bring out the simplicity. Thank you@

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Jen G April 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Ah, I love talking makeup/skincare! I suffer from the occastional breakout of rosacea and have allergic reactions to some eye products. Here are my top recommendations:

Cleanser: Proactiv – nothing works better, even with my sensitive skin! Keeps me free from breakouts!

Eyes: Clinique's All About Eyes moisturizing cream.

Skin redness: Eucerin Redness Relief products. Has a minty green tint that works to cancel out redness.

My dermatologist told me that mineral makeup works best with sensitive skin. I've used Bare Minerals, but you can find some great deals from sellers on Etsy.com.

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Sarah April 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Just as an update, okay I officially am buying a foundation brush! I also did some further research on make-up. While at the fancy salon getting my hair done (as usual) I took up the make-up artist's offer to do my make-up, and she used Smashbox's HALO powder on my skin. I am *in love* with it. Sadly, when I looked it up online, it has hydrolized wheat protein in it (I am a Celiac and cannot risk ingesting gluten). After debating whether or not take the risk, I instead decided to try JuiceBeauty's liquid foundation with a brush (organic, nourishing etc). We'll see how it goes. I recently switched to their acne skin-care, and my skin seems quite happy with it. Hubby is being very kind by allowing me to experiment with higher end products, haha. I am also curious about Bobbi Brown… never really heard of them until now.

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Rachel Gray April 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I'm very light-skinned, and this post gave me the impetus to go get some Lancome concealer. Wow, what a difference! I look much younger without the big blue undereye circles. :) I'd given up on concealer before because of how it blotches and looks fake, and now I realize I just needed a different shade and a better brand.

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Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelions June 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

At age 28, I’m just starting to enjoy makeup. I’m all about the natural look – but I’m realizing that makeup can actually enhance rather than just cover. I typically use Covergirl TruBlend loose powder {adds some very subtle shimmer}, Bare Minerals powder blush, and Bare Minerals lipstain. {I have eye problems and haven’t found any eye products I can wear comfortably.}

What is your opinion of those two brands?

Also, I’m surprised you don’t mention wearing sunscreen – or a moisturizer with SPF. Neutrogena makes a really great, lightweight one.
Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelions recently posted..Gadgets I Can’t Live Without: Immersion BlenderMy Profile

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