Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Help! I'm New To The Makeup World - What To Buy, and Why.

For my 150th post here at Brown Girl Makeup Musings, I wanted to talk about something a little different. It wasn't too long ago that I started my makeup adventure, and there are a couple of things I'd like to mention in the hopes of helping some of you out there. This will be an ongoing "Help! I'm New To The Makeup World" series.

Now, I know there's a lot of makeup out there, and it can get quite confusing trying to navigate the scene. Hopefully, this will clear a couple of things up.

Before you buy anything - and I mean anything!:

1. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and note down what you want out of makeup. By this, I mean think about it seriously - do you have skin issues you want to resolve (there's a difference between wanting to resolve oily skin - which would require revamping your skincare routine - and wanting to cover up acne, redness etc), or do you just want to look more pulled together? Try thinking of people whose looks you want to emulate, but be realistic. Don't aim to look like an A-lister on the red carpet - chances are, you're not going to be able to (at least immediately!).

2. Think about the time you're going to be able to invest in your routine on a daily basis. Personally, most days I love to sleep in, and so I have about 15 minutes for my routine.

3. Understand that makeup application is an art that requires practice. You're not going to be able to master techniques from day 1. Realize that you'll need to practice, and be willing to practice.

3. Look at yourself in the mirror, and really analyze yourself. By this, I mean, study the shape of your face, the shape of your eyes, your skin - is it warm toned or cool toned? What are the issues you have - redness, acne, discoloration?This video from Lisa Eldrige, one of my favorite Youtube makeup artists, is very helpful.

Done? Okay, let's go on to the products.

A foundation is something that should be in every kit, regardless of how often you plan on using it. This is for the simple reason that it helps you hide zits and other blemishes/discolorations, and give your skin an even color that makes it look 'perfect'. Furthermore, foundations can also help products like blushes and bronzers adhere better, as a result they will be more long lasting.

Foundations come in several formulas - cream, powder and liquid. Generally, cream and liquid foundations are better suited for dry and normal skins, while powder is better for oily skins. However, today's foundations have excellent formulas, and you shouldn't restrict yourself to one finish!

It's always a good idea to be a little on the spend-ier side for foundations - the reasoning behind this is that this will go all over your face, and is in direct contact with your skin (which is your largest organ, mind you), so you want to make sure you choose something that's safer.

Also, keep in mind that finding the perfect foundation for you is no easy task. Finding your correct shade, and a formula and finish that suits you is difficult, so be patient! Another thing to note - I want to emphasize this- If you are going to try a new product, sample it first, and do not sample multiple items on the same are at once. This is especially true of products you are going to be putting all over your face, but you should make a general habit of testing everything. This is to make sure you don't break out, or develop a rash to the product.

BB/CC creams
These creams are very popular at the moment, but what are they? BB stands for "Blemish Balm", and CC stands for "Color Correcting". Both these products provide (or claim to provide) you with a variety of benefits - they offer coverage (as they are tinted), they have SPF, and some also have skin-improving properties (although I'm not sure how effective those are).

It's worth noting that most of the drugstore BB/CC creams are nothing more than glorified tinted moisturizer, and offer little to no coverage (by 'coverage' I'm talking about how well they are able to even out your skin tone and hide imperfections). The Asian BB creams are the better ones, but that being said if you have a darker skin tone, it's next to impossible to find a match. However, that being said, some mid-end and high-end brands have some great BB/CC creams.

These are nice if you want a lighter coverage, or want something that can be used quickly. They can also be used under foundation, as a sort of primer, to boost the coverage offered by the foundation. If you had to choose between this and foundation, I'd pick foundation, since you can tweak it to better suit your preferences.

Face Primer - the pre-foundation step
A primer is a product that essentially primes your face for whatever goes on top of it, i.e foundation and/or BB cream. A good primer will help your foundation wear longer and better, and also fill in lines and cover pores and bumps on your face. This will aid your foundation in covering blemishes and/or discoloration. Different primers can be used for different problems. For dark circles, you can use a peach/orange primer. For redness, use a green primer. If you have sallow skin, use a lavender primer. If you have oily skin, go with an oil-free primer. Normal skins can use an untinted primer. Dry skins can use a hydrating primer.

Primers come in two formulations - silicone-based, and water-based (this can be determined by looking at the ingredients list, and noting what the first ingredient is). Silicone primers usually have dimethicone and cyclopentoxsilane, while water based primers will have aqua (water). Make sure you choose an appropriate primer for your foundation - like goes with like (i.e, water based foundation with water based primer) or else your foundation wear time might decrease, or it could look splotchy, etc. You might have to experiment around to find a formula that works for you.

This is primarily for covering under eye circles, and blemishes such as pimples. It is a great way to hide fatigue, tiredness and illness. Using concealer can instantly make you look more awake and perkier. Use concealer the same shade as your skin to cover up any zits/discolorations, and for your eyes, use a shade lighter than your skintone to brighten up your eye area. If you have severe dark circles, use a color corrector in peach (for lighter skins) or orange (for deeper skins). You can find some more concealer tips here.

Concealer can be worn under or over foundation. I personally wear concealer over foundation when I wear a full face, but most days I use concealer on it's own, without any foundation, only on areas of my face I think need it.

Eye Primer
I know, I know. I just spoke about face primer, and here I am talking about another one. It's purpose is pretty basic, but important nonetheless - it gives your shadows longer wear time, and makes them appear more vibrant. For oily lids, it also prevents creasing. It's a must if you wear eyeshadow. There are several options out there, both at drugstore and higher-end, and quite a good number of formulas around. Keep in mind that similar to face primers, you might have to experiment to find a suitable formula for you.

This is an area with limitless options. It's going to be hard to explain everything, but I'll try.

A. Color - eyeshadows come in a wide range of colors. You might like more neutral shades (especially for work), or you might like brighter colors. Whatever you like, it's important that you know how to use them. It's a good idea to look up Youtube tutorials on eyeshadow application and blending, because eyeshadows are a great way to get the look you want.

B. Types - there are two main types of shadow, powders and creams. Powder shadows are the most common, and are good for multi-faceted looks involving two or more colors. Cream shadows are very goof-proof, as they are typically worn all over the lid by themselves. Cream shadows can also serve as a base for powder shadows, in order to intensify the color of powder shadows.

C. Finish - there are several types of eyeshadow finishes, viz., matte, satin, shimmer and glitter. Matte shadows are 'plain' shadows - there's no sparkle to them. Despite being plain, they are excellent when you want a more natural look. Satin shadows have a sheen to them, and are a good way to open up the eye area. Shimmer eyeshadows are a cross between satin and glitter eyeshadows. They have a satin base, but also have very, very fine pieces of glitter in them. Glitter eyeshadows are usually either satin or matte eyeshadows with large (when compared to shimmer shadows) pieces of glitter in them. They can be finicky to work with, as they produce fallout.

Eyeliners help to add definition to your eyes. They can do a variety of things - they can change, or alter how the shape of your eye looks; they can bring out the color of your eye, or mute it; they can even add dimension to your eyeshadows by complementing or contrasting it. These come in various formulations as well - pencil, gel and liquid. Pencil liners and gel liners are typically considered easier to use than liquid liners.

Mascara helps to make your eyes pop. It can do lots of things, from darkening your lashes, to making them longer, they can add volume to your lashes. You can even change the color of your lashes by using a colored mascara! Most mascaras come in either black or brown. There are also mascaras that add temporary extensions to your lashes - these are called fibre mascaras. There are also tubing mascaras, that form a polymer around each of your lashes to give a more dramatic look.

Blush and Bronzer
Blushes and bronzers are a good way to add some color to your skin. When you use foundation, oftentimes the resulting look is flat and one dimensional - our face, however, has different colors on it. These can be used to give you a healthy look (akin to how you'd look if you had a great workout), or it can be used to add definition, to highlight your cheekbones. Blushes are generally applied to the apples of the cheek, while bronzers are used on the sides of the face (wherever the sunlight would naturally hit your face) to give you a sunkissed look.

They come in two formulations - powder and cream. Powders tend to be more pigmented, while creams are easier to blend out and more forgiving. You can also use cream products under powder products to prolong the wear time on your blush and/or bronzer.

Cream products are generally better suited to dry and normal skins, while powder is best for all skin types.

These help greatly in application - whether or not you're able to achieve the look you want depends, to a good extent, on the types of brushes you're using. You will need to apply and blend out your makeup, and the density, sturdiness, and softness of your brushes will make a difference. There are quite a few options out for good, cost-effective brushes - Real Techniques and Ecotools are two that I like.

Makeup Remover
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever sleep in your makeup. Always take off all your makeup before going to bed. There are a myriad of options available - be it creams, liquids, or even makeup removing wipes - so choose an option that appeals to you and use it, but don't skip this!

I hope this has been helpful as a starter guide! Remember that you don't need every single product on this list. Start with the ones you feel comfortable with. I recommend investing in a good concealer, mascara and makeup remover, along with some good brushes. That will give you a good starting point. You can then add other things like foundation, BB creams, eyeshadow, blush and bronzer, and primers.

A note on primers - some people swear by them while others find that they don't need them. It all depends on your skin, and on your personal preferences.

Was this helpful? Comment below and let me know if I missed anything!


  1. AnonymousJune 17, 2014

    This is such a nice post, and a great idea! I remember when I was starting out in makeup, and in some things (like primer, and contour) I'm still a newbie!

  2. I think this post is super helpful! If I'd seen somthing like this 4 years back, I'd probably have wasted a lot less money. Oh well, we live and learn.

    Also Congratulations on 100 posts!

  3. As somebody who has only recently gotten into makeup (and learning heavily on Youtube and makeup blogs for help), this was a fantastic post! Thank you.