For a lot of people, make-up is a way to hide “flaws,” a way to present the illusion that they have something they don’t—clearer skin, a thinner nose, plumper lips—and that can be fun. It’s also sort of empowering to know that with a few key products, you, too, can look like those models in the magazines. It demystifies beauty in a sense, because you realize how fake that sort of manufactured beauty it is. But that’s not the only way to use make-up. It’s just, unfortunately, the most popular way.
Make-up shouldn’t be about turning yourself into something you’re not, it should be about celebrating what you are and emphasizing the natural beauty you have. Adding splashes of color to areas of your face—like your eyes, lips and cheeks—is a simple way to change your look and emphasize certain parts of your face. But you shouldn’t emphasize certain parts because you want to hide other parts—all of you is beautiful!
Try it! It’s crazy how doing nothing but painting your lips red can make you feel instantly more confident, or how matching your eyeshadow to your top can take your look to a new level of chic.
Perhaps the most fun way to use make-up is when you use it to express yourself. Draw shapes on your face with an eye-liner pencil, use different colors of eyeshadow or blush on totally random parts of your face. Break every beauty rule and have a blast doing it, all while saying something that is totally and uniquely you!
But there are days when you want to rock a typical high-glam look and there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you know you don’t have to do these things to be beautiful, wanting to express a more typical beauty can be perfectly healthy.
No matter how you plan to use make-up, though, it helps knowing what the countless numbers of products behind cosmetic counters are for. So here is a basic list of typical things you’ll find at your local drug store or department store and how they’re supposed to be used. Take this knowledge and do whatever you want with it—even if it means putting eyeliner on your forehead.
Hard Candy’s Glamoflauge concealer provides heavy coverage and easy blending. It does a great job of covering stubble, which is great if you plan to do drag.
Concealer Concealer is usually used in small portions on one’s face to hide “imperfections.” While we don’t like to call them “imperfections,” sometimes you’ll want to hide certain facial features for a particular make-up look—like covering your facial hair to do drag—and concealer helps you do just that. It’s usually applied first when doing a “full face” (applying foundation to your entire face).
Foundation There are several kinds of foundation such as solid, liquid and mousse. Which one you’ll want to use depends on what you want to do with it. Liquid foundations usually provide heavier coverage, but mousses tend to blend better. Solid foundation (which usually comes in a compact) is good for light, everyday coverage. Not sure which will work for you? Experiment with bargain brands and when you find a texture that works for you, splurge on a pricer version.
Powder Pressed powder is used in a variety of ways. Sometimes, it’s a quick, everyday alternative to foundation. Typically, though, it’s applied over foundation to even out coverage and help set the make-up. We love ELF’s translucent HD powder. It keeps your makeup fresh all night, and leaves your skin looking and feeling super-smooth. Be warned — HD powder can show up white in flash photography. Avoid this faux pas by layering a powder a shade or two darker than your skintone over a light dusting of the HD stuff. And always double-check your face by taking a selfie with flash before stepping out.
NYC’s lipsticks have long-lasting color and can cost less than a dollar!
Lipcolors There are a variety of lip-coloring products on the market. From tinted balms, to stains, to regular lipstick, it can be confusing deciding which type of lip product is right for you. Again, it all depends on the look you want to go for. Generally, you should go with lipstick if you want more pigmentation (heavier color), lipgloss for subtle sheen and a lipstain when you want long-lasting color. Try layering colors, textures and products—a kiss of gloss over lipstick can complete your look.
Eyeliner A quick swipe of eyeliner is an easy way to make your eyes really stand out. Eyeliner comes in liquid, pencil and pen forms. For beginners, a self-sharpening pencil is usually the best option. They can be found anywhere for less than a dollar. When you’re ready to try more dramatic looks (like a sexy cat eye), try a pen. These provide precision application without the mess or fuss of liquid liners. We like ELF’s essential eyeliner pen. (Hint: When doing your eye makeup, do your shadow first, followed by liner and mascara.)
CoverGirl’s Intense Shadow Blast eye shadows come in a lipgloss-like tube. The felt-tip applicator and creamy texture make blending a breeze.
Eyeshadow Eyeshadow is one of the easiest ways to dramatically change your look, but it can also be one of the more intimidating tools to master. But thanks to products like eyeshadow pencils and crayons, creating dramatic eye makeup looks is getting easier and easier. Still, beginners may want to try a more traditional experience. We recommend experimenting with cream eyeshadows, which blend easily with fingers or brushes.
Bonne Belle’s Blend ‘n Glow bronzer is inexpensive and gives a dynamic glow.
Bronzer & Blush Blush and bronzer can both add color to your face, but bronzer is usually used for contouring. Using a brush, apply bronzer just under your cheekbones to emphasize them. If you want a more colorful look, apply a dab of blush to the apples of your cheeks. Try wearing both at the same time for a more dynamic look; use a cream blush for easier blending. Pro tip: you can contour more than just your cheeks! You can also use bronzer to contour other parts of your face, like your nose.