Get messy and other advice when first learning about make-up

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Get messy and other advice when first learning about make-up
Caroline’s make-up can be described as “variations on the colours purple and black”
I am a near-25-year-old that never used make-up routinely. I am starting to get curious about it at a late point, and am inspired when I see others wearing make-up to enhance their look.

The problem is, I don’t know where to even start looking at brands or what goes well with various skin types and such. I don’t even really know the difference between foundation and concealer. I’ve used eyeshadow, mascara, and lipgloss but that is really limited to stuff my mom gave me back when I was in junior high and high school! I have no idea how to buy and look for make-up for myself as an adult!

Does anybody have a good cosmetic guide or beginners advice? -Sara

I didn’t start wearing make-up seriously/frequently until a couple years ago, so I feel you. Like any other hobby, it can seem daunting to get into. Things clicked with me when I looked at make-up like art: it takes practice, the right tools and materials, and an understanding of the medium.

Here’s my advice…

Soul search

Make a Pinterest board (or seven) of looks you like and might want to try. Figure out what your priorities are when it comes to make-up. Do you want to make sure that nothing you use was tested on animals? Do you need it to be for sensitive skin? …Are you unsure? Do you prefer to support smaller brands, your local drug store’s brands, or big name brands? When you’re just starting out, I recommend trying a little of each (more on how to do this affordably later) to see what works best for you. Sometimes spending the extra money on a product is worth it, and sometimes it’s not. Start doing some research with…

YouTube tutorials

I can’t stress the awesomeness of YouTube make-up tutorials enough. These are free and fantastic ways to learn about make-up — how it works, what techniques are out there, what tools you might need and how to use them, and what would work best for your face shape/eye shape/lip shape.

There are tons of amateur and professional make-up tutorials online. I’m sure our Homies will share their faves in the comments, but I’ll recommend:

Spend some time browsing the videos and find a style that gels with your personal style. These artists have their favourite products, but the techniques are applicable to any brands.

Beauty counter “make-overs”

Big drug stores and make-up counters at department stores offer make-overs to help you figure out what shade of foundation is best for you, what product can help with a skin problem, how best to line your lips, etc. They’ll ask you questions about your skin to get a sense of what type you have (e.g. is it usually oily, dry, or both?). Bring some examples to show them what kind of look you’re into. Go to the counter whose beautician’s look is most similar to the one you’re into (there’s a big difference between Clinique and MAC, for instance).

The beautician will explain to you upfront if you need to pay for the make-over or if you can pay for it by buying products used. This can save you a lot of money in the long-run if your drug store doesn’t accept returns on used make-up (getting the wrong shade by mistake suuuuucks). These people are professional make-up artists or beauticians and it’s their job to help you find the product that works best for you. Avail yourself!

Incidentally, make sure you know if you can return make-up when you buy it. Often stores will accept make-up you’ve used and all you have to say is you didn’t end up liking the shade.

Beauty subscriptions

There are services like Ipsy that will send you sample or even full-size versions of make-up products every month for a flat fee so that you can try new things. They’re perfect for those just starting out with make-up or anyone looking to see what’s new on the market.

I still have trouble with eyeshadow. And really goofy expressions apparently.
I still have trouble with eyeshadow. And really goofy expressions apparently.

Practice practice practice

Applying make-up is a skill that anyone can master with practice. People ask me how I get my eyeliner so even; well, it wasn’t always this way (and I still have off days). I tried a ton of different products and gave up many times before I found the perfect eyeliner for me and started diligently practicing at least a couple times a week. Now it takes me no time at all. Eyeshadow, on the other hand…

Like anything you want to get better at, practicing, trying new things, and taking risks is the best way to learn. Invest in some good make-up remover, and practice on yourself before you get in the shower so you can wash it all off!

The basics


Start with a moisturizer to keep your skin healthy. Concealer works to conceal pimples and other blemishes, and foundation goes on everywhere to even out the skintone. You don’t need both, or either; you could go for a tinted moisturizer to provide a bit of coverage, or just regular moisturizer. But if you want coverage, concealer and/or foundation is going to do the job. You put foundation on first, then concealer on blemishes, dark circles, or any other area you want extra coverage. Foundation can be liquid or powder; ask a beautician which they recommend for your skin type.

After you even out your skintone, you’re going to want to add some blush and/or bronzer to add some depth and contour back onto your face (that’s why it’s called a foundation). YouTube videos on using blush and bronzer are your best bet for learning how to contour the easiest way. Experiment and try different things to see what you like the best.

I really love using eyeshadow primer above and below my eyes to hide dark circles. It really helps eyeliner and eyeshadow stick, but even if you don’t want to put on any other make-up, the primer makes a world of difference.


Eyeliner is my favourite thing. Eyeliner and mascara without any eyeshadow might be all you want/need for day-to-day and even special occasions. You can get liquid, gel, or pencil eyeliner — or you could use your eyeshadow with an eyeliner brush. Trying different products is the only way you can figure out which one you like best, but like I said: you can often return products that don’t work for you.

There’s a definite art to blending eyeshadow, and YouTube videos will help you figure out the art behind combining colours, what tools do what, and what works best on different eye shapes.


As with everything else, learning to put on lipstick takes practice. You might want to start by using a lip brush to pick up the colour from the stick, or by using lipliners, and then move on to applying directly from the stick itself. Practice going over your natural lip line if you like. Or forgo lipstick altogether and keep it simple with lipgloss or balm or nothing at all.

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy

Even if something isn’t technically for your eye or face or lip shape — give it a try if you like it. Buy shades you like and don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s too dramatic or any such nonsense. Make-up is 20% what the product is and 80% how confidently you wear it. If you’re into it, you’ll look great.

How about it, Homies? What tips do you have for someone just entering the make-up world?

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