can I get what you've got at CVS?
September 19, 2011 12:53 AM   Subscribe

I do okay when it comes to doing my makeup and hair, but I pale in comparison to the girls at my university who are able to come to class fully dolled up. What am I missing?

So societal expectations of beauty aside, I have always marveled at how some girls can pull themselves together with so much makeup and have such nice hair when most of the time I can barely manage to have my hair semi-dry by the time I roll into class.

Where did these women learn how to do all this makeup-y stuff and how did I miss this training somewhere along the growing up process? Do people take classes, or go to Nordstroms and insist that someone at the counter teach them? And what about their hair? So many of these girls have hair that's longer than mine and they still manage to look substantially more put together. I mean, seriously, do they teach you this stuff in sororities? And how the hell do they have the time to make themselves this dolled up?

I don't want to look like I'm ready to go clubbing or anything, but I would love to know what resources these girls might have access to just so I can feel more confident in doing my hair and makeup myself.

ETA: I grew up with a tomboy mom and no siblings and one stylish aunt who is more clothes oriented than hair/makeup concerned.
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (42 answers total) 119 users marked this as a favorite
Practice, practice, practice.

May I also recommend the book Making Faces, which has certainly helped me to "cheat" my way to a faster makeup process.
posted by DisreputableDog at 1:09 AM on September 19, 2011

A lot of them just like makeup enough to play with it until they got a routine down pat and might experiment at times they're not rushed to get new looks. And yeah some of it was talking to friends/sisters/moms etc. Or makeup forums.

Or YouTube. Seriously, YouTube is a treasure trove of cosmetics/hairstyling videos including ones on how you can do basic/quick makeup before school or work. Kandee Johnson--pro makeup artist--for example has a video of exactly that, but I'm sure there are dozens more from others, pro and amateur alike.

It really does just take practice, once you have some techniques and an idea of how you want to look.
posted by asciident at 1:17 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]

Moms, older sisters, and friends. Fortunately, the rest of us have YouTube. I've learned a lot from "beauty gurus" who post instructional videos. I've also learned a lot from Paula Begoun (warning: auto-play video). I don't use nearly as many products nor take nearly as much time as they do, but practice has helped me figure out what I definitely need (blow dryer, straightening iron, foundation, powder, mascara), what I can skip unless I'm in the mood (concealer, eye shadow, lipstick), and what I don't like wearing (eyeliner, blush, bronzer).
posted by neushoorn at 1:18 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Having nice quality make up makes a difference for me. I know there is a lot of contention over this but I think a quality foundation and rouge/powder makes a big difference to the overall look, as does nice lipstick. Re: the hair- I think this is just about committing to making the time for it, isn't it? And buying a hair straightener, if that's the look you're going for.
posted by jojobobo at 1:45 AM on September 19, 2011

How long does it take your to do your hair and makeup? Have you considered that they maybe just get up earlier?
Practice is a big part of it - makeup shouldn't take longer than 15-20 minutes if you do it the same way every day. If I was pushed for time I could do it in 5. Hair depends on how long it is, how often you need to wash it and what you want to do with it. Maybe they wash it at night and sleep in curlers. If they're washing, blow drying and straightening every morning then that just takes time and practice.
posted by missmagenta at 1:50 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Better yet, whatever kind of hair you have, whether it be curly, kinky, wavy, straight, the numerous other variations, learn to work with it. If you learn how to work with the style of hair (and skin, eye shape, etc) you were born with, then make up and styling become a frame rather than the picture itself.

Some girls have just learned how to hang that frame up faster, because they know the "painting" well enough to know what to do without thinking too much about it anymore.

I promise it really doesn't take that long to learn how to do. And hell yeah to the YouTube videos.
posted by DisreputableDog at 1:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learned everything via the internet, and there are about a zillion girls willing to share some amazing tips.

Applying makeup is an art. You'll get better at it the more you experiment and practice, and see what works for you. It can be a lot of fun, and even if you don't wear much makeup at all, it's nice to know that every once in a while you can look radically different if you want to.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:49 AM on September 19, 2011

It's practice and time. I don't often wear much makeup, but now that I know what works for me I can do it in ten minutes and look polished. This is because I have been doing it for years! Also, when I had long hair and cared what I looked like, I used to get up an hour and a half before I had to leave to go to uni. So I had time to wash, dry (which took forever) and straighten my hair.

If its reassuring though, everyone was way ahead of me in the makeup race at school, and I've caught up now by experimenting and reading tutorials, so it can be done!
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:04 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm betting what you see is practice. Some of these girls spent a very awkward seventh grade figuring out a lot of things and then just sharpened their skills to a point through high school.

I have my own cheats so i can get ready in less than fifteen min. if completely necessary, but it took me years to figure them out and they take a lleeeeettttle bit of prep beforehand.

I dry my hair the night before and comb it into a tight, high ponytail in the morning. My skin is pretty good so i don't do foundation. I spend the bulk of my fifteen min on my eyes- and top it off with a lip gloss. With a snappy blouse and respectable shoes everything looks fine.

yes on the ytube, but don't be too freaked out if it takes you a while longer than you want for a while. really, you just need to get used to it. These are skills that do take a bit of time to master.
posted by Blisterlips at 3:47 AM on September 19, 2011

Practice. I went to a small high school where being dressed/coiffed/made up was de rigeur so I bowed to peer pressure and every morning rolled my hair on hot rollers, did make-up, etc.
By college, I was OVER IT and mostly now am too but it is nice to be able to do my makeup very fast.

My "cheats": good quality products that work for my skin, cute shoes, a few outfits that are virtually failproof: non-wrinkly, multi-seasonal, flattering, and easily dressed up our down with accessories.
posted by pointystick at 4:45 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I hate when people come to class all dolled up when I just rolled out of bed...

OH right, the question :)

As an only child whose mom didn't care much for makeup (or fashion), I'm primarily self-taught. I do enjoy "What Not to Wear." This can serve as both a tutorial for fashion and makeup, since they give the woman a makeover each episode.

Also, you need good brushes. And decent makeup. It doesn't need to be crazy expensive; everything I use I can get at CVS. Don't buy anything from Cover Girl. Their target audience is teens, so they don't put much effort into quality. I have Physicians Formula Organics for a lot of my products. It's mineral-based, which helps keep my skin naturally healthy. A lot of brands will dry out your skin from the chemicals and then you'll have a harder time with things like foundation/powder. I also bought a good set of travel brushes recently (some bamboo organic things). You get a whole different look when you use brushes compared to the little white pad things a lot of brands give you.

For makeup application, above recommendations seem good. I learned from a slew of places, but am self-taught. Also for things like eye shadow, look for a package that accentuates your eyes. These generally give you some options, and contain instructions on the back about how to blend them together.

As far as hair goes -- I am very jealous of people who can style their hair in 5/10 minutes! I am blessed with thick, wavy hair that can look amazing -- but only after 45 minutes of work! This is about finding secrets and shortcuts. I use either Paul Mitchell's Super Skinny Serum or Garnier's Sleek and Shine Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk as a base after washing my hair. This keeps it manageable. A good trick for cutting down on drying time is letting it naturally dry before styling. If you pull it back into a French braid one day, it'll take a good portion of the day to dry, but it'll be tame and dry to straighten/curl it the next day in only a few minutes. If you don't like a braid, wash your hair at night and keep it toweled when you go to bed so it doesn't get crazy messy overnight. Starting off with naturally dried hair is both better for your hair (thus keeping it easy to style because it's harder to deal with when damaged) and saves lots of time in the styling process.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:51 AM on September 19, 2011

Yeah, my mother never wore makeup and my father was against my wearing it (I only got away with it 'cause he was legally blind—he usually only knew I had something on if he could smell it). So I pretty much taught myself—magazines like Seventeen and Cosmopolitan were actually invaluable for gleaning tips/tricks/trends. Now, of course, you've got nearly endless resources for this online; if I were learning all over again, I'd find a style blog or set of YouTube videos I liked and go from there. And yeah, don't use Cover Girl; it'll wreck your skin. I used their foundation and powder in high school through the middle of college, and I wish I hadn't. Even a small step up in price can get you a much better product—see L'Oreal's True Match line, for instance.

As for hair, oh God, same problem, only worse. My mother didn't teach me how to do much in the way of hairstyles—then, she kept her hair cut short; now, she just lets her hair grow hippie-long—and my father would've been happy if I'd just put my hair in a ponytail and kept it there for life (he made me wear one all of third grade, ugh). So it took me until the middle of college to find a cut and styling method that worked for me (don't even ask about the "style" I wore until that point), but now I can get my hair into decent shape in about 10 minutes with a quick blow-dry upside down and then styling with hairspray and a brush. The one thing it's taken me a long time to come around to is the importance of regular trims—I almost always get my hair cut when it's already just a little bit too long (like right now). So I would recommend regular trims; they're amazing for just helping your hair naturally fall in the right shape and not get too heavy.
posted by limeonaire at 5:24 AM on September 19, 2011

Oh right—and the other thing, which I'm running up against as I type this, heh, is that you need to build half an hour to an hour into your morning routine for shower, hair, and makeup. That's been part of my mornings since middle school.
posted by limeonaire at 5:42 AM on September 19, 2011

Agree with what everyone else is saying about building in the time to do your face into your morning. Also, practise. Practise practise practise.

Youtube is great, but I do think you should at least consider going to a department store makeup counter, or maybe Sephora, and having one of their artists teach you how to do a basic look or two which you can then practise at home. I love MAC for this- go on a weekday when they're not so rushed. I'm fairly decent at doing makeup, but I got loads better after the artist showed me how. You don't necessarily have to buy all high-end products, but a session with a trained makeup artist can make a world of difference.
posted by Tamanna at 5:49 AM on September 19, 2011

What you do is you walk into Sephora, you ask them to show you how to put on makeup suitable for class, and then you have them teach you. If you have multiple sephoras in your area, you can do this a few times. Otherwise, wait a few months and go back to the same sephora and get another makeover. They are free, but you'll probably want to buy some of the products they use on you. Ask them where to spend your money (I.e. Some products are fine from cvs, others are worth splurging on at sephora.) Then you go home and practice with your new toys. If you do this, you will look great. They just have a way of bringing out the prettiest parts of each woman.

Then you have to splurge and go to a nice hair salon, explain that you want an age-appropriate put together cut that you can style yourself. And have them teach you as well. Then practice at home.
posted by n'muakolo at 6:00 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

Great suggestions so far. The How To Be A Girl series on The Hairpin is fun and helpful too - the video tutorials are charming and instructive and if you have a specific question, you can write in with it. Jane, the author, also gives specific product recommendations and my experience has been with those that she knows her shit.

I find the general attitude of the series to be very welcoming to all budgets and positive and focused on inspiring daily confidence, rather than the "Put all this stuff on your face immediately because of my commission" that you can sometimes get at Sephora and makeup counters and stuff.
posted by superfluousm at 6:34 AM on September 19, 2011 [14 favorites]

If you learn how to work with the style of hair (and skin, eye shape, etc) you were born with, then make up and styling become a frame rather than the picture itself.

This. I didn't get what my hair wanted and spent most of my youth with bad hair. Then I stopped trying to beat it into submission, and what do you know; I have a pile of silky curls that are pretty much wash-and-wear if I do it right. Maybe not everyone can do that, but it certainly takes less time than committing to a blow out routine. Don't fight what your skin and hair do best with, build the routine around that.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:47 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Practice and experimentation are really great if you're already someone who likes practice and experimentation. If you, like me, are not so much into the endless primping it'll be hard to force yourself into a routine that isn't very complimentary to your actual life. For me, looking pulled together is about one thing... boil it down.

Figure out what you can get away with, and compromise with the rest. Figure out what little tweaks make a big difference, get those down pat and just let the rest flow. You want some concrete examples you say? Well, alright... (full disclosure: YMMV, but it's worth a try!)

Hair: I blow dry the front part of head - bangs, top, a little in the back - and leave the rest wet. Twist the rest (my hair's kind of long) into a bun, french twist, chignon, whateva you like really. Results: the top and front is dry, your hair is pulled back from your face, and after lunch once hair has dried a bit you can let it down and it's all wavy and curly and pretty and the bangs are still intact.

Makeup: Best thing I ever did was ditching eye shadow. It's a bitch to put on so it looks symmetrical (and I've found it never stays on all day very well anyway). Go for really simple - lipstick. Clean face, with a bit of powder, + mascara + lipstick. You can't wear tons of eye makeup and lipstick at the same time anyway. It ends up looking a little gaudy, I think. Lipstick is so easy. Literally just slap it on your face. It's colorful, and fancy, and draws attention your smile and what you're saying. My other go-to is eyeliner. Also a bitch to put on, but wings never go out of style. They're fancy!

Clothes: Best thing you can do for looking pulled together is to make a shape for yourself. I'm not super skinny mini, but I force a waist upon myself. Easy dressing - dark jeans, tank top, cardigan, skinny belt at your waist and over the sweater. Get yourself a really comfy cardigan; one so comfy you reach for it instead of a sweatshirt. Get yourself fitted, and stretchy, jeans. And get yourself a bunch of colorful tanks and a couple skinny belts. Mix and match colors to your hearts desire.

Hope this helped!
posted by jay.eye.elle.elle. at 6:51 AM on September 19, 2011 [14 favorites]

It's about caring about it and practice. My mother spends about 10 minutes on makeup every day. I spend about 0, up to 5 if I am really into getting dressed up. My younger sister spends a good half hour in the morning, plus extra time touching up a few times a day, plus another half hour if she is going out again at night. Doing this every day for years really improves your skills.

Her hair is fairly easy to take care of (mostly straight, but not stick straight, quite fine, but not too fine), so she doesn't spend as much time on it, but someone who had similar hair to me (very thick, very curly, very frizzy, very long) used to spend 45 minutes on it every morning, though it started out taking her 2 hours until she got good at it.

These are extremes, of course, but mostly it is about practicing a lot, and about caring enough to wake up early for it every single day. Obviously by the time they're around 20, they can do it much faster than people who just started can.
posted by jeather at 6:51 AM on September 19, 2011

It's time. You can't deep-end into this level of presentation without building in a lot more time. If this is your goal, gone are the days of rolling out of bed-shower- grab books and go. You must be willing to put in the time. It will get faster as your experience grows, but for a while, if it's really important to you, get used to it. Add in extra for washing your face/hair and starting over, at least until you get it down. Because it will probably happen a few times.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used to wear my long hair up all the time because it was so frizzy but then I got the InStyler cheap on Ebay and now it takes me 7-10 minutes of one or two passes at a medium setting, and my hair is good until the next wash three days later.
posted by Dragonness at 7:15 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

You know what, those girls with the hair that looks like its been straightened - they're not washing it anywhere near as much as you think they are. Google and You Tube some hair styling tutorials and you'll start to notice a common theme - works best on day(s) old hair.

I recently went from wash + air dry every day to a shorter style and straighteners. Turns out I was spending nearly as much time wrangling my wet hair into submission as I do maintaining a style but washing it a lot less. If you plan ahead you only need to do a mammoth drying session a couple of times a week and then just tidy up with straighteners in the morning.

Having the right tools helps too - I was struggling with the wrong brush for blow drying, a really old hair dryer (low power, few settings, not ionic) and old straighteners to start with (not ceramic!). After a few You Tubes you'll soon be on the right track.
posted by Ness at 7:30 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really think that the TV show "what not to wear" is awesome for this. There's a makeup session at the end that's great.
posted by bananafish at 8:02 AM on September 19, 2011

I like all the suggestions here, but another thing you can try is finding a really put-together girl, one with hair and skin tone similar to yours, telling her she looks great and just asking, "How do you get your hair/make-up to look like that?" And/or "What products do you use?" Most people love a compliment, and I've found that most girls are actually pretty excited to talk about products they've found that work for them.

For me, I have wavy/curlyish hair, and I am often asked how I fix it and what products I use. I am more than happy to recommend products, especially because it's taken me a long time to find them myself! Finding a friendly girly-girl and getting her secrets might get you on the right path to the products and styling regimine you want. It could make your internet search a little more focused.

And there's a book by Carmindy, the make-up artist on "What Not to Wear," called 5-Minute Face that my sister swears by. I've never read it, but it could be a good resource for someone looking for a fast way to figure out and put on everyday make-up.
posted by alittlecloser at 8:09 AM on September 19, 2011

Ditto on the "they're not washing their hair as much as you think they are".

My little sister is one of these girls, and she washes her hair about 2 or 3 times a week, at night, goes to bed with it wet, and then straightens/curls it in the morning. With dry shampoo, a little backcombing, and one of those plastic shower caps (so she can still take rinse-offs without getting her hair wet) her look will easily last three days. Look for products that will give you volume and shine; that's the key to taking hair up a notch.

A few of my old colleagues used to get salon blowouts every few days, as well--that could always be a possibility.
posted by stellaluna at 10:28 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I seem to be allergic to so many hair products! Pretty much all the stuff I'd normally want to use breaks my face and back out like nobody's business. Are there good sulfate free things out there that would help make my curly-wavy hair nice and soft? I have to wash my hair every day due to oilyness. I envy those who can just wash and go and wear their hair for two to three days.

So it wouldn't be weird for me to approach someone at Nordstroms or Sephora and ask them to teach me? I really want to invest in nice brushes from MAC but I never feel like I know which ones to get and then I feel stupid if I don't know how to use them. Plus I get acne from certain makeup products too. This is all very confusing.

Thanks for the YouTube refs! I have to fight the urge to watch all of them instead of doing homework.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:33 AM on September 19, 2011

Seconding YouTube.

Here are my favorite makeup gurus. Watch them and you will automatically learn a lot:

Lisa Eldridge




You most definitely can get everything at CVS. EmilyNoel83 uses a lot of drug store products.

For hair tutorials check out:


Please do not be afraid to go fresh-faced to class. I think wearing a lot of eye makeup to school/university looks like you're trying to hard. There's something odd and unappealing about seeing a woman all dolled up for class or a baseball game or some other place where it's not appropriate. A little lip gloss and mascara with nice hair goes a long way. Save the heavy makeup for the clubs.
posted by Fairchild at 12:20 PM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]

Another favorite YouTube channel of mine:


posted by Fairchild at 12:23 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I want to seconf the idea of skipping laborious eye shaddow and eyeliner. Lipstick is much easier and gives just as much impact and is less clubby looking.

For my everyday I use mascara and lipstick. Done.

If I'm feeling a little fancy or going out, I use a liner brush dipped in water to just put a little eyeshadow around my eyes. I use a MAC liner brush because it's super tiny. Small makeup, big impact. Then add mascara nd lipstick.

The most glaring omission from my routine is foundation, concealer, or powder. Instead of putting a bunch of pigment all over my face, I opt to just take care of my skin. For me this means sunscreen in certain seasons, and moistuizer in others. I massage about 5 drops of oil (i made a mix of almond, apricot seed, grapeseed, jojoba, avacado, sesame, and argan all of which I got at whole foods) into my face (with palms and fingertips) and if needed i will also massage some commercial moisturizer on my face (i use clinique dramatically different lotion or gel, or thier moisture surge moisturizers). I wash my face in the morning, moisturize appropriately, and wash again at night and usually go bare faced until after the mornign wash. I think my skin looks better without the makeup because you cant see product clinging to those little hairs on your cheeks if the light catched them. It looks natural because...its natural.

Hair I'm still working on, but trims have helped. even if it's just a $8 clip n snips trim between big money salon visits.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:33 PM on September 19, 2011

Someone very well may have said this before, but I always felt kind of blah about my (thick/wavy) hair until I got a haircut I really loved. Now, it actually has a shape and requires very minimal effort to look "put-together" and "deliberate." The way it's layered is key. Doesn't matter if it's freshly washed, a few days dirty, slept on wet, blow-dried out, whatever. Also, I LOVE this product my hairdresser turned me onto (takes no skill to use): Dust-it
posted by jilliank at 12:49 PM on September 19, 2011

just in case you haven't seen it: previously
posted by ifjuly at 1:21 PM on September 19, 2011

Regarding your allergies/reactions: For makeup, try mineral-based products (or even organic). Most likely it is a reaction to the chemicals most makeup has. Also make sure to get a makeup removed and clean your face with it every time you where makeup.

For hair products, you might look into something called Wen. It's not a traditional shampoo - its a hair cleansed or something. My mom uses this now and swears by it, plus you don't do it as often which would help with your styling. It doesn't have any sulfates. The one tip is to use a lot of it. Not using enough leaves your hair oily, but using the right amount should keep your hair looking clean and not greasy for a few days.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:35 PM on September 19, 2011

My naturally mousy brown hair is oily and flat and I used to have to wash it every single day if I wanted to look at all presentable. A few years ago I went platinum blonde and one of the side benefits is that I now only need to wash it once every 3 days or so, except right before my appointment when the roots are at their worst. Regular bleaching has its own headaches and isn't cheap, but if you're looking for ways to cut down on the daily maintenance, it is an option!
posted by platinum at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2011

Please go to the MAC counter, Laura Mercier, etc. and not Sephora for makeup advice. Only go to Sephora to try and buy. Sephora consultants do not have formal training really, whereas the other counters do. MAC would be ideal.

Buy Making Faces as suggested above.

If the MAC brushes seem to be too much for you, EcoTools are sort of the rage on Makeup Alley right now. They are cheaper and high quality, as well as available at CVS or Ulta. Someone upthread mentioned having bought some bamboo tools and I owuld bet these are it. They have full sized and travel. Also, join Makeup Alley.

Do get a Shu Uemura eyelash curler, available only online. It is really the best.
posted by oflinkey at 4:11 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

A few quick product recommendations that shouldn't upset your skin --

- Mineral foundation from . The woman who runs this company is committed to making a clean, non-irritating product that matches your skin tone. Order some samples to find the best match. One order lasts a long time, and I've been happy with the coverage. I can also apply it quickly and it won't look streaky. I really can't recommend her foundation highly enough.

- Seconding the EcoTools brushes. Inexpensive and high-quality. Use the foundation brush dipped in minerals for good coverage.

- I use Giovanni Smooth as Silk shampoo and conditioner and have been impressed with the results. After using uber-herbal natural shampoos that left my hair feeling like I'd washed it with rubbing alcohol, this was a welcome change. And no sulfates!
posted by delight at 6:54 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oops, sorry -- that should read, "Mineral foundation from" Link didn't work for some reason.
posted by delight at 6:55 PM on September 19, 2011

So it wouldn't be weird for me to approach someone at Nordstroms or Sephora and ask them to teach me? I really want to invest in nice brushes from MAC but I never feel like I know which ones to get and then I feel stupid if I don't know how to use them.

Definitely not Sephora. And not only is it not weird to approach, that's what they are there for! It's actually really fun to sit in one of the chairs and get "done". Pick a time when the stores aren't so crowded, go the the make-up brand that "speaks" to you, and enjoy yourself. You should plan before you go how much you want to spend (this trip!) and don't be shy about telling your new BFF you have a budget, skin issues, a limited amount of time and patience, but want to polish it up a bit. Ask what the absolute essentials are. And I strongly second a good haircut. The better the cut, the less time you'll have to spend on it.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:49 AM on September 20, 2011

Just coming back to pitch Sephora again. It's ideal to - at least once, but preferably a few times - have someone take your actual face, and apply the products then and there. You can learn a lot on youtube, but a session at a makeup counter like sephora will be specific to the lines of your face, the texture and quality of your skin. Sephora carries so many different products, and so their staff suggest what they think is the best product for your needs (i.e. dior show mascara, smashbox primer and eye shadow, clinique face cream....) I like to play and go to these places and get these free makeovers, and I (and my friends) come out of Sephora looking the best - they seem to have a knack for bringing out my best features while not making me look overdone.

When I go, I usually have 1 thing I want to buy (even if it's that dior show mascara I have been buying for years). I ask them what 3 things they think every woman should own. I ask them what they - personally - would buy at CVS and what they would splurge on at sephora. I've found them quite honest - i.e. buy mascara at sephora but bronzer at cvs. It's all very natural and comfortable. I've never once experienced a hard sell at sephora.

Also seconding whoever said to learn the art of applying makeup that looks natural. For going out, you might find it's fun to expirement with dramatic eyes, etc., but for class, you want to look like your prettiest natural self. This might require some mascara, a primer, some very good foundation that blends perfectly with your skin, some lip gloss, some very subtle bronzer & blush, a hint of smudged eyeliner. Or even less than that, depending on the quality of your skin tone and your natural looks.

One more thing: if you haven't already, start maintainig your eyebrows. You want them to be neat and trimmed, and possibly filled in if they are sparse. (And not too skinny.)
posted by n'muakolo at 10:37 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

No help on the makeup front (I've always been baffled by those girls, too), but with regard to hair care I wanted to say: longer doesn't necessarily mean higher-maintenance. My hair is actually easier to take care of when it's very long (hip-length), because its own weight keeps it untangled.
posted by ms.codex at 1:39 PM on September 20, 2011

This book is the bible of beauty products: Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun. You should be able to find it at your local library. Comb through it for products that will suit your specific needs. You will also learn that Clinique's Dramatically Different lotion is dramatically useless.
posted by wwartorff at 7:35 AM on October 17, 2011

I'm going to go ahead and nix the Sephora/department store counter idea. It sounds great in theory, but the purpose of these make overs is to sell you products, and the salespeople are very well trained. You'll find yourself spending a lot (like $200) without even realizing what's happened. I speak from experience. If you do decide to try a make over, tell the salesclerk ahead of time: "I'm only interested in buying a new eyeshadow/mascara/foundation/whatever." Then, your intentions are clear and when you say "no thanks" to the 25 other products they try to sell you, you'll feel slightly less guilty. If you do succumb, know that you can return most products if they are unopened. Sephora sometimes even takes open products back.

Consider taking baby steps. If you currently wear no make up, start with mascara and gloss. Once you get used to that routine, add products or steps in your routine one at a time. This may ease the process. So you add to your routine in 5 minute increments instead of having to all of a sudden wake up 30 minutes earlier.
posted by ClosetBeauty at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2011

Sorry if this has been posted (I didn't click on all the links), but this video has been an absolute revelation: How to get curls without heat.

I have very thick hair with lots of wave that can be coaxed into a curl. This method allows me to wash my hair at night, set it using the technique in the video, sleep, then wake up to amazing curls that take just a little combing to be fabulous. And it lasts all day. And it's very comfortable to sleep in.
posted by absquatulate at 5:49 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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