Help me get pretty, without feeling ugly!
January 14, 2014 9:19 PM   Subscribe

I want to learn how to apply makeup. For fun, for the art of it, and so that I will have the ability to enhance my natural beauty when I choose to. But I'm a little worried that I'll end up feeling like I should wear makeup all the time. I'm also worried that I'll end up feeling ugly instead of beautiful - that I'll be taught to closely examine my face for all sorts of "flaws" that I never saw before and won't be able to unsee. I want to feel pretty, not the opposite! Do you have any suggestions for a "how to apply makeup" website/tutorial/resource that is fairly positive, down-to-earth, and not hypercritical? Any related advice?
posted by fullerenedream to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
My daughter liked Bobbi Brown's book for teens (subtitled How to Look Pretty, Natural, Sexy and Awesome) and I was happy at the positive attitude that it took to appreciating one's own natural beauty. So I could suggest checking out her other titles for something that suits you.
posted by metahawk at 9:28 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love Kevyn Aucoin's books Making Faces and to a lesser extent Face Forward. He really does amazing things with makeup and focuses on showcasing great features. Making Faces is about half full of "real people" - his friends and family, and half models. It's is an incredible book.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by k8lin at 9:29 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Jenny Bowker does some nice tutorials, and her approach is very down-to-earth. She approaches the makeup for each video like it's a fun little thing to play around with, rather than making any of it sound like an attempt to 'fix' the way you look. Really her approach seems to boil down to "Oh, you like how Natalie Portman's makeup looks? Let me show you how to do that."
posted by leitmotif at 9:29 PM on January 14, 2014

Reddit's /r/MakeupAddiction can be a great resource for tutorials, product reviews, rants, raves -- almost anything makeup related.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:36 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Came here to suggest Kevyn Aucoin, so consider that another vote.

Also if you have a MAC counter near you they will happily do makeup for free and teach you how to do the specific look. They will try to sell you the products used obviously. I think maybe SmashBox does the same thing.

Generally (at least with MAC in my experience) the people at the counters are knowledgeable and seriously into makeup-as-art.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:18 AM on January 15, 2014

Lisa Eldridge (who is lovely -- sometimes I watch her videos just to listen to her soothing voice) has some great "basics" videos, as well as some crazy ambitious ones. I've learned a lot from her.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:10 AM on January 15, 2014 [11 favorites]

I adore Kevyn Aucoin's books. He makes makeup seem not just fun, but liberating. You get to choose your own face!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:14 AM on January 15, 2014

I don't have any specific recommendations (other than Kevyn Aucoin of course), but I enthusiastically recommend starting with tutorials for wonderfully out-there looks. They're way fun to look at, will put you in the mindset of "makeup is fun and creative" rather than "makeup is necessary," and the skills involved in applying rainbow eyeshadow are the same ones you need for an everyday look.

I second the MAC counter for fun/arty makeup consultations. Although I like the product selection at Sephora, I don't always feel good about myself there: along with makeup, they push all sorts of facial goos with outrageous claims of shrinking pores and firming your neck, so I end up feeling unattractive and more than a little lied to.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kevyn Aucoin's books are the ultimate in makeup-as-art.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:17 AM on January 15, 2014

Best answer: Sephora gives free makeup tutorials. You pick an item (eyes, skin, mouth) and they will suggest colors and show you how to apply it. You can even come in with a look out of a magazine and say "show me how to do THAT" and they will. Call ahead to book.

Did I mention it's free?

I've learned SO much this way. I've gone three times.

I started makeup when I was 29. Until then I was uber-crunchy. Do I not feel my best anymore if I'm nude-faced? Not at all. If I am tired and haggard with shitty hair, then I do feel grungy. But if my hair is ok, then I just put on the amount of makeup that I feel like putting on, or none at all. I let it reflect my mood. Also makeup or nude are two very different looks, and both can look good the way a summer dress or a cocktail dress both look good.

Also makeup is not binary.... you can do a little bit of mascara or eyeliner. Or a full on smoky eye. So the enhancements to your look don't have to be a crutch. Look at French websites for the "minimum is maximum" makeup look.

Some days when I am feeling bad, it helps to add some mascara to change my mood. "Well I feel like crap, but my eyes are a little nice, so I guess it's not ALL bad...."

If you're worried about finding new flaws in your appearance, I've found the opposite... now that I know all the tricks, I realize that I am average attractiveness and that the "gorgeous" actresses are all benefiting extensively from the support of makeup. J-Lo totally reshapes her nose. Very few of them are drop-dead beauties in their own right. So it's helped me have a more flexible attitude about beauty since I know I can turn it on when I want to, and that others do it too.

One caveat... I met my sweetie after this duckling/swan transformation. One of my friends was never into makeup, and keeps her low maintenance look and her hubby is fine with that. In fact he doesn't even notice when she does wear makeup or fix her hair. My sweetie likes my look both ways, but I do feel like the bar has been set at a certain point with regards to grooming and maintenance - he would prefer I don't go back to my uber-crunchy ways for example. Also I have friends who are low-makeup and those who are high-makeup (including guy friends who encouraged me in my single years to enhance my appearance with contact lenses and makeup). Now that I've crossed the bar, I would feel under-dressed at a party with high-makeup friends even though I used to go to them with only mascara. Although to be honest that is very likely internal pressure since I've showed up without makeup and yeah they notice but only because they see "not getting dressed up" = "feeling tired, stressed or unhappy." So to some degree it does become the norm.

In the end though I wish I had started makeup earlier since you can definitely do more wild colorful looks when you're in your teens & 20s than in your 30s/40s.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:22 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I just found out Nordstrom has beauty stylists who give free consults. They're not tied to one brand which seems like a real bonus.
posted by vespabelle at 7:51 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any chance friends will let you practice on them and or their children? This and wild looks have little to do with applying conventional makeup to your own face, but will be a relaxing confidence building exercise.

Make it a game before you make it a chore.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:10 AM on January 15, 2014

OH! Also! Make friends with drag queens. If anyone knows how to do fun playful makeup, it's a queen.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:14 AM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

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