Makeup Geeks: As a beginner what should I buy and bookmark?
April 22, 2014 7:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in learning about applying makeup, starting from zero knowledge.

I have a bunch of youtubers and blogs in my daily rotation that talk about this, but there aren't a lot that start from the very beginning. What's on your list?

I also have very few supplies. So, what I am thinking is that I would attack this problem by buying some basic stuff from say walmart or cvs, and then try out lots of techniques in the evening when I have free time. I am super not interested in trying things in public, so do I need to worry about certain things being hard to wash off? Like for example I am reading that it's good to put down a layer of something before eyeshadow so you don't stain your skin? See I just really have no clue, but I am really open to trying out creative stuff, washing it off and trying again, and again.

What would you suggest to a total beginner?
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 119 users marked this as a favorite
Suggest you start with the lovely Lisa Eldridge. Personally, I'd spend a few evenings just watching her basics and every day look videos to learn about make up and the sort of things to look for in different products and tools. Then you can go and get some stuff to try. Get samples to try at home. You can spend a lot of money on things you won't ever use because you don't get on with them, they don't work with your skin type or colouring. Once you know a bit more about products and techniques and what to look for you can be much more targeted in your purchases.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:46 AM on April 22, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm pretty new to makeup and I'm really enjoying my subscription - there's currently a waiting list, but for $10/month they send you a bag with 4-6 different samples of make-up/beauty products. It's a fun, cheap way to try different things without spending a lot of money, and they're often regular size products (like the nail polish is usually a full-size bottle).
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:46 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

The best makeup remover I've tried is plain ol' grapeseed oil. It's cheap, gentle, and incredibly effective. It gets of eyeliner, blush, foundation, eyeshadow - everything. Buy a big bottle and some cotton pads when you get your makeup. You don't need to worry about the makeup "staining" your skin or anything, and this will make sure your skin is nice and clean when it's time to remove your experiments.

Like for example I am reading that it's good to put down a layer of something before eyeshadow so you don't stain your skin?

I do not think this is a thing. Many people apply a primer to their eyelids before putting on eyeshadow, but that is usually to make sure the shadow "sticks" and doesn't crease or fade during the day.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:47 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am reading that it's good to put down a layer of something before eyeshadow so you don't stain your skin

Longtime makeup wearer and never before have I heard this.

For real, I learned how to put on makeup by just putting on makeup in the evenings and experimenting. Makeup really isn't rocket science, and you'll figure out pretty quickly what does and doesn't work for your skin. It sounds like you probably do know the basics from the videos you've been watching, you just need to put it in to practice! So do just that. Practice. Experiment. Take pictures of yourself (in different lighting) so that you can get a sense of how it looks.

For basics and for practicing I wouldn't suggest getting higher end things.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:48 AM on April 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

It'd be helpful to know what your end goal is. Like, do you want to learn enough about makeup that you could eventually integrate it into your everyday routine? Do you just want to experiment with different crazy/theatrical looks for yourself, without the intention of these ever seeing the light of day? Do you have a particular target appearance you want to reach with this makeup? If you think you might ultimately want to wear makeup to work, for instance, you'll probably want to put in the effort to find a proper grownup foundation that matches your skin tone and looks nice, vs. just buying some Wet 'N Wild crap at CVS. On the other hand, if you mostly just want to have fun with new looks, then that $.99 purple sparkly eyeliner will probably be just fine.

With that said, makeupalley is a super helpful resource for just about anything makeup-related-- great product reviews, knowledgeable forums, etc.

Oh, and the primer under eyeshadow, I believe, is to help the shadow to stay put over time and not smear around or collect under your eyes. Not an issue if you're just looking at a 1-2-hour evening application.
posted by Bardolph at 7:48 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

You use an eyeshadow primer to keep shadow in place. No eyeshadow sold in the US will stain your skin.

Start with some very basic things:

BB-CC Cream. Light layer over the skin to give you a smooth appearance and will keep sun and dirt out.

If you need it, concealer


Eyeshadow Primer.


Eyelash curler and Mascara if you're so inclined (I have allergies and I just curl and go, otherwise I'd look a fright.)

Moisturizing lip balm/gloss/stick

An eyeliner if you want something to take your everyday look up a few notches.

For serious play, buy some nice brushes.

ELF is good, very affordable and you can get it at Target. I'd get one of those huge multi-color palattes and go nuts.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:49 AM on April 22, 2014 [9 favorites]

Seconding a big multi-colour palate. You'll learn pretty quickly which colours you use by just seeing which are running out first. Then, when you want to start investing more money on makeup you'll know what colours will be worth buying.

Also, eyebrows. Learn to use eyebrow powder/pencils to fill in your eyebrows in a natural way. Don't go all whack-a-doo and draw weird sharp lines for eyebrows. You just want to backfill what you already have so that they are a bit more defined. Eyebrows are key and easily overlooked.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:57 AM on April 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Total beginner?

1. Spend a few hours looking at magazines and rip out pictures of women who's makeup you like. Then figure out what's appealing to you. (The colors? The way eyeliner is applied? The intensity of the lip stick?) Now you're an expert at looking at makeup on others! That's a key skill.

2. Next, get someone else to do your makeup. It can be a friend or the person at the makeup counter (who will want to sell something). This lets you see makeup on your face without wondering if you've screwed up the application.

3. Start with the easy-peasy cosmetics: gloss lipstick and mascara. These are the two easiest cosmetics to apply and super quick.

4. Go f'ng nuts. Order some cheapity E.L.F. cosmetics and have at it. (Note: cheap cosmetics are more difficult to apply and have crap applicators. So it's not ideal, but it's an expensive solution to get to play a bit.)
posted by 26.2 at 7:59 AM on April 22, 2014

I really like Paula's Choice makeup tutorials.
posted by neushoorn at 8:04 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you go to Sephora, they have this cool test called Pantone Color IQ where they take several close-ups of your cheeks and forehead with a little camera-like device and then tell you the exact Pantone color number for your skin. They can tell you what color foundation in each of the brands they carry matches that color, or you can just get a swatch to use it at a drug store, since you can't try anything on. I've been using makeup for 20 years but this was the first time I was ever able to truly match foundation to my face i.e. I didn't have buyer's remorse after seeing my skin a different light outside a store.
posted by rada at 8:04 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

/r/Makeupaddiction is my go-to for basic instructions and inspiration.

I like elf, and their website routinely has 50% off sales with a $30 minimum, and by the time you buy $60 worth of their stuff you have essentially shopped the entire website. There are some starter guides on the subreddit above targeted specifically for elf.

You don't try on makeup in public on your face (unless you're getting your makeup done at a makeup counter). Testers in stores are for using on the back of your hand. Makeup wipes (made by literally every company on earth, I like the store-brand knockoffs for value) will take just about everything off.

Makeupaddiction has people posting "looks", usually with tutorials, constantly, and it's a good way to get inspired to try your own.

Lisa Eldridge, as linked above, has fantastic starter videos. I also like Wayne Goss (he has two channels, gossmakeupartist and gossmakeupchat).
posted by Lyn Never at 8:05 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Use shadow primer to make sure your shadow stays on.

Put moisturizer on under your foundation.

FWIW I wouldn't buy stuff at wallmart - I find covergirl, maybelline etc. to be very crap quality makeup, especially the shadows, and this will frustrate you more than anything. Won't blend. Color fades. Irritates the eyes. Dusty.

Go for urban decay, benefit, clinique, bareMinerals or even smashbox... basically anything at Sephora except for their house brand shadows. This is an excellent beginner palette. Buy this eyeliner set and you will be good to go.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:06 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

It depends- if you want to play around with different looks, get eyeliner, an eyeshadow palette or two (try a set of neutral tones that complement your skin and a few brighter colors that appeal to you), mascara, blush, and some different lip products (anything from colored balm to lip gloss to lipstick, depending on what you like and how much color you want). Ty different colors and types of eyeliner, especially- liquid or gel eyeliner is great for a more dramatic look but it's not as beginner friendly as pencil. You can get cheap entry level stuff at the drug store or Target for this and be fine to start.

If you want to get into perfecting your skin, you should be looking for concealer, foundation, powder, maybe bronzer, and blush for sure. I'd recommend going slightly higher end for this stuff, because I think it pays off more for this than for other makeup and at Sephora or a department store, you can have someone choose the products for your skin tone for you rather than having to hope for the best at CVS. This is doubly true if you have darker skin, unfortunately.
posted by MadamM at 8:07 AM on April 22, 2014

Oh, and just one useful initial step, before you start applying anything: spend some time really getting to know your face. What's your skin type? What undertone does it have? What are your good features, vs. the ones you want to minimize? What's in-proportion and what's out-of-proportion? What eye shape/ lip shape/ nose shape do you have, and do you want to create the illusion of a different shape for any of those features?

It's easy to forget, with all the youtube tutorials, etc., that the final look you end up with is always going to be established by the interaction of makeup with your face. But just as with clothing, understanding where you're starting from will allow you to make much more flattering choices and give you better results. I've wasted more time than I should have, for instance, trying out eyeshadow looks that simply weren't suited for my eye shape.
posted by Bardolph at 8:10 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Two questions: First, why do you want to wear more makeup? Do you want to have fun and play dress up and go ham with new colours? Or do you need to look presentable at work and have a reliable 'game face' for professional/public settings?

Second: what is your skin like? I can only speak from the perspective of someone with GREASY GREASY fair skin that requires both sunscreen and industrial strength primers to keep any makeup on my face; people with dry skin may think differently. Also, are you self-conscious about your complexion (zits, dark circles, other signs of life and humanity) or are you blessed with nice even skin?

If you're option B, I strongly recommend figuring out a straightforward makeup wardrobe that you wear every every every day. I had a bin full of 'for fun' makeup, but realised I never used it, then committed to just wearing the same makeup to work every day. I watched a couple of Lisa Eldridge videos, went to the MAC counter and asked for advice, and now my daily 'wardrobe' consists of a tinted sunscreen (the vastly overlooked Clinique City Block) a primer (Benefit Primed and Poreless + Too Faced eye primer on my eyelids), a little concealer blended out with a foundation brush (MAC select), powder (Chanel), a little cream eyeshadow (Clinique in the squeezy tube), eyeliner (Lancome in the felt tip pen), mascara (from Dutch chain store HEMA), brow gel (also HEMA), and blush (Benefit Dandelion). This sounds like a lot but I can put it on in about two minutes, mostly schmutzed on with my fingers, and I basically never reach for anything else.

Wanna go ham? Then watch a bunch of tutorials for looks you admire, go to a makeup counter to invest in your core products (IMHO primer + foundation if you need it + concealer), then go forth from there. YouTube makeup gurus seem to be really into those brush sets and palettes you can get from the Internet (I want to say Coastal Scents?), so that might help you get started quickly. Also, I've heard good things about the Urban Decay nude palette, but I long ago decided that one eye shadow shade is rich enough for me.
posted by nerdfish at 8:11 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Some very bright, heavily pigmented eyeshadows actually can stain your skin. The Sugarpill line sometimes has this issue. However, I'm talking about seriously vivid colors like intense neons that you likely have very little interest in right now. Typical eyeshadows won't stain.

As has been noted, though, eyeshadow primer is fantastic for getting shadow to stay put. I swear by the Urban Decay Primer Potion that's already been mentioned.
posted by QuickedWeen at 8:12 AM on April 22, 2014

Just stepped back in to say: Get your eyebrows arched. This will make SUCH a difference! You may not even need shadow.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:17 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sephora has a collection called Sephora Favorites, which allow you to sample different travel/mini sizes of one type of make-up/skin care/fragrance. The one I get once or twice a year is the mascara sampler; I don't know about the other kits, but the mascaras usually come with a coupon for a full size version of any one mascara from the kit.

Two tips: When you experiment do it somewhere with lots of natural light. Also, stay away from scary levels of mirror magnification.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:23 AM on April 22, 2014

Well, coconut oil is great for removing makeup and moisturizing afterwards. I use Alima Pure cosmetics for face and shadows, it's a great mineral make-up. They have so many shades to match your skin tone flawlessly which you can order samples. Each order is packaged in an environmentally safer way and you always receive free samples. For eyes, I.e. mascara and eyeliner, I use Afterglow Cosmetics. As organic and vegan as possible. Both companies were started by women who's story I appreciated, have fantastic products that are safer for your skin and don't have so many crazy chemicals.

I used to break out really badly from make-up no matter what I did or tried, and these products don't irritate my skin or eyes like other make-up. Honestly, Mary Kay, Clinique, and Almay have all irritated my skin and I've been using Alima and Afterglow for about three years now. Absolutely amazing stuff and an order usually lasts me about 6 months - a year.

It's a bit more expensive than drugstore brands, but worth it in my opinion if you're putting anything on your face for an extended period of time. Mind you, I didn't use to wear make-up regularly, then after my bad breakouts I felt I needed to regularly. Now I wear make-up because I want to and like how it looks. It's a choice you make and you don't have to wear it all the time, every day, or even a full face. The free blush sample I got with my first order is gonna last me at least another 6 months because the pigment is so pure, I only have to use a little. The foundation looks like it's my bare skin and I feel confident wearing it and more like I look true to myself. The eyeshadows are beautiful and then I just wear mascara and eyeliner which are my favorite.

Drugstore applicators aren't the greatest, but I say use them and splurge on better quality make-up. If you order a foundation sample kit, it comes with a free foundation brush. Blush is simple, I use my finger and slightly dab in a triangle from my temple where my eye meets area down to halfway where my ear is to the apple of my cheeks. For eyeshadow, the lightest color accents directly underneath your eyebrows, the darkest color in the crease of your eyelid and a nice accent color on your lids. Pretty simple, you kind of learn as you go and can make it as complicated as you want it to be. It usually takes me 15 minutes. Don't rush, or you'll look like a clown. Always take your time and check in sunlight to make sure you didn't put on too much. Never underestimate the power and importance of well groomed and shaped eyebrows on a face.

And no matter what, ALWAYS wash it off before you go to bed. This is something you don't want to learn the hard way. Good luck!
posted by lunastellasol at 8:24 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

All of this advice is so good, but when I first started playing around with make-up, I would get overwhelmed really quickly.

What worked for me was going to Whole Foods, just because their make-up selection is bitty compared to even, say grocery stores, and no one would bother me. I would make a plan - okay, first, I want to learn about eyeshadow. So, I looked up colors that would look good on my skin tone, watched a few youtube videos, then bought eyeshadow and a brush. Then, I practiced. I don't know why I was so nervous - it's all washable, no one would see my practice, and if 13 year olds can do it, then I certainly could too!

Then I just moved on from there - eyeliner, mascara, concealer, lip gloss. One at a time, nice and slow.
posted by umwhat at 8:27 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and for lips, I just use plain old Dr. Bronner's peppermint chapstick :)
posted by lunastellasol at 8:30 AM on April 22, 2014

Makeupalley is where I figured out what to buy once I decided I needed quality make-up. My big issue prior to the research was my skin color is hard to match, so makeup always looked terrible until I found the one foundation that worked for me. So, if you're not happy with the results, make sure you're not starting with a bad base.

I always buy the three-shade eyebrow compacts in neutral colors because I'm too much of a beginner to choose my own and the darkest color works well for eyeliner. (Smashbox is my favorite, though it's a little spendy.) Having good brushes for eyeshadow makes a huge difference.
posted by typecloud at 8:36 AM on April 22, 2014

I would suggest you hit up the ELF cosmetics website. Buy absolutely anything that takes your fancy and have fun with it, if you wait for one of their sales you will be surprised how much you can get for how little. The quality there is as good as drugstore, some of their products are better, at a lot more reasonable price and you'll be surprised the number of top make up artists Lisa Eldridge, Wayne Goss that do videos on ELF products and like them. They also both do really good teaching videos.

Their brushes are fantastic for the price and you will need to get a selection of brushes, ELF brushes are a great place to start as a set is cheap and then you can work out what you like to use before investing in better quality. Having brushes makes applying make up so much easier than trying to use those little foam things that come with so much eye make up.

Get some makeup removing wipes from CVS, and also grab a pack of cotton pads and maybe a bottle of eye make up remover for getting off water proof mascara.

As umwhat said, picking one area to work on and building up is a great way to go. That's how I went from no make up for 40 years to someone who loves make up 5 years later. Use the ELF stuff to figure out the colours you like and if you prefer powder foundation to liquid etc and then you can move on and invest in the good quality stuff when you are ready to stop experimenting.

Oh and be careful listening to the nice people at places like Sephora or department stores, their job is No. 1 to sell you things, expensive things. Listen to what they have to say, learn what you can and filter everything they say through your "are they just trying to sell me stuff" filter. When in doubt get samples first.
posted by wwax at 8:37 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you've never worn makeup before, then I would try new things one by one, depending on which features you want to focus on, rather than getting a ton of things at once, so you don't get overwhelmed. It would be a good first step to figure out your skin undertones, since they have a big impact on what makeup colors will look good on you. Also, eye shape makes a big difference for eye makeup; I kept applying "regular"-style eyeshadow and wondering why it never looked good on me until I realized I had prominent (i.e. bulging) eyes, which look better with a completely different style of eyeshadow than the standard recommendations.

Here are my product recommendations (sticking to mostly drugstore items):

Brushes (these make a huge difference with makeup application, especially with foundation): EcoTools, Real Techniques. Make sure to wash your brushes regularly (once a week if you wear makeup daily).

Eyebrow products: NYX eyebrow cake powder and brow pencils, MAC eyeshadow (Omega is good for blonde hair, Coquette for dark blonde/light brown hair, Soft Brown or Saddle for red hair, Charcoal Brown for medium brown hair, Brun for dark brown hair, Copperplate for black hair)

Eyeliner: Milani Liquid Eye, Prestige Total Intensity, Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens (pencil liners), Black Radiance Continuous Creme or Maybelline Lasting Drama (gel liners). Also, you can just use an angled brush with a black eyeshadow like Wet n Wild's Panther eyeshadow single - this is really easy and quick to clean up if you make mistakes!

Mascara: Jordana Best Lash, Maybelline Colossal Volume Express, CoverGirl Clump Crusher. Keep in mind that mascara should be thrown out every 3-6 months - closer to every 3 months if you have sensitive eyes.

Eyeshadow: Wet n Wild (only their Color Icon shadows), Maybelline Color Tattoos, L'Oreal Infallibles

Blush: Milani baked blush, Wet n Wild

Lip products: Revlon Kissable Balm Stains (Jordana and Wet n Wild have similar products), Revlon Super Lustrous lipsticks (mainly their creme formula), Milani Color Statement lipsticks, Maybelline Color Sensational lipsticks. Revlon lip butters are also very popular; for a natural-looking color, I would recommend Peach Parfait (for light skin), Pink Truffle (for light to medium skin), or Fig Jam (for dark skin). I recommend avoiding matte lipstick while you're starting out, as it tends to be drying/uncomfortable and to magnify flaky or dry lips. Applying lip balm a little while before using lipstick will help keep your lips from drying out.

Primers: Wet n Wild Fergie eye primer, Black Radiance Complexion Perfection Shine Control primer (for oily skin), Maybelline Baby Skin

As far as concealer and foundation go, this is the one area where I think it's really worth it to pay extra, especially to make sure you get a good color match (even more so if you have very fair or dark skin). You'll most likely need different concealers for under-eye circles vs. blemishes. For the under-eye area, something moisturizing and lightweight is best (ex. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer). For blemishes, drier concealer will stick better (ex. L'Oreal True Match crayon concealer, Make Up For Ever Full Cover).

If you have very dark under-eye circles, a corrector combined with a concealer will give you better coverage. A corrector is intended to cancel out the blue/purple tones under your eyes (the idea is that opposite colors on the color wheel neutralize each other, so green neutralizes red, orange neutralizes blue, etc.). Typically under-eye correctors are salmon/peach-y (for lighter skin tones - ex. Pixi Correction Concentrate, Bobbi Brown corrector) or orange-y (for darker skin tones - ex. NYX Full Coverage Concealer in Orange). A regular concealer that matches your skin tone would go on top.

This Tumblr page has more product recommendations and information. The MakeupAddiction subreddit also has lots of resources listed in the sidebar; check out their list of product recommendations. Other useful links:
  • Makeup Alley - for reviews of pretty much any and every makeup product. Also, if you register on their boards, you can do searches for product recommendations from people with a similar skintone to yours.
  • Temptalia - reviews and photos of mid-to-high-end products
  • Temptalia's recommendation guide of products for fair, medium, and dark skin. Unfortunately, it mostly lists mid to high-end products, but you can do Google searches for dupes (drugstore products that mimic the color of a high-end product).
  • KarlaSugar - a great archive of swatches
  • Nouveau Cheap - for information on drugstore makeup
For tutorials, check out: Feel free to MeMail me if you have any further questions - I just started wearing makeup a little over a year ago, so I remember how bewildering it all seems when you're just starting out!
posted by LNM at 9:44 AM on April 22, 2014 [16 favorites]

Keep in mind that many stores have shockingly generous return policies that include makeup returns. This includes the higher-end end stuff at certain department stores (Nordstrom, Macys). So don't be shy about trying a range of products, and don't be shy about returning them if they don't work for you.

The trickiest part of the process, I think, it's getting a good foundation match. Not just shade, but a texture that works with your skin condition. Here is where I think it's worth sucking it up and hitting the makeup counters at Macys, Sephora, or Nordstrom, and asking them to give you some samples to try on at home. You need to test it on your face, not your wrist, and let it set for a while to make sure it doesn't oxidize weirdly on your skin over time. Put some swatches on your jawline, chill out for a bit, then step outside with a hand mirror to check the match.

I used to be a fan of cheap-o cosmetics, thinking the high-end stuff was all marketing, but I have to say, I've noticed a huge difference in the expensive brands -- a little goes a long way, and the product lasts a lot longer. Never thought I'd throw down 60 bucks for a foundation, but Guerlain is the shit. A teeny tiny dab does my whole face...amazing.
posted by nacho fries at 10:21 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Experimenting is a great way to learn, and it's a lot more enjoyable when you can easily get rid of a look you don't like. I use Almay eye make-up remover, and not just for eyes -- there's an oily one and an oil-free, depending on what you're removing. The oily one is good for lipstick and waterproof eye makeup; the non-oily remover works for most everything else. You can fold the pad into quarters and use the tip of the fold to make tiny adjustments or corrections, or else just swipe the flat pad over your eyelid, lips, or skin.

Both of these removers are available in bottles without the pads, and are probably cheaper that way. The oily remover is mostly mineral oil, and a bottle of mineral oil is cheapest of all. Unfortunately, I've never found a place to buy the very thin, smooth rounds that Almay puts in the jars of pads.

Makeup Alley has already been mentioned above, and it's a great resource. If you're going to be asking questions in the makeup forum, specific questions may get you more useful information. For example, if you want to get info about eye makeup, ask one question about which brush for gel eyeliner, and another asking for tips on getting a smooth, even line. "What's the best drugstore foundation" gets asked a lot; you're better off saying how oily your skin is, whether you want sheer, medium, or full coverage, and approximately what your skin tone is. Also, you might have to ask the same question at different times of day to get more input.
posted by wryly at 11:48 AM on April 22, 2014

Don't be afraid to not be perfect! For example it's much easier to clean up a mascara smudge with a moistened pointy Q-Tip than it is to agonize over doing it perfectly.

Speaking of that, one trick for getting a perfect thin line with liquid eye liner is to make a less-than perfect slightly wider line and immediately sweep the edge of a moistened pointy Q-Tip along the top edge of the line.

Also, seconding taking advantage of return policies. I felt weird about it for a long time, but just last week I returned one lip gloss to Sephora for being "kinda drying" and then a day later returned the other gloss I tried because "Eh. I'll stick with Korres." It was fine, and I wish I had been doing it all along.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:02 PM on April 22, 2014

I have a pretty light hand with makeup and tight grip on my wallet so I am not in any place to offer up specific product recommendations. I have some close friendships with professional makeup artists (as in, they work in film/television and also do "live" events for VIPs), and from what I have observed and what they have said, technique takes you a lot farther along than product. Obviously there are differences in quality, but if you don't really know what you are doing, it's not worth it to blow tons of cash on the better stuff right away. It makes more sense to try some stuff out and later go, "ok, I know I like this sort of colour but I think I'd prefer it with a creamier/stickier/thinner texture or waterproof/glittery/redness-reducing/bloobity." I also support the idea of focusing on individual areas rather than learning how to do a dramatic face all at once. Also, get a set of brushes because the stuff that comes with applicators generally isn't that great.

If you're really going to play a lot with application, I strongly recommend you use a gentle cleansing method so that you don't rough up your skin too much. I like Cetaphil, the classic drugstore gentle cleanser.
posted by stowaway at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2014

For step-by-step tutorials I really, really like The Beauty Department, it's part of the Lauren Conrad Empire, but all that seems to translate to on the site is enough of a budget to get really clear, well shot photos, a copy editor, and an actual pro doing the teaching. They break stuff down a lot more than many of the makeup blogs I read.

They also have features on things like "Here is the order to use your products in" and "This brush does that" which pair really nicely with the more step by step "here's how to use a brow brush" type articles.

Have fun!!
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 6:45 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd definitely start out with drugstore makeup - there's tons and tons of great stuff at the drugstore, you can play with it as you figure out what you like. Nouveau Cheap is probably the best place for drugstore makeup reviews and info. Musings of A Muse also has a lot of drugstore reviews, as does my blog, Project Swatch (obviously a self-link). And definitely check out the Makeupalley reviews! I love the boards, but the makeup board is very focused on high end makeup, not that much talk about drugstore options.

I'd highly recommend getting some decent brushes to start out - they make a big different for application. Most of my very favorite brushes are expensive, but I also love ELF's Studio brushes - affordable and great quality. Stay away from the Essential brushes though, they're subpar quality. I'd also highly recommend Real Techniques brushes.

Feel free to message or email me with any questions, I love talking about makeup. I started from scratch / not owning anything or wearing much as an adult not that many years ago, so I have lots of thoughts. I'd be happy to recommend specific high quality / affordable products if you'd like.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:47 AM on April 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Brightest Bulb In The Box (which I think I learned about on the blue?), has been a favorite of mine. It's more product review than tutorial, but she breaks everything down by price and value. When I was ready to "graduate" from drugstore brands, I got the LORAC Pro Palette based on her rec and have been totally happy with it.
posted by kidsleepy at 1:52 PM on April 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Institute Magazine for inspiration or admiration.
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