Make up for conflicted noob
August 14, 2014 1:13 PM   Subscribe

I would like to wear make up. I'm 39 and a professional and I would like to look put together and not like I fell out of bed in the morning (even when I did). This question is a bit of a mess of insecurities, please help me get started? I read this question and found it useful in general, but would like an answer for specific questions:

- I want to use very few products and look "natural". I want this to be uncomplicated to begin with, so I can expand from there. But which products?
- The few times I wore make up it was for balls and weddings and I went to the mac counter and had them do it for me, then just bought a couple of products and repeated what they showed me. It was fine but it wasn't "me", and definitely too much for every day. On the plus side I have a bunch of products already, including some nice shades of eyeshadow.
- All the advice seemed to disagree! One lady recommended tinted moisturizer (I just covered everything in tan!) and another said my skin was blemish free and didn't need it.
- What I hate about make up is that I can't let anyone touch, kiss or lick (I have a baby and a toddler) my face, I can't blow my nose or rub my eyes without it coming off, right? What do people with kids and annoying pets do? What do you do with kisses from husbands?
- If I use tinted moisturizer, don't I need more things like blush to make me look less mask-like?
- And lipstick! What can I slap on without faffing about with lipliners etc. that won't bleed all over my face in an hour or two? I kind of want lipstick.
- I shape my eyebrows pretty rigorously, as I have bushy ones, and I think they look nice now. Not pencil thin by any means, but formed. I doubt I need any more colour in them, they're pretty strongly defined. I do have one of those clear liquids to brush on that hold them in place, but do I need that?
- I am half Asian and depending on several factors have an epicanthic fold only half the time. WTF face! (Bonus question: Wasn't there a post on Metafilter about this Asian lady showing how to do make up on Asian faces?)
- Can I use eyeliner without eyeshadow, or eyeshadow without eyeliner, and have it not look lazily slapped on or weird? Eyeliner seems simplest? Though, maybe not with the epicanthic indecisiveness going on.
- Does mascara make any difference on dark eyelashes? It seems a waste of time?
- How often do you refresh make up? It seems to go invisible or grotty almost immediately.

Basically, I am tremendously unsure of what I am doing and whether it looks good once I've done it. It just seems weird and I feel like all the ladies with decades of experience under their belts must think I look pathetic. My husband is no help, he prefers no-make up me.

Argh! help me get started?
posted by Omnomnom to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (45 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
It's good that you groom your eyebrows already. I have thick ones, too, and I have only JUST discovered the wonders of eyebrow pencil. Something about filling them in a little (just use quick strokes in the same direction as the hair growth) makes your whole face look more polished, but people won't know why!
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:27 PM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Michelle Phan is a woman of Asian descent who does makeup tutorials. I'm a white guy who doesn't wear makeup, so I don't know how helpful her stuff is, but she's very popular.
posted by xingcat at 1:32 PM on August 14, 2014

My go-to easy face is the following:
-regular moisturizer + SPF (this should be worn every day regardless of make-up)
-a touch of long-wearing foundation over my red areas (disregard if you don't have blemishes, unevenness, or redness)
-a once-over with a mineral make-up loose foundation powder (I use Bare Escentuals mineral makeup)
-a quick brush-on of some tan-colored contour instead of blush (personal preference, if you like rosy cheeks, blush is a good option to put some pep in your face)
- mascara and liquid eyeliner on my upper lid only (if you have dark lashes, you can probably get away with just curling them)
- I fill-in my brows a bit, but if you're blessed with thick brows that are a nice shape, no need to fuss with them at all.
-one of the lipsticks that I've found that seems to work on an astonishing variety of different people is Clinique's "Almost Lipstick" in Black Honey. A less expensive, but easy everyday lipstick is Revlon's "Colorburst Lip Butter". Both are light and easy to wear.

I might do a powder of the nose in the afternoon, but I don't reapply much. The foundation I use is designed to be long-wearing and the mineral makeup doesn't slide off easily once I have it "buffed" in. I don't refrain from blowing my nose - it doesn't seem to make much difference. I don't touch or rub my eyes, though. Mostly because touching your eyes is a fantastic way to get the common cold virus into your body.

I don't like tinted moisturizers. They slide around a lot and transfer off easily.

For super-high quality brushes that won't cost you a fortune, check out Sonia Kashuk's line for Target. They're famous among make-up nuts. All the brushes that I actually use are her's. Other, more expensive brushes live in the drawer and ignored.

I don't wear eyeshadow or dramatic colors unless I'm doing something special.
posted by quince at 1:34 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

One lady recommended tinted moisturizer (I just covered everything in tan!) and another said my skin was blemish free and didn't need it.
Nobody needs it. You don't need anything. You're fine with no makeup. Do you want it? It can even out your skin tone, and it can moisturize your skin. If you don't feel like you want those things, then skip it.
What I hate about make up is that I can't let anyone touch, kiss or lick (I have a baby and a toddler) my face, I can't blow my nose or rub my eyes without it coming off, right? What do people with kids and annoying pets do? What do you do with kisses from husbands?
That seems to me to be an argument against tinted moisturizer or any other all-over foundation-like thing. If you don't have anything on your nose, you can blow your nose without worrying about it. Otherwise, you want waterproof eyeliner and mascara, try to avoid rubbing your eyes, and reapply your lipstick after any extensive kissing.
If I use tinted moisturizer, don't I need more things like blush to make me look less mask-like?
Tinted moisturizer is supposed to be sheer, so I don't think you need blush unless you want it. I use a little bit, but I think it should be optional.
And lipstick! What can I slap on without faffing about with lipliners etc. that won't bleed all over my face in an hour or two? I kind of want lipstick.
I really love Burts Bees tinted lip balm. They're sheer enough that it doesn't look weird when they wear off, but they leave my lips looking really pretty, and they're moisturizing, so my lips don't get chapped.
I do have one of those clear liquids to brush on that hold them in place, but do I need that?
And I repeat: you don't need anything. It sounds like you like the way your brows look, so I would leave them.
I am half Asian and depending on several factors have an epicanthic fold only half the time. WTF face! (Bonus question: Wasn't there a post on Metafilter about this Asian lady showing how to do make up on Asian faces?)
I can't help with this one! I would look at the world of YouTube makeup tutorials, though, because they cover pretty much every topic.
- Can I use eyeliner without eyeshadow, or eyeshadow without eyeliner, and have it not look lazily slapped on or weird? Eyeliner seems simplest? Though, maybe not with the epicanthic indecisiveness going on.
I certainly hope so, because I do both all the time. I actually find eyeshadow easier than eyeliner, but YMMV. I would experiment a little bit with both. Do you know about ELF? They make super-cheap, decent makeup and brushes, which you can buy at Target. They're good for when you want to experiment with something without spending a lot of money.
Does mascara make any difference on dark eyelashes? It seems a waste of time?
I think it does. I actually think it's the single easiest, highest-impact makeup thingie on me, other maybe than tinted lip balm. I wear it almost every day. It's pretty subtle but I think it defines and draws attention to your eyes. Mascara is actually easier to do if you have dark eyelashes: it makes them thicker but doesn't look harsh, the way it can on people with fair hair.
How often do you refresh make up? It seems to go invisible or grotty almost immediately.
Other than reapplying lip balm, pretty much never, but I am very lazy.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:35 PM on August 14, 2014

This is truly where YouTube shines. Want a "natural" makeup tutorial for half-Asian women? I'm pretty sure you can find a dozen variations on precisely that. I'll bet someone here can give you at least 2 channels to start with. (My favorite non-specific channels are Wayne Goss and Lisa Eldridge, and both have a number of natural-look tutorials and application methodology tutorials to start with.)

You would probably enjoy a BB cream type foundation, which is tinted moisturizer and sunscreen and stuff, but tends to come in an actual range of colors instead of light/med/dark like tinted moisturizer. If you have a more Asian skin tone, there is an entire rabbit-hole of higher-end Asian BBs that will actually match you. (But you can probably start in the drugstore. I like Maybelline, but every brand does a BB now.)

I use lip stains sometimes, or Outlast stain+gloss, for long-wear.

My makeup is largely for the workday, which is low on babies and husbands. I tend to wipe down with a makeup remover cloth as soon as I'm done needing to be made up.

Spend some time on Youtube. You can also search and look at the FAQs on /r/MakeupAddiction.

You can get a perfectly good starter makeup wardrobe from e.l.f., which you can find the basics at Target but if you sign up on their website you will get a 50% off everything code within a week. And they're already dirt cheap to start; I bought a shoebox-size delivery of makeup for $32 during a half-off sale.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:37 PM on August 14, 2014

Oh, I am not in the US! I forgot to say. I think ELF is available online.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:38 PM on August 14, 2014

Re: Lipstick: I really struggle with makeup, but I finally discovered a lipstick that's change my life. It's Maybelline Superstay 24, and it's the only kind of lipstick I wear now. You apply it with a wand, and then let it dry--put on the rest of your makeup while it dries. Then you put a lip-balm style overcoat on it. It stays forever--that 24 hours is no joke. You don't have to touch it up, you don't have to be careful while you're eating, you just ... go. I seriously can't say enough about how good it is. I never, ever thought I'd be a person who was like YES THIS MAKEUP THIS IS THE ONE but holy shit.

Other than the lipstick, I just wear eyeliner and mascara, so I don't have a lot of other insight, but seriously. Buy the lipstick.
posted by MeghanC at 1:38 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

- All the advice seemed to disagree!

it really will. Makeup is art, not science. Personally I would only use foundation if I was trying to even out my skin tone, or if I wanted to look particularly radiant. you might like bare minerals as a starter foundation since it is less mask-like and just kind of evens things out.

- Can I use eyeliner without eyeshadow, or eyeshadow without eyeliner, and have it not look lazily slapped on or weird? Eyeliner seems simplest?

yes and yes. My lazy go-to look is eyeliner from urban decay and mascara.

Do you have a gf who loves makeup? Sometimes it helps just to root through her stash and see what you like.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:38 PM on August 14, 2014

To address a particular concern:

- What I hate about make up is that I can't let anyone touch, kiss or lick (I have a baby and a toddler) my face, I can't blow my nose or rub my eyes without it coming off, right?

The only time I had any instance of makeup getting rubbed off my face in this kind of situation was at my brother's wedding, and that was only because I was wearing a freaking TON. Like, way more than usual (I'd stupidly gone for a hike and forgot to put on sunscreen and had a SERIOUSLY sunburned face, and I put on a ton of foundation and powder to tone that down because I was thinking "HOLY SHIT I'M GOING TO BE IN A CRAPTON OF WEDDING PHOTOS"). And the only kind of contact that managed to rub it off was when the father of the bride hugged me really hard and my face mashed into his suit. (And I saw powder from my makeup on his shoulder after. Um. Yeah. Awkward.)

What I'm trying to say is, kisses from children or pets are unlikely to rub makeup off that easy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:40 PM on August 14, 2014

If you're in Canada, e.l.f. is still available at Target.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:40 PM on August 14, 2014

I've found beautypedia to be an excellent source of finding new products. It might be US-centric, but seems to have brands from other countries as well.
posted by apennington at 1:42 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

- Does mascara make any difference on dark eyelashes? It seems a waste of time?

The tips of your dark lashes may still be quite light, so mascara still makes a difference because it paints those light tips dark, thus showing off their full length. I have long dark lashes and the mascara effect is obvious. (Think "blink blink" cutesy eyes)

If you have shorter lashes, you can use mascara to build them longer. I think its called telescopic mascara. One of my gfs is Chinese and she swears by that method.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:46 PM on August 14, 2014

I can't answer all your questions or concerns, but I can some of them.

1. You'll be better equipped to actually shop for products once you have some of the right vocabulary.

2. Yeah, party makeup is too much for most women who want a more natural, minimalist look. The MAC people showed you the party look, but you don't need all that for regular, every day. If you go to a professional makeup person at a department store or Sephora, say you need help achieving a simple, natural, minimal look. Also, I look for a salesperson who looks most like how I want to look. They all have lots of makeup on, but some are more minimal or natural than others. Go for them.

3. You don't necessarily need foundation or tinted moisturizer every day or even at all. And the type is indicated by what kind of coverage you want and the kind of finished look you want. Tinted moisturizer is a lighter, less opaque kind of coverage than foundation or base. Foundation provides a lot more cover and is heavier. People generally use face makeup to even out color or cover imperfections. You might feel perfectly happy with your overall complexion most of the time. Or you might want some coverage or evening-out just on some days. That's the way I operate: if I'm not doing anything much socially or for work, I usually don't wear anything. But I will wear tinted moisturizer if I'm doing something a little (or a lot) special and want to look good. Or if I feel like my face looks splotchy or red in places I might wear it. I am older than you (mid-50s), and I think I'll probably be graduating to foundation rather than tinted moisturizer within the next few years, to cover more uneven skin tone and shallow wrinkles.

4. Except for lipstick, I never even think about being touched when I'm wearing makeup. If you're not wearing lots of thick stuff, any amount rubbed off during the day onto people or stuff is very minimal and maybe not noticeable at all.

5. Many people like to use blush if they wear tinted moisturizer or foundation just so they don't look too pale or fake-looking. It often depends on your natural coloring. I am very, very pale, so if I wear coverage matched to my natural skin color, I look very white. I am a little frightened of blush and dread the idea of wearing too much, but even I admit that a little is good if I'm wearing tinted moisturizer. I usually don't wear blush when I'm bare-faced, but many people love the little pick-me-up blush can give them, with or without face makeup.

6. The one makeup I am never, ever without--even on the most makeup-less of days--is lipstick. As I said, I am very pale and have almost no pigmentation on my lips at all. Just a little swipe of color does me a world of good. Otherwise I look ill. It does come off on stuff, and it does have to be reapplied pretty regularly, but I hate the feel of dry lips and the look of no color, so I just deal with it. Also, different types of lipsticks have different levels of staying power. Some lipsticks can last all day and need only a touch of gloss to keep it from looking too flat. The usual rule of thumb is, the more matte the lipstick the longer it's staying power, and the shinier or more emollient, the shorter the staying power. Many women don't like lipstick and use just lipgloss, including chapstick or things like that. If your lips aren't too pale, that may work best for you. Feels good, and when it does come off on cups and babies, it doesn't show.

7. If you like your eyebrows, great! No need to fill them in or color them or anything.

8. . I'm not familiar enough with eyes with an epicanthic fold to help, but I'm sure you can find a makeup pro who is.

9. Eyeshadow can definitely be worn without eyeliner, and vice versa. I usually don't wear eyeliner on my top lids, even when I'm wearing eyeshadow, because it seems to make my eyes look smaller. But I always wear liner (I use pencil or powder and smudge it a lot to make it more subtle) on my bottom lids. Just wear it the way you prefer.

10. Even on dark lashes mascara can be really great and make a big difference. Generally, the tips of lashes taper to a very fine end. Mascara adds color and thickness to the ends so that lashes look longer. And mascara adds bulk to the entire lash, making them look thicker. I am lucky enough to have pretty long and thick eyelashes, but I always wear mascara. But I hate a fake look, so I apply very carefully and use a comb to get rid of clumps or too much thickness. I also use an eyelash curler. In fact, sometimes I will curl my lashes so they're more visible, but skip the mascara.

11. I would definitely talk to a professional makeup person about preserving your makeup for a full day.

There aren't REALLY any rules, despite what is touted by all the magazines and tutorials and makeup salespeople. Just do what you think looks nice and makes you feel the way you want to.
posted by primate moon at 1:46 PM on August 14, 2014

I'm not qualified to respond to all of your questions, but I can speak to your desire for a natural, uncomplicated look since that too is my number one priority (and I am also a professional and work in an office but have no idea what I'm doing with makeup nor any desire to really wear much anyway).

So, that being said, here's what I do:

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude. At least once a week (when I'm wearing it) someone at my office will comment on "what great skin" I have. This stuff really works for me -- it doesn't feel heavy, seems to soak in just enough so that you won't rub off on other people and you really don't need anything over it (blush) if you have any color in your cheeks at all. It just smooths things out in a very natural way.

Guerlain Cils d'Enfer mascara. Goes on light but makes lashes longer. I've tried a lot of mascaras and so far this is my favorite. Plus - it smells good. Not cheap.

Apivita Lip Balm. Pomegranate for casual; Black Currant for more formal. Not heavy, which means you do have to reapply every few hours but it looks really natural and feels great.

And that's it. I did go to Sephora a few months ago to get some tips on how to apply eyeliner, eye shadow, etc., and while I did learn some stuff I'm still not really comfortable wearing anything major -- just doesn't seem to work on my face. So don't feel bad if you're the same way -- it's O.K.!
posted by hapax_legomenon at 1:47 PM on August 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

I came here to tell you about the wonders of the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick, but quince beat me to it!

I use and love the Clinique Chubby Stick line of pencils for lips and eyes. They are basically sheer, creamy color in an easy to use fat pencil. I have found them very forgiving and nice on the skin.

I have similar issues as you with foundation, etc., in that every single one feels icky to me after some amount of time. Every single one. I have oily skin and it just gets gross. I can alleviate to some extent with powders, but usually I just decide I don't care and go without. There is no rule that you have to have a base if you don't like it. I generally only use one if I'm trying to be a little fancy, and I vary between some sort of bb cream/moisturizer concoction and BareMinerals - the one that comes in a pressed powder compact that only needs like three brush swipes to apply.

As for eyes, this is my tiered eye makeup system:
Tier 1: everyday: nothing
Tier 2: low-key but nice, like I have a meeting with a new client: swipe over the eyelid with a Chubby Stick or eyeshadow in a light, neutral, slightly metallic color that looks good with my eyes, smudge to cover the eyelid with a fingertip or sponge. Light coat of mascara.
Tier 3: low-key but nicer, like I have a meeting with executives: Same as Tier 2, but also use either a darker color or a smudgy eyeliner near the lash line. Blend them together.
Tier 4: Date Night: Eyeliner, mascara, actually try to do that thing where you contour the eyelid with several colors. Seriously, I only do this like once a year.

I generally wear a neutral/sheer lip color every day, and I have a million of them in various shades. For Tiers 3-4, I'll add in some kind of foundation product, though as mentioned even the best things I've found only wear about 4 hours on my sensitive, oily skin before they start really bugging me. When I wear blush, which I don't always because my skin is naturally pretty pink, I have this creamy sheer stuff in a push-up stick that I got at Sephora. It is called Tarte cheek stain.

In general, as a person who doesn't like to wear much makeup or spend much time on it, I tend to go for sheer colors in a stick or pencil that can be smudged on without a lot of precision. No felt-tip black eyeliners for me!
posted by oblique red at 1:55 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My routine is acne stuff, moisturizer, powder (I have oily skin so I use powder), blush, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara. I skip lip stuff because I have a fuzzy upper lip and am shy about drawing attention to it.

To keep it simple and "you," think about what features you want to highlight and what you want to downplay. I want to downplay my oily skin. It sounds like you want to highlight your lips. Tinted moisturizer or foundation (liquid or powder) evens out your skin. If you have nice skin, you certainly don't need it. I also wear a facial moisturizer because it has sunscreen and during the winter, it keeps my skin from getting to dry.

I play with babies and pets and get affectionate with my husband without worrying about my makeup. Occasionally I'll put on more powder but I've been trying to minimize how often I do that to avoid looking cake-y. I try to check out my eye makeup once in a while because it tends to collect right under my eye. I was told that foundation can prevent that but it's no big. You might want to touch up lip stuff occasionally but you don't need to very often.

Something cool that I've noticed is that there are a lot of different products that are lip color but not lipstick - things like lip stains, lip glosses, etc. I liked the Almost Lipsticks from Clinique but they don't have them often anymore unfortunately. I did get a neutral lip color that almost matches my natural lip color so I wear that occasionally without lip liner. That Clinique chubby stick is also fun.

In my humble opinion, you can wear eye liner, eye shadow and mascara in any combination you prefer. I only started wearing eye liner semi-recently, previously I just wore eye shadow and mascara and only a few people recoiled in horror when they saw me. I don't feel like my makeup is "done" in the absence of mascara, like how I don't feel like I'm ready for the day without earrings but that's just me. I have long dark eyelashes too but mascara makes them look darker, thicker, and longer.
posted by kat518 at 1:57 PM on August 14, 2014

If you have decent skin, great brows and naturally dark lashes, you could get away with just lipstick and look really pretty without looking overdone. Bold lips and soft eyes are a very classic makeup combination.

The most unnatural makeup looks, in my opinion:

Foundation, on most people. It's hard to find the right shade; it has a tendency to settle in fine lines, blemishes and pits on the skin, making them more noticeable; it often looks cakey and dirty; and it comes off on everything. If your skin is even halfway decent, you probably look better without it.

Lots of eye makeup. There is a difference between a smudge of shadow on top & bottom lid to get a subtle smoky-eye look, and the full-on three color contouring with liner and lashes out to there. I mean, that's fine if you're going for a dramatic glamour look but some people do this for every day and it can be a bit much.

Trying to perfect every feature. When you cover your skin with foundation to tone it down, add stripes of blush on top of that to punch the color back up, use lipliner to change the shape of your lips, contour your eyes with shadow and define them with liner and mascara... unless you are VERY skilled and have a light touch, you can wind up looking like a pretty doll, very artificial. Picking one or two things to enhance or define can make you look prettier without screaming HEY LOOK MAKEUP!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:58 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Going down your list of questions, here are some responses:

- For starting out with makeup, I usually recommend beginning with shaping/filling in eyebrows, but it looks like you have that covered. I would still recommend at least trying out eyebrow powder to add definition to the ends of your brows -- you could use something gray, like NYX's eyebrow cake powder in black/gray.

Other good products to start with are mascara and some kind of lip product. They're easy to use and will make a quick and noticeable difference to your face. I have dark eyelashes myself, and mascara does make a difference - it makes my lashes look longer and thicker.

For your lips, if you don't want to worry about kisses from your husband, you need some kind of lipstain (the key word to look for here is "transfer-proof"), like the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains. Just about any sort of lipstick will transfer at least a bit, that's just the nature of lipstick. There are sealants like Lipcote that will prevent that, but I haven't tried them myself. Matte lipsticks should transfer less than creamier ones, but the trade-off is that they're usually more drying.

You can stick with just mascara and a lip product for a natural look, or you can add on eyeliner if you like for more eye definition - or concealer/face makeup if you like. It really depends on your personal preferences. When I'm going for a light look, I do my eyebrows (using eyeshadow to fill in bits), mascara, tinted lip balm or a lipstain, and blush.

- Regular face touching shouldn't wipe off your foundation. There are long-wearing foundations like Revlon Colorstay that will stay on pretty well, and if you have trouble keeping makeup on all day, using a face primer or an eye primer, as well as setting powder, can help. Re. refreshing makeup, I usually blot my face (using a toilet seat cover or paper napkin) in the afternoon to reduce shine, and re-apply my lipstick after lunch. I don't find that anything more than that is necessary.

- Re. conflicting advice, use your own judgment. If you don't feel like you really need foundation or tinted moisturizer, don't use it - or if you feel like you'd like to try it, go ahead. Advice from cosmetics sales associates is simply their opinion.

- You can certainly use eyeliner without eyeshadow; I do that every day. You can also wear eyeshadow without eyeliner. And if you want to skip eyeliner, you could try just smudging a dark eyeshadow along your lashline.

- If you use tinted moisturizer, the coverage should be pretty sheer, so it won't totally "blank out" your face. But in general, I do feel like -- unless you have naturally rosy cheeks -- wearing blush does help provide a nice healthy-looking glow. It's not something mandatory, though; no makeup really is.

- Re. makeup for Asian faces, there's plenty of advice online, like this.

I actually have a small blog with advice and recommendations specifically for makeup beginners (link in profile), so perhaps that would be helpful to you. Feel free to MeMail me if you have further questions; I'd be happy to help.
posted by LNM at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I try to take really good care of my skin and stay hydrated which eliminates foundation / tinted moisturizer / blush and most concealer. Between good eye brows and good skin, you've got this 95% knocked.

My daily go to work make up:
■ Sunscreen
■ Eyeliner only on the outer corner of the upper lid
■ Brown Mascara
■ Lippie: usually tinted tip balm or sheer lipstick or the ubiquitous Clinique Black Honey lipstick

I generally apply in the morning and that's it. I reapply lippie whenever my lips feel dry. If I'm going out for evening, I might amp up my eyeliner and lipstick.
posted by 26.2 at 2:03 PM on August 14, 2014

What I hate about make up is that I can't let anyone touch, kiss or lick (I have a baby and a toddler) my face, I can't blow my nose or rub my eyes without it coming off, right? What do people with kids and annoying pets do? What do you do with kisses from husbands?
- If I use tinted moisturizer, don't I need more things like blush to make me look less mask-like?

I read once that if you wake up groggy and tired looking in the morning and don't have time for makeup but need a pick me up, the one emergency item you should always go to is blush. It makes you look more alert.

I use Maybelline BB Cream, which is an SPF (not much tho) and tinted moisturizer all in one. If you have perfect skin, already, you don't need this. (But you might want an SPF moisturizer anyway!) My skin is not bad, but this evens it out and makes me look much more awake.

There are "cream blushes" that are exceedingly easy to apply. Just swipe your finger in them and rub a bit on the apples of your cheeks. This is what I use with my BB cream. Also a Maybelline product.

Mascara will probably change the way people perceive your face/eyes. It will make your lashes longer and eyes brighter, if you pick the right shade for your eyes and skin.

I wear these three items and I still rub my eyes and blow my nose. A little BB cream comes off, but it doesn't matter because it's subtle. Plus you can always reapply a touch in the afternoon. I don't rub my eyes directly with mascara on, but that's better for your eyes anyway. I still get kisses from my boyfriend and it's no big deal. Subtle and low maintenance.

I don't wear lipstick, but Revlon matte glosses have great staying power and don't get everywhere in my experience.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:03 PM on August 14, 2014

I am Asian with a small fold, and have small children. This is my routine:

1. Take care of my skin. I'm at the age with sun spots are showing, so for me, it's toner, chemical exfoliant, serum, moisturizer, sunscreen. Not moisturizer with sunscreen, because it doesn't work as well, but a good, strong sunscreen. Asian skin is often very sensitive to sun.

2. On days during which my skin is breaking out, makeup primer + tinted moisturizer. The primer contains SPF.

3. Cream blush that I apply with my fingers and can be layered on if I want more color.

4. Cream eyeshadow, simple eyeliner, and mascara on top lashes only. The eyeshadow is 2 colors: a goldish neutral on the entire lid up to brows, and a brown one. You want it to start darkest near your lash line and blend into the gold just above your lid.

4. Tinted lip balm, which I reapply throughout the day. To be honest, I just accept the fact that I kiss a lot of babies and it'll wear out. For this reason, my makeup is more focused on eyes/cheeks. Look up "neutral lip" tutorials for more info.

Or you could just throw on mascara and lip gloss and call it a day, which is what I do 90% of the time.
posted by snickerdoodle at 2:04 PM on August 14, 2014

As far as the foundation / tinted moisturizer - it should never look tan or white. It should really match your skin tone. Some people need to mix shades to get there but it really does need to match. Asian BB creams look like they're geared to making you look paler so they read a bit ashy to me eye.

If your brows and skin look good you can probably start by just adding some tinted lip blam and go from there.
posted by oneear at 2:04 PM on August 14, 2014

I found that having some fun with dramatic makeup can make wearing basic makeup much easier because you start to figure out the tricks for contouring as well as understanding what works with your face.

If you haven't down it before, go a little crazy at home with some YouTube videos. Buy some super cheap makeup to start (for experimenting), a bottle of makeup remover, and just get wild some night you have no where else to be. Even better, pick up a few books by the late Kevyn Aucoin. They are fun and give very specific steps for recreating the looks.

Ones you've had some fun, dialing back to more natural makeup is easy.

Fwiw, my quick makeup choice is tinted foundation, powder, mascara. I may or may not do eyeliner, and the same goes for shadow. One of my favorite tricks is to put bright, shimmery shadow in the inner corner of my eyes, and blend well. Sometimes that's the only eyeshadow I wear and it really brightens my eyes.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Face: Instead of doing full-face coverage, I do spot concealer to even out my complexion. I use a liquid concealer and apply on blemishes, under the eyes, and darker areas like around and under the nose and right above the chin, under the lower lip. I feel like this brightens my face without that "I'm wearing makeup" feeling (which I hate). Then I use powder to set and even things out.

Eyes: I dislike mascara, so instead I curl my eyelashes. The difference is probably subtle, but I really think it perks up my eyes.

Also, I don't think this is exactly your problem, but Jen of From Head to Toe has a tutorial on how she does eye makeup when one eye is monolid and the other is not. You might find her other tutorials helpful as well. She does everything from everyday to night-out makeup looks.
posted by Rora at 2:08 PM on August 14, 2014

Disclaimer: I am a Mary Kay independent beauty consultant. I am not your MK IBC. Given that you're not in the US, I can not be your MK IBC, but would be more than happy to help you find one, should you desire. Should you not desire, that's absolutely fine. This comment is for informational purposes only. I am not attempting to sell anybody anything.

For me, the key to good long-lasting makeup is good skin preparation. A good skin care program, plus primers for various face parts is my key. I use a foundation primer, a lash primer, an eye primer, and a lip primer. I also use skin care designed for my super-oily skin, and a mattifier to make it look not-oily even when it is.

When I "need to wear makeup," it's usually when I'm "being a MK lady." That's when I'm whipping out liquid foundation, 4 or 5 eye shadows, two mascaras, the works. But when I'm just running errands and don't want to do it naked-faced, here's what I use: a mineral powder foundation, one cream eye color (usually in a sandy color), one mascara, one cream blush, and one lip gloss (in a brownish pink, very neutral).

One benefit to party plan makeup sales plans like Mary Kay, Avon, Arbonne, etc., is that they have a try-before-you-buy approach, so you're not stuck with a cosmetics graveyard of stuff that's not quite the right color, or that you don't like the feel of, or that rubs off when your little ones "slooch" you.

To get more specific: " All the advice seemed to disagree!" Of course it all disagrees. This isn't rocket's just makeup! Even among advice for Asian faces, or epicanthic fold eyes (or even semi-sometimes epicanthic fold eyes!), there are going to be differences of opinions. The key is going to be to find what works FOR YOU.

"What I hate about make up is that I can't let anyone touch, kiss or lick (I have a baby and a toddler) my face, I can't blow my nose or rub my eyes without it coming off, right? What do people with kids and annoying pets do? What do you do with kisses from husbands?" What you're looking for here is low- or no-transfer makeup. With the primers and skin care I use, I can put on full makeup (the full out routine I listed above) at 7 a.m., drive 3 hours, go through a few job interviews, stand in the rain at an outdoor swim meet when it's 98 degrees in the shade, have a couple allergic reactions along the way, and still look just as good at 11 p.m. as I did at 7 a.m. But that's what works FOR ME. Again, it may take some experimentation to find what specific products work best for you.

"Can I use eyeliner without eyeshadow, or eyeshadow without eyeliner, and have it not look lazily slapped on or weird?" They're your eyes, honey, you can do whatever you want to them. I was an IBC for almost 10 years before I found out you don't have to wear eyeliner that matches your eye shadow. Completely blew my mind. So now, one of my favorite color combos is a sparkly white-ish highlighting eye shadow, a peacock-blue midtone, a black accent color, and then a silvery eyeliner. Love it!! (Obviously, that's Being The MK Lady makeup!!)
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 2:20 PM on August 14, 2014

- I want to use very few products and look "natural". I want this to be uncomplicated to begin with, so I can expand from there. But which products?

The answer really depends on you. At a minimum you probably want something to even out your skin, something to make your eyes pop, and maybe something on your lips. But this is very much YMMV.

- All the advice seemed to disagree! One lady recommended tinted moisturizer (I just covered everything in tan!) and another said my skin was blemish free and didn't need it.

There are just so many different products out there. Some people really get a kick out of hunting for the next big thing just for that reason. How do you feel about your skin? I use a tinted moisturiser every day because it's also just my straight up moisturiser and sunscreen. It evens my skin out and it's zero effort and suits me. I bet a lady at the MAC store would tell me I just have to layer foundation over that but nuts to that.

- What I hate about make up is that I can't let anyone touch, kiss or lick (I have a baby and a toddler) my face, I can't blow my nose or rub my eyes without it coming off, right? What do people with kids and annoying pets do? What do you do with kisses from husbands?

I wear a 'face' every day to work and I never fret about it rubbing off. This is a combination of the products I choose and the fact that I just straight-up don't wear very much. If your daily 'face' is a schmear of tinted moisturiser, some powder, mascara and blush then it's not going really go anywhere.

- If I use tinted moisturizer, don't I need more things like blush to make me look less mask-like?

I think you're talking about foundation here. Foundation is the heavier duty big sister to sheer tinted moisturiser. Some foundations can make your face look fairly mask-like. But to answer your question, do you need to wear blush? Well, no, but (IMHO) for me blush is an absolute miracle product. It's what takes my face from eh to wide awake and ready to GET SHIT DONE.

- And lipstick! What can I slap on without faffing about with lipliners etc. that won't bleed all over my face in an hour or two? I kind of want lipstick.

You could try a two-step long wearing lipstick like this. I've had really good luck with long-wearing liquid lipstick like this. I also have a few matte NARS lippies in my arsenal that never move when I use them.

- I shape my eyebrows pretty rigorously, as I have bushy ones, and I think they look nice now. Not pencil thin by any means, but formed. I doubt I need any more colour in them, they're pretty strongly defined. I do have one of those clear liquids to brush on that hold them in place, but do I need that?

Not necessarily. The gels keep your eyebrows in place over the course of the day. Did you know eyebrows need keeping in place? I didn't until I started using an eyebrow gel. I really notice a difference by the end of the day. But, again, it's up to your comfort level.

- Can I use eyeliner without eyeshadow, or eyeshadow without eyeliner, and have it not look lazily slapped on or weird? Eyeliner seems simplest? Though, maybe not with the epicanthic indecisiveness going on.

In short: yep! A slick of liquid liner and some mascara is my go to 'work face' most days. Other days I schmutz on some Clinique squeezy tube eye shadow with my ring finger. The Clinique squeezy tube is IDIOT PROOF and doesn't move at all. It's wonderful.

- Does mascara make any difference on dark eyelashes? It seems a waste of time?

Mascara does more than make your eyelashes a different colour. It also coats your eyelashes in a layer of goop that makes them look longer, thicker, nicer. Mascara is, like, totally the best. Alongside blush. Blush and mascara - get into it.

- How often do you refresh make up? It seems to go invisible or grotty almost immediately.

That's why the good Lord invented primers. Primers seem like a stupid made-up thing but they're really not. They help absorb oil and keep your makeup on longer. I use Benefit Primed and Poreless, fwiw, and really like it. I'll dust on a bit of powder (Chanel Vitalumiere if you're interested, but that's only because I had a treat yoself moment in an airport duty free) in the afternoon if I feel like it. Here ends the upkeep. Lipstick you might need to retouch, but YMMV.

For reference, here is my Daily Work Face:
- Clinique City Block (the tint suits my skin) followed by
- Benefit primer followed by
- Giorgio Armani Maestro concealer (a new find - CRAZY AMAZING so worth the money) smutched on with my fingers under my eyes then blended out with a foundation brush to cover basically everything else followed by
- loose powder (Chanel, I am a fancy lady, but powders are kind of much of a muchness) followed by
- whatever eye I feel liker (either eyeliner + mascara or eyeshadow + mascara) followed by
- a bit of blush (Benefit Dandelion)

This sounds like a lot but it takes me maybe three minutes in the morning and lasts all day.
posted by nerdfish at 2:29 PM on August 14, 2014

I wear makeup everyday. In my opinion, it should be fun not terrifying. I have a few suggestions...

Face: foundation, bb cream and tinted moisturizer are nice for special occasions, but they definitely aren't necessary. You could finish your skin with a powder, but any more than that really isn't needed.

Blush: I think cream blushes are easiest to start with. They can be applied with fingers. The coverage starts sheer, but it's buildable.

Eyes: the eyebrows are the most important part, and you already have that down! I know mascara seems like it wouldn't do much, but it really lengthens the lashes, which in turn opens up the eye. The trick with mascara isn't in the formula, it's in the brush. Find a brush shape you're comfortable using, and application becomes a lot easier (I like the brush on the maybelline mega plus, personally).

Lips: instead of lipstick, you might be more comfortable with a tinted lip balm. It can be applied without lip liner, and there is less chance of it bleeding onto surrounding skin.

These are just starting points, and you'll really need to experiment for what works on you. You don't always need to wear a full face, just have fun with it. Good luck!
posted by fireandthud at 2:31 PM on August 14, 2014

Not sure how helpful this is, but I find going to the local Sephora and having them recommend a specific palette for my face beyond helpful.

I also use bare minerals for "natural" looks and it works great.
posted by pando11 at 2:51 PM on August 14, 2014

What I hate about make up is that I can't let anyone touch, kiss or lick (I have a baby and a toddler) my face, I can't blow my nose or rub my eyes without it coming off, right? What do people with kids and annoying pets do? What do you do with kisses from husbands?

I use Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray. This stuff is magic: every once in a while, I'll forget to take my makeup off before I go to bed and, in the morning, it's still there. I don't wear lipstick much, though (just tinted lip balm).

As for where/how to begin, the Makeup Addiction subreddit has a lot of looks you can emulate and tutorials. You can even post pics of yourself and get constructive criticism. As someone mentioned upthread, YouTube has a lot of good channels for makeup tutorials. For reviews, Makeup Alley is a good resource. You can sort reviews by skin tone/eye color/hair color. They also just came out with an app that scans a product barcode and shows you the reviews for the product before you buy it. I haven't tried it yet, but since I always forget which thing I want while I'm looking, it sounds really useful.

Finally, I think the trick to makeup is this: play with it! Don't try new things just before you're going out; when you know you're staying in, experiment with different looks. (When I do this, if I mess something up, I just make it look ridiculous then take a pic and send it to my boyfriend. Then wash my face before I leave the house.)
posted by sfkiddo at 2:58 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm probably just repeating what a lot of other people have said on here, but I go for natural-looking makeup and here's what I do:

1) BB cream: my skin is dry after I wash my face so I just use this to moisturize. It's tinted and has a low spf. I doubt it adds that much color, but I like to feel like it does. I use CoverGirl because it's cheap.
2) Coverup stick: I use this for the dark undereye circles and on any acne I might have at the time.
3) Dusting of powder: this helps with the makeup not coming off all over things.
4) Blush
5) Waterproof eyeliner
6) Waterproof mascara (I get waterproof because I wear contacts and I've never had a normal mascara not smudge all over my face at some point. I also cry at things like commercials and songs on the radio, so it's just a safer bet).

And that's it. I think eyeshadow looks unnatural, most of the time. Even with a neutral color, it's just...not natural looking. I never wear lipstick. At most I'll wear tinted chapstick (like cherry chapstick or Baby Lips). Foundation is pretty noticeably cakey, and it's somewhat difficult to match perfectly since your neck tends to be a different color than your face.

I personally would never wear eyeliner without mascara, because I think it just looks really harsh and if it's not perfectly done, sloppy. Mascara can help hide sloppily-done eyeliner (and mine is almost always sloppy). I spend the most money on mascara because I really like Diorshow waterproof ($25 USD).

I never refresh my makeup unless I'm going out to dinner or something. I'm lazy. And I use Neutrogena makeup remover wipes to take it all off.
posted by majesty_snowbird at 4:39 PM on August 14, 2014

There is a ton of great advice here!

I never really learned the whole makeup thing in my teens and totally feel you on the insecurities re: my application vs pulled-together ladies. When I decided to figure it out 10 or so years ago, I got a couple of makeup-counter makeovers like you describe, and spent a while wearing way too much makeup. I've pared down significantly and now in my mid-30s use three daily - this might be a good place to start:

mascara (I have dark eyelashes too but this is less about color and more about shape)
eyeliner (I like liquid but in a pen like this)

Something else that might help - I also made it a point to try to observe ladies who I think have cool style and check out what they did. Lipstick and liquid-ish eyeliner were two common denominators that I noticed on people who ultimately looked like stylish adult professional ladies, so I started making an effort there. I slowly weaned off eyeshadow, then foundation & blush, and finally concealer a few months ago, and when I look at pictures then vs now I don't feel like my skin looks much different. For special occasions I layer some of this back in (lightly!) and it's enough to elevate from my everyday.

My application is still intermediate at best but I'm getting better with practice! Yours will too!
posted by marmago at 4:44 PM on August 14, 2014

I go for an all natural look when I put on makeup, and these are the products I use and how I use them. The only moisturizer I'll use on my face is CeraVe facial moisturizer. It keeps my skin clear, isn't heavy, and doesn't leave behind any icky-feeling residue.

I use an under-eye concealer (Maybelline Eraser for Dark Circles, at the moment) under my eyes and on my eyelids. I put it on my eyelids to help give my eyeshadow something to adhere to other than my eyelids. Then I put Covergirl Clean Pressed Powder over my t-zone (forehead, nose, cheeks).

After that, I put on a couple swipes of Covergirl very black non-waterproof mascara on my upper and lower eyelashes. It's the only one that will actually come off when I want it to, but I've never had a problem with it running or smudging; when I used the waterproof version, my eyelashes broke. I think mascara on dark eyelashes make a lot of difference, as I have dark eyelashes and I really can't stand not wearing mascara. I feel like I look washed out without it.

After mascara, I put on Almay Intense I-Color in bold nudes for eyeshadow. This brand comes in multiple palettes based on eye color, which is nice. I've never used eyeliner. I use Maybelline 14-Hour Super Stay lipstick in a shade that is just a bit brighter than my own. If I don't want color, I'll use regular Chapstick or Covergirl Moo-Chies lipbalm. If I put anything on my eyebrows, it's Chapstick, to keep some errant hairs in place, but I'm wanting to find a good product to help fill in my brows a bit.

I don't refresh my make-up at all throughout the day, but I work on my feet all day and generally don't stop into my office. Thinking about it, these products are all impressively sweat-resistant, as my job is very physical.

It's taken me quite a few years to find the products that I actually like, that I'm comfortable wearing, and that have good longevity. It took a lot of experimenting and, even three years ago, I didn't wear any, even when I did work in an office. Now that I've found the right products, I really enjoy makeup and don't ever go to work or out without any. Good luck!
posted by coast99 at 5:07 PM on August 14, 2014

Apologies if this is a repeat of previous answers!

I feel you on the epicanthic fold thing, it is so annoying. I also am a heavy sweater (hehe) of the face and scalp. Over the years, and with a little help from the ladies of YouTube, I've found good methods to define my eyes naturally and look put together without relying on heavy products that are obvious if they smear around.

- Always start out with an eyeshadow primer! I enjoy Urban Decay's Primer Potion, but I know Too Faced Shadow Insurance gets high ratings too. Used sparingly it will make eyeshadows apply better and last ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT. And I have ridiculously oily eyelids.

- I use a light wash of a neutral eyeshadow that is close to my eye color, both shimmer and matte. I find that it even if the color is not all that noticeable, it does something magical to my eyes to make them appear brighter and more even.

- If I want more definition, I blend a tiny bit of dark brown shadow across my lids, and then diffuse the crap out of it, but not above my crease. I like this method because it is less harsh than eyeliner. Also, I don't wear eyeliner because it highlights the unevenness of my lids by only showing up on one eye when I open them!

- I think that mascara defines your eyes in a nicely subtle way even if you have black lashes like mine, and in a more dramatic way if you curl your lashes beforehand. Stick to waterproof mascara if you do curl those lashes, as it holds the curl better (and doesn't smudge!). I love Maybelline's The Rocket Mascara.

- If your brows look unruly, then by all means use the clear mascara stuff! Otherwise, it's just a waste of time.

- Due to the aforementioned sweaty face, I no longer wear foundation, but I did use it throughout my teens and 20s. I'd recommend a powder foundation, applied lightly in the areas that you need it. I suggest powder because it's a one-step application (vs liquid, which often requires setting with a separate powder). The less makeup you have on your face, the more gracefully it'll wear off the face over the course of the day. Plus, it's easier to spot-apply and blend out powder than liquid. I recommend MAC Studio Fix (because I don't trust myself to color-match at the drugstore), but I hear good things about Milani's and L'oreal's powders.

- I wear blush everyday - luckily my cheeks don't sweat as much as my forehead and nose - and I consider it the most important step in my routine, as it really livens up the face. As with foundation, if you keep it natural looking and close to your natural skin shade, I don't think that it will be obvious if it gets rubbed/licked off. I sweat profusely in spin class (as if I took a shower), and the wearing-off doesn't look bad at all. I like many different blushes, but I will recommend Milani baked blushes and Clinique (the shade Aglow is amazing).

- For lips, I generally just like to wear lip balm, which gives a nice shine. Tinted ones should give you natural color without the goopiness. Have you ever tried lip stains? They stain (duh) your lips, so there's nothing to smear off when you give your husband/child/dog a kiss, and it lasts a lot longer than gloss or lipstick. I doubt you need lipliner, unless you want to look extra crisp and made up. Just make sure you exfoliate well before application! Google 'lip stain' and you'll see that many companies make 'em.

- And lastly, check out the Asian YouTuber Frmheadtotoe. She has a video tutorial or two on just how to address weird epicanthic fold issues, and does a lot of tutorials where she addresses the eye thing in general. She wears pretty heavy makeup in my opinion, but I've adapted some of her tips and tricks into my own natural makeup routine. Have fun!
posted by sweetpotato at 6:30 PM on August 14, 2014

Man, I thought you looked fine when I met you. I feel your pain, the wall of cosmetic product is seriously daunting. Here is my regimen because I am LAZY.

1) use cold cream as part of the oil cleanse method;
2) for blackhead reduction and getting CLEAR pores the Neutrogena blackhead pore cream is the bomb;
3) use a face serum as needed;
4) once a week exfoliate with a Clarisonic with sensitive brush using either a 2-3% salicyclic acid cleanser or a soap-free cleanser;
5) moisturize with superior product sporting a minimum of SPF15, if not 30;
6) use a sunscreen on your hands and arms because those tan, a lot.

Do what the French do, emphasize either the eyes or the lips but not both at once. For you, I would do eyes because yours are filled with a lively intelligence and are a natural attractant. Some liner, a discreet hand with the mascara would add a good emphasis. Other folks up-thread may have a better grip on the non-transferable product for lips.

They key is neat hair, clear skin and sparkling eyes. If you are dressed casual then you do not want to wear too much product. Another thing is well manicured hands with a subtle, very subtle shade on nails. If all you want to do is look well put together but very natural and casual then neatness and an air of caring goes real far.
posted by jadepearl at 8:51 PM on August 14, 2014

And lipstick! What can I slap on without faffing about with lipliners etc. that won't bleed all over my face in an hour or two? I kind of want lipstick.

You say you're not in the U.S. - is there any chance that you are in Europe? Specifically in the Germany/ Austria/ Switzerland/ Spain area? If so, you must go find Manhattan Lips2Last lipgloss. It is by far and away the best long-wearing lip color I have ever found, bar none. It absolutely blows Maybelline's SuperStay 24 and Revlon's ColorStay Overtime away in terms of both staying power and richness of color.

Unfortunately for those of us in the States, it's near impossible to get except for the occasional eBay lot so I'll definitely be stocking up on my next trip to Germany!!
posted by platinum at 8:51 PM on August 14, 2014

By the way, if you do pick up the Manhattan lipgloss, you'll also need some kind of makeup remover to get it off - plain old soap and water won't do it! I just swipe a bit of face cream over my lips, wait a few moments, then wipe off with a tissue. Works great for most any kind of makeup you decide to get!
posted by platinum at 8:58 PM on August 14, 2014

I heard that 'eyebrows, lashes, lips' is what frames the face. And it looks natural too! In terms of product recommendations:

Foundation: Make up forever face and body (if it looks 'mask like' you are using way too much. Dot half a pea size evenly over your face and neck, and use the other half of the pea if necessary to add coverage to places where you need)
Eyebrows: Anastasia Brow Wiz (any of the products, pencil is probably easiest)
Mascara: Maybelline Full n' Soft
Lips: I love Bobbi Brown (go to the counter they will find you a great shade)

Also probably worth investing in a foundation brush because that totally changes the finish and look of your foundation. Try Shiseido foundation brush!

Maybe that to start off with, and watch some youtube tutorials (especially Lisa Eldridge she's awesome) and if you become more interested by make up (which is a pretty cool art form) you can explore adding eyeshadow, eyeliner, blush etc. Have fun!! Also wear sunscreen!!
posted by dinosaurprincess at 4:00 AM on August 15, 2014

Oh wow, thank you so much for these amazing answers! I'm taking my time checking out the suggestions, but I think I Have A Plan now!
posted by Omnomnom at 11:53 AM on August 15, 2014

Hi, I'm addressing the lipstick and eyeliner questions you had.

Longwear lipstick: For something that doesn't budge, you can go for an all-day liquid lipstick (example here). You'll need to remove this with oil or through vigorous scrubbing with makeup remover. If you eat a greasy slice of pizza, you may notice some fading. However, in terms of bleeding, feathering, transferring from drinking, you'll be good to go. The downside with this and any long wearing lip color is that they are more drying than a regular lipstick.

If you want to go for a less nuclear option, you can look at matte lipsticks. I highly recommend Mac lipsticks. At $16 they are more expensive than a nice drugstore one but not obscenely so. The pigmentation and longer wear are a huge improvement for not that much of a price increase. Also they smell like yummy vanilla! For a low end brand, NYX Matte lipsticks are excellent. However, you'll want to research the shade you plan on getting since the formula can vary color to color.

Eyeliner: For a natural look, you can't go wrong with tightlining on the upper lash line. This is when you deposit color in between the lashes. Here's a straight-forward youtube video that explains in further detail. This a great technique for monolids, where lid space is small to non-existent. You'll need to use eyeshadow primer first if you have oily lids (Low end: Wet n Wild Fergie Take the Day Eye Primer & High end: Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer). If you use a flat eyeliner brush and some black eyeshadow, it's pretty fool proof. You can always clean up with a Q-tip if you fuck up. Once you feel comfortable that, you can graduate to a gel eyeliner (Maybelline Gel Eyeliner in Black) for a more dramatic, longer wearing option.

Note: Do not skimp on makeup brushes. Yes, ELF makes really cheap brushes but the quality stinks. I'd recommend you buy Sigma brushes which are comparable to Mac but slightly cheaper, if your budget allows. If not, I know EcoTools and Sonia Kashuk (target) make some decent, affordable brushes.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 7:50 PM on August 15, 2014

I think you can wear natural looking makeup without spending time worrying about putting on - and maintaining - a full face of slap.

You may even look better with minimal makeup. I just have the kind of face that looks terrible with full foundation, eye makeup and creamy full cover lipstick. So for a "polished" look you may find you may be able to just do the following:

- Moisturiser
- Medium weight powder. The moisturiser will give the powder something to stick to. Powder struggles to stay on freshly washed skin and looks cakey and well, powdery

- Mascara. Yes, it makes a big difference on dark lashes. It will thicken, lengthen & separate them, helping your eyes to look bigger and more "open" - all good things :)

- Brow pencil/brow mascara. A few sweeps and it's amazing how more groomed this looks

- Tinted lip balm. This won't bleed and you can keep a tube in your pocket to reapply easily without a mirror as often as you like. I adore the lip tints from firebirdbathbody on etsy. They're thick enough to not lick off after 5 mins and have good strong pigments.

When all you have to worry about is touching up powder and lip balm whenever you get kissed or otherwise rubbed on your face, it's really not hard to look "made up" at the drop of a hat.
posted by Zaire at 12:28 AM on August 16, 2014

When I actually wear makeup (1-2 a month tops) I do a neutral eyeshadow (no fancy three color stuff that always looks like crap when I do it), brown mascara, a dusting of blush and a tinted lip gloss. No foundation. No powder. No liners.

Luckily I was blessed with nearly flawless skin so less is more on me.
posted by kathrynm at 9:01 AM on August 16, 2014

Here are my key suggestions from my personal routine:

I'm crazy about blush and specifically cream or liquid blushes. As a young teen I read a book by famous make-up-person Bobbi Brown in which she said blush is the one thing she won't leave the house without because it makes you look awake and alive, a pretty glow. I agree, and a cream formula blends much more naturally than a powder and is nice a moisturizing, so you might get a little actual glisten which I like. (I actually made my own which is basically tinted lip balm. It's made of cocoa butter + jojoba oil + little bit o' lipstick. Previously, I just mixed a little lipbalm or jojoba oil and dab of lipstick in my palm and rubbed that on cheeks.)

Blush, mascara and covering up undereye darkness (using light coverage liquid foundation) are my secret weapons for a natural face.

I love Mary Kay Medium Coverage foundation. I use very little, blended in areas of redness/uneven skintone and all around my eye area because of aforementioned dark circles. Love this stuff, it looks very natural and doesn't rub off. Sometimes I finish with loose mineral powder (I got a free sample pack from Everyday Minerals and I'm a fan.)

Not sure what your lashes are like, but I've found that using an eyelash curler before mascara is another "natural look" secret weapon. It makes a huge difference for me.

Most importantly, you'll get better with practice. I find this really true for lipstick. I would like to master the "bold lip" but it takes me a long time to get it looking semi-normal. Don't give up, and play around with make up on your days off when it doesn't matter if you smear something all over and have to start over.

Oh, also, clean your face and put on moisturizer before make-up. All those articles are serious when they say this helps the make-up blend evenly and stay put.
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:46 PM on August 16, 2014

You need tissues!

When you put on lipstick, blot it with a tissue. You can add a second coat and blot that lightly too.

After you put on foundation and powder, very lightly touch your face with an open, slightly dampened tissue.

Less transfer and a more natural look.
posted by SandiBeech at 5:13 AM on August 19, 2014

Wow, thank you MeFi, as a rarely-make-up-wearing half-Asian I have also found these answers really useful. (Oily eyelids - me too!).

It sounds like we have quite a similar approach - I try and wear a bit of makeup to work to look more 'professional', on the days when I feel like it. For a long time I used to feel that I had a clown face on if I tried to do a made-up look. But in the last couple of years I feel a lot more confident about it, so here's my approach, for what it's worth.

(if you need it) Under eyes - Clinique even better eyes - this is amazing stuff which covers up the dark circles - in the evening when I wash my face I am always shocked by the reappearance of the dark circles as I have totally forgotten they are there

Powder - MAC skinfinish - evens out my skin without being too heavy

Eye make up - as well as having quite shallowly-set eyes, I also wear glasses. For ages I used to try and do that complicated contouring stuff, putting on three different colours and blending etc., and it just did not look good. For the last few years I have lived in Asia, and observing how my colleagues do their eye makeup, I have realised that it HAS to be really simple - one colour, close to the lash line. So really, either eyeliner or a fairly thin line of shadow. I find agnes b eyeshadow lasts the longest on my oily lids.
I don't bother with mascara because my eyelashes are dark already.

Lips - for a long time I wore neutral (pinky beige, usually) and/or sheer lip colours. Never seemed to make any difference to the way I looked. Then one time I was on holiday in the South of France and I noticed that literally every woman was wearing fuschia lipstick. Now this was probably a fashion thing that summer, but it really seemed to suit everyone. So I bought a cheap fuschia lipstick and tried it out. It really, really lifted my whole face (I have kind of medium olive skin). Now the only lipstick I wear is MAC "Lickable". I know it sounds weird to go for a bright colour if you're not that comfortable wearing makeup, but honestly, just try it.

I feel like I should wear blush but that's the thing I haven't worked out yet...
posted by ontheradio at 6:53 AM on August 21, 2014

Hey everyone!
Several months later I am the proud owner of lots of different Superstay lip colors, I own and use mascara and an eyebrow pencil and whenever I wear my "going to work" look I get compliments all day!
I'm having fun and it's making me happy. Thank you very much for your suggestions, particularly
- trying on looks at home, in the evenings
- brand suggestions
- the idea that make up is supposed to let me look like I want to look, not any specific way!

Thank you!
posted by Omnomnom at 3:15 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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