What the fuck makeup do I wear?
July 23, 2015 11:54 AM   Subscribe

I've been into fashion for awhile, but I have yet to really learn much about makeup outside of bb cream, bold lips, and cateye eyeliner. I want to develop a more versatile daytime look for my (soft autumn) coloring/look. (Blonde hair, hazel eyes, warm + fair skintone.)

I know I don't "need" makeup and I'm fine with that; I don't wear makeup about 50% of the time. But when I do wear makeup, I feel myself tiring of the super simple statement looks that I'm capable of, and I'd like to do something more subtle yet enhancing.

I'm in my mid-20s. According to this page, I am probably a "soft Autumn." I have (naturally) ashy blonde hair (but dyed golden blonde), hazel eyes that appear light brown but have green centers up close, neutral-ish (occasionally dull/ashy) toned skin with light freckles across my nose. Light eyebrows (that I usually get threaded but don't color). I seem to look better in black-brown or brown mascara and eyeliner. I definitely have the "soft" coloring where there's little contrast between my eyes, skin tone, and hair color, which I haaaaate because it means sticking to relatively mellow palettes most of the time (I don't do this because I get bored and I'm not always about enhancing). I guess, looking again, that I'm in between "Autumn" and "Summer," warm and soft. On this thing I'm like oh yep, I'm an Autumn, because the "colors to avoid" are soooo the colors that I avoid.

I would especially like tips on eyeshadows that might set my eyes off from my face (which to me right now just feels like one big beige sandbox). Because of the green in my eyes, I've tried purple (dark purple, warm purple, soft purple) but it tends to make me look ashy. I think I need warmer colors that look neutral so they aren't too distracting... but I don't know what those colors are!

I used to wear a warm, dark-ish brown over my entire eyelid, and I liked the simplicity/ease of a single color wash. I've seen this look awesome on blue-eyed girls (with an orange-y, biscuit-y brown wash, see here) but since my eyes are not as contrasting/standout/blue at all it doesn't have the same effect. I would like to find a perfect color that does this for me without being sooo boring (e.g. taupe), but so far no luck.

Most complicated aspect: I really like modern looks, and thus I'm kind of big on the no-mascara/very natural looking mascara thing (described/demonstrated well here). I think this looks better on "bright" complexions (Winter, Spring)... but I just totally hate wearing a full face of makeup. Not because it's work but because the look seems unnatural and like it doesn't suit me or my style. So a contrast of subtle/bold is really key for me, with a relatively light and natural tone. As for lips, I usually wear a bright or dark red bold lip (in a stain or a matte balm).

As much as I know I should be all about olive (my eye-centers are pretty olive), I hate olive. I will never wear olive in any way short of one olive-colored work jacket that I own and think of as a neutral.

General suggestions are great, but specific products/palettes would be excellent! Right now I have the Tarte Tartelette palette and my eye on the MAC Brooke Shields collab palette. Eyeshadow is definitely my trickiest area, but any product recommendations are welcome.
posted by easter queen to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a winter so I got rid of mine, but you can't go wrong with the Urban Decay Naked Palette (the first one).
posted by matildaben at 12:03 PM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Another vote for Birchbox or similar service where you can try a number of different products and looks for cheap (or free, if you're strategic with loyalty points).

And you didn't mention eyeliner--which could be a great solution for a) introducing a complementary color to your eye, b) defining your eye, and c) eliminating the need for mascara. This one is really nice and stays put for a while; this one by Clinique is really easy to apply and to smudge into an effect you like; this one you should not even bother with unless you want to look like (and possibly obtain) an eye infection. I'd be wary of cheap eyeliners, but there are typically hundreds of uses in one container so it's $11-16 well spent for a good one.
posted by witchen at 12:24 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to splurge on the Naked palette, this drugstore palette from Maybelline is a fantastic alternative. If you're my age, you may remember Wet n' Wild makeup to be garbage quality -- not so these days! It's cheap and you can experiment with colors because shadow palettes are $2-3. Try "Walking on Eggshells". Get a small, firm brush and use that instead of a traditional eyeliner to line your eyes with the darkest taupe palette color for a light and modern effect. Also, try the Fergie primer from Wet n' Wild. It's great, and it's cheap.
posted by theraflu at 12:25 PM on July 23, 2015

Best answer: I would like to find a perfect color that does this for me without being sooo boring (e.g. taupe), but so far no luck.

If I had one reccomendation to make for this, it's find something that's one of those shades that's literally rose/gold: not copper metallic as is usually meant, but literally a pinky-rose shade with gold toned shimmer. A nice pale sand or peach matte over the whole eye as a base, one of those shimmers all over the lid and you should be good to go. You might actually find something more purple-based that would work too, but look on YouTube for looks with the UD Naked 3 palette, there are a lot of tutorials that are basically variants on that. You might even want to try a cream shadow.

I would especially like tips on eyeshadows that might set my eyes off from my face (which to me right now just feels like one big beige sandbox). Because of the green in my eyes, I've tried purple (dark purple, warm purple, soft purple) but it tends to make me look ashy. I think I need warmer colors that look neutral so they aren't too distracting... but I don't know what those colors are!

Bronzes, coppers, other warm-ish metallics, rose/pinkish neutrals, and All Of The Golds. You want Urban Decay's Naked Palettes, or reasonable dupes. Specifically, you want the first one (bronzes, coppers, clays, browns, and some smokey grey/blues), and the third one (roses, pinks, rose golds). You might try taupes, but I suspect that will have the same problem as purples for you. You could also try the Lorac Pro (first one), or the Lorac Unzipped that's based around rose golds. If you're going for single-color eye looks, you actually probably want shimmer or at least satin colors, rather than matte, especially combining it with a matte lip.

Other things I own and generally like: the Stila Eyes are the Window palettes, this Kat Von D contouring palette that actually works fine as neutral matte palette with a broader range of shades than is usual. A lot of people I know swear by Too-Faced Chocolate Bar and all the variants. The Kat Von D Monarch and Chrysalis palettes are supposedly very good too, and the color ranges are definitely distinct from the kind of palettes you usually find, while not being super over the top like the UD Electric, so still pretty wearable for everyday.

There are acceptable to good dupes for a lot of these, and you can also make your own custom dupes by getting a Z Palette or other empty palette and filling it with MAC/MakeupGeek/ColourPop/Inglot/Coastal Scents individual shadows. I would honestly reccomend against MAC just because I don't think they're worth the ridiculous amount of money compared to even the pricier indies like MUG and CP. MUG in particular are really good, especially their Foiled collection. CoastalScents are a bit hit or miss but at $2 each, $1 if you're lucky enough to get a sale, you can do a whole lot of experimenting and if you look on YouTube you can find out which shades are the good ones; a lot of their metallic shades are really nice. I wish I'd skipped the step of Buy All The Palettes and just gone straight to doing this, even though it helped me figure out what I like and what works on me.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 12:29 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

deep plum goes well with green eyes.
posted by harrietthespy at 12:41 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're looking to just add a simple wash of color, you're best off with a shimmery, almost iridescent shade. I'd recommend a nice rose-gold color that you can dab on your eyelids without much fuss. Examples:
- Bobbi Brown Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow in Rose Gold
- L'Oréal Infallible Eyeshadow Amber Rush

My absolute favorite no-fuss flattering lip color is Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry.

For natural looking mascara, I highly recommend Clinique's Naturally Glossy mascara. This stuff doesn't clump for nothing! It separates, darkens, and thickens without being very dramatic. The only downside is that if you have oily skin or monolids, it can transfer.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 12:44 PM on July 23, 2015

How confident are you in your colors? If your hair is ashy and your skin is ashy then that puts you into the cooler tones. Also, Autumns aren't usually blondes. Without seeing you, it's hard to say if your assessment is correct. However, your description doesn't align to Autumn and seems closer to a Summer. When you dye your hair, it's doesn't change your skin tones which are what determines your color palette.

Instead of looking online do a color swatching. Pull your hair back and remove all your makeup. Stand in good natural light and start putting fabric next to your face. Put the fabrics into three pile - looks great, looks bad, and meh. Just grab whatever solid fabrics you have - towels, tee shirts turned inside out. Make sure you have a range of whites - ivory, bright white, buff, cream. When you're done look at the piles and see where the colors that look good on your line up. That is your palette.

Summer is what I am. For day, I use a
- Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in Chocolate Truffle. If I want to pick up a bit of the green in my eyes I use some green liner under the brown liner right at the center of my eye. You can see it, but it wakes up the green.

- Maybelline Volum' Express The Mega Plush in Brownish Black (good luck finding it). I've tried every possible mascara, but this is my go-to day mascara.

- I don't really need foundation. I wear Sunscreen and Laura Mercier Mineral or Setting powder.

- Whichever of the 8 million lipsticks, balms, glosses or stains strikes my fancy.
posted by 26.2 at 12:51 PM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also, I'm not a fan of Birchbox. I still get it, but I can't think of a single product that I've really liked from there - most of it seems pretty tween to me. I always end up giving the box to whichever of my high school aged nieces I see.

I do like both GlossyBox and Ipsy. Test Tube is my favorite beauty box, but I think the products skew more older - lots of skin care.
posted by 26.2 at 1:00 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you and I have similar coloring and I can pull off most colours. Warm metallics are basically my neutrals for eyes, though plum is also great. I find black eyeliner a bit harsh on me but any other color is fair game
posted by peppermind at 1:03 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have similar coloring and I really like makeup. I have olive green eyes and I can't wear purple/plum eyeshadow because it's too cool for my skin tone. I second the recommendation upthread for a rose gold eyeshardow because it's warm enough to complement my skin but still is contrasty enough to make my eyes pop.

Other general recommendations -

1. Look at the pixiwoo youtube channel and the lisa eldridge makeup channel. Taught me everything I know about makeup.

2. Get a decent set of brushes. I recommend the eco-tools drugstore brand.

3. EYEBROWS. Get them waxed at a good place (I like the Benefit brow bar at Ulta) and then buy a powder (not a pencil) to fill them in. Make sure the powder is a cool-ish shade rather than too orangey.

4. Products:
Laura Mercier Illuminizing tinted moisturizer. ZOMG makes you look like a Victoria's Secret Angel - very dewy and light, definitely lets your skin shine through.
Anastasia brow powder in ash blonde.
Sephora brow powder (taupe, I think). Also comes with a really good mini brow brush.
Palladio eyeshadow primer - from Sally's, works just as good as Urban Decay Primer Potion.
Urban Decay All Nighter Finishing Spray. Really keeps everything in place. I have dry skin but they do make one for oily skin as well, cant speak to the quality.
MAC Peaches blush. If you are a true autumn this will look great on you.
Mally eyeshadow stick- doesn't budge.
The Naked Palette 1 or 3. Great quality. I like the Lorac Pro colors better but the quality is inferior IMO.

5. If you havent already, get one of those magnifying mirrors but don't do your brows in them - you want a zoomed out perspective.

6. If you want to up your eye game, try a kohl pencil for your upper waterline + lashline and smudge it in with a dark eyeshadow color.

7. Another fun, easy look to try is this reverse smoky eye.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:04 PM on July 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

I recently bought the Coastal Scents Warm Palette. It's very reasonably priced and as an eyeshadow n00b I've been really enjoying futzing around with different color combos and looks. My favorite general combo of late has been something light, gold and shimmery on the lid, a couple darker matte neutral colors blended into the crease, finished with a cream or white shimmery shade on the browbone and in the inside corners of my eyes. Then I add eyeliner to the top lid only and a little bit of mascara. It's enough of a "look" to highlight my eyes in a way that I think is really flattering, but at the same time it doesn't scream "OMG TONS OF MAKEUP!!1"
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 1:16 PM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yay!

1) I have Birchbox! It is in fact awesome! I just today discovered that I love this Cynthia Rowley cream lip stain-- something I never would have tried (I always avoid shimmery/creamy stuff), but it looks great for giving a pop of color when I leave my eye bare.

2) I am pretty confident in my coloring, and "soft autumn" is indeed between Autumn and Summer, which explains the cool/ashiness. I am 100% sure I'm not a pure Summer, because if I wore any of the colors suggested for them I'd look like shit (meanwhile, I look great in earth tones and have always gravitated toward them). My skin is "ashy" in the sense that I don't really have a youthful glow about me without a highlighter or something, but my skintone itself is more of a neutral. Peach blush looks much better than pink blush on my skin tone. I'm from a family of redheads, and I have freckles.

It's jacked up, but I'm just one of those in-between people. I'm like a pale Drew Barrymore, in terms of coloring.

I actually have the Naked mini-palette, but it's always intimidated me because it looks so cool/neutral-- but I'll experiment!

I love all these suggestions! The Clinique Naturally Glossy is going in my shopping cart right now. My biggest challenge is that peach-y tones look great on my skin, but do nothing for my eyes, whereas taupe/plum can look good with my eye color, but do nothing for my skin. I'm looking for a warm-but-not-bright in-between shade, I guess!

(I'll be on the lookout for "rose gold"-- speaking of, I know orange-brown shadow looks great with blue eyes because they're complimentary colors, but obviously no one wears red shadow with a green eye-- does pink, as a light red, have the same color-popping properties when contrasted with green? Is that why every hazel eye tutorial is like BROWN PINK GOLD?? I don't understand makeup color theory.)
posted by easter queen at 1:41 PM on July 23, 2015

Best answer: The Naked Basics palettes are kind of crap, honestly. I didn't realize it when I got them, but UD's matte formula isn't the best out there, and they are indeed very boring, and they pull from all the palettes so there's not as strong of a "color story" as 1/2/3 or the new Smoky version. If I had it to do all over again, I'd have skipped them and gone straight to one of the broader all-matte palettes, like the Stila or the surprisingly decent and affordable Sonia Kashuk. Since you have it, play around with it, but it's not going to give you a good feel for what the fullsize Nakeds or their dupes are like, they're really just a very narrow range, super basic matte palette with a chalky formula and not much versatility, which doesn't sound like it jibes with what you want.

Pink can look very good with green eyes as a general rule, yes, the main problem is that with a lot of skintones, unfortunately especially paler ones, it can make you look ill or like you've been crying. You have to be careful, although pink covers a whole lot of territory and is very neutral. What kind of pink-based looks make you look good is going to depend a lot on the rest of your coloring and what other colors you use with it. You could also try dark oranges, clay, burnt umber, etc that lean red. Kat Von D especially has a lot of those shades in her palettes. I think people tend to shy away from them more than they should given the whole "oh no, red!!!" factor you mention so a lot of palettes don't include them, but that's been changing.

Forgot to mention this in my first post, but if you want to experiment with liner colors, this thinger is pretty terrific, especially if you get one of the "2957201935 million cheap eyeshadows!!" palettes from Coastal Scents or ELF. The primer is nothing special, and the liner itself will not give you the staying power of a traditional liner unless you use some kind of setting spray, but it's a good way to play around with colors, or weird looks like the bright neon liner + neutral shadow that some beauty bloggers were trying to make happen this summer. It's a decent way to experiment without laying out a whole bunch of money on different liners.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 2:09 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lisa Eldridge has great how-to videos, and I have successfully simplified several looks and done them with drugstore make-up. She has a lot of natural, "no-make-up" make-up, and light looks too. She also has the full array of cat eyes, party, vintage, etc
posted by jrobin276 at 2:39 PM on July 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

(Disclaimer: I'm a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. I am not your MK IBC. I do not want to sell you anything. I am commenting for informational purposes only. Should you want a MK IBC, I am more than happy to help you find one near you. None of the MK links go to my personal website.)

Depending on your shade of hazel eyes, you may have better luck with blue eye shadows, rather than purple shades. I don't mean this kind of blue, which seems to be what everyone immediately thinks of, but something like the brown-eyed look here. Or you might try something like this palette. Or, for simplicity and ease of application, you might try something like this cream eye color on your lid, with this one above the crease.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 1:20 AM on July 24, 2015

Oh and if you're looking for an alternative to bold red lips, I'd recommend berry lips! MAC Rebel is a classic and for good reason--it looks flattering on pretty much everyone.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 7:15 AM on July 24, 2015

If you're into a natural look I absolutely LOVE Burt's Bees tinted lip balm. Even the darkest shades (e.g. Red Dhalia) still look natural on me, though you'd want one of the more orange shades than my Summer coloring can handle. Can be had cheaper at your local drugstore.

I wish I had a list of products that I've thrown out for being too yellow or orange--I'm sure they'd look great on you!
posted by estelahe at 7:41 PM on July 24, 2015

Well, I tend to go for dramatic, and my eyes may be greener than yours, but I also shift between autumn and winter, so maybe these ideas will be helpful. Chocolate browns make my eyes greener, and I love this one as a liner (I just use a drop or two of Visine to use these loose powders as liner) Action. A warmed purple like Brimstone or Defenestrate might work for you. I would also look at golden reds/peach like Boost or a rich neutral like Virtual.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:42 PM on July 24, 2015

I've tried purple (dark purple, warm purple, soft purple) but it tends to make me look ashy.
Have you added blush on your cheeks while applying eyeshadows on your eyes? It makes a huge difference for me. I'm very pale and if I wear just eyeshadows or just bold eyes without blush it looks super weird and ashy.
Another suggestion : have a look at Makeup Addiction on reddit (I'm on mobile, sorry for the formatting : https://www.reddit.com/r/MakeupAddiction). You'll see a lot of different skin types and bazillions different looks and the community is pretty helpful!
posted by OrangeCat at 8:30 AM on July 25, 2015

If you are feeling like you don't have enough definition going on, and still want a fairly natural look then amping up your eyes and brows is key. I have learned my brows get too blond so have learned to dye them myself. Just a little bottle of hair dye, developer and Q tips monthly works wonders. I hate any obvious pencil or the over groomed look, but attractively shaped and symmetrical brows make a bigger difference than you'd imagine. Yelp for a great groomer in your area just to learn how much they matter!
Also, tight-lining is a very subtle way to enhance your upper lash line and not look obvious or heavy. Look it up and find pencils that work on the waterline and try some deep plummy browns.
If your skin is casting ashy with some eye shadows, adding some warmth will help. Since you will be experimenting with color I'd check out NYX- their eye shadows are great quality and some gorgeous colors. They also have nice tinted primers and blush you might want to try. When you find your holy grail colors, then maybe invest in a luxe brand version. Makeup alley has a makeup forum where I have learned a ton. Good place to search for techniques and products.
posted by TenaciousB at 2:23 PM on August 8, 2015

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