Please help shine some light on the mysteries of make-up for me.
November 2, 2015 3:10 AM   Subscribe

I can just about get a handle on special occasion make-up, but I have no idea what to do with my face on a regular workday basis that makes me look better than normal but also doesn't involve a dozen different steps and expensive products. I think the best way of doing this would be to tell me a little about your daily, workday make-up routines.

To date my morning workday make-up routine has been moisturiser and eyeliner. Since my 30s struck, my skin texture has changed a lot and I now have break-outs regularly and uneven skin tone as well as scarring leftover from acne and dark circles under my eyes. I have accepted I may now have to move out from my minimally made-up comfort zone in order to look and feel a bit less meh. I look tired and less glow-y than I used to. (I drink lots of water and have an exercise regime of some description. My diet's... OK.)

I've been researching everyday make-up routines, but they all seem so complicated, have so many steps and require the purchase of so many new products and brushes, it does not feel like something I could ever get used to doing first thing in the morning. I can't imagine spending 15 minutes just on my face and buying so many products for a natural look. But maybe I am the one being unrealistic. I don't know!

I know I can speak to a make-up counter person, and I have had some conversations but they did try to push a whole lot of products at me which I don't think I need. I thought that instead I would ask you guys what your daily workday make-up routines are, to get a more realistic idea of what people who know what they're doing with make-up actually do in the mornings. This would help me get a better handle on what a daily make-up regime actually looks like if you are not a beauty blogger! Thanks a lot, guys.
posted by Ziggy500 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (45 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like your skin is concerning you the most. Lisa Eldridge has a great video on covering problem skin here. I love how she points out that realistically, maybe 10% of the model's skin is blemished and the majority is lovely and she emphasizes the nice areas of skin. In the video she uses Clinique Redness solution which I went out and bought years ago after watching that video. Works perfectly for Lisa's application which is to spots only.

I really, really recommend her website and videos. She had such a great attitude towards makeup and beauty.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:27 AM on November 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

For me, in my 30s the steps have increased! I do a facial primer, foundation, transluscent powder, blusher, eyeshadow, eye liner and mascara. I additionally do an eye shadow primer but this isn't always necessary.

The primer gives a nice smooth base for the foundation, and the translucent powder gives a matt finish without adding colour. I use quite a full coverage foundation as I also have redness sometimes. I added the blush relatively recently and have had comments so I think it's worth it!

I can do the above in about 8 minutes in the morning.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:28 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, everyday I do: tinted moisturizer, mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow primer, eyeshadow, eyebrow powder, blush and bronzer. It takes me 3-5 minutes.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:33 AM on November 2, 2015

Also check out lots and lots of great examples and perspective in this Previous Ask. FWIW, I just turned 40 and my routine is pretty much exactly the same as my comment there. Still obsessed with Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer (because it looks and feels pretty natural and you need the SPF anyway). I've since discovered Dior lipsticks, though, which feel so luxurious without making the whole routine too fussy. But now I use any old mascara because I change it out every 3 months.
posted by mochapickle at 3:43 AM on November 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

I do moisturiser, then concealer, a bb cream or foundation, eyebrow powder, blush, highlighter on my cheeks, clear lip gloss and eyeshadow and/or mascara and sometimes bronzer. Rarely both eye products, I try to look 'natural', ha! I use brushes for most of it and have the routine down to about 3 minutes, tops. When you start, like anything new, it will take longer (makeup videos are great for technique) but soon you will fly through it.
posted by Jubey at 3:56 AM on November 2, 2015

I would second pintapicasso's suggestion to check out Lisa Eldridge, and also would expand on the idea that maybe getting a handle on your skin issues is perhaps a priority over the makeup? I personally hate wearing lots of makeup, particularly foundation and concealer, so my big beauty goal was to get my skin into a condition where I rarely, if ever, had to wear it. If you don't already have a solid skincare routine you like, I'd recommend checking out Paula's Choice for great advice and excellent products.

As for the makeup, my basic daytime routine now looks like this: facial sunscreen SPF 50, Smashbox primer, Touche Eclat highlighter under any dark eye circles, Bobbi Brown concealer on any spots, YSL cream blusher, fill in brows with Anastasia Beverly Hills colored gel, a solid sweep of eyeshadow from the Naked Palette 3, curl eyelashes, apply Lancome Hypnose mascara, finish with neutral Clinique Chubby Stick moisturizing lipcolor. It sounds like a lot, but it looks extremely natural and takes under ten minutes start to finish.
posted by ladybird at 4:01 AM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

My skin is in a similar condition to what you describe. My daily routine is: L'Oreal True Match liquid foundation (applied with a sponge), Paula's Choice cream concealer on blemishes (applied with a concealer brush), L'Oreal True Match powder (applied with the pad it comes with), and a lightweight lip product (usually Clinique Almost Lipstick, Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick, or Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon). It only takes two or three minutes.

I really love videos by makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, such as Chic & Simple 5 minute Make-up Tutorial, 'No MakeUp' Look MakeUp Tutorial, and Universally Chic Makeup Look (and now I realize she's already been mentioned!). I don't quite have the hang of blush, highlighter, or eyeliner yet, but I've learned a lot from those videos.
posted by neushoorn at 4:03 AM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

My every day routine: Moisturiser, sunscreen, silicone-based primer, [sometimes: Revlon photo ready BB cream applied with a damp beauty blender], neutral eye shadow (I use a taupe eyeshadown pencil from Rimmel), eye liner, mascara, eye brow mascara, blush and slightly shimmery bronzer applied to my cheekbones, and highlighter applied to cupid's bow/cheekbones/brow bones.

It sounds like a lot but it's not really. I use the Too Faced Secret to No Makeup Makeup for the bronzer/blush and highlighter. I use drugstore products (Rimmel, Maybelline, Essence) for the primer, eyeshadow, mascara and eyeliner. I don't bother trying to cover my dark circles.

Unsolicited skincare advice: Maybe look into introducing a prescription retinoid into your skincare routine to help with the break outs, uneven texture and lack of glow? I use tretinoin 0.05% and it has really helped to keep my skin under control. The first few months can a bit rough - there's usually some dryness and flaking and there's often a period of purging. The most important things to remember are: starting off applying every other night, waiting 20 minutes between cleansing and applying the retinoid, following up with a good moisturiser, being patient during the adjustment period.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:05 AM on November 2, 2015

You may want to start small by incorporating a tinted moisturizer and proceed to other steps (+concealer... +highlight) if you aren't satisfied with the coverage. It sounds like you aren't using much of anything at the moment, so going from nothing to 5 products may feel overwhelming.
posted by smellyhipster at 4:23 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're having issues with your skin it would be good to get into a skincare routine you're happy with first. I have oily-tending skin. I use Simple face wash gel, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel (not the lotion - it makes me breakout) and then Clinique moisturiser over the top for oily skin. At night I use Olay conditioning milk to take off makeup. This has settled down my skin and I rarely get breakouts any more, plus the only real expense is the moisturisers as the cleansers are cheap and cheerful.

As to makeup make sure you leave a good 10-15 minutes after applying your moisturiser so it can sink in. I usually wash my face in the shower, put on the moisturisers before I get dressed, then by the time I've dressed and done my hair etc my skin feels matt.

I don't bother with primers, I apply foundation, under eye concealer (go for a light liquid rather than a thicker cream), loose powder, then blusher, thin crayon eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara, and lipstick or a liptint. I only use brushes for the blusher and to sweep off the excess loose powder, I use my fingers for everything else including eyeshadow. I can do the whole thing in 10 minutes, less if I'm pushed for time. From getting out of bed to leaving the house, including showering, skincare, makeup and hair (which to be fair I usually just stick in a ponytail) is exactly 30 minutes.

One other thing - diet really does affect your skin. Mine has got much brighter and clearer since I really cut down on sugar about 5 months ago. Feel free to memail me, I can talk about makeup all day!
posted by billiebee at 4:32 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing explore all the wonderful Lisa Eldridge has to offer on basic make up and how to pick foundation, concealer etc to suit your skin colour and condition and other needs. I have combination skin but by carefully picking a matt foundation I don't often need powder, as long as i use blotting papers throughout the day.

Daily, in that order:
Moisturiser (fingers)
Long lasting foundation (fingers)
Pinpoint concealing as required (lip liner brush)
cream blush (fingers)
eye brow gel (from its wand)
eye liner (pencil, smudged with cotton bud)
mascara (from the wand)
lip product of choice (as it comes)

if i feel fancy, in no particular order:
eye shadow (sticks directly onto skin, fingers, blending brush, rarely a separate brush to apply)
powder (powder brush)
bronzer (powder brush)
highlighter (fingers if cream product/powder brush if dry product)
contouring (powder brush if dry product/ stipling/buffing brush if cream)
multiple lip product lips (lip liner, lipstick, balm/gloss)
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:34 AM on November 2, 2015

I wash my face at home (Cetaphil cleanser and SPF 15 moisturizer). Then, after my bike ride and subway trip, I do my make up at work. These days I use tinted moisturizer (applied with fingers), bronzer, blush, eyeliner, mascara, brow powder. It takes less than 10 minutes, probably closer to 5. I am 30 with relatively good skin.

By the end of the day, my makeup isn't quite what I want, but I accept the wear time trade off for the ability to keep fewer products at work (and therefore need fewer dupes at home).
posted by teragram at 4:37 AM on November 2, 2015

Sephora has this little machine that helps them match your skin perfectly for a foundation. Ask for samples of a BB cream, which will help your skin as it covers your blemishes. My big splurge was a brush to apply the makeup with. It goes on much faster that way.

Most days I moisturize with something that has sunblock in it, fill in my eyebrows, put on eyeliner, and then add foundation just where I need it, usually around the creases of my nose (it's usually red), over two small sunspots above my lip, and a little bit under my eye. I then brush a small amount of neutral eye shadow on my lids, tell myself that I am pretty, and walk away. Takes less than 5 minutes. If I'm a bit pale, I'll throw on some blush.

I apply a colored chapstick before I go in anywhere, usually a burt's bees product, but I have very dark lips. If you don't have natural color in your lips, a good lipstick will change your life.
posted by myselfasme at 4:42 AM on November 2, 2015

My recommendation is to do as much experimenting with samples as you can. If you have a Sephora near you, you can pretty much get a small sample of anything to take home. That way, you're not shelling out tonnes of money for products that don't work for you. Sometimes you have to be firm, as they try to do some Jedi tricks on you, but I like to make a list of a few products I've heard about, get some samples, and get out. My other bit of advice is to not take it all on at once--if you're not used to using a lot of make up, don't try to suddenly buy one of everything. Start by experimenting with foundations/concealers; once you're happy, move on to eyes or to blush. It's a little less overwhelming this way.

As for products, I agree that making your skin happy should be step number 1. Paula's Choice products did some great things for me, but really it's about finding a routine that works and that you're willing to stick with. Not everyone has the stomach for a 6+ product toilette.

For me, I wear primer, foundation, concealer, blush (and sometimes "illuminating powder," because I am a sucker), eye primer, eyeshadow, occasionally eyeliner, eyebrow junk and mascara. I enjoy the process of putting makeup on, but if you don't, then make sure that your choices and preferences take the wheel, so to speak. Don't be pressured into doing things a "certain way" if you know it won't work for you. For instance, if you don't want to get a foundation brush, then you might just want a BB cream that you can apply with fingers. I often use mineral makeup, because I find it is quickest to apply and carries the fewest risks of going weird on my face (when primers, moisturizers and foundations don't play nice).

I'm happy to recommend specific products by memail, if you like!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 5:02 AM on November 2, 2015

My make up routine, which takes 15 minutes

- Moisturiser and clear lip balm
- BB Cream all over the face (Missha)
- Eye primer on the eyelids (Too Faced)
- Eye brows shaped and filled in with powder and a stiff eyebrow brush
- Eyeshadow in some neutral tone, I usually use E.L.F. brushes, so cheap that I can have a few on hand and rotate before having to clean them.
- Winged eyes with a liquid liner (this has taken practice but worth it for me)
- Blush powder on cheekbones. My favorite blush brush is the angled white one from MAC.
- Curl eyelashes (Shu Uemura), two coats mascara (Diorshow Iconic)
- Swipe of neutral lipstick

This is more or less my everyday routine. I jazz it up for special occasions by using liquid foundation (Chanel) applied with a stipple brush, brighter/darker eyeshadow, brighter/darker lipstick, countouring and highlighting. For REALLY special occasions I bust out the fake eyelashes.
posted by like_neon at 5:06 AM on November 2, 2015

I work remote so generally I don't put on makeup unless I'm actually going to interact with people in person.

When I do put on makeup for daily wear:

* Blend moisturizer/sunscreen with foundation in the palm of my hand and apply by patting skin. I use the lightest formula foundation possible since my skin is in decent condition.
* Small dots of concealer under the eyes, dotted/patted on with a finger.
* An HD powder around the eyes and maybe in the T-Zone to reduce shininess there, applied with a brush made for powder.
* Eyebrow pencil. This is a low-complexity high-impact step in changing your look. I use a Dior product that is a fine pencil and smudging brush in one.
* Liner along the inner rim of the upper eyelid.
* Curl eyelashes & mascara.
* Powder blush with a brush made specifically for the purpose.
* Lipliner and lipstick in a COLOR. I am a fairskinned brunette so this is also a high-impact step.

The whole thing takes 5 minutes. Consider having your eyebrows groomed by a pro - it may save you time in the morning.

Less is more, especially as we get older.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:11 AM on November 2, 2015

I think it's really going to depend on your looks and your preferences, as to where product and effort should go.

I would say, in order of visual effect, these are the most bang-for-the-buck (bang-for-the-effort?) steps: eyebrows, mascara, blush, concealer, lipstick, foundation. Then everything else.

However, you might have naturally dark, lovely eyelashes! And then you might not get as much 'punch' from mascara as a stubby-lashed lady such as myself. Or maybe you're a little on the pallid side and blush REALLY wakes your face up. A good makeup artist should be able to nail down some of this kind of thing if you hire them for a makeup trial or lesson.

There are also varying degrees of 'difficulty' within each product type. There are some really great multipurpose items, and items designed to make your routine easier, like 'color sticks' that can be used as both lipcolor and cream blush, which you basically just dot on and pat in rather than having to use a brush. There are brow gels which are just applied from an applicator inside a tube. You can pretty much do anything without touching a brush these days, if you want.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:18 AM on November 2, 2015

I know you said you tried a makeup counter and they tried to sell you tons of things but I have gone in and said, "what are three things I need to up my look?" and that went relatively well. I've also said, I don't want to spend more than x (this has been at Sephora, btw) and they still have me options.

As for my personal routine, I have a prescription product for acne that goes on first, followed by a sunscreen/moisturizer. I had been using a product by Murad but lately I've been using something Revitalift - it's not perfect but I feel like it actually makes my skin look good, in addition to being a moisturizer/sunscreen. In fact, I used to follow up with a translucent powder but I've been skipping that step lately because it feels unnecessary. Then I have an under eye concealer, eyeliner, and mascara and that's it for me. The time investment is maybe 10 minutes which is worth it for me.
posted by kat518 at 6:00 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

As suggested above, getting your skin into shape should be your first step. For me, the more effort and products I use to cover the complexion "flaws", the more breakouts I get. I wash my face in the shower, using Neutrogena soap and a gentle Buf-Puf. A recent AskMe convinced me to use Missha Essence (aka "miracle in a bottle") next, which was really smoothed out my complexion (and the wrinkles, but then I'm considerably older than you). Then I moisturize, using different products under my eyes and on the rest of my face. My choices are from Estee Lauder, but you really have to experiment to find what works best for you.

Makeup, then, is pretty simple. I use concealer under my eyes and elsewhere as needed, a little skin-tone liquid eyeshadow under my brows (but not on my lids),a bit of foundation under my eyes (but not on my face) to more fully cover the dark circles, eyebrow pencil, a bit more concealer on the worst of the dark circles, mascara primer, mascara, and blusher. It takes me about eight minutes.
posted by DrGail at 6:06 AM on November 2, 2015

Tinted mositurizer, blush, mascara, and sometimes, lipstick. I had help at ULTA picking out the right color lipstick and had some questions about other products yesterday. No one was one bit pushy there. I love ULTA.
posted by harrietthespy at 6:12 AM on November 2, 2015

My quick routine (mid-30s, light to medium asian skintone, oily t-zone, dry cheeks, works with allergic skin, classic look for work) - NO additional tools/brushes! I'm essentially a dressed-up tomboy and am not great at makeup, but this routine is idiot proof.

These are my favorite products, but I think you can find cheaper dupes of all of these.

-Moisturizer/sunscreen as soon as I get out of the shower - this changes depending on the season.
-Primer - I like this one by Make Up For Ever.
-BB Gel - I like this one by Cover FX.
-Cheek stain - I like this one by Tarte.
-Eyeliner - I like this one by Physician's Formula.
-Mascara - I like this one by L'Oreal .
-Eyebrow Pencil -I like this one by Hourglass.
-Sheer Lipstick - Laura Mercier makes a good one.
posted by thirteenthletter at 6:15 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was basically a person whose idea of makeup consisted of a tinted moisturiser & lip balm until I hit 45. Things I have found useful over the past 2 years of my journey into discovering make up.

If you are starting out start with foundations.

You don't need primer for your face unless you start going for heavier make up with powders etc.

BB Cream. Get something light to start with BB Creams are great. Garnier ($) Bare Minerals Complexion rescue ($$) or Dr Jarts Premium Beauty Balm ($$$) the last is my favourite as it is buildable to almost a foundation level of coverage & adds a lovely glow, lots of SPF & nicely moisturising but the others are all nice too.

Foundations. Keep trying until you find the perfect one, don't settle. Get samples to make sure the colors look good in all lights. No one persons recommendations here are going to work on you as everyone is different. Sample, sample, sample, & experiment.

Beauty Blender to apply, cheap knock offs on eBay are the same thing. Check YouTube for how to use, has to be soaked until jelly like then squeezed until just damp. Makes for fool proof application of BB Cream & foundations. Yes you can use fancy brushes etc, but this is the most foolproof way for beginners to get a good natural finish in my beginnery experience.

Eyeliner you seem to have covered.

Mascara. Cover Girl Clump Crusher. Easiest Mascara for beginners, nice wand & formula really is very forgiving & hard to clump or get spider eyelashes with.

Lip balm/gloss. Pick one you like as everyone has different levels of color & texture they are comfortable with I like the Buxom range, but they have peppermint in so can put off some people.

And you are ready to leave the house.

When you are confident with those steps add in

Eyeshadow. Urban Decay's Naked Basics would be my recommendation as a starting set. There are 2 pick the one you like best. This is the set that taught me that good quality eyeshadow can make a huge difference. Has only one shimmer color in it so looks natural for people not used to make up, and is very forgiving with blending etc as you are getting used to using make up. Then have fun & experiment. The only way to get the hang of eye shadow is to practice & play.

Eyeshadow primer. Does make a difference, but isn't compulsory. Look at the Milani one from the drug store as good starting point to see if this is something you'd like.

My main tip is to experiment. Have fun. It all washes off & no one needs to know. What actually helped me the most was signing up for a monthly deliver of samples from Ipsy(there are different ones out there) I kept getting new products to try & colors I wouldn't have bought but ended up loving. Also don't be afraid to ask for samples from Sephora when going for foundations or skin care, or make use of their super liberal returns policy & return stuff that doesn't work for you. Try all the things, have fun, play with it. They want you to or they wouldn't offer them. Also focus on one area at once, don't try & get all the things at the same time, get confident with a step & then add in contour & blushes & highlights and all the other stuff.

Also I'd suggest getting some good make up brushes. I got spoiled with some Wayne Goss brushes as a gift & they make a world of difference, but you could start with some Elf Studio line & work up to some Real Techniques depending on your budget.

I'd also look into Skincare, it made a huge difference to my skin. Try a BHA & a nice face wash. I suggest Paulas Choice to start with as they do samples so you can experiment as everyones face/skin/lifestyle is different. Their Resist face washe & BHA gels knocked years off my facial skin.
posted by wwax at 6:43 AM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Early 30s, caucasian and super-pale, have combination skin with regular, probably hormonal, breakouts. On a typical makeup day I wear: undereye concealer, stick concealer for zits, eyebrow powder/pencil, mascara. Optional/fancytimes: add liquid blush, eyeliner and a sheer red lip color. A few months ago I also noticed that this routine had stopped doing the trick; the makeup wasn't sitting or blending quite right, my skin still looked dull, etc.

Like others here, I found tweaking my skincare to have a better outcome than tweaking my makeup. You might start with a dermatologist visit for this. NB: I haven't taken my own advice, and have just been playing around on my own. But this is because I work at home and if I turn my skin weird, well, nobody has to see it.

One thing I've found is that adding a serum and an eye cream to my regular moisturizing routine has made a big difference. My undereye area is drier and more sensitive than it used to be, and the eye cream makes up for that. The serum seems to balance out my combination skin and help the moisturizer work a little better/soak in more evenly. Anecdotally, I feel like I have had fewer breakouts since starting it as well, though I'm not sure the product ever promised to do that. The current brand I'm exploring is Boots No. 7 and so far, I'm a pretty big fan.

The result is that my standard makeup looks better on my skin than it did a few months ago; it blends the way it ought to, and improves my appearance in the way you're talking about -- better than normal but not super-obvious.

My whole routine is probably 10 minutes total:
-Wash face with water and hands (exfoliate with gentle cloth 2 or 3x a week)
-Apply serum
-Brush teeth while serum dries
-Apply moisturizer (SPF 30) and eye cream
-Brush hair or put on deodorant or whatever, while moisturizer sinks in
-Apply concealer around eyes and on spots
-Brush on eyebrow powder
-Brush on mascara

Good luck!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:04 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lots of good stuff has been covered. I'm 31 and don't have great skin, but this skin care "routine" works for me:
clarisonic with the sensitive brush head
burts bees acne skin cleanser
neutrogena night cream with retin-a as needed

Then makeup, basics:
- BB cream (smashbox is my favorite)
- eyeliner (urban decay)
- mascara (maybelline full 'n soft in brown)
- lip balm (tarte something or other)

I'll add in concealer/powder/eyeshadow if needed.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:08 AM on November 2, 2015

Oh, and also: I use no brushes, save for the ones that actually come with the products (like the mascara and the eyebrow powder). I know this is Not Recommended but it seems to work fine. You must must must wash your hands when you use this method and mind cross-contamination though.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:09 AM on November 2, 2015

Oh wow, this reminds me of the time I walked up to a makeup counter, explained I wore NO MAKEUP, and could they suggest just a couple of simple products?

No, no they couldn't. They applied 5 products to my face just for 'foundation' stage, which were apparently all essential, so I walked right back out again.

Fortunately, a friend put me onto a Natio Clever Stick, which is basically a stick of concealer, and showed me how to dot onto small blemishes on my face just using a clean finger (sorry, brushes etc is beyond my current skill set), and then blend. Try and match to skin tone exactly, but too light is better than too dark.
Another friend pointed out how to very gently apply along inner eye to under eye (no more dark circles), and a little swipe down the lines going from sides of nose to edges of lips.
Really works, and because I'm not applying it to cheeks, I don't need a blusher.

This was great, this was the one product that I needed.
For even better effect, use two products, a BB Cream (eg Garnier one, although the current one I have is inconveniently liquid). For the BB cream, try and match exactly, but it's ok if it's a fraction darker than the concealer. I don't apply any to my upper eyelid, so that stays dark. Once applied, it's much easier to blend in the spot & undereye application of the concealer stick.
If cheeks are too pale, I just wipe a little of the bb cream off the cheeks.

For the final two products:
If that looks too pale, I have a bright red Maybelline 24hr lipstick, and it really lasts that long, as long as you don't get grease on your lips. You usually have to have some foundation etc around your mouth for red lipstick to stand out/look good. Or use a lighter colour if you do want to wear it.

I am too terrible at hand/eye coordination for eyeliner, you're already ahead of me there, but I do use a little mascara, one tiny swipe on lower lashes, otherwise upper lashes only.

So that's it, that's my 4 products. It's mostly the having nice skin, and not having under eye circles.
posted by Elysum at 7:33 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I started wearing liquid foundation last year, in my 30s, after giving it a pass for many years. If, like me, the last time you tried foundation was 20 years ago and a drugstore brand, you might be pleasantly surprised by the quality and effects of modern foundations. I use Makeup Forever HD - it's expensive, but I get a much more natural effect (with good coverage of redness, marks, etc) that is not mask like at all. I think it looks better (less mask-like) than the BB creams and tinted moisturizers I've tried. I apply with fingers. I sometimes dust translucent powder but it's not necessary. So my very basic daytime face has these required elements:
Brows brushed through and set with clear gel;
Clinique airbrush concealer under eyes if I look terribly shadowy;
Blush if I am looking wan;
Always something on the lips when I use foundation.

Eye makeup, concealer, highlighter, and fun lipsticks is how I fancy it up for events and nighttime.
posted by stowaway at 7:36 AM on November 2, 2015

Your skin sounds kind of like mine. Except that, since my 24th birthday, the breakouts have nearly gone away! So there's that!

Anyway, here's my daily doings, which take about 5 minutes or so.

1. Sometimes primer, sometimes not. I tend to forget about half the time. But when I do, I like Makeup Forever's Step 1.

2. Makeup Forever liquid foundation on a sponge.

3. Mac concealer on undereyes, eyelids, and on both corners, applied with my ring finger.

4. A few swipes of BeneTint, patted in and blended with fingers.

posted by functionequalsform at 7:44 AM on November 2, 2015

I'm 37, very rarely wore makeup in my 20s, and now my everyday is
1) tinted moisturizer (Laura Mercier, because it comes in a shade that matches my skin)
2) tinted lip balm (usually Burts Bees)
3) more aggressively-maintained eyebrows than I went for in my youth

This might be a good next step for you? The tinted moisturizers can get pricey depending on your skin type and color, but I'm going to wear moisturizer regardless, and a decent tinted moisturizer really does smooth out your skin tone and texture a lot.

For one step up, I sometimes use dark eye shadow as eyeliner (I've never really gotten a handle on real eyeliner; it tends to look harsh on me unless it's part of a big huge routine).
posted by mskyle at 7:57 AM on November 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

I frequently wear no make up, and I'm still not sure I'm doing it right, but...

1. Moisturizer with SPF
2. Liquid foundation - I go to the make up counters in a department store and have them match me with the least heavy feeling option
3. (optional) lipstick
4. (optional) blush, because I'm very pale

Step 1 happens after I wash my face at home. Steps 2-4 happen at work. My skin is also not great right now, so I feel better with the foundation.
posted by oryelle at 8:02 AM on November 2, 2015

If you're breaking out, you may want to ask your PCP to prescribe a benzoyl peroxide cream that you can put on your face 1-2x per day. That's what I started doing after my dermatologist sister did it and it really helps.

I do concealer in the rough spots (under eyes, sides of nose, any red areas), tinted moisturizer to blend it in, eye primer to hold the eye makeup in place, eyeshadow and eyeliner, and blush. On days when I'm feeling really fancy I wear mascara and lipstick/lip stain too.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:22 AM on November 2, 2015

My basic routine:

Concealer, but *only* if I both have a blemish and can't hide it otherwise (I think covering up blemishes with product just makes them last longer)
Undereye concealer/primer
Fill in eyebrows (I feel like eyebrows are the most important feature and I love having defined brows)
Neutral eyeshadow on lids
Maybe a neutral lipstick, maybe just lip gloss

I'm usually getting ready for work at the gym, so unless I have an occasion planned, I don't like to have too much because I'll carrying everything in a backpack.

I feel like it's better to have less stuff on your skin, because a lot of foundation and what not usually looks fake and cakey and your natural skin will look better for 90% of people.
posted by Kurichina at 8:29 AM on November 2, 2015

This year i turned 40 and decided I needed to up my makeup game. I decided that I wanted to take a lesson from a consultant ie someone who is an independent make up artist rather than the lady at the counter at the store whose job is to sell things to me. It was kind of nice - I could ask all sorts of questions and get answers that were not based on selling product.

The one big take away for me was to do my eyes first (I mean after your suncreening/moisturizing routine whatever that may be). Most days, when I don't want to think, I use one of those palettes where everything is pre-defined for you. So there is a color for the all over shadow, the lid, the crease, highlighter and liner. Then there's a map that shows you how to do it. It's great. Easy. Those palettes where there's a thousand colors that you don't know what to do with? I don't go near those any more and stick with the ones that just have the 5 colors that are designed to work in concert. Right now I'm loving Lancome Taupe Craze.

Sometimes I use an eyelid primer before this depending on whether I want to spend the time. Sometimes I'll use the liner. Sometimes I'll apply mascara depending on whether I want to spend the time. I always, always curl my lashes. But I have dark long lashes naturally and curling is important - makes a huge difference. I'll do this even if I'm not wearing makeup. I believe that the Shu Uemura eyelash curler is the way to go on this.

A note on liner. I have never gotten the hang of those damn pencils. So if I have decided that I would like to define my eyes a bit more I use a liner brush in a dark shade. Usually the shade that is included in my palette. I find it infinitely easier. ymmv.

After that - I use makeup remover to get rid of all the stuff that's fallen off my brushes around my eyes. Do this once and you'll see why you should do your eyes first. I like to use the Klorane one with the top action pump. It's pretty satisfying. Then a quick swipe of eye cream (because I'm getting old now).

I don't prime. I could but I'm lazy. My makeup artist consultant said that I should use a CC cream. Which I'd never heard of. But now I know and I use a Smashbox CC cream. It's fine. It's dark spot correcting. It's not too heavy. It doesn't smell weird. Then I do a bit of concealer, under the eyes, a bit around the nose. A spot or two. A note on concealer. I use the Cle de Peau concealer. I believe deep in my heart that it is worth the money. It costs a fortune. But it is amazing.

Then I set everything with some loose powder and slap on a bit of blush. Done. Pretty sure this takes 10 - 15 minutes and I enjoy the process. Makes me feel better about the day.
posted by rdnnyc at 8:44 AM on November 2, 2015

I'm 45, I get occasional breakouts, and I also dislike makeup.

For everyday I use:

* Liquid foundation, which I apply by squirting a pea-sized amount onto a cheap makeup sponge and then dabbing onto my face, then blending with the sponge
* Liquid concealer as needed, using by dabbing onto the spots with the wand that came in the tube and then blending by tapping the dab with my finger tip (not spreading, just tapping)
* Loose powder, which I apply with a brush to cover it
* If I remember, the tinted lip balm

And that is it. sometimes this has all worn off by the end of the day, but I well and truly don't give a shit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on November 2, 2015

I'm 39 and a complete amateur about makeup, but I can make it look passable. Everything I own is supermarket brands, although I keep meaning to go to Urban Decay for a consult.
  • Tinted moisturiser with SPF
  • CC cream, mostly along my jawline and the sides of my nose, lighter everywhere else
  • Concealer under my eyes and on any blemishes that are still obvious (also dabbed with wand and tapped, as per EmpressCallipygos above)
  • Powder with a big brush when I remember
  • Nude eyeliner along my lower inner lash line and in the inner corners of my eyes
  • Dark grey or black eyeliner along upper lash line and on outside lower lashline from outside corner roughly 1/3 in towards the inside corner
  • Mascara
  • Eyebrow brush and fill (and a little bit of hairspray on the brush if I care enough)
  • Lip gloss when I can be bothered
Takes about ten minutes. It could be shorter but I am so shortsighted, half the time is spent digging around for the right product.

My worst habit is forgetting to wash my face at the end of the day. If I did that, the number of blemishes wouldn't be so high.
posted by tracicle at 10:10 AM on November 2, 2015

I'm in my early 30s. I used to get really bad break-outs. For the skin and break-outs: exfoliate!! I use this amazing Japanese exfoliator about once a week and supplement with Skinfood Strawberry Black Sugar mask for additional exfoliation. I also have an RX for Retin-A which I only add a little bit of to my night moisturizer once or twice a week.

For normal workday the only thing I put on my skin is moisturizer. For make-up I do a natural eye with eyeshadow and eyeliner on top, and a lipstain. Sometimes a little bit of blush if I'm looking particularly pale. Takes about 5 minutes.
posted by raw sugar at 10:11 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing a good moisturizer. I have very pale, sensitive, dry skin, and have tried a lot of different brands and routines. Right now what works for me is CeraVe. I also find remembering to wash my face morning and night makes my skin a whole lot easier to handle. Every few days I might use a gentle exfoliant like this.

I used to work in an office and had a pretty basic routine of moisturizer, foundation, concealer and eyeliner. Now I work in a veterinary clinic, wear scrubs, and the atmosphere is very casual. I usually just do moisturizer and concealer, maybe eyeliner if I'm feeling insecure on a particular day. I think it really depends on where you go each day, what kind of work you do, and what makes you feel your best. You can get a billion free samples from a store like Sephora without actually buying anything (ignore pressure to drop half your paycheck) and see what clicks with your presentation and preferences.

Also, please start wearing sunscreen, even if you think you don't need it. Skin cancer is no joke.
posted by aspenkf at 11:39 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

this thread makes me think that if women didn't need to spend all this time on our makeup we'd probably have really taken over the world by now.

I wash, moisturize, on a work day I don't prime, for a work day followed by something where I'm out and about in public for, I do.

then, cover under eye circles with concealer, as well as any zits.
eyebrow pencil
all over eyeshadow in a brightening colour, up to my eyebrows.
something pretty and sparkly and pale on inner corners to middle of eyes
something a little darker on outside corner and crease, blend.
eyeliner pencil
black eyeshadow brushed over pencil line to soften
liquid eyeliner along lash line and into cat eye.
mascara (2 coats)

posted by euphoria066 at 1:15 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Early 30s, Caucasian, dark blonde hair, supersensitive fair skin with pink undertones, ruddy cheeks and mad undereye circles, the curse of the Irish. Other than my circles, I have good skin. Since you asked for routines, here's mine:

I wash my face in the shower with Clinique mild facial soap and a Clarisonic or 7 day scrub cream, skip the toner most days, and moisturize with the Clinique yellow moisturizer or Even Better with sunscreen. For makeup, I wear Benefit That Gal Primer, Clinique Even Better foundation, Benefit Eye Bright white liner on my lower lash line, some sort of neutral Clinique shadow (I have a bunch of palettes), Clinique Long-Wearing Mascara in dark chocolate, Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector, and Benefit Bronzer in the winter (I have a palette of this as well). I have the routine down to a science. This morning I got in the shower at 7:45 (didn't wash my hair) and I was out the door of my house at 8:00.

For me, this look is fairly natural but put together enough for work.
posted by notjustthefish at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2015

I'm not super into makeup but I force myself to wear it to work
- Moisturizer
- Concealer and foundation
- Liquid blush (I skip if I'm in a hurry but really think it makes a difference)
- Pressed powder with a big fluffy brush
- Pencil liner under eyes (skip if I'm in a hurry)
- Primer or cream shadow (sometimes fingers, sometimes basic shadow brush)
- Eyeshadow (if in a hurry I just rub on one neutral color with my fingers -- if I have time I use a neutral colors pallet and a brush)
- Eyelash curler and mascara
posted by radioamy at 8:23 PM on November 2, 2015

You know, I wasn't sure when I posted this whether it would be flagged as some sort of chatfilter or something, but I'm really glad I posted this question! I've got a much clearer idea of what other people do now, so thank you all for sharing your routines! I'm not marking best answer because you are all best answers. I guess the beauty blog stuff isn't as wildly unrealistic as I had thought/hoped but I like the idea of starting off with foundation or BB cream and then gradually adding to it as I go along.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:52 AM on November 3, 2015

I think a "base" of good skin is really the core of make up so your approach makes sense to me. On lazy only going to the grocery store kind of days I use BB cream, shape brows, curl lashes (no mascara) and blush (BB cream tends to "flatten" the face so it needs a bit of colour/depth). That's a five minute routine down from my usual 15.
posted by like_neon at 5:10 AM on November 3, 2015

The highest impact step for me to go from looking wan & tired to awake & awesome is to fill in my brows. I just use brown eyeshadow from the drugstore and an angled brush. It makes a huge huge difference and opens up my whole face.
posted by kidsleepy at 7:48 AM on November 3, 2015

Just wanted to thank you again guys, I've been having so much fun experimenting! :) I've gotten a lot of compliments as well. I bought Benefit Big Easy "more than BB" in beige, which has been the most high impact step in terms of smoothing out my complexion, but I've also been having fun experimenting with blush and lip colour. I've gotten a number of compliments too! But if I had known it was this much fun playing with make-up I would have started a lot sooner.
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:06 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yay! Don't forget your brows ;)
posted by like_neon at 6:04 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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