Makeup Basics: Tips for Beginners

So much of knowing makeup is knowing your own face. What will work on someone else won't necessarily work on you. A good technique if you're just starting out is to look at yourself barefaced in the mirror in as much of an objective manner as you can. It's easy to start picking apart what you see wrong, but try as much as you can to avoid this. Almost see it like looking at a bare room and figuring out placement, what would look good where, etc.

Observe your face's bone structure: Are you round faced, oval, heart shaped? What is your skin type: oily, dry, normal, both? These will all dictate how you approach makeup. And if you're starting out, I'd advise against trying to imitate a celebrity's look. I look at their images for ideas and inspiration, but I've never aspired to look like any of them. The beauty of makeup is enhancing what's interesting about yourself - not about imitating someone else.

The very basics for a beginner are this:

Choose a foundation or tinted moisturizer that matches your skin tone. The best thing to do is go into a department store, where you can use the testers on the back of your hand. Don't try to alter your skin color with the foundation (a mistake so many of us made in our teens). You'll have an obvious line of demarcation against your neck. I apply it with a makeup sponge (available at any drugstore). I dampen it with warm water and wring out the excess: This sheers the makeup a bit, while the warmth helps it go on more smoothly. If you have dry skin, apply a light moisturizer first. If you have oily skin, you can try some of the mattifying products.

Another technique for beginners is to do half your face: you'll have a point of comparison. Especially when doing eye makeup, this is a dramatic and helpful technique. Start with a light hand, because it's easier to add more product than it is to have to wash it off and start over. A good beginner shade is to go with a neutral shadow a couple shades deeper than your complexion. There are so many taupe and brown shadows out there to choose from. You will see the effect adding color and depth to your eyes has.

When applying mascara, wipe the wand lightly in a tissue and apply layer by layer. This will help you avoid clumps. A technique is to wiggle the wand slightly side to side to ensure all lashes are coated.

For blush, look for a color that resembles the flush you get (i.e. when embarrassed or after working out). Darker complexions tends to look best with cool tones (brick reds or deep pinks), while light complexions look good with warm tones (peachy-pinks). Again, apply the blush sparingly with a fluffy brush. You can always apply more if you need to. If you go overboard, take a light amount of foundation and go over the area once.

Your lip color should be a couple shades deeper than your natural color. A tip I read is to look at the inner lining of your lower lip, where pigmentation is darkest. This is the color you should go for. Tinted balms are good for beginners. Some of the flavored chapsticks have a slight pigmentation that is flattering on everyone.


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