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The Basics: Makeup

The Basics: Makeup
  • On April 29, 2016

I cannot be the only one who got to adulthood not knowing how to do makeup, can I? I felt shame that I didn’t know how to makeup (or hair) for years. I felt like I had just missed something, and by the time I was ready to catch up, the Internet had a lot of things to say about how I was probably doing everything wrong. There are a lot of opinions out there on the right way to do things. The fact is there is no right way. There are ways, lots of them, none of them superior or necessary for enjoying makeup.

I use makeup because it makes me feel good. It’s not a beauty thing. (Because, and I’m being totally real here, I don’t think I’m a beautiful person. I mean, I’m a pretty neat person, but I’m no one’s beauty queen. That’s OK. Everyone has gifts, and outer beauty is not one of mine.) Saying that doesn’t mean I hate myself (sometimes I do); it just means that when I put on makeup or get dressed up, it isn’t because I’m trying to present as acceptable to others. Makeup doesn’t have to be about societally acceptable performance—gender or otherwise. This may sound weird, but putting on makeup forces me to sit down and take the time to care for myself. I put on a face as a way of saying, “I am worthy of love and care.”

I like the way it makes my skin feel and the way I can highlight my really small eyes and make them show up on my face. I like the way I can give myself a rosy, but not ruddy, glow. I like fun eyeshadow colors and red lipstick. I like it. It’s fun, like painting but a painting you carry around with you. Like non-permanent tattoos I can take off and change any time I want.

So, if you’re interested but totally clueless like me, I will give you a few basic thoughts on how to makeup. Incidentally, I learned the basics from a woman at a makeup counter, who was happy to walk me through the steps slowly and answer all my questions. What I didn’t learn from her, I usually ask Bell. Bell knows all the things about makeup. She’s like a makeup guru.

First things first: All skin is different. What Bell needs for her face is very different than what I need. I need mostly to leave my face alone. It breaks out rarely and usually either because I’m hormonal or because I’ve spent too much time monkeying around with product. The less product I use, the better. Also, my skin is very dry. Very. Dry. I’m like a dessicated mummy no matter how much water I drink. Therefore, I rarely exfoliate (maybe once a month) and wash my face with a gentle cleanser. Anything harsh will just make me peel, get red, and get zits.

Once I get a clean face, I use a light moisturizer with sunscreen. I like Aveeno Positively Radiant. A thin application of this is fine for me. Once that’s on, I use a face primer called Instant Age Rewind by Maybelline because I am, in fact, an old lady who’s lived in a sun-drenched wasteland her whole life. I have many tiny lines. The primer is a weird gel and works as a useful spackle-like aid to keep powder from settling and making me look twice as old. It also makes my face feel good and soft.

If I were doing eye makeup, I’d do it now before face stuff because if I mess it up I can wipe it off without worrying about ruining my face. I use an eyelid primer called Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. It helps the color stick and be more colorful. There are eight million eyeshadow tutorials out there, but honestly for me it works best just to mess around and see what I like. I like color.

After eye makeup and face spackle, I use the same brand for concealment and what they call “treatment makeup.” Treatment. Makeup. Whatever. It works well on undereye circles and smooths over the redness that haunts my eyebrows and cheeks. This also has a sunscreen. Take that, evil daystar. I don’t apply it all over my face, just under my eyes and on any particularly red spots, and I blend it in with a sponge. (Do this in a patting motion because, as Bell taught me, if you rub it in you actually raise flakes of skin and make yourself look peeley. Life changer, that one.)

On top of that I use my beloved MAC powder called Mineralize Skinfinish Natural. I’m not totally sure they even sell this anymore, but I love it. I put it on with a big, fluffy brush by patting it onto my face and neck, right up into my hairline and under my jaw so that it is basically even. It helps to do this in natural light.

Now for blush, to give your cheeks some color back now that we’ve evened it all out, I use MAC Warm Soul. I love this blush so much. I use a more dense blush brush, patting it onto the apples of my cheeks and up diagonally a bit (lightly, really not very much). This stuff makes me look all glowy; it’s weird magic I don’t understand.

I will do eyeliner and mascara even if I don’t wear eye makeup. I do this because my eyes are small and tend to disappear in pictures and such. I use a Sephora Craig & Karl eyeliner set. They’re like markers; easy peasy, just draw on a line close to the end of your eyelid. Mess with it, see what you like best. There are tons of ways to do this but again—it is only your way that counts. I use a mascara by Lancome called Hypnose Drama. Great mascara but the top is hella hard to get on and off. Just swipe it on there. Yes, there are lots of ways to apply mascara and curl your lashes and eyelash combs and all kinds of crazy shit. Do it how you like it. Mine is fine with a swipe on each eye. People also do things to their eyebrows. I assume it’s some sort of wizardry and stay away from that, minus an occasional plucked hair. You can do this wizardry if it appeals to you, or not.

Finally, lips are last for me. I usually just wear whatever I’ve got around, assuming I remember to grab it. My totally amateur lipstick tip is to let it dry before doing anything else with your mouth. Lipstick drives me nuts because I chew it off quickly, and I have to keep re-doing it all day. If I let it dry, it will last longer. I especially like Revlon’s ColorStay brand (and I have pricer ones). It really does stay. I also like lip stains. They aren’t as dramatic as lipstick, but they stay put and can be good if you’re going to be at work all day and don’t want to worry about looking like half your lipstick disappeared. If you wear a very red lipstick, be sure and use a matching lipliner. Just color in your lip outline and blend it down a bit into the lip. It’s like a magical wall that keeps red from leeching into the small lines around your mouth.

The point, really, is do as much makeup as you like (or none). Do what steps work for you. I didn’t do all these steps, before. I started adding things as I tried stuff and found I liked it. I used to use a tinted wet foundation under my dry, and I found it was just too much makeup on my face. The “treatment makeup” spot stuff works fine. Remember that wearing makeup doesn’t have to be about matching an ideal, fitting in, or being more feminine. Any person can wear makeup and rock a look that doesn’t necessarily scream girly. There are about a million makeup rules, but none of them have to apply to you.

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