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Makeup is more popular than ever. The global cosmetics industry should be worth over $438 billion by 2026. But makeup can be daunting to the newbie. There are so many different types of products. Not only that, but you have several different options, from brands to colors.
It’s also common to ask yourself different questions, such as whether or not contouring is necessary or if filling in your brows really makes a difference. Don’t worry; we’ll answer all of your questions and more with this comprehensive guide to makeup. We’ll cover the essential types of makeup to own and a simple way to apply makeup. Let’s get started!
The Different Types of Makeup Products
It’s easy to feel intimidated by all of the different makeup products out there. We can easily separate makeup products into different categories: face/complexion, eye, eyebrow, and lip.
Face makeup is commonly called complexion makeup because most face makeup products work to improve your complexion. Here’s a breakdown of each and why they’re used.
Before anything, apply primer on your face. Primer is the base between your skin and the foundation. This ensures your face makeup will last longer. The best primers also help your foundation glide evenly and won’t have that cakey look.
Primers also have different functions. They create an even canvas, decreasing the look of fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and other imperfections. There are primers available for specific skin types. For example, if you have oily skin, a mattifying primer will decrease your skin’s oil production.
Primers are available in different formulas, such as creams, gels, and sprays. There’s no best formula to choose; wear the formula you prefer.
After you apply primer, you can apply your foundation. Foundation is what it sounds like. It creates the foundation for the rest of your makeup application. The best foundation covers up imperfections and evens out your skin tone.
Foundation is available in multiple formulas, but the most popular are liquid, powder, and cream. Liquid foundation is popular because it’s lightweight but versatile. There are different coverage levels, from sheer to full. Most foundations also have buildable coverage; the more you apply, the more you can cover.
Some foundation even comes with skincare benefits, such as BB cream (a moisturizer and anti-aging agent). Powder foundation is popular for those with oily skin, want lighter coverage, or just want to brush some product on their face quickly without taking too much time to blend.
The cream foundation has a thicker consistency. Because of this, the coverage tends to be between medium and full. Though you can build up a cream foundation, you don’t need as many layers as you would with a liquid foundation.
What if you have small areas you need to cover up, such as pimples or dark spots? This is where concealer comes in. The concealer has a thicker formula, so it can mask smaller imperfections better than foundation. Concealers can also have other uses. For example, concealer can act as a contour. We will go over this in another section.
If you use liquid or cream makeup, it’s best to set them with powder. This ensures your products will last all day, and your foundation won’t look too liquidy. There are different types of powder. Matte powder is the most popular since it won’t create any extra shine on your skin. Most powders have pigment to build up more coverage, though you can find translucent powder.
There are also powders available that have a shine to them if you don’t want to use a highlighter (we will cover this in the next section). Keep in mind, if you’re using powder foundation, you don’t need to use a separate powder over your foundation.
Contour and Highlighter
Contour and highlighter can construct your face. The right contour and highlighter can make your cheekbones more prominent or simply add color or shine to your skin. Contour is darker than your natural skin color. It helps to create contrast, shadowing your cheeks to make them look thinner. Highlighter attracts light to certain parts of the face, making them stand out.
You can find contour and highlighter in powder, liquid, and cream formulas. You can also contour with concealer. Use a color two or three shades darker than your skin color. For the highlighter, use a shade one shade lighter than your natural skin color.
If contouring sounds intense for you, try using these same techniques with a bronzer. We will discuss bronzer next.
Blush and Bronzer
Does contouring sound too difficult? This definitely isn’t for everyone. But if you want to add color to your face, you can use blush and/or bronzer.
Bronzer creates a sun-kissed glow. It accentuates your cheekbones and anywhere else the sun touches. Blush adds a flush of color to your cheeks. You can find a blush in different colors, from light pink to dark red.
You can find blush and bronzer in powder, liquid, and cream formulas. Liquid and cream formulas are the most intense, while powder formulas look the most natural. It’s also easier to apply and blend these products in powder form. We’ll show you how to apply these products in another section.
Don’t confuse this section with eyebrows — this is the makeup that goes on your eyelids, around your lower lash line, and on your eyelashes. We also include primer to ensure your eye looks last all day.
Like foundation primer, eyeshadow primer creates a base for the pigment. This not only ensures the shadow will last all day but also prevents creasing.
Using specific eyeshadow primer is the best course of action. These products were formulated to target the skin above the eye. As an alternative, you can use concealer as a primer. Be sure not to use foundation primer since it wasn’t made to be used on your eyes.
Eyeshadow offers a couple of purposes. Some people use eyeshadow to accentuate the eyes. Others use eyeshadow for style, a pop of color, and more. There’s eyeshadow available in virtually every color, and you have the option to use matte or shimmery eyeshadow colors.
While most eyeshadow is available in powder formulas, there is also liquid and cream eyeshadow.
If you want to take eye definition a step further, wear eyeliner. At its simplest, eyeliner helps accentuate your eye’s shape. But you can create multiple stunning looks with eyeliner, such as a cat-eye.
Black and brown are the most common eyeliner colors, but there are multiple eyeliner colors, and you can even find glitter eyeliners.
Pencil is the most common eyeliner formula. It’s pigmented and easy to apply. They’re also the most popular among beginners. But liquid and cream liners are also popular, though a little more challenging to apply.
Mascara can finish off any makeup look. The goal of mascara is to define and enhance the eyelashes, though there are different mascara formulas. Some aim to lengthen the lashes, others curl them, and others add volume.
While black is the most popular mascara color, colored mascara will give you a unique look.
Mascara comes in a tube with a specific brush, called a mascara wand. There are different techniques you can try to apply mascara, such as zig-zagging the wand back-and-forth on your lashes.
Your eyebrows frame your face, so it’s important to accentuate them. Fortunately, you have many product options.
Eyebrow pencils are the most popular brow fillers. The pencil is used to draw in hairs, making your brows look fuller. Brow pencils are the most natural look, especially if you find a shade that matches your natural brow color.
If your brows are unruly, you’ll benefit from an eyebrow gel. Tinted brow gel will also sculpt your brows while still looking natural.
There are different types of eyebrow gels, but most gels come in a tube with a spoolie (it looks similar to a mascara wand). Simply brush your brows back with the brush. Anastasia’s Dip Brow Gel is a perfect example of a pigmented eyebrow gel that looks very natural.
Eyebrow powders are also popular among beginners, especially those who want a more intense look. Powders are perfect for those with sparse brows because the powder can easily fill in even the thinnest brows.
To use brow powder, simply take a small, angled brush and brush the product over the natural shape of your brows. Fill them thicker on top and draw an arch, if desired.
While eyebrow powder is the best option, many people simply use a matte eyeshadow for their brows. As long as it matches your eyebrow color, either option is okay.
Once you start getting used to filling in your brows, you can advance to pomades. Pomades are creams that give your brows an intense look. The pigment is more concentrated in pomades compared to other eyebrow products, so these aren’t the most beginner-friendly.
Pomades are popular for those who have sparse eyebrows, though they’re favored by those who want more eyebrow definition. Most pomades include an applicator you’ll use to fill in or draw your brows.
Don’t forget about the lips! Whether you prefer lipsticks or lip glosses, the right lip products will accentuate your mouth. Pucker up!
The quintessential lip product. Lipstick offers a pop of color, enhancing the mouth area. Matte lipstick is the most popular form, though many prefer liquid lipstick. Red lipstick is still the most popular color. However, you can also find lipstick in every color possible, from nudes to even crazy colors like black and green.
If you want to define your lips and increase their shape them, wear lip pencil on the outside before applying lipstick. Trace the shape of your natural lips with a pencil. Trace slightly outside the line to create an irresistible pout. Lip liners can also prevent lipstick bleeding. If you don’t want to add more shape to your lips, there are colorless lip liners available.
Lip pencils can also act as lipstick. Draw the pencil over your lips and finish with some lip gloss or chapstick. Mac lip pencils and Urban Decay lip pencils are perfect for this.
Lip gloss is popular because it creates a glossy finish on your lips. You can either wear it over lipstick, a lip pencil, or on its own.
If you’re in a hurry and want something quick to put on your lips, choose a lip gloss. All you have to do is quickly glide the product over your lips, and you’re good to go.
There are different lip gloss colors. Most are translucent or slightly pigmented, but there are also intensely pigmented lip glosses. You can also find glittery lip glosses.
How to Create the Best Makeup Look
Now that you know all of the essential makeup products, it’s time to create your best look! The golden rule of makeup is this: there are no rules! Have fun and experiment to find that best look. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a general guide.
Prep and Prime
After cleaning and moisturizing your skin, be sure to prime your skin and your eyes. Use a foundation primer on your face and an eyeshadow primer on your eyes. If you’re not wearing eyeshadow, applying some concealer on the lids will even out your skin tone.
Most people apply primer with their fingertips. Just make sure you wash your hands first!
Start With the Eyes
Everyone has a different first step, though it’s recommended you work on the eyes first.
There’s one main reason why: eyeshadow falls out. This happens when bits of the pigment fall around your face. It’s best to apply the eye makeup first, and then the foundation will take off any excess pigment around your eyes or cheeks.
Start with eyeshadow. You have limitless looks you can do.
For a natural look, use neutral colors such as brown and taupe. Apply a lighter color on your lid and a darker color on your crease to create more definition. Wear a lighter color under your brow for an extra highlight.
Smoky eyes are sultry and sexy, perfect for a date. For an easy smokey eye look, start with a black, dark gray, or dark blue on the lid. On the crease, choose a light color such as taupe. Use an intense highlighter under the brow and on the inner corners of the eye.
What if you want to accentuate your eyeliner? Choose a neutral color, such as a matte white. Wear another neutral color on your crease, such as rose. This way, you’ll have color on your lids while accentuating your eyeliner look. This looks especially cute with a cat eye!
I personally use Urban Decay eyeshadow the most and own way too many of their palettes and single shadows. All of their shadows are great, from neutral colors to bright colors and darker shades.
Dip the brush slightly into the product. Tap the brush on a surface, such as the top of the eyeshadow palette, to remove excess product.
If you’re using more than one color, it’s important to use two different eyeshadow brushes. All-over brushes are perfect for eyelids. They have larger brush heads and thicker bristles, so they can distribute color evenly. There are smaller and defined brushes for the crease and also for the inner and outer corners of the eyes.
It’s also important to remember to blend the colors. You can either use a specific blending brush, which is smaller with concentrated heads, or use a thicker all-over brush to buff out the colors. From here, apply your eyeliner. Whether you want a minimal pencil liner look or an intense thick liner look, choose the look you want.
When applying eyeliner, close your eyes and start as close to the lash as you can. If it helps, extend the end of the eyelid outward. From here, apply the eyeliner to the lower part of your lid. Don’t forget to fill in those brows! Start at the inner corner and move the brow product outward.
If you want, create an arch by moving the pencil or brush upward on your upper lash line to the arch (you can find this by holding a brush or pencil diagonally in front of the pupil of your eye) and cutting down the length of your natural brow.
Finish with your favorite mascara.
Time for Foundation
Now that the eyes are done, it’s time for foundation. Simply apply the product all over your face, concentrating on the areas that need coverage.
You can either apply foundation with a brush, your fingertips, or a sponge. Just be careful about the sponge you use because most absorb foundation rather than distribute it. Beauty Blenders are some of the best sponges you can use.
Don’t forget to blend! You can do this by wiping the excess product off your brush, sponge, or fingers and ensuring the foundation is perfectly rubbed in.
I personally use Make Up For Ever’s HD Foundation, but the woman in this video is using Nars’ Natural Radiant Foundation. I’ve used this one before, and it’s good, too.
If you’re using concealer, apply the product directly to your areas of concern. Blend them with the brush, sponge, or your fingers. From here, apply powder all over your face, focusing on the T-Zone (bridge of your nose and the cheeks).
As of now, I’m actually using a Sephora Collection stick foundation which works great as a concealer. But Nars Radiant Concealer is usually my go-to; when I can afford it, at least.
Contour and Highlight (optional)
If you’re contouring, start by dipping your brush in a darker color. Angle your brush in the middle of your cheek, just underneath your cheekbone. Glide the brush upward, blending into your outer brow (this will create a backward “C” motion). Repeat on the other side.
You can also apply the contour in a “3” motion. Place your brush on the outer brow, and draw a 3 where the middle point hits your cheekbone and the lower point hits your jawline. Many people also apply the darker color anywhere they want to create contrast, such as on the sides of the nose and around the hairline.
Blend the contour in with either a clean brush or your foundation brush.
From here, apply a highlighter. Popular areas include above the eyebrow arch, above the cheekbones, and the bridge of the nose. Dip a different brush in the highlighter and brush it around these areas, blending the highlighter into your skin.
I don’t use a specific contour product. I get concealer or foundation samples and use those. But if I were to buy a product, I would just buy the drugstore stuff. My favorite drugstore brand is Nyx, though I never tried any of their contouring products. The woman in this video used L’Oreal and Maybelline, but those products make me break out.
Bronzer and Blush (Optional)
If you’re not contouring or highlighting but want to put some color on your cheeks, bronzer and blush are the perfect alternatives. Take a brush and apply the bronzer around your cheekbones, hairline, and jawline. You can use the “3” technique we used with the contour. But as you get more comfortable with bronzer, you’ll find a method that works with your face shape. YouTuber Claire Ashley has some great recommendations for this.
I don’t use bronzer often, but Too Faced Chocolate Soleil is my favorite. Be sure to use a bronzer that isn’t too dark but also isn’t too light; about two shades darker than your natural skin color is the best option.
You can use blush alongside bronzer or by itself. While it’s recommended you put blush on the apples of your cheeks, many people prefer sweeping blush up the cheekbones. You can find the apples of your cheeks by smiling and finding the chubby part of your cheek.
Lip makeup will finish off every perfect lip! If necessary, start by applying chapstick. Next, trace your lips with a lip liner if you’re using one. Apply your lipstick. Or, you can skip these steps if you’re only using lip gloss.
Question: What Are the Essential Makeup Products?
Answer: Want to cut the extra fluff and just stick to the essentials? Many people say these products are important to keep in your makeup bag:
• Brow pencils
Question: How Do You Apply Foundation Over Acne?
Answer: One of the struggles when wearing foundation over acne is it’s difficult to fully cover up pimples without foundation caking over the acne. If you’re struggling with redness, apply a green color that will neutralize the redness.
Be sure to wear a full coverage foundation and apply the product with a brush or sponge (not your fingers) with a stippling motion. Stippling is a type of tapping motion that distributes more products in a specific area.
Question: How Do You Prevent Eyeliner or Mascara From Smudging?
Answer: A common issue that people experience is eyeliner or mascara smudging. If you don’t want to use waterproof eye makeup, apply extra powder under your eyes to prevent oil buildup.
Question: How Do I Find the Right Shade of Foundation?
Answer: Many stores, such as Sephora, can match you with any foundation they sell. You can also do this DIY by identifying your skin color and undertones. We all have either yellow, pink, or neutral undertones.
Most stores also have foundation samples and will let you match your shade. Do this by applying the product to your jawline and wiping it with a q-tip. If the shade blends in with your natural skin color, it’s a good shade.
Question: Should You Apply Foundation or Concealer First?
Answer: Most people apply foundation first to create the perfect base. Many people also think applying concealer first will result in a cakey look.
Question: My Skin Gets Oily/Greasy When Wearing Makeup. Help?
Answer: If you have oily skin, your skin may feel greasy by the end of the day. This can also happen to anyone if the weather is hot enough. If this is what you experience, use mattifying primers or powders to ensure your skin stays flawless all day. Spray with setting spray for best results.
Question: How Can I Create the Best Cat Eye?
Answer: While so many people say the tape trick is the pinnacle (put a piece of tape on the outer corner of your eye and trace the pencil on the tape), I find this method ineffective. First, the tape irritates my eyes. Second, the applicator keeps drawing over the tape, and my line is uneven.
I personally extend the outer corner of my eye and draw the cat’s eye that way. But if you do this, make sure you only pull the skin gently. Pulling it too tightly can accelerate the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Need More Makeup Advice?
All of this makeup advice is great! But what if you’re the type of person who would rather just put on some chapstick and call it a day? Here’s how to find the best chapstick.