Boys beware, it’s about to get all XX chromosome-y in here. You should hide, seriously.
I’ve been really into makeup recently, I can’t help it. And I’ve watched way too many youtube tutorials and reviews than any rational 33 year should so I figured: why not share all I’ve “learned” while you were off being productive members of society?
I’m no beauty guru. In fact, far from it. It’s just that in the past two years, I’ve been slowly replacing my old junk makeup with a decent foundation (a pun!) of makeup essentials and I wanted to share with you what I’ve come up with so far. Let’s talk girly stuff!
Brushes: Although it’s taken way too long for me to admit, a good set of brushes is KEY. They are an investment (ie: not cheap) and that’s why it’s taken me so long to make the jump. You must have them but you don’t need a lot of them. Sigma makes really nice ones – like the travel set I got for Christmas. It has all the brushes I need: foundation, angled blush brush, powder brush, eye shader, pencil, angled eyeliner, and a fluffy crease/blending brush. I also bought a separate “fuller” foundation brush (from Sephora with a giftcard from my MIL) but I should have bought this one instead – it’s half the price:
If I was recommending a set to someone though, I’d recommend this Essential Kit, also by Sigma.
It has every brush your heart could desire, plus it’s luxurious because it’s full sized (compared to the stubby handled travel kit brushes).
An added bonus to having nice makeup brushes? It’s makes putting on makeup FUN. Who would deny you some daily fun, anyhow?
Brush cleaner: If you are going to spend your hard earned cash on brushes, you’ll need to clean them. Since I’m relatively new to all of this, I need some suggestions. I have the Daily Brush Cleansing Spray by Sephora which is a nice quick fix (and smells good too)
but it doesn’t offer a “deep clean”, especially when it comes to my mucky foundation brushes. And since you are swiping those all over your face, you kinda want them to be clean, you know?
I just splurged on the MAC brush cleanser recently.
I think it’s good so far but I don’t have much to compare it to. My only complaint is that it goes way too fast, especially for $14 price tag. I’ve heard I can just use Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo instead, which I might try when I run out.
Foundation: I wish I had wonderfully flawless skin, but truth is I have a lot of redness (even a purple birthmark under my nose) that needs hiding. All of the beauty guru’s rave about Revlon’s Colorstay foundation and I agree. I have the one for combo/oily skin but they also make one for dry skin.
Beware, it’s thick and you have to work fast but the staying power is excellent. It has great coverage, if you are looking for medium to full coverage. (If you’re not, you’re a lucky duck). Since it’s from the drugstore (and always on sale somewhere), it’s price is right. I’ve also heard good things about Revlon’s Colorstay Whipped foundation
which apparently is easier to work with and has a less matte finish. I’m going to give that a whirl when my current bottle is zapped.
Setting powder: I’m stuck (for now) with one from Physician’s Formula but it’s too “powdery”. It clings to my eyebrows and sits on my face fur. Not cute. I’ve been skipping it all together but in the summer I need to control shine and it’s always helps your foundation stay put. I’ve heard good reviews about these two: MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish Natural
and one from the drugstore: Rimmel Stay Matte Powder
Concealer: Currently I have MAC’s Pro-longwear concealer and it has great coverage – I like to use it on the birthmark under my nose.
My one complaint is it’s packaging (well, and the price too). The pump spews out way too much product. I save the extra in a little container so it doesn’t go to waste, but it’s annoying nonetheless. I’m looking for a drugstore alternative – recommendations?
Under eye concealer: Folks seem to like the Maybelline Instant-Age Rewind under eye concealer so I took the plunge.
I like the formula, I think. I’m new to under eye concealer though. What I don’t like is the packaging. The “clicker” thing broke on me, so I’ve gone all ghetto with it by breaking open the top. It’s messy and uncool. Also, I don’t use a special setting powder for that area and I’ve noticed the product settles into my fine lines. I’m on the hunt for a new one (preferably drugstore) but not until I’ve used this stupid little bottle up.
Bronzer: Thanks to the beauty gurus advice, I’ve discovered a MATTE bronzer that is cheap and awesome. It’s NYC Sunny Bronzer and you can find it at the drugstore for under $3.
Blush: I’m loving Tarte’s Amazonian Clay blushes. I have Dollface (light pink)
but they come in a wide range of colors. I prefer the ones without shimmer because I’m getting old and shimmery blushes just draws attention to that. They look a bit scary in the pan but these blushes blend out easily and are long wearing. They are pricey though, at $25 a pop.
I also have the cult favorite, NARS Orgasm, which is a lovely blush (a gift from MamaP!). It’s a peachy pink with golden shimmer, which really suits my skin tone. I usually only wear in the evenings because the shimmer can look preposterous on my haggard old lady face. Night time is much more forgiving. Although, I rarely do anything past 7pm these days so maybe this is not a product I’ll repurchase…
MAC has an amazing collection of blushes as well, but I’ve resisted. Their Well Dressed is supposed to be oh so nice – anyone have a favorite blush from MAC?
I don’t own any myself but Wet n Wild Color Icon blush is supposed to have great color payoff (pigmentation) and it’s crazy cheap. Wet n Wild sure has stepped up their game since the days of my youth! That brand used to be total crap.
Eyeliner: Although these come in an array of deliciously fun colors,
I think having a true black or a coffee brown in your collection would be all that you “need” for a 30-something lady like me. I currently have two blacks - Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-on pencil in Zero (I hear Perversion is even “blacker”) and NYX Slide-on Pencil in Jet Black – and one brown, Stila’s Damsel. The Urban Decay pencil is awesomely long wearing and doesn’t smudge on me. It’s also a whopping $19 (owie). I was hoping the NYX would be a inexpensive substitute, but since I have oily eyelids, it travels on me. I’m using them up anyway. These two drugstore finds come highly recommended: Physician’s Formula eyeliners or Maybelline Masterdrama eye pencil, so I may give those a try in the next round.
A random tip: Eyeliners are multipurpose. You can smudge them out all over your lid for a nice wash of color (especially the funky colors) or to use as a base to layer shadow over top. It helps the shadow “stick” and adds depth. Who knew?
Eyeshadow primer: Didn’t know you needed this? You do. It prevents your eye makeup from creasing and fading. I love Urban Decay’s Primer Potion.
Although, Two-Faced Shadow Insurance is supposed to be the bomb.com. They are both expensive but worth the cash.
Eyeshadow: Oooh, eyeshadow. The really fun stuff. There should technically be two categories: cream eyeshadows and powder eyeshadow. Maybelline Color Tattoo, hands down, is the best drugstore cream eyeshadow. It’s blendable, buildable, and does not budge. Although it comes in a handful of wild colors, I have Bad to the Bronze – which I use a base to layer powder eye shadows over or just by itself for an all over lid color.
It’s really beautiful, especially sheered on on my fair skin (otherwise, it could tend to look ruddy). I think it would look so yummy if you were of Indian or Mideastern decent, or just darker than me (a very PALE person). I wish Maybelline had a permanent neutral beige color tattoo in their line. They came out with Barely Beige this fall, but it was limited edition and impossible for me to find. For high end, MAC makes their famous Paint Pots but I haven’t splurged on any of those yet – I hear the Maybelline Color Tattoos out perform them anyway.
I did however, splurge on a MAC eyeshadow quad. They cost a fortune, an absolute fortune.
I cringe just thinking about it. I hope they are worth it. I picked four uber neutral shades (mostly matte) that will play nicely together or be fine worn on their own. One comfort I have is that they will last for forever. *Crosses fingers*.
MAC isn’t the only one that makes buttery, blendable, pigmented eyeshadows. Stila, Dior, Makeup Forever, Too Faced, and Urban Decay are all strong brands. Urban Decay’s famous Naked Palette is a beauty guru all time favorite.
At $50, it’s an awesome deal since it has the perfect range of shimmery and matte neutrals and the looks you can make with these eye shadows are endless. I wish I would have bought this over my MAC quad.
Supposedly, with a good eye shadow primer, even drugstore eye shadows work very well. The Revlon Colorstay Eyeshadow Quads (I’ve been “eyeing” the one in Moonlit),
NYX, and Wet n Wild eyeshadows (found at most drugstores) are known to be really great products. And so cheap, comparatively.
Mascara: There are loads and loads of mascaras out there. It’s overwhelming. I like (along with many others) the Covergirl Lashblast mascara. It’s cheap, the brush is big and the formula is not too “wet”.
I’ve tried only a handful of others but they performed sadly on my puny lashes (or flake off throughout the day), so I keep coming back to this one.
Brows: Man, I hate (DETEST) the drawn-in brow look. It’s gross. But, my brows are 1. poorly shaped and 2. patchy. I need a brow intervention. I realize that I will have to invest in some sort of brow product/routine, but for now I am too lazy. The Revlon Brow Fantasy is supposed to be good – anyone out there tried it or like something else better?
Lips: There is SO much lip candy to chose from, it’s hard to take. From balms to glosses to lipsticks to lip stains to lip plumpers to lip butters, what’s a girl to do?
MAC makes decadent lipsticks. They smell of vanilla, go on very creamy and have a massive color selection. Try one, just for fun! I’ve heard Chanel, YSL, NARS, Tarte all make stellar products as well, and you will pay dearly for them.
But, the drugstore has everything a girl could want. Revlon, Maybelline, Burts Bees and Neutrogena do lip products well – but I think you can find a gem in any line – even Bonnebell (old school, eh?). I’ve only snagged one Revlon lip butter and am waiting patiently to experiment more with drugstore lip goodies. For now, I must stay the course and use up the products I’ve bought over the years before I dance around with new ones.
Eye-makeup remover: My least favorite part of the day: removing all of these products…especially mascara. Right now, I’m using Sonia Kahsuk’s eye makeup remover (sold at Target) and I like it so far. It’s not cheap by any means (especially for drugstore) but it seems to do a good job.
So, that’s it (albeit, very long winded). Any favorites of yours that didn’t get mentioned?
Yeah, yeah, I know true beauty is adoring every crinkled inch of your body, drinking loads of water and being a kind presence in the world – but sometimes a good coat (or two) of mascara or a swipe of concealer helps get you by, you know?
P.S. I might do a toned-down make up discussion for Mommies/just plain busy ladies that don’t have tons of time in the morning to primp and play, nor endless money to spend. Would you hate that or not mind so much?