Whether you are a makeup novice or someone who’s been wearing makeup for years. I wanted to create this guide to help you avoid overwhelm when purchasing makeup products. Many of my clients who have had a makeup lesson with me, have shown me their makeup bags and they’ve been full with a load of products they hardly use because a) They have no idea how to use them or b) They’ve been sucked into some clever advertising campaign and bought something they really didn’t need & probably will never use.
Here I list out the makeup basics and give guidance on what products you should be buying, that’s right for you.
What’s it for? In a nutshell, it helps provide a smoother surface for your foundation, filling in fine lines and pores. It also helps your foundation last longer on your face.
What primer is right for me? If your skin is prone to shine opt for a matte, oil-free primer. If you are prone to redness chose a colour correcting one. For mature and dry skin, I suggest buying a hydrating, luminous primer.
How do I apply it? Apply after your moisturiser has sunk in. You only need a small amount. Apply all over your face.
What’s it for? Foundation evens out your skin tone and helps provide you with a flawless finish, covering imperfections.
What foundation is right for me? Think about what coverage and finish you’d like and how you prefer the foundation to come packaged i.e Compact, powder, in a bottle etc. Ensure you know your skin type too. Again, like with the primer if you have oily skin it’s best to buy an oil-free foundation. Powder foundations are great for oily skin. Mature and dry skin types lookout for the luminous finish foundations.
How do I apply it? This depends on what type of foundation you have purchased. If you have bought a compact it will come with a sponge applicator. For liquid’s, I’d suggest a foundation brush or beauty blender. To ensure you get the right colour for you, ask the makeup artist on the counter to do a colour match for you. If you are doing this yourself, test three colours by drawing three lines on your face by your jawline. The correct colour foundation should completely disappear into your skin. I’d also recommend doing this on your forehead, as often this is where you are most tanned. If you are slightly darker on your forehead, I’d opt with the darker shade rather than the lighter one.
What’s it for? It’s an alternative to a foundation, for those that want a very natural look. It provides some coverage to even out your skin tone and helps give a healthy glow.
What tinted moisturiser is right for me?
As with the foundation, opt for an oil-free one if you have oily skin and a ensure you buy an oil-based one if you are on the drier side. If you are lucky and have no skin concerns the choice is up to you. For all skin types, I’d aim to get one with an SPF in if you can.
How do I apply it? Apply a small amount after your moisturiser and primer has sunk in. A tinted moisturiser does not replace your face cream. It’s best to apply it with your fingers.
What’s it for? BB cream stands for beauty/blemish balm. It’s similar to a tinted moisturiser, usually a heavier coverage and with some added skincare benefits. BB creams act as a primer too.
What BB cream is right for me? If you have oily skin and prone to blemishes go for an oil-free one. Dry or mature skin types select one that has hydrating ingredients in it.
How do I apply it? Apply the BB cream after your moisturiser has sunk into your skin. Apply with your fingers.
What’s it for? CC cream stands for colour correcting cream. It has similar skincare benefits to a BB cream but can also help colour correct the appearance of your skin. So, if you are prone to redness and some pigmentation, age spots etc. then a CC cream is the one for you.
What CC cream is right for me? Follow the same advice I have given for the tinted moisturisers and BB cream. Chose a CC cream that’s right for your skin type and look out for ones that have SPF in if your moisturiser doesn’t have this built-in.
How do I apply it? Apply the CC cream after your moisturiser has sunk into your skin. Apply it with your fingers.
What’s it for? There are two types of concealers, one is for your face, such as blemishes and marks. The other to help cover dark circles.
What concealer is right for me?
FACE – As a rule, I’ll tend to buy my concealer from the same brand that I buy my foundation, as I then know it will be the exact same shade. Other than that, it depends on the coverage and finish you are after. A personal favourite of mine is the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer as it’s hydrating and has light reflective pigments. You can use this one on your face and under-eye.
EYES – If you are looking to cover up dark circles I’d recommend getting a concealer that has a pink or peach undertone in it. This helps correct the blue or brown colour under your eyes. I really like the Bobbi Brown correctors and concealers and the Benefit Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer as they give great coverage. If you are concerned about fine lines and looking for something more lightweight and hydrating go for the Benefit Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer.
How do I apply it? FACE – I’d recommend applying it with your finger. Pat and press onto the blemish. This will give the best coverage. EYES – Use the applicator if it has one, a concealer brush or your index finger. Apply only on the areas where you the dark colour. Gently pat into the skin.
What’s it for? Powder sets your makeup and helps control shine on your face.
What powder is right for me? Firstly, I wouldn’t recommend using a powder if your face is really dry. Your face will hate you for it. I would however highly recommend getting a powder if your face is prone to shine and if your skin is normal it’s worth having one to set your makeup for the day/evening and stop it from sliding off your face. They come in pressed or loose formulas.
How do I apply? If you have normal skin apply on your T-Zone. If you are oily, apply in all areas that you are prone to shine.
What’s it for? The aim is to give you a sun-kissed look. I LOVE a good bronzer and instantly feel healthier-looking after applying it.
What bronzer is right for me? If you have larger pores, acne-prone or mature skin I’d go for a matte powder bronzer, as shimmery/glittery ones will only enhance shine, pores and fine lines. Otherwise, it’s your preference really on how you want the end result to look, they come in powder form or liquid. Liquids are great if you have dry skin and want to avoid powders on your face. Ensure you buy the correct tone for your face; you can do this by working out if you have a warm or cool skin tone. Try aiming for a bronzer that’s only a couple of shades darker than your natural skin colour.
How do I apply? Use a bronzer brush and apply on your forehead, bridge of your nose, lightly over your cheeks and under your neck if required.
What’s it for? To sculpt your face, creating shadows. Usually on your cheekbones, forehead, nose and jawline.
What contour kit is right for me? Hmm, this is a tricky one to answer as it depends on what you find easier to apply really. Again, like with the foundation, I’d suggest for an oily skin stick with a powder and a drier skin type perhaps try a cream. Although, if you aren’t applying much then a powder would be fine too.
Do use a contour kit rather than a bronzer as it should be a cooler tone, as opposed to a warm tone.
How do I apply? I really don’t believe in contouring your face for the sake of it, just contour the areas that you’d like softening or enhancing. Use a contour brush such as the Morphe Angled Contour Brush for powder and the Iconic London EVO Sculpting Brush for cream. You’ll want to ensure the lines are fully blended & not make your face look muddy. As always, apply a small amount at first and add more if necessary,
What’s it for? To highlight high point areas on your face and body (cheekbones, browbones, collarbones etc.) and make them really stand out. It also gives you a lovely healthy and luminous glow.
What highlighter is right for me? There are tons of highlighters out there, some more subtle than others. They come in liquid or powder form. If you want a versatile one, get a liquid, then you can pop a couple of drops into your foundation for extra glow when needed. If you have an oily skin go for a subtle powder one (nothing too shimmery) and if you are dry I’d go for a liquid.
How do I apply? When using a powder one, only apply on the areas you want highlighted, such as cheekbones, bridge of nose, cupid’s bow and collarbones. Use a brush like the Morpe Pro Round Blender Brush. For liquids, either apply with your fingers, a beauty blender or a brush like the MAC Small Duo Fibre Face.
What’s it for? In basic terms, it’s a coloured powder or cream, to enhance your eyes. Applied correctly you can really make your eyes pop and change the appearance of the shape.
What eye shadow is right for me? In terms of shades, this depends on your eye colour, skin colour and even hair colour, so a much bigger subject. I’ll go into more detail on this in another blog post. In the meantime, as a very basic rule;
- Blue eyes – Bronze tones really make them pop.
- Green eyes – Purple eyeshadows really work. It doesn’t need to be a bright purple, it could be a wash of a lavender colour or a taupe with a hint of purple.
- Brown eyes – You are lucky you can wear a lot of different shades. Pink shades work well or golds.
Cream shadows are great for when you are on the go or, for a quick wash of colour or using as a base, before layering other shadows.
I’d recommend that mature ladies stick with matte eye shadows as shimmer/glitter will enhance fine lines on your eyelids.
I highly recommend that you use an eye primer before applying an eye shadow, to help with longevity. This was a game-changer for me!
What’s it for? An eyeliner defines your eyes. You can use it to elongate your eyes or make them appear bigger too.
What eyeliner is best for me? Use a liquid or gel if you want a more dramatic look. These are harder to apply, so if you are a newbie stick with a pencil instead. A pencil is much softer and better in my opinion if you have small eyes.
How do I apply? Liquid’s will have an applicator to apply. Gel liners will need to be applied with a brush like the MAC angled eyeliner brush.
If you are looking to elongate your eyes by having a winged eyeliner, draw on the flick first. Follow the line from the bottom of your eye and aim towards the end of your brow and fill in from there.
When using an eyeliner pencil, ensure its sharp before applying. Draw the liner on as close to the root of your eyelashes as possible. If you want your eyes to look even bigger line in the waterline of your top eyelid.
What’s it for? Brow products are used to shape your brows, whether that be filling in the gaps, creating a new shape or in some cases drawing a brow form little or no brow hairs.
What brow product is right for me? If you already have quite thick brows, I’d suggest an eyebrow powder is best for you. If your brows are fine or you don’t have any brow hairs, I’d use a brow pencil and/or a brow pomade. Brow pomades are great if you looking to create a Kim K brow too. Brow gels (basically like a mascara for your brows) are really easy to use and generally give a nice natural finish.
How do I apply? A lot of brow products come with the applicator, if not you’ll need an eyebrow brush like the Laura Mercier Brow Definer.
First, you’ll want to map out the shape of your brows. Then fill in the brow by using fine, brush-like strokes. Have a cotton bud handy to correct any mistakes & use a concealer to define the edges.
What’s it for? Put very simply, it gives your cheeks a healthy flush of colour. I LOVE blusher, it’s one of my favourite products for sure.
What blusher is right for me? Cream blushers are great for giving an extra bit of glow to your face. I especially love using cream blushers on mature ladies. Powders tend to last longer on the face, so I tend to use these more often than not on my brides.
How do I apply? If using a cream blusher use your fingers or a foundation brush, the flat kind. For a powder blush use a fluffy blusher brush (they are angled). DO NOT USE a bronzer brush, they are way too big and you’ll end up with blusher halfway down your face and it won’t be flattering!
It’s best to apply on the apples of your cheeks and sweep upwards, in the direction of the top of your ear.
What’s it for? It stops your lipstick from bleeding, it’s also great for enhancing your lip shape.
What lip liner is right for me? Look for a shade that compliments your lipstick. It should look very similar ideally or a tad deeper.
How do I apply? I prefer to line my lips after I have applied lipstick as I find this easier to create the shape I am wanting to achieve.
What’s it for? A lipstick can really complete a makeup look, even if it’s just a subtle natural stain on the lips. A bright shade like red can really brighten up your face, with minimal makeup on the rest of your face.
What lipstick is right for me? When choosing a lipstick always look for a colour that matches your lip tone. For example, if you have a light mauve pink lip, then go for lip colours that are of a cool shade, like a blue-based pink or blue-based red rather than a warm shade like coral or a peachy pink.
If you get really dry lips go for a creamy/sheer lipstick like the Bobbi Brown nourishing lip colour, which although are sheer are great for moisturising your lips.
Otherwise, there are so many types to choose from (matte, glossy, long-wearing, shimmery) so it depends on what look you’d prefer.
How do I apply? If applying on yourself apply directly from the lipstick bullet itself. You can use a lip brush if you are looking to get a really defined lip. Using a lip brush is recommended if you are going for a dark or red lip. It’s always handy to have a cotton bud with you for any mishaps and use a concealer to touch up after.
What’s it for? Lip gloss is used to create shine on your lips and generally makes them look plumper, so great if you have thinner lips.
What lip gloss is right for me? This comes down to your personal preference on what look and feel you are after. Some glosses are light reflective and really plump up the lips, others more sheer. You can get glittery or highly pigmented ones too, so if you’re not a lipstick fan a gloss might be for you.
How do I apply? Apply a tiny amount (half a pea size) of the gloss to the centre of your lips. Then rub your lips together. Simples.
I realise there are a lot of products in this blog post and of course, not every item is essential, but I hope by giving an overview of each product, will help next time you’re buying some makeup.
If you’d like to learn some more makeup tips and tricks, I offer 1-2-1 makeup lessons, click here for more info.