Budget Beauty 101: Makeup for Beginners

Budget Beauty 101: Makeup for Beginners

Cosmetics is a topic that I’m very passionate about learning. There are just so many avenues in which one can go in this particular field. That being said, it’s hard to know where to start when you want to get into makeup. So today, I’ve decided to do a makeup for beginners/drugstore makeup post for those who want to get started in makeup, but don’t know where to begin.

And because I’m doing a beginners post, all of the products that I will mention will be drugstore products, so they will be affordable for everyone, even the makeup novice!


First and foremost, in order for makeup to be applied seamlessly and beautifully, you must have clean skin. Many people believe that makeup can simply cover up any skin imperfections, and to an extent, that is true; however, if you take care of your skin, you may find that you don’t have to use as many products as you might have had you not taken care of your skin.

In the morning, always start by cleansing, toning, and moisturizing your face. In an earlier post, I detailed my particular skin routine and included a quiz to help you determine your personal skin type as well as recommended products for that skin type (Click here to view my skin care blog post). If you don’t know your skin type, take the quiz and get products that are right for you. This is very important!

Once your skin has been prepped, you’re ready to apply your makeup.



I always start with my brows first. This is just personal preference. Remember, the key to great looking brows is that they look as natural as possible. Before applying any brow product, make sure that your brows are shaped and neat. Your local esthetician can razor, thread, or wax your brows. If your brows are unruly, it can be difficult to shape them with your brow product and you might not get your desired shape. One shape of brow does not fit all. Everyone likes their brows differently, so I won’t go into detail about how your brows should look as far the a specific shape. However, if you follow these general steps, your brows will look natural and neat no matter the shape your prefer.

Here are the steps I take to achieve my brows:

1. Choose the right color of brow product. I have black brow hair, so I always choose dark brown brow products. If you also have black brow hair or dark brown brow hair, I would not suggest purchasing black brow products unless you a more experienced artist. Black brow products can make your brows look very unnatural and harsh. Generally speaking, whatever brow color you have, I’d suggest purchasing a brow product that’s a little lighter, so that you can build if necessary and to get a natural look.

2. Groom your brows. Using a spoolie or brow brush, comb/brush your brows in place. This ensures that all of the hairs are going in one direction and that you have a neat canvas to work with when applying your brow product.

3. Use a little, then more if necessary. Using an angled brush and my brow product, I first outline the shape of my brows using a light hand, then fill in my brows with light, feathery strokes. Again, do not use a heavy hand, as your brows will look unnatural and harsh. If needed, go back and fill in sparse areas or places that you would like to be darker.

4. Use a brow gel. I started using brow gel a few months ago and will continue to use it. It almost acts as a “glue” in that it helps your brow hairs stay in place. It also accentuates your natural hairs. Brush the brow gel across your brows when you’re done applying your product.

5. Conceal around your brows. I know what you’re thinking. We’ve all seen those people who continue to not blend their concealer around their brows. Don’t be that person. I’ll tell you how to do it correctly. First off, concealing around your brows ensures that they look more crisp and clean. Take a concealer that’s 1 or 2 shades lighter than your skin tone and a small concealer brush and outline your brows, making sure that you are blending the product into your skin as you go. You should not see any real noticeable demarcation between your skin and your concealer.


Clean brow look on myself


Tips and Tricks:

  • If I find that the beginning of my brows look too harsh, I take my spoolie and just brush them until the product looks more faded. This gives a gradient effect, and makes the beginning of your brows look more natural.
  • If you don’t want to conceal around your entire brow, simply conceal the bottom half of your brows. This will still work in making sure that your brows look clean without fear of overdoing it with the concealer.
  • Having trouble with uneven brows? Concealer can fix it. Instead of outlining each brown individually, try outlining your brows as if they were a unibrow. This will help you “line up” your brows to make them look as even as possible. But don’t forget to blend blend blend!

Recommended Drugstore Products:

e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil

e.l.f. Clear Lash and Brow Mascara

Recommended Brushes: e.l.f. Small Angled Brush



I could spend days upon days talking about eyeshadow. Eyeshadow placement is one of the things that takes the most practice. I’m still not the best at it, and it’s one of my weakest areas. However, I’ll give you the basics.

I’ll start with prepping your eyelids:

In order for your eyeshadow to get maximum lasting power, it’s important that you place an eyeshadow base on your eyelids so that the eyeshadow can “stick” to the base and make it wear for a longer periods of time. Here’s how to apply it. It’s simple:

1. Choose a color. So typically, eyeshadow bases come clear or in shades of white and neutrals. Any one will do, but finding one that either absorbs into your skin or is of the same color as your skin would probably be best. The only exception to this rule I would say is when applying a highly pigmented colored shadow (bright blues, pinks, oranges, etc), then you would probably want to use a white eyeshadow base, because whit e tends to brighten those colored shadows. But for the purpose of this section, I’ll be talking about a neutral eye look, so a skin-toned base will suffice.

2. Sparingly apply the eyeshadow base. A little bit goes a long way. If you’re using a creamier eyeshadow base, like the NYX Eyeshadow Base, you can apply it with your fingers. Applying creams and liquids with your fingers as opposed to a brush can warm up the product because of the friction you’re causing, and can make the product blend more easily into the skin. If you want to use a brush, that is okay too.

3. Apply your eyeshadow. Now this is where you can go in a million different directions. There is no one way to apply eyeshadow. However, there are a few simple rules that are generally followed as far as color placement:
Start with a matte transition color over the entire lid. A transition color is just what its name suggests–it’s a color that makes your other shadows look more blended and natural. Instead of going from one color of eyeshadow directly into the next, the transition color allows for a seamless flow of color.

4. Next, work on your crease. If you close your eyes, the crease is the part of the eye that’s between your brow bone and the beginning of your eyeball. It’s the curved groove that it often unseen when you open your eyes. The crease color should be matte (preferably) and a darker color than the transition shade, but lighter than the outer V (which I will discuss later). For the crease, you want to use a fluffy brush so that you can blend out your color very well. The crease color should not be very harsh. Gradually built up intensity if you want. Start with a little shadow, then grab more if you prefer. It is okay to build the crease color a little bit above the crease, but never so far as the brow bone.

5. After the crease color, I like to apply the lid color. The lid color can be matte or shimmery. Most of the time, I just like to add a shimmery shadow, but that’s just personal preference. The lid shadow should go on the lid, but not past the crease. To apply the lid shadow, pack on the shadow in patting motions as opposed to swiping or spreading the shadow to ensure that you get the most pigment onto the lid.

6. Next, I apply the darkest color on the outer V of the eye. Imagine drawing a line up that extends your lower lash line, then another line towards your brow bone. This is considered to be the outer V. This space is for your darkest color (preferably matte). And just like the other shadows, gradually build the color to your liking.

7. The following steps are optional:

  • For a smokier look, you can take the shadow you applied on your crease and apply it underneath your eye on the lower lash line. I would probably suggest putting this color no more than half way across the lower lash line because you run the risk of your eyes looking smaller than they actually are if you apply the crease shadow underneath the entire eye.
  • Adding a shimmery, champagne-colored eyeshadow to the inner corner of your eyes will open them up tremendously.
  • Also, many people add a light shadow to their brow bone. This shade should also be champagne-colored and can be shimmery or matte. Darker skin tones will need something more golden to prevent this area from looking to ashy or frosty.

Diagram of typical eyeshadow placement



An eyeshadow look I created on a client using the above technique



Tips and Tricks:

  • If you don’t want to invest any money into an eyeshadow base, use a concealer. I love to use a skin-toned shade of the LA Pro Conceal when I don’t feel like reaching for an eyeshadow base. Just brush a bit of concealer on your lids, blend the product with your fingers, and you’re ready to go!
  • If your lid eyeshadow color isn’t as pigmented as you wanted it to be, grab a spray bottle of water and dampen your brush, then take some eyeshadow and apply. Sometimes, this will help brighten up the eyeshadow.
  • If you’re not good with eyeshadow boundaries, try applying a piece of tape that extends your lower lash line upward. Use this as a guide to create a neat, sharp-looking eyeshadow look. Just remove the tape when you’re done with your shadow and liner.

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

For eyeshadow base: your fingers

For transition shadow: Sonia Kashuk Small Eyeshadow Brush 07

For crease shadow: Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection Cosmetic Brush – Pointed Crease

For lid shadow: Wet ‘N’ Wild Small Eyeshadow Brush

For outer V shadow: Makeup Geek Outer V Brush

For inner corner shadow: e.l.f. Small Precision Brush

For lower lash line shadow: e.l.f. Smudge Brush

Other reputable drugstore brands with great brushes include e.l.f., Real Techniques, Sonia Kashuk, and Ecotools.

Recommended Drugstore Products (Eyeshadows):

Makeup Geek Eyeshadows

Coastal Scents Eyeshadows

NYX Eyeshadow Base (Skin Tone, White, or Pearl)

NYX HD Eyeshadow Base




There are many different ways that you can do eyeliner, and a lot of it is simply about personal preference. There are also eyeliner types that go well with particular eye shapes (e.g. hooded eyes, monolid eyes, etc). For the sake of this post, I will show you 2 eyeliner looks that I like to do: winged and non-winged. But first, I’ll tell you how to properly apply eyeshadow.

As many may know, there are several different types of eyeliners:

  • Pencil eyeliner: These come in the shape of pencils. When choosing pencil eyeliner, look for cream eyeliner to ensure an easier application. These eyeliners are suitable for both top and bottom lash lines. Eye kohl and mechanical twist pencils are its two forms. Eye kohl pencils have a softer and creamier consistency than traditional pencil eyeliners. They are easier to blend and smudge. On the other hand, mechanical twist pencils are not as creamy as eye kohl pencils. For better application of liners, use little strokes instead of one long line. The pencil should preferably be sharpened prior to each use. They also come in waterproof forms.
  • Gel liner: Gel liners are the newest forms of eyeliners available on the market. They come in a pot, and you need a brush to apply them. They are thick, stay longer than pencils, and are easy to use. Gel liners come in a wide variety of shades. Since this liner takes a bit longer to dry, it is great for smudging along the lash line.
  • Liquid eyeliner: You need to have a very steady hand and patience if you want to apply them. Liquid liners are difficult to smudge. They have a more shiny finish as compared to pencil eyeliners. Because of the difficult application, they are not recommended for beginners. They are great for dramatic makeup looks. They come in two different types of application tips:
    – Brush: These eyeliners come in a bottle which has a brush applicator.
    – Felt or Pen: True to their name, they are shaped like pens. They dry much faster than brush liquid liner and are much easier to use.

I generally like to use black eyeliners, as do most other people I know. However, there are other shades as well. (Just FYI for my brown-eyed girls, plum/eggplant and navy liners are a great alternative if you’re looking to try something different. Those color really complement brown eyes.)

Applying eyeliner is not very difficult with some practice. Depending upon your choice of eyeliner will determine what materials you need. But generally speaking, hear is how you apply eyeliner:

1. Start in the middle of your eye. Starting in the middle of your eyelid somehow allows you to gauge the thinness/thickness or your eyeliner for the rest of your eye. Place your brush as close as possible to your upper lash line and begin working outward in small strokes. If you choose to do a winged liner, extend the wing upward as if extending your lower lash line. If you opt out of a winged liner, stop at the outermost aspect of your eye.

2. Fill in the gaps. If there are any spaces skipped, fill them in after you’re done creating your line.

If you choose to line your lower lash line, only line the outer ⅓ to ½ to prevent your eyes from looking too small and closed.


Non-winged eyeliner look


Winged eyeliner look

Tips and Tricks:

  • If your wing liner isn’t as sharp as you want, take a bit of concealer and clean up the edges.
  • If you don’t like wearing eyeliner on your lower lash line, opt for a nude liner on your waterline. Nude liners open up with eyes and make them appear more bright.
  • To make your pencil liner creamier, take the tip of your pencil and pass it through an open flame, like on a lighter, for a couple of times. This will warm up with pencil’s product and make it glide more easily on your lids.

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

e.l.f. Small Angled Brush (for gel liner)

Recommended Products:

Rimmel London Scandal Eyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Pencil (kohl liner [pencil])

L’Oreal Infallible Gel Laquer Liner (gel liner)

Revlon Colorstay Skinny Liquid Liner (liquid liner)


Lashes and Mascara

This step is completely optional. Lashes can help to add a little more drama and flare to your eyes. There are several types of lashes:

Natural lashes: Natural lashes are delicate-looking. These are lashes that are going to give you a boost in length and thickness, but aren’t going to go overboard. They are perfect for daytime outings when you want a natural look.

Full lashes: These lashes are obviously much thicker than the natural lashes. While these lashes may look too heavy for everyday wear, they are actually great for photos (especially if the photos are going to be taken from a bit further away). It’s kind of the same principle as theatre makeup—the further away people are from you, the bolder the stage makeup has to be in order to look right. If you were doing full-body photos, these lashes would stand out much more than the natural lashes would at a distance.

Long & short lashes: This category of lashes has a bold pattern of longer and shorter lashes. Some may contain criss-crossed lashes, some may be staight, but the pronounced difference in tip length is their biggest feature.

Individual lashes: Instead of getting all your lashes together in a strip, these come in different lengths and are attached individually until the lashline is full. These lashes do take longer to put on, but they look more natural where your eyelid meets your lashline (you avoid the strip that holds traditional false lashes together) and you can put on as many or as few as you want and customize your length and look.

One of the hardest things about lashes is applying them. Here are some steps that I take to applying my lashes:

1. Have a pair of tweezers or lash applicators at hand. Applying lashes with either of these tools will aid in guiding your lashes into the correct place.

2. Place the mirror below you. I like to use a small vanity mirror. When your mirror is below your face, you are able to look down and see where you are placing your lashes.

3. Place the glue on the lashes. Using the tweezers or lash applicators to pick up the lashes, place the glue on the lashes, making sure not to apply too much. Some glues come with brush applicators and some don’t. If the glue does not come with its own applicator, simply place a small bit of glue on the back of your hand and use a Q tip to spread the glue from your hand to your lashes. Wait about 15-30 seconds to allow your glue to become tacky.

4. Place your lashes. Getting as close as possible to the lash line, start from the middle of your eye and work your way outward.

Tips and Tricks

  • If your strip lashes are too long, cut them. Start from the inner portion of the lash for a perfect, more natural look.
  • If strip lashes are too difficult for you, try individual lashes. They look more natural, and you can place as many or as few as you want depending on the look you’re going for.

Lash FAQs

Q: What if I have sensitive eyes?

A: If you have issues with lash adhesive, try a latex-free adhesive. Depending on your sensitivity, you may have to try a few glues to find one that doesn’t aggravate your particular sensitivity issue.

Q: How long do they last?

A: Traditional lash strips are faster to put on than individual lashes, but will usually only last you through the day. I say “usually” because I think this does vary a bit from case to case. Depending on how much glue you used (and how good of a bond you got), they should last through the end of the night, however, I have been able to wear them overnight as well. Although they take longer to put on, an added benefit to the individual lashes is that they are designed to last much longer than a one day use. You can get days, even weeks, out of your individual lashes.

Q: Can I reuse my lashes?

A: Yes! If you don’t use mascara when you wear your lashes, you can reuse them several times. Just use tweezers to pull the dried lash glue from the lashes after you remove them and store them in their original case until you want to use them again.


If you choose not wear lashes, and just want to wear mascara, that’s perfectly okay too.

Applying mascara is pretty self explanatory. Just like lashes, there are several different types of mascara depending on the look you’re going for. Most people are either looking for a mascara that adds volume, length, or both.

And don’t neglect your bottom lashes! These are important and add to your overall eye look.


With lashes


Without lashes (just mascara)

Tips and Tricks:

  • When applying mascara, start from the innermost aspect/root of the eyelashes and work your way out, as opposed to just applying the mascara from the middle-most aspect. This ensures that you get the greatest length.
  • Wiggle your mascara wand through your lashes as you’re applying product. This ensures that you’re covering all surfaces of your lashes and getting its full effects.
  • Just like black is supposed to make things look smaller and thinner, brown is supposed to make things look larger and fuller. If you want to achieve a fuller lash look, apply brown mascara to the tips of your lashes.
  • To build length and volume, take a Q tip with some baby powder and quickly apply it to the tips of your lashes immediately after one coat of mascara. Repeat this process one or two more times and your lashes should look longer and fuller. This works for both top and bottom lashes too!

Recommended Drugstore Products:

Ardell Lashes

DUO Brush On Strip Lash Adhesive with Vitamins



We’ve moved from the eyes, and now it’s time to start on the face. In my opinion, I think it’s important to prime your face. Priming your face means that you are applying a product all over your face that will help your foundation to “stick”, but also ensures that you get the longest wear out of your foundation and that when applying that foundation, you do so on a smooth surface. Priming is especially important for those with oily skin (like me), who need all of the lasting power that they can get.

If there are any makeup tutorial fanatics out there, you know who Wayne Goss is. I was watching one of his videos on the staying power of foundation, or lack thereof rather, and he stressed the importance of using like primers and foundations. For instance, if you use a water-based primer, you should follow up with a water-based foundation. If you use a silicone-based primer, you should follow up with a silicone-based foundation. (And if you are wondering, oil and water don’t mix, so I use silicone-based products.)

Depending on your skin type, whether it’s dry, oily, combination, sensitive, etc, will determine the type of primer you will use. Because I have oily skin, primers for this particular skin type are all that I really have experience with.

Whichever primer you prefer, take a pea-sized amount and apply it over your face, paying special attention to those areas that may become troublesome sooner than others. Allow the primer to set and/or dry for a couple of minutes, then you’re ready to apply your foundation.

Tips and Tricks:

  • As unorthodox as it may seem, Milk of Magnesia (MoM) really works if you have oily skin. First, shake the bottle well. Then, take the cap of the MoM bottle and fill it with product. Then, take a foundation brush and apply a thin layer of the product all over the face. It will go on liquid, but dry into a white powder. Wait until the product is completely dry, then rub in the powder until it has disappeared (or nearly disappeared).

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

Most primers can be applied using your fingertips, but if you choose to use the MoM, you can use a foundation brush to apply the product, such as the Boots No. 7 Foundation Brush.

Recommended Drugstore Products:

NYX Cosmetics Pore Filler

L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base

Hard Candy Sheer Envy Primer

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer

Milk of Magnesia (plain)



Depending on the kind of coverage you want will determine your need for a foundation. For example, if you have clearer skin with little to no hyperpigmentation or scarring, you’ll want to go for a light coverage. If you have much more hyperpigmentation or scarring, you’ll want to go for a medium to full coverage. In any case, the application process is nearly the same:

1. Choose the correct formula. Below, I have given a description of several types of foundations that are on the market. Depending on your skin type will determine which you believe to be best for you:

  • Liquid foundations. Liquid foundation is a basic term for foundations that come in liquid form. There are many specialized versions, including oil-free, oil-based, waterproof and even 24-hour. They can go from medium to full coverage depending on how much you apply. To build foundation, simply apply a layer and let it dry, then apply another layer on top of it over your problem area.
  • Cream foundations. Cream foundations provide a bit heavier coverage and are formulated for normal to dry skin.
  • Tinted moisturizers. Tinted moisturizers provide light coverage and will cover up some unevenness, but is best for women with pretty good skin. It’s truly a moisturizer with a wash of sheer color. It works as a 2-in-1 (sometimes 3-in-1 if it contains SPF) makeup product because it moisturizes while providing an all-over sheer color.Tinted moisturizer is a great bet in warmer months when little coverage and some moisture is required. Keep in mind tinted moisturizers with SPF don’t provide enough sun protection, be sure to supplement with sunscreen of at least SPF 40 to be safe.
  • Oil-based foundations. Oil-based foundations add moisture and tend to temporarily “plump up” skin, making them a great foundation choice for anyone with dry skin and for older women who want to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.You’ll want to shake up the bottle before use because the oil will separate in the bottle.
  • Sheer foundations. If you are seeking a foundation that glides on smoothly, giving skin the appearance of having no foundation on at all, sheer foundation is a great bet. The coverage is light, so it won’t give you “cake face” if you apply too liberally. It tends to be buildable if you do want more coverage. Sheer foundation is made with silicones and works best on women with normal to dry skin. Many sheer foundations today contain SPF, which gives you the added benefit of sun protection, but I recommend supplementing with a sunscreen of at least SPF 40.
  • Matte, or “Oil-free,” foundations. Created for women with oily skin, matte (also marketed as “oil-free”) foundations are formulated with water and not oil. They tend to dry quickly, so you will want to blend it in with a sponge or your fingers as soon as you apply. And always use moisturizer or foundation primer first to add an extra layer of moisturizer.
  • Mousse/Whipped foundations. Mousse — also marketed as “whipped foundation” — is liquid makeup with air whipped in. This makes the product light and smooth. Mousse foundations tend to have a perfect matte finish and a weightless feel. Whipped foundation is typically good for all skin types, but I find it’s great for those with dry or mature skin because of its tendency to go on smoothly instead of caking up.
  • Stick foundations. Stick foundations are portable so you never have to worry about spills in your purse or bag. The coverage tends to be heavier, making them perfect for covering up blemishes, scars, reddened areas and dark under-eye circles. Stick foundations are best for normal to oily skin. If you have dry skin, make sure to apply a bit of moisturizer first because stick foundations can cake up on you. I recommend using stick foundations only on your problem areas, leaving the rest of your face to regular liquid or cream foundation.This is not a great option for mature skin. Stick foundation is too heavy for fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Powder (or Compact) foundations. Powder foundation comes in compact form, so it makes a great foundation for women who want on-the-go portability. It’s basically a powder and foundation in one and you can get it in several formulations, but it’s really best for women with oily skin. Skip this if you have dry or mature skin.
  • Mineral foundations. For women interested in natural, organic makeup, mineral foundation is your absolute best bet. Mineral makeup is made up almost always primarily of minerals, which come from nature. It’s a great bet for women with sensitive skin or allergies. And it’s a great bet for older women with fine lines and wrinkles. Mineral foundation is best applied with a big, fluffy brush.
  • Shimmer foundations. Shimmer foundations contain ingredients that add a dewiness to skin. Buy in a shade lighter than your skin tone and apply only to those areas where you want to achieve brightness: above your brows, on the cheeks and the tip of the nose. Buy it online.
  • Waterproof foundations. Waterproof foundation is made to stay on for a long time, which makes it perfect for humid areas and hot days. It also means you may not be able to remove it with just cleanser and water, you may need to use makeup remover. These foundations can clog up pores and you may be more susceptible to blackheads, so I wouldn’t use this foundation daily.

2. Choose the right foundation shade.The biggest mistake that people make is choosing the wrong foundation shade. When choosing a foundation, you want it to perfectly match your skin tone. You may need different shades in winter and in summer, when your skin is naturally a bit darker. To pick the perfect foundation, you should try before you buy. Head to Sephora or a department store and ask for help in getting matched.

3. Use the appropriate tool. Below are the tools that I recommend with each of the above foundation types.

  • Foundation brush (preferably a stippling brush because it causes less streaking): liquid foundation, cream foundation, oil-based foundation, sheer foundation, oil-free/matte foundation, stick foundation, shimmer foundation, waterproof foundation
  • Beauty sponge: liquid foundation, stick foundation, shimmer foundation, waterproof foundation
  • Fluffy brush: powder foundation, mineral foundation
  • Powder puff: powder foundation, mineral foundation
  • Fingers: liquid foundation, tinted moisturizer, cream foundation, oil-based foundation, sheer foundation, oil-free/matte foundation, stick foundation, shimmer foundation, waterproof foundation

*I’ve recently been into using oval brushes to apply my liquid foundations. They provide flawless coverage. Click here to check out the beautiful rose gold set I purchased off eBay!

Tips and Tricks:

  • To ensure maximum coverage, no matter the type of foundation you’re using, start from the center of your face and work outwards. Build coverage if necessary.
  • If you have a lot of hyper pigmentation, color correct before you apply your foundation.Color correcting counteracts discoloration on the face so that your foundation goes on evenly. If you have purplish-blue circles under your eyes, use a red or orange color to get rid of the darkness. Red cheeks just requires a swipe of green concealer. Sickly, yellow undertones can be brightened up with a bit of purple or blue. Peach and yellow act as instant brighteners for dull, dark shadows. Try the NYX Color Correcting Palette. LA Girl also makes LA Girl Pro Concealers in color-correction shades.

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

e.l.f. Stipple Brush

e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush

Oval brush (linked above)

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

Recommended Drugstore Products:

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation (liquid, oil-free/matte)

Revlon Colorstay Foundation (liquid, oil-free/matte)

L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder (powder)

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse (mousse/whipped foundation)



Highlighting is the process of applying a lighter-colored product to those areas of your face that you want to stand out. Think of the areas that you want to highlight as peaks (and the areas that you want to contour as valleys, which I will discuss in a latter section). You want the peaks of your face to stand out. These include your forehead, underneath your eyes, down the bridge of your nose, your Cupid’s bow, underneath your cheekbones, and your chin.


Highlighted areas are shaded in white



If you look closely, you can tell that my forehead, underneath my eyes, down the bridge of my nose, my chin, and cupids bow are highlighted are are brighter than the perimeter of my face.

There are two types of highlighting that are usually done:

1. Highlight using concealer. When you highlight using concealer, take a concealer that is about 2 shades lighter than you skin tone. As the picture above suggests, take the concealer and draw those areas. Some concealers come with a brush applicator or wand, and some don’t. If your concealer doesn’t come with its own applicator, simply use a concealer brush. Make sure to blend out your concealer very well. You want the highlighted areas to look brightened, but not so much that you look ghostly. That is why choosing the correct shade is important.

  • Setting/baking your highlight using concealer: It’s very important that after you highlight using your concealer, that you setting these highlighted areas. Setting these areas will allow the liquid/cream highlight to stay in place all day without fear of creasing. I like to take a wedge sponge and pack on a generous amount of the setting powder. You can either opt to pack it on and blend it, or let the powder “set” on your face for a few minutes then brush off the excess (called baking). You can bake with a translucent powder or a yellow-colored powder.

2. Highlight using a shimmery product. After contouring, I like to go back over the highlighted areas (except for underneath the eyes) with a shimmery highlight. This will not only give your skin a beautiful glow, but will also help illuminate those peaks. If you have darker skin, go for more golden highlighters. If you have fairer skin, go for highlighters that are in the pink and peach families.

Tips and Tricks:

  • For an instant glow, take a pea-sized amount of your favorite liquid highlighter/illuminator and mix it with your foundation.
  • If you don’t have or don’t want to purchase a setting powder, set with baby powder. It works just as well.

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

Wet ‘N’ Wild Foundation Brush (for liquid/cream highlight)

Real Techniques Setting Brush (for powder highlight)

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

Recommended Drugstore Products:

LA Girl Pro Conceal

RCMA No Color Powder

NYX Highlight and Contour Pro Palette

Maybelline Face Studio Master Hi-Lite Hi-Lighting Blush & Bronzer

NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator (liquid)

e.l.f. Facial Whip (liquid)

e.l.f. Baked Highlighter



Contouring creates a sense of balance, adding definition to your makeup with color. Contrary to belief, contouring is always some shade of brown, and usually has a gray undertone. Never use shades of makeup such as pink, plum etc. You should always apply contouring color on your neck to your shirt line to avoid a “mask” look. Contouring with makeup is usually applied on the hairline, temples, nose, hollows of the cheeks, and jaw areas. You can use a cream or liquid contouring makeup product, however powder or mineral powders give a smooth, satin finish and are easiler to blend. You want to choose a contour shade that is about 2 shades darker than your skin tone.

Remember how I said that you should think of the highlighted areas of your face as peaks? Well, think of the contoured part of your face as valleys. These are areas that you want to “hide” and appeared shadowed.

Contouring common problem areas:

To contour the chin: For a small, thin chin, apply highlighter to the center of the chin, directly under the center of the lip. To minimize a double chin, apply bronzer along the jaw line and blend it down, towards your neck. This creates depth and helps to strengthen the jaw line.

To contour the nose: To slim your nose you would apply the contouring shade on each side of your nose, blending carefully, and the highlighter down the center of your nose.

To contour the cheekbones: To enhance the cheekbones, suck in your cheeks, apply a darker shade to the hollows and a highlighter to the top of the cheekbones. Then apply blush as normal. Don’t over due it!

To contour the forehead: If you have a wide forehead, apply a light bronzer to each temple and blend. This will create a shadow effect causing the head to look more rounded.


Contoured areas are shaded in brown


If you look closely, you can  see that the perimeter of my face and my nose appear darker than the center of my face.

Tips and Tricks:

  • A general rule for makeup is to go from liquid to powder. If you want your contour (or highlight) so reach its maximum potential, first contour with a liquid/cream and blend. Then, go in with a powder contour shade that is the same color as the liquid/cream to reinforce the color.
  • If you don’t know where the hollows of your cheeks are, suck in and make the “fish face”. Where your face is the deepest is the hollows of your cheeks, and that is where you should contour.
  • Do not extend your contour line too far. Stop halfway between the tragus of your ear and the corner of your mouth, then blend that entire length.
  • If after highlighting, your skin looks a little washed out, grab a bronzer and add some color to your face. A bronzer is a product that gives you an instant tan per se. It’s not as harsh as a contour, so applying a thin layer to blend your highlight and contour is perfectly okay so give you a seamless transition of color.

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

e.l.f. Studio Contour Brush (for liquid contour)

e.l.f. Angled Contour Brush (for powder contour)

Recommended Drugstore Products:

LA Girl Pro Conceal

NYX Highlight and Contour Pro Palette

NYX Matte Bronzer



Choose the right formulation. Choosing your blush formulation is very important. Blush tends to come in powder, gel and cream forms. Creams are great on most skin types, especially dry skin. It goes on silky and smooth and is very blendable. The only exception is that on oily skin tends to break out at the drop of anything creamy. For these skin types, powder is your best bet. Liquid and gel blushes are also good choices for oily skin, but they aren’t very blendable. Some women like to combine cream and powder together, which helps blush stay on longer. Apply the cream first and then the powder over it. Keep in mind stains and gels should always be applied to well-moisturized skin. They tend to dry very fast, so blend well and fast.

Choose the right color. Every beauty brand, whether it be a department store or a drugstore brand, has several blush color options ranging from light pinks and peaches to deep pinks and reds.The trick when choosing the right shade for you is to use nature as your guide. Look for a shade that closely matches your natural cheek color when flushed from exercise or blushed from the cold (or embarrassment). Women with ruddy or pink skin tend to look best in pink shades, whereas women with olive or yellow skin tones look best in peaches. Dark skin looks great in apricot, dark pinks and even red colors. You can also match your lip color.

Blush Application Tips

A little goes a long way when it comes to blush. You want to start light and then build up if need be to create the most natural look.

When applying blush, you want to consider your face shape. Women with long faces like me benefit the most from applying blush to the apples of the cheeks and then blending towards the hairline.

C-shape shading is the makeup artist’s secret for applying blush to round or square shaped faces. Apply blush in a C-shape from your temples to your cheekbones. It should go from the center of your brow bone to the center of your cheek, like the shape of a parenthesis.”

For a sun-kissed sheen, dab bronzer on your forehead, chin and nose BEFORE you apply the blush. To make sure it doesn’t look like a stripe, use “a big brush and a light hand,”

If you’re using gel or cream, use your middle finger to apply, then blend with your ring and middle finger. The clean finger will pick up any excess blush. Dab a dot on the apple of the cheek and two smaller dots up the cheekbone. Blend the dots together up to the hairline.

How to Apply Blush Correctly

Whille blush is usually your second-to-last makeup step (before powder), you can apply it at any time. Here are some general tips:

1. Put the blush on your brush, tapping off any excess or put a dab of gel on your fingers.
Look into the mirror and smile. This helps you figure out where the “apple” of your cheek is.

2. Apply blush to the apples of your cheeks. If you’re using powder blush, always sweep it in one direction. Going over and over or around and around causes streaks and can hurt your brush.

3. If you’ve gone a bit too heavy on the powder blush, a bit of translucent powder over it will calm it down. For cream blush, blot the color off with a tissue. Since gel and liquid blush “stain” the cheeks, the only way to lighten them is it wash your face, moisturize and reapply your makeup, this time more sparingly.

4. Finish your look with a sweep of translucent powder.


Blush I applied to the apples of a client’s cheeks

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

e.l.f. Studio Blush Brush

Real Techniques Bold Metals Tapered Blush Brush

Revlon Blush Brush

Recommended Drugstore Products:

Wet ‘N’ Wild Color Icon Blush

Colourpop Super Shock Blush

e.l.f. Blush Palette


Setting the Face

Throughout the entire process, you may have noticed a pattern. First you apply liquid, then lock the liquid in with a powder. You must be sure to do this for each step when doing your face to ensure that everything stays in place for as long as possible.

To set your face, simply take a large fluffy brush or a powder puff and lightly go over your face with a translucent powder or a colorless pressed powder. A translucent powder is a powder that does not add much, if any, color to the face, but still sets everything in place. This is an essential part of finishing up your place, especially if you have oily skin.

Recommended Drugstore Brushes:

e.l.f. Studio Powder Brush

Recommended Drugstore Products:

RCMA No Color Powder

Coty Airspun Translucent Extra Coverage Loose Powder

Revlon Colorstay Pressed Powder

Rimmel London Stay Matte Pressed Powder, Transparent


Setting Spray

This part is probably the easiest of them all. Once you’ve applied your translucent powder or colorless pressed powder, you should spray your face with a setting spray as a last layer to give your makeup the longest amount of lasting power.

Take your setting spay about 8-12 inches from your face, and while closing your eyes, spray in an “X” motion, then a “T” motion. That’s it!

Recommended Drugstore Products:

NYX Matte Setting Spray



Today’s lipstick market contains a variety of products with many effects and characteristics. Here are some types of lipsticks:

1. Moisturizing lipsticks. People who have dry lips should use moisturizing lipstick because it keeps lips soft and smooth. These lipsticks moisturize lips because of ingredients like vitamin E, glycerin and aloe. Other benefits of using moisturizing lipsticks are wet and very shiny lips.

2. Satin and sheer lipsticks. Other choices for dry lips are satin and sheer lipsticks. These lipsticks also moisturize and nourish lips and make it shiny and glossy. Sheer and satin lipsticks have high oil ingredients and they can appear darker in the package than they are on lips. Another characteristic of lipsticks with oil components is that it should be reapplied many times.

3. Matte lipstick. Matte lipsticks are perfect choices for women who are looking for colorful shades. These lipsticks have a flat effect and are not shiny in appearance. Your lips can look smoother and younger with matte lipstick. Also it is recommended to combine products with vitamin E and aloe with matte lipsticks because they can sometimes be drying.

4. Cream lipsticks. Women who have small lips should use cream lipsticks. Lipstick with a cream formula is not so shiny, but it has a smooth effect on the lips. You can use lip gloss afterwards for your desired look. Cream lipsticks contain more wax in order to protect lips, but also can cause a drying effect on the lips.

5. Pearl and Frosted lipstick. Frosted lipsticks make lips sparkle and glisten. Pearl and frosted lipsticks reflect light and make for a very shiny effect on your lips.

6. Lip gloss. Gloss is very popular for women with thin and small lips because it make lips shine and enhances the dimension of depth. Gloss can be combined with traditional lipstick.

5. Long-wearing and transfer-resistant lipsticks/liquid lipsticks. Women who don’t have time to apply lipstick frequently may use long-wearing lipsticks. These lipsticks have formulas that keep lips looking perfect for 4 to 8 hours or even longer. Some of them contain moisturizers to balance the dryness of lips.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you have darker-colored lips, before applying your lipstick, take a small amount of concealer or foundation to “blank out” your lips. This will give your lips a blank canvas to work with, and any color that you apply will show up as its true color.
  • When using lipstick, matte lipstick, and/or liquid lipsticks, use a lip liner. A lip liner will ensure that your boundaries are clean and precise. Do not place any product outside of the lip liner border.
  • If you get a little lipstick outside of your lip liner border, simply clean it up wit some concealer or foundation with a small concealer brush.

Colourpop’s Lippie Stix in ‘Poppin” and Colourpop’s Ultra Matte Lipstick in ‘Highball’

Recommended Drugstore Products:

Wet ‘N’ Wild MegaSlick Lip Gloss

Wet ‘N’ Wild MegaLast Lip Color

Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip

Colourpop Ultra Matte Satin Lip

Colourpop Ultra Glossy Lip

Nicka K True Matte


As always, this post is subjectively written, and I can only write about my own experiences in the makeup world. I’m continuing to learn and grow in this area, but I hope that someone has found this helpful.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Kendall N. Green