Years ago, my mother and I launched our own campaign to find the perfect foundation makeup, concealer, lipstick, eye shadow, blush and eye liner. Our findings were pretty amazing–we found that we didn’t have to pay more to enjoy good products. Now, without naming names, we found out a good deal about choosing the right kinds of makeup.
We also found that most women think that you cannot return makeup once you’ve bought it and tried it. Many women won’t buy makeup because they think that they will be out the money if they don’t like it–not true! Of course I haven’t checked all stores’ policies on this, but as a general rule, this is correct. You may get some flack from the sales person, but if you politely ask to see the manager, they will let you return the goods you didn’t like. Looking at it from the store’s point of view, it doesn’t pay to alienate customers.
Cheapo Choices: check out drug stores and Dollar stores for lower-priced (and just as good in many cases) goods. You don’t always have to pay for the high-end stuff. In fact, the drug stores and Dollar stores especially often stock name brands.
If you don’t already know this, find out whether your skin tone is warm or cool. If you used the Color Me Beautiful (see http://www.colormebeautiful.com) method of determining this as many of I did years ago, you’ll know how to check. Knowing this will greatly help you choose the right shades of makeup.
Generally speaking, here’s the lowdown on makeup:
- A little foundation makeup can work magic; it blends the different areas of your facial skin (blotchy spots, etc.) and gives the impression of a smooth ‘canvas’.
- Concealer does just what it sounds like: it conceals those areas to which you don’t attention drawn.
- Blush is absolute magic. Just a swoosh of it from temple to the apples of your cheeks gives your face a youthful glow and brightens your eyes. If you are older, choose a matte (rather than shiny) blush. It will give you a softer, more natural look.
- Eye liner–not everyone likes it, but for me, it’s a subtle way to emphasize the eyes. You can wear it with or without eye shadow. The rule of thumb with eye liner is less is more. Also, be judicious when it comes to black eyeliner. If you’re young, you can pull it off and look fabulous. Older eyes generally look older with black eyeliner; it can be too harsh. Try using a subtle blue or green, or brown.
- Mascara–again, not for everyone. My eyelashes are short and sparse, so I appreciate that mascara can make the most of every little lash I still have. A few words about mascara–black really makes the lashes stand out. Don’t think that, because you are blonde or have lighter skin, you need only wear brown mascara. You can also get your mascara in regular or waterproof. For me, waterproof is the only way to go–if I should leak tears of joy or sadness, at least I won’t have raccoon eyes.
- Eye shadow–this is another makeup choice not everyone likes. If you’re young, you can go wild with all the great colors of eye shadow out there. Sparkly, shiny, bright–go for it! However, if you are older, eyelids tend to crease and the last thing you’ll want is to have eye shadow caked up in the creases. It can look too harsh. The older we get, the softer our makeup should be.
- **Lipstick! This is another magic product that looks great on everyone. As with your skin, know your lip skin as well. If your lips tend to be dry, then choose a richer, moister lipstick. Whether or not you use lip liner is up to you. If you do, choose one close to the color of your lipstick. If you are older, often lipstick may “bleed” into the tiny lines around your mouth. In this case, a lipliner can give lips a more finished look.
The following list outlines what to I personally look for in a product. First and foremost, know your skin and know your skin sensitivities.
*Foundation Makeup: If your skin tends to be dry as mine is, look for a liquid makeup with an oil base. You’ll want something that’s creamy and has a moisturizer. If your skin tends to be oily, you’ll want makeup with a powder base; no oil. Take care to match your skin tone, too–compare the color of the makeup to the color of your skin on the inside of your arm near the wrist. In general, go for a shade lighter than your skin.
NOTE: Many women like to finish their foundation makeup with powder. I can no longer speak to this as I don’t use it any longer.
Concealer: When choosing a concealer, select a shade lighter than your foundation. Dab a tiny bit of it under eyes, on any skin discolorations, blotches, etc. Make sure you blend it well.
Blush: Select a blush that suits your skin tone. As a very general rule, keep it light. Younger skin can handle brighter colors as well as sparkly and shiny finishes. Older skin looks much better with softer, matte tones. Go easy on blush, too–you want to look healthy and vibrant, not like Nutzo the clown.
Eye Liner: You can choose from a pencil type eye liner (which I personally love because I can smudge it to be both eye shadow and eye liner), or a ‘magic marker’ pen-type which gives a more accurate line. If you choose the old-school type liquid liner, be careful–if applied badly, it will do more than age your eyes–it will make you look like an unearthed Egyptian mummy.
Mascara: Mascara does wonders for your eyes; it makes the lashes stand out. If you should smear some on your eye lids, just wet the end of a Q-tip and rub it off.
Eye Shadow: Eye shadow can go heavy or light, depending on your look. Generally speaking, keep it light for daytime and apply a bit more at night. As with anything else, less is usually more.
Lipstick: Again, knowing your skin tone is key. Also, if your lips tend to be dry, you may want to consider a tinted lip balm instead of lipstick. These days there are so many choices out there—again, try them out and see what works best for you. Lipstick gives you a more put-together look, and used correctly, is very flattering.
If you are just starting out wearing makeup, or you want to make a change from what you’ve used in the past, you can always go to the mall and get advice from any of the excellent makeup consultants. However, that being said, if you’re going to take up their time, it’s only polite to buy something. It’s a good idea to update your look at least every 5-10 years–it may only be a matter of softening your look with more subtle makeup.
PLEASE do not make the all-too-common mistake of keeping up the look you had in high school. Nothing–and I mean NOTHING–dates you faster than that.
So, that’s my personal take on makeup. Take the time to shop around; you may be quite surprised to find that you can have a great look without spending a fortune.
*I have only ever used liquid makeup, so I can’t speak for the other types.
**You may want to smooth a bit of foundation on your lips to make the lipstick set better and keep your lipstick on longer.