If you aren’t aware, I am an avid Yahoo Answers answerer. I mostly answer questions about dance, cheerleading, Starbucks/coffee, and of course, makeup. I’ve recently noticed that a LOT of people are asking questions related to being a complete beginner, and they don’t know how to use makeup, or even what products are used for what. Because of that, I decided to start on a series of posts dedicated to beginners. In this post, I’ll be talking about the world of makeup and the products that are in it, and what they are used for. I’m planning on doing another post about how to choose good products for you, and then another on the best starter kit from the drugstore. So without any further rambling on my part, let’s jump in to today’s topic.
Drugstore vs. High-End
When I was first getting into makeup, I bought everything from the drugstore. Drugstore makeup includes things you can buy from Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, etc. This typically includes brands like Loreal, Maybelline, Rimmel, etc. High-end makeup includes makeup you would buy at Sephora, MAC, or makeup counters inside Macy’s or Nordstrom or whatever. This would include brands like Urban Decay, NARS, Too Faced, Makeup Forever, Smashbox, etc. The curveball here is Ulta. Ulta sells both drugstore and high-end makeup, and they sometimes have more variety in the products they offer (for example, they have a whole aisle of NYX, whereas Target has one small section). If you have an Ulta near you, I would suggest starting there. Typically, you can find more personalized help similar to the experience you would get at Sephora, but with a combination of drugstore and high end products.
There is always some sort of dispute as to whether or not high-end makeup is worth it. I will tell you this: most of my makeup is still from the drugstore. Yes, I have quite a bit of high-end thrown in there, but in all of my experience, I think you can find really good products at the drugstore if you know where to look. High-end does have the benefit of swatching. Swatching means taking a small amount of a product on your finger, and rubbing it on the back of your hand, or somewhere else to see the color. At Target, for example, it’s frowned upon to open a product to see how the color looks on your skin. This can make finding a good foundation match a big challenge. I will admit that I like that aspect of going to Sephora or MAC. In regards to quality, however, there are some drugstore products that high-end makeup can’t hold a candle to. We’ll get into that in later posts, though.
What Products Do
I typically break products down into four categories: Face, Brows, Eyes, and Lips. I’ll go over the products in each category to make things a little simpler.
The first product you’ll see in this category is primer. There are a lot of primers on the market, currently, and the goal of a primer is to create a smooth canvas to make application easier, and to prolong the wear of your makeup. I personally don’t use primers on a day to day basis, but they can do a lot of things. For people who have noticeable pores, a primer can fill those in and allow the foundation to glide over top. Some primers are made to hydrate, or to control oil. I’ll get more into how to choose a primer for your skin in the next post.
Next, you have foundation. Foundation is a huge world. To make it simple, foundation goes all over your face and is meant to even out the skin tone and provide some coverage. They can range from light to full coverage, and can have a variety of finishes. The finish refers to how your skin looks after the foundation is on. Dewy refers to a very luminous look, whereas matte looks more flat.
Concealer is the next product on the list. Concealers are used for a couple things. First, they can be used to cover blemishes or redness that your foundation did not cover. Second, they can be used to conceal and brighten under the eyes. Many people have under eye circles or darkness, and concealers can do a great job of making the under eyes look bright rather than sunken. For this application, a lighter concealer is typically used.
Then, you have powders. Face powders can be loose or pressed. They can be referred to as setting powders by some companies. Basically, they’re used to set your foundation. Unless you are desert-dry, a powder should always be used to set your foundation unless you want it to slip and slide all over. Powders can be translucent, or come in a variety of tones to match your skin. There are also powder foundations that provide more coverage, but those are slightly more rare.
Blush is used to add some flush back into the face. It can come in a variety of colors and can be cream or powder, but powders are the most common, and the easiest to use.
The next section is what I refer to as HAC—Highlighting and Contouring. There are two products included in this section: contouring powders/bronzers, and highlighters. Bronzers can be used to add some warmth to the face is they are slightly yellow or orange in tone, and some can be used to contour. Others are referred to as contouring powders specifically because they are usually neutral or cool in tone to mimic the natural look of a shadow. Highlighters are used to add some shimmer and glow to the face. All of these products can be cream or powder, but are typically powders.
Brow gels are becoming more common, particularly in the drugstore. These can be clear or tinted and are usually used to set the brows in place so the hairs don’t move.
Brow pencils are probably the most common product to fill in and shape the brows.
Brow creams/pomades and powders are another option to fill in and shape the brows, and these can be easy to use depending on the person using them, but I’ve always preferred pencils.
Eye bases or primers are the first product in this section and are basically the same as face primers. They are meant to make the makeup last longer, but for the eyes, they are formulated to prevent creasing. They can be tinted or clear, or be another color entirely.
Eyeshadows are pretty basic. They can come in single pans, duos, trios, quads, or whole palettes. The amount of eyeshadow products on the market can be daunting, but many are actually quite similar. Eyeshadows are usually referred to as neutral (meaning an earth tone like brown or grey) or colorful (like greens, purples, etc.). They can also be either matte or shimmery.
Eyeliners come in a variety of forms nowadays. Pencils are still very popular and can be used to create a smoky eyeliner look. Liquids have been around for a while, and are used to create cat eyes or other winged looks. Gel eyeliners are relatively newer and can be used to create similar looks as liquid liners. They can come in a variety of colors, but many come in basic black or brown.
Mascaras are the final topper to this section. Basically, the goal of any mascara is to make the lashes whatever color the mascara is (usually black), and add volume, length, curl or a combination of all of the above. Fake lashes are technically included in the eye section, but I don’t use them frequently, and they’re pretty difficult for beginners, so I won’t go into detail about them here.
Lip liners used to be deemed an “old lady” thing, but they are actually incredibly useful. They help create the perfect lip outline, and typically last longer than a lipstick so they can prolong the wear of your lip color.
Lipsticks now come in the basic stick form or a liquid form that looks like a lip gloss. They come in every color imaginable, and can be matte, glossy, or slightly shimmery
Lip glosses are the final topper here. Their goal is typically to add a coat of glossiness to the lips, but nowadays, many contain so much pigment that they’re almost like liquid lipsticks.
So that’s the end of this post! Lots of information, but we’ll break into more in the next post!