Page Updated on
November 24, 2007
I'm definitely not an advocate for wearing make-up all the time. I prefer to go natural when I can, but when you're at work or in social situations, or anywhere that requires you to look presentable, make-up is one of those things it's hard to go without. This is about make-up for everyday wear. You want to look naturally beautiful, in person, not on camera. You certainly could use these methods for camera make-up, but you would need to really pack it on, and that would just look too mask-like in person. If you want to bring it up a notch for evening, go with some darker shades of eye shadow, lipstick, and maybe even blush. Because this is a natural look, feel free to use the same colors for any season.
Cruelty-free cosmetics are cosmetics that aren't tested on animals (so no putting painful chemicals in bunny eyes just so you can look pretty). Always buy cruelty-free. Vegan products don't contain any animal products (no lard, gelatin, lanolin, collagen, albumen, etc.). If you aren't a vegetarian, you may or may not be concerned about whether or not the product is vegan. Companies use animal testing and animal products in cosmetics because they're cheaper than using human testing and non-animal products, so you may think that you're getting a great deal on your make-up, but animals may be paying the price.
To find cruelty-free products, visit http://www.leapingbunny.org. For vegan products, visit Vegan Cosmetics.
- Make-up Bag
All of your make-up (with a few exceptions for evening makeup and unnecessary tools for on-the-go application) should fit in a small portable make-up bag, so you can throw it into your purse, backpack, or luggage quickly and be sure that everything you need is right there.
Compact Mirror Many make-up compacts come with mirrors, but they're often not the right size. So you can either look for make-up compacts with a mirror you like, or use a separate mirror compact.
- Wedge Sponge Applicators
Use these to for blending foundation and cream blush. Only use them a few times each because they can harbor bacteria. Only use the ones that come with your compacts when you're putting your make-up on away from home (such as on the bus on the way to work).
Powder Brush It should be rounded and wide. Compact travel brushes are great for putting in your make-up bag because they're small and usually have a case that protects the bristles. I personally don't like using the puff that comes with compact powder because it tends to collect oils from your face and loses its ability to apply powder effectively and smoothly.
Eye Shadow Brush It should be soft, and the bristles should spread easily. Avoid using those sponge eye shadow applicators because they just create a look that is too harsh.
Brow Grooming Brush and Eyelash Comb
These are usually found together, a brush on one side and a comb on the other.
Blush Brush It should be similar to the powder brush.
Make sure your skin is clean, moisturized, and ready to go.
Learn more about skin care.
- Use a yellow-toned concealer under your eyes.
I prefer a non-greasy cream concealer because it works better with most skin and usually comes in a compact that makes it easier for travel and application on-the-go. Your concealer should be one shade lighter than your foundation. Just pat (don't rub) it on with your ring finger, lightly blending while you apply it.
Use a blemish stick (if you have acne).
This is a thin stick of concealer especially designed to cover blemishes. The best ones actually have medication in the make-up to help fight the blemish while you conceal it. Like the under-eye concealer, it should be one shade lighter than your foundation. The stick should be so thin that you can cover just the blemish, not the area around the blemish (common mistake with those wider lip-stick style blemish sticks). Pat it to blend.
- Use foundation all over your face, but not on your eye lids, lips, or neck.
Your foundation should match your skin tone exactly, so you shouldn't have to draw it down your neck. Don't try to change your skin color by using the wrong color foundation because it will make it obvious that you're wearing make-up, and the goal of wearing make-up is to look like you're not wearing make-up. I prefer a cream-to-powder foundation for dry skin, or powder-based foundation for oily skin, because it saves time since you don't need to use powder, but you must blend it as you apply it, so it doesn't dry to powder before you blend it. Make sure you don't wipe off your concealer while you're blending by patting your sponge applicator on your face rather than rubbing. Patting instead of rubbing also increases coverage and keeps you from getting those rub lines. If you feel like you can't touch your face because you're afraid of smearing your foundation, chances are you've applied it too thickly or you're using the wrong foundation for your skin type.
Touch up any remaining blemish, dark circles, discoloration, etc. with your concealer or blemish stick.
Sometimes you have marks that just peek through your foundation. This is the time to try to hide them. Pat on your concealer with your ring finger, blending while you apply, or use your blemish stick and blend by patting.
- Use a yellow-toned or translucent powder all over your face (optional).
Powder helps keep your foundation and concealer from smudging and prepares the surface for powder blush. Some people swear that it's necessary, but only if you're really trying to primp, such as for special occasions, photos, etc. Otherwise, it's up to you. If you use a cream-to-powder foundation, you can skip this step. The powder should be the same color as your foundation. Loose powder is best, but it isn't always practical, so keep a compact (my second choice) in your make-up bag as backup, and keep the loose powder at home. Apply it to your powder brush, tap off the excess, and sweep it all over your face. Make sure you brush off anything that obviously screams out, "I put powder on my face!"
- Brush on a light eye shadow over your entire eye lid, up to your brow (optional if you're in a hurry).
Avoid anything with pink or red tones because it makes you look tired. The eye shadow should not be too strong. You want it to look as natural as possible. Something with a white base if you're fair-skinned or yellow base if you're dark-skinned helps your eyes to light up. Just make sure you brush it on sparingly. Apply to your eye shadow brush, blow off the extra, and sweep over your eye lid and brow bone.
Brush on a taupe-based eye shadow on your eye lids.
Nothing too dark. You just want to add a little depth and mystery to your eyes. Apply to your eye shadow brush, blow off the extra, and sweep over your eye lid. Some people prefer to sweep inward from the corner of the eye while others like to sweep outward from the nose. Experiment to see what works best for you.
- Use a pencil-to-powder eyebrow pencil to define your eyebrows (optional).
Use this if your brows need a little something extra. It's vital if you over-pluck. It should be the same color as your eyebrow color, so don't use brown when your eyebrows are blond. Draw it in, and use your ring finger to blend it.
- Use a brown or black pencil-to-powder eyeliner pencil (optional, skip if you want the natural look).
This is to make your eyes stand out and light up the room. Try just putting it on the top lid. Save the bottom lid for times when you need more drama. Some people prefer that hard eyeliner line, but for daytime use, you might want to stick with something that can be blended gently with your pinky finger. Draw it on and smooth it out a bit.
- Brush your eyebrows.
Even if you don't your an eyebrow pencil, it's surprising how your face can just go from blah to ahhh by brushing your eyebrows.
- Use a black or brown mascara (waterproof optional).
Waterproof mascara can be harsh on your lashes, so only use it if you plan on sweating, crying, getting wet, or tend to have lots of moisture around your eye (such as from oily skin or allergies) which causes your mascara to smudge a lot. I prefer just to use mascara on my top lashes, but you can use it on your bottom as well for extra definition.
- Use your eyelash comb to separate any clumped eyelashes.
If you notice that your eyelashes are clumping frequently you may want to throw out your mascara and buy a new tube (even switch to a different brand). Try out different brands to see what works best for you.
- Apply a natural looking blush to the apple of your cheeks and blend outward. Your blush shouldn't be so dark that it looks like you're wearing blush. It should look natural (not like you are wearing blush). Pinks and bronzes are the best. There's cream blush and powder blush. Different people have different preferences. If you use a cream blush, you don't need a blush brush. Just apply it to the apple of your cheeks and use your foam applicator and blend it upward to your hairline, then downward to get rid of any blush lines. If you use powder, put the blush on your brush and blow on the brush to get rid of any excess blush. Then apply it to the apple of your cheeks and brush it upward to your hairline and downward to get rid of any blush lines. Don't try to use contouring colors to give you the look of cheekbones or a narrow nose or some other change in your facial features. In person, all we see are dark lines on your face that look totally unnatural and rather clownish. Save such techniques for photographs.
- Apply lip balm with an SPF of 15 or greater.
This will moisturize your lips as well as protect them from the sun. (I know your lipstick says it's moisturizing, but don't believe it. If you want to cut down on a step, use tinted lip balm instead of lipstick.)
- Apply lip stick.
Stick to natural colors, like pinks and nudes. If it doesn't occur naturally on people's lips (especially people who look similar to you), don't wear it. (Hot pink does not occur naturally.) I'm not a fan of lipstick brushes for everyday use. I simply apply the lipstick to my lips and soften it by smoothing it over with my pinky finger and rub my lips together. This makes reapplication throughout the day easy as well since I don't need to get out a mirror and a lip brush.
- Apply lip liner (optional).
If you're applying a thick coat of lipstick for something a bit more dramatic or if your lipstick tends to feather (common if you have wrinkles around your lips), use a lip liner that is the same color and shade as your lipstick. Some people like to apply it before you put on your lipstick, but I prefer to put it on after. Please don't put lip liner around the outside of your lips to make your lips look bigger. Trust me, we can all see what you're doing, and it looks tacky in person. Save such techniques for photographs.
Make-Up in a Hurry
So, you don't have time to do the whole routine, or you're in a situation where you can't appropriately apply your foundation, or maybe you're supposed to limit the amount of makeup you wear for some reason. Go for a more natural look. Here are the most important things to do in order from highest priority to lowest.
Eyes (just a couple minutes) If your eyes stand out, people will look at them more than any of your less favorite features.
The minimum: eye shadow, mascara, brush your eye brows A little extra time: concealer for dark circles, eye liner
Lips (less than 1 minute) This will really balance out your eyes. The minimum: tinted lip balm with at least SPF 15 A little extra time: lip balm with SPF, lip stick
Conceal Blemishes (just a couple minutes)
If you have the right shade of concealer / blemish stick, then it should blend well into your skin even without foundation to help cover up anything you'd rather hide.