Arts and Entertainment

Makeup 101: The Basics

Calling all aspiring makeup artists! Follow along as Arts & Entertainment writer Lianne Ohayon provides some guidance on how to get started.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Makeup has revolutionized our society. From vibrant, bold looks to smokey, sultry applications, makeup plays an integral role in everyday life. We use makeup to express ourselves and empower others; in essence, it is a direct reflection of who we are on the inside. Though there are many who have been doing makeup for years, this article is catered to those who are trying to dip their toes into the beauty industry and are looking for a little guidance on where to start.

Expensive Does Not Mean Better

Before you embark on any makeup endeavors, you will need to buy new products to avoid using expired powder or creams. Any testers received years ago should be discarded. Understandably, people will feel inclined to shop at Sephora, Ulta, or Mac, the big three in today’s makeup playing field. Don’t jump right into these stores as a beginner in makeup, because you are just testing the waters. At Sephora, most of the brands featured are fairly expensive (Pat McGrath, Yves Saint Laurent, Charlotte Tilbury, etc.). You might be spending too much money on a product that you are using purely for experimentation. Instead, consider drugstore makeup. Many brands like e.l.f. Cosmetics, NYX, and Maybelline have great quality products for a fraction of the price, which is ideal for people who are just starting out. Once you become more comfortable with using makeup products, feel free to splurge on a Fenty Beauty highlighter or Chanel lipstick.

“Holy Grails”

In the makeup industry, the term “holy grail” is used to describe a consistently successful product. The important thing to note about holy grail makeup products is that someone else’s holy grail, featured in magazines or on your Instagram feed, might not work for you, and that’s okay. Take advice from websites and other people to start out, but if the application doesn’t look the way you want it to look, it’s perfectly fine to experiment with other products. That being said, here are my holy grails to create the perfect day-to-day look:

e.l.f. Cosmetics Wow Brow Gel ($4-5)

This tinted brow gel is affordable and effective, complementing any makeup look. Wow Brow Gel is perfect for anyone who wants a natural color to their brows but isn’t exactly sure how to apply eyebrow pencils cleanly. Just brush the spoolie through your brow hairs, and you’re all set!

NYX HD Photogenic Concealer Wand ($6)

A perfect base for any beginner, this NYX concealer provides just the right amount of color, and you can provide more or less coverage by simply adjusting the amount of product you apply. Since it’s on the lower end of the price spectrum, try this product as a gateway into higher coverage concealers or foundations.

Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette ($29-54)

Though on the pricier side, a Naked palette is a staple in any aspiring makeup wearer’s collection. There are many color schemes across the different palettes (taupe, red, gold), and each group of eyeshadows contains matte shades and shimmers, so you can create different looks depending on the occasion. Each palette also comes with a makeup brush that’s great for beginners, as it has one fluffy side for overall blending of the shadows, and a compact end for applying glitter.

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Soft Pinch Liquid Blush ($20)

When Selena Gomez unveiled Rare Beauty, some believed it was simply a quick cash grab like other celebrity makeup lines. But as more people tested her products, they quickly realized that her makeup was worthwhile. The Soft Pinch Liquid Blush is incredibly pigmented, so you’ll only need to use one dot per cheek when applying. Depending on your face shape, aim to locate the blush just under the cheekbone for that rosy, youthful effect. In addition, the variety of shades such as red, pink, and purple make it possible for any customer to find the perfect blush shade.

Smashbox Superfan Mascara ($26)

Mascara is a staple in any makeup look. It elongates and lifts your lashes while creating a “natural eyeliner.” Though it is not a necessity to splurge on mascara, the Smashbox Superfan Mascara is worth the dent in your wallet. It isn’t clumpy, even with repeated coats through the lashes, and it lasts a long time, which are the big things you should look for in mascara.

Where to Learn

Once you have the products you want, you have to take the plunge and start applying. It won’t be amazing the first time you go for it, but makeup isn’t meant to be a one-shot process. Trial and error is part of the task. If you believe your under-eyes are too dark, or you want to cover up more, swipe on some concealer. If you want more shimmer and shine on your eyelids, add it on top. There are no rules, so go with what feels right.

Here are some general guidelines if you are just starting out:

Moisturize the skin and add sunscreen (SPF) prior to applying any product. This will ensure a healthy base for your skin so that it doesn’t feel as overwhelmed by the makeup on it.

Conceal any dark circles or spots you see fit and blend with your fingers (I prefer fingers over any sponge). A common area to apply concealer is under your eyes, but it depends on one’s complexion.

Highlighter goes on the cheekbones, bronzer goes under and around the bone structure of your face, and blush goes right in between the two.

Eyeshadow comes next, along with eyeliner and mascara. I would not recommend eyeliner for a beginner, as it is a tedious process that requires many attempts.

Pop a cute lip gloss on your lips, and you’re good to go for the day!

Aside from this article, the advent of social media brings a lot of resources for learning how to apply makeup. On Tik Tok, creators like Mikayla Nogueira provide reviews of new products and tutorials on how to apply them, along with guides for every step of the makeup process. Mario Dedivanovic, the makeup artist to stars like Kim Kardashian, has filmed many videos, which can be utilized for other brands and will be beneficial to any beginner using his products. On top of this, there are tons of articles (like this one) on beginner tips and tricks.

Though it might seem scary and intimidating at first, makeup will become a natural process that’s ever-changing and free. Have fun, relax, and enjoy the ride.