Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Journey of Understanding My Makeup!

This is me in 1992. It was late August, a week before my senior year began. I was 17 and when it came to makeup, I had no clue! My brows were penciled in using a Maybelline pencil that was too orange-red for my skin and hair color, (and my technique was too heavy-handed), I did not wear the proper foundation shade,  my eyes were too-heavily lined, and if you look closely, you can see I have a "beauty mark" above my lip. It's true; I used my mom's Cover Girl brown eyeliner everyday to create that mark.  I was inspired by Cindy Crawford and yes, Madonna.

As a little girl, I would watch my older sister put on her blue eyeshadow quad by Aziza that she bought at the local drugstore. I was amazed with her mascara technique and with the frosty nude lipstick she wore. I so wanted to be like my older sister! Tan, blonde, and with makeup to die for. 

When my mother and father allowed me to start wearing makeup in 8th grade (albeit very minimal), I was so excited and yet so overwhelmed. I had no idea what colors to wear or how to apply them. I would read the beauty tips in "Teen"Magazine that would read like:

"Wear a brown mascara only on top lashes to open eyes."
"If lashes are darker in color, use a clear mascara for creating shape."
"Wear light concealer and an oil-absorbing pressed powder."
"Adorn the apples of cheeks with a blush color that mimics your natural blush."

For one, what the heck are the apples of my cheeks?! I have apples on my face?! Where!? Secondly, how would I know which shades of powder  and/or concealer would be appropriate? I only had the local drugstore and grocery store makeup brands at my disposal so opening the packaging to swatch colors was impossible. Even if I could "try before I buy," how could my 13/14 year-old self know what looked right? I mean, if I thought blue frost eyeshadow was hot, I would surely be hopeless in other areas!

As I got older, I learned what worked and what didn't work for me through trial and error.  After much practice, I started to do better eye looks, better blending techniques, apply false eyelashes, and do face contouring. When I was able to spend money on brands like MAC, Urban Decay, Giorgio Armani, Chanel, and Make Up For Ever, I invested in good quality lipsticks,  shadows, liners, foundations, and brushes. Let me tell you, a set of high calibre brushes is critical when it comes to better makeup application! 

So, here I am at almost 37 and I am still learning new makeup techniques and tricks! And I hope I never stop learning! For example, just two weeks ago I learned how to properly contour my nose! I have an average-sized nose but wow, it is amazing what a little contour powder and an angled brush can do! 

Nevertheless, here I am this past Saturday morning before going out with friends. At this point, I had just showered with a shower cap on to keep my hair dry (I was going to do rolls). Moreover, I had not even had my coffee yet!

This is me, with no makeup on. Can we say, "eugh!?"

But with a good knowledge of makeup technique paired knowing which colors best suit me, I can transform into this:

So, what makeup follies have you endured? What have you girls learned along the way?


  1. Looking lovely as always!

    I think my biggest mistake was not knowing that when one has very fair (or in my case, practically clear) brows she should make sure to fill them in! I didn't figure that one out until I was in college, and then I was a victim of heavy-handed and unblended application. My application skills have most definitely improved since then, thank goodness!

    Of course, wearing the wrong shade of foundation was something I struggled with for years, but that had a lot to do with the shades that most brands, both high and low-end, offer. Once I branched out into the ‘pro’ lines I had much better luck and have found several products that work for both my skin tone and type.

    1. Thank you, Amanda! I too am very pale and I tended to make my brows look like "Mommie Dearest" meets orange-red nightmare! I have been getting my brows tinted and waxed professionally since 1999 (the year I graduated college). It was only then that I learned that brows should be either one to two shades lighter or one to two shades darker (depending on hair color).

      As for foundation, most brands, including Chanel and Bobbi Brown are too yellow-based and/or dark for my skin. So far, MAC and Giorgio Armani are the best. I am a NW15 in MAC and the lighest shade (#2) in Armani.

      As for pro lines I would like to try Inglot or Kyrolan. After watching RuPaul's Drag Race, I so want to try Kryolan! That is the brand the queens used for Season 3 and a lifetime supply of the brand was one the prizes for the winner.

  2. I definitely don't think you need expensive brushes in order to find quality brushes, but I agree with you - brushes are essential!

    Back in HS I started with powder and mascara, and started buying myself BeneFit when I was 16/17. Prior to that I was using either Cornsilk loose powders or the green Cover Girl compact. I think I had a Cover Girl e/s trio, Cafe Au Lait. When I started with BeneFit, I used Lemon Aid, Brow Zings, and their playstick foundation. I wasn't too off with the foundation, but I used WAAAAYYYYY too much Lemon Aid on my lids and undereye, so I looked like a yellow raccoon in pictures!

    For the longest time I assumed I had cool skin since my mother had cool skin. Little did I know! Once that clicked for me, everything fell into place and I started making smarter choices with my makeup purchases and choices.

    1. Erin,

      Great to hear from you! I agree that expensive does not mean good! I have EcoTools brushes that I adore! Their foundation brush tops MAC's 192 hands down!!!

      That is too funny about Lemon-Aid! I used it too and one of my college classmates asked me if I was sick! lol! I once used Benefit's 911 and I looked ill! It was supposed to be a "maple-colored" liquid cream that could be used for blush, lipgloss, and shadow! I look liked I lost a battle with pancake syrup bottle!

      Cornsilk! Now that takes me back!!! lol! I even remember their commercials, especially the one where the girl with shine runs away like Cinderella at midnight! lol!

      When I was in high school, I always used foundation that was too orange!! I am very pale with cool skin that leans neutral so I need to swatch, swatch, swatch before I buy anything!

  3. One of these days I am going to try out brow tinting!

    Kryolan's TV Paintstick is one of my favorites, it's a fabulous product and you cannot beat the price! I've tried out the liquid, powder, and cake foundations and found these to be quite nice as well. I also really like Graftobian's Hi-Def foundation, another very nice, inexpensive product that is popular with makeup artists.

    I can't say that I've ever found a match in a drugstore or department store brand, sadly. I'd probably wear N5-10 if MAC made that shade.

    1. Amanda,

      Brow tinting is miraculous for us pale gals! I cannot imagine my life without it! I use brow pencils and brow markers to maintain shape between appointments. I get my brows tinted every 5-6 weeks.

      I cannot believe someone is paler than me! lol! MAC's lightest shade is NW/NC15. Most mainstream makeup lines do not offer a wide range of shades of foundation. Therefore the professional lines like Kryolan, Graftobian, and Ben Nye are probably the best bet for us. Even MAC's foundation (depending on formulation) can be a little too dark for me.

  4. I'm still learning loads about makeup. I didn't wear foundation, eyeliner, blush, lipstick or do anything with my brows until I was in college so I feel really behind. I'm slowly learning new things and visiting (and shopping at) my local Sephora. Having the right tools and investing in some nicer quality products make such a difference. I still get sticker shock a lot though!

    1. Some of the brands at Sephora are highly priced but the Sephora brand itself is quite reasonable. I love their lip pencils and eyeshadows! EcoTools make excellent brushes and they are available at Ulta, Target, and most drugstores. They are priced well too!

  5. I'm 30, and have only started getting it right recently! Have you tried Illamasqua? Its made by Kryolan, but its the less-theatrical type of makeup.

    Also - your lipstick colour is lovely, can I ask what it is?

    1. I love Illamasqua's primer, lipsticks, and eyeshadows! I had no idea Illamasqua and Kroylan were basically the same company! Their lipsticks (Illamasqua) in Box and Maneater are divine!

      As for my lipstick, it is Besame Red by Besame Cosmetics.

  6. You look great, I love your make up style.

    My greatest make-up breakthrough would be when I realised that although magazines assume fair people have pink tones, I am very pale with yellow/olive tones. A switch in powder and foundtion 10 years ago - no more dolly-face tide lines! Thankfully, more and more brands recognise the difference between porcelain and ivory skin.

    1. Thank you, Perdita! I have neutral skin that leans cool. Most foundations are either too pink or too yellow for me.

      I learned to determine skin tone by looking at the veins in the inner arm in my theatre makeup class in college. If your veins look green, you are warm-skinned and if they look blue, you are cool. Now, if the shade varies between blue and green in different light, you are neutral.

  7. You made me instantly think of my first attempts with make-up which consisted of navy blue eyeliner on my inside lower eyelid and a concealing spot stick that was too dark so just made my spots look an angry red & orange instead of hide them!

    I agree with Perdita above it was discovering that just because I was fair did not mean I matched magazines ideas of fair skined person

  8. I tried to wear eyeliner on my waterline but it never stayed. I used my mother's pancake makeup stick whilst in high school and I had no clue it was too orange for my skin! I wore concealer that was too white-toned and my spots looked white instead of blended! lol!

    I agree that pale doesn't always equal cool-toned! It is such bad advise!

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