Makeup for a late bloomer
After going almost thirty years never giving makeup a thought (except for a little concealer; I have a lot of breakouts), I have recently started using some basic products: foundation, blush, eye shadow, eye liner, a little mascara. For someone who’s newly initiated, this is a whole new, big, confusing world, and that’s before you even get to moisturizers, toners, anti-aging products, brushes, storage… Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it looks. And since there doesn’t appear to be a place where you can take a class to learn to do this, I turned to the next best thing: YouTube.
There are millions of videos dedicated to cosmetics tips, but I have become attached to a channel called typeF Signature Series. They mainly feature products from several of the big cosmetics brands, but they are demonstrated by professional makeup artists, and there are enough videos to show a variety of techniques so you can see the best way to do things. For example, each artist might place the eye shadow in a slightly different place, but they all use the same brushing and blending techniques to make it look good. So I just see what they all have in common and figure they’re the professionals.
I’ve had fairly good results, so far. My goal has been a natural look; i.e. the one where people don’t even realize I’m wearing makeup. My primary points of interest were my oily, breakout-prone skin, and my eyes; since I’m very fair my blonde eyelashes don’t show up at all, and wearing mascara tends to make me look like I have spiders on my eyes. I was able to choose appropriate colors for my skin type (far different from what I used to think: although I have cool undertones, I learned that browns and pinks will look the most natural).
I learned that even thought my skin is very oily, I can still use an oil-free moisturizer to even out the texture of my skin and make it softer; as a bonus it comes with sunscreen, which I ought to use all the time. I read that it was good to use moisturizer all over the body, but after a couple days I decided that my skin is plenty moisturized, at least during the summer. I’ll try again in the winter when the air is drier, but for now all it did was make my skin greasy. I am still using some of the SPF body lotion, at least on my arms and neck for normal days. Can never be too careful about skin cancer…
My mom actually hooked me up with a foundation a couple years ago, and then I saw the same one featured in a video specifically about oily skin. The one I have now is darker than I normally would wear, but my skin gets two or three shades darker in the summer, so this one works for now. I had some foundation experience in the past, but my recent revelation, thanks to Signature Series, is brushes. I used to use my fingers, but it never smoothed well and went on very unevenly. Since the professionals seem dedicated to brushes, I went out and got one, and it is the best thing for foundation I’ve ever seen. Brushes are also recommended for oily skin so that oil and dirt isn’t transferred from the fingers, but I’ve learned that they need to be washed fairly often due to that very oil. Nevertheless, I got the smoothest, most natural finish ever with a matte mousse foundation and an inexpensive brush from Target.
The next revelation was blush. My skin naturally has a lot of color (blotchy, uneven color, but color nonetheless), so whenever I used to try foundation, it made me look dead. I watched several videos, and finally figured out how to make myself look not dead with a proper application of blush. I found a couple little compacts which each have multiple colors, so I could find one that looked natural. The basic apple-of-the-cheek application works well for my face, so I don’t get creative. Weird blush placement is one of the things that instantly makes makeup look unnatural.
I’m still not completely satisfied with my eyes. I have some pale, natural shades of eyeshadow; I use a pale pink and a white on my lids and arch, and a tiny bit of brown in the crease for definition. It’s not ridiculous looking, as some of my past attempts at eye makeup have been, but I feel like it could be better.
Everything says that blondes should use brown liner and mascara, since black is too harsh except for nighttime, so I got the lightest browns I could find. They still look pretty black to me, but whatever. I initially put some liner on the top and bottom lids, and a little mascara ditto, but I thought it still gave me spider eyes. Since then I’ve just been doing liner and mascara on the top lid and leaving the bottom bare, which probably looks weird to everybody else, but I don’t look so strange to myself. I would love for someone who knows what they’re doing to show me how to do good mascara on blonde lashes so it doesn’t look crazy. I can’t tell if it objectively looks strange, or if it’s just because I’m so used to naked eyes. Oh, well. I’ll keep experimenting and looking for more videos, and maybe eventually it will start looking normal to me.
My next product is going to be an eye cream. I found out that I have some crow’s feet, but only when I’m wearing makeup. When I put too much foundation on beside my eyes, or when I put brightener beneath my eyes, it shows up all kinds of tiny creases when I smile. I’ll use products much more sparingly in those places, but I figure some eye cream can’t hurt, as a preventative measure. Hopefully I’ll be able to find an oil-free cream that doesn’t break the bank.
This is a big deal for me; I went my whole life with a bare face, and have to admit it’s easier to just get up in the morning, wash, and go. But as I read more and more about French culture and the importance of aesthetics, I find myself wanting to make myself and my home look better. Like the French, my goal isn’t to completely overcome my natural look, or achieve perfection, but to make things more pleasing to look at just for the joy of life it brings. It doesn’t have to be much, but I’m starting to realize that pretty things can be some of the small pleasures of life, whether it’s smoothing my complexion or setting the table with matching silverware and plates.