Saturday, February 6, 2010

Makeup Essentials for Beginners: EYES

When I first started out wearing makeup, I'll admit that I was completely overwhelmed by the variety of products, all with different uses and manufactured by countless companies. The sprawling makeup aisles at my local Target or Wal-Mart were a little intimidating and I didn't know where to start! There is a lot I wish I'd known when I was first starting out.

I decided to begin a series of blogs about products and tools I believe are essential for everyone starting out with makeup. I'll be covering all the bases - eyes, lips, face, and possibly skin/haircare. I'll talk about general products I think everyone needs and then offer my specific brand picks.

Category 1: EYES

1) Eyeliner: Eyeliner is one of the easiest ways to make a noticeable difference in your appearance, and it comes in many forms: pencils, liquids, creams, gels, etc. For beginners, I would recommend a pencil liner, as it is much more forgiving. It can be easily smudged and is easier to control, whereas liquid/gel liners dry quickly are much less forgiving. Every girl needs at least a black and a dark brown liner - when your collection gets bigger, you can explore with plums, navy blues and other liner colors.

Brand picks: For the classic pencil liner (the kind you have to sharpen), Wet n' Wild kohl kajal liners are excellent and affordable. The formula is bold and creamy, and at 99 cents apiece, you can experiment with different colors. One warning: if you have oily lids, you may choose to set this liner with a similarly-colored eyeshadow, as the creamy formula might smear on oily lids.

If you're looking for a retractable pencil liner, I would recommend the Revlon Colorstay liners. They come in waterproof and original formulas and are highly-pigmented, long-wearing and available at most any drugstore or Target/Wal-Mart for a reasonable price.

2) Mascara: If I were running late one morning and only had time to put one makeup product on, I would pick mascara. The right formula can add instant intensity and polish to your look. Beginners who are younger (age 15 or younger) might consider going for mascara that will add natural length and thickness to your lashes. For a less-dramatic effect, try a mascara that is "brown black" or "soft black." Beginners looking for a more dramatic effect should pick colors like "carbon black" or "blackest black" and seek out a formula that boasts the enhancements they desire - length, volume, fullness, etc.

Brand picks: For a more natural look, I recommend Almay One-Coat Nourishing Mascara's lengthening formula. This mascara gives lashes instant length and separation, for a soft and wispy effect that isn't too harsh for everyday.

For a dramatic look, my absolute favorite mascara is L'Oreal Voluminous Mascara in Black; this mascara claims to make lashes 4x fuller. The applicator is expertly crafted and makes lashes look incredibly full - the closest I've gotten to the false-lash effect without actually wearing false lashes!

Two other picks are the Covergirl Professional Mascara (it's the blue tube), which has a waterproof and original formula, and the Maybelline BIG Mascara in Blackest Black. The Covergirl mascara has the perfect wand to ensure zero clumping and expert definition, while the Maybelline mascara coats every lash in a single swipe for effortless application. Both also have an excellent price tag, retailing at under $5 apiece at Target or Wal-Mart.

3) Shadows: For beginners looking to get into the world of eyeshadows, my #1 piece of advice is to buy prearranged palettes rather than single shadows. Palettes generally include colors that coordinate with one another and can be applied together in many different ways for a complete look. It will be more difficult and much more costly to buy individual shadows. Your best bet as a beginner is to start out with neutrals - browns, grays, taupes and black are universally flattering and are easy to pull off regardless of hair/eye color, skin tone or the outfit you're wearing that day!

Brand picks: Maybelline and Covergirl make great quality eyeshadow palettes at affordable prices. I have heard a lot of hype about the Maybelline Chai Latte Quad, and though I haven't tried it myself I would recommend it just based on all the rave reviews I've heard about it.

If you (or your parents, if you are younger) are willing to order your makeup online, I would recommend purchasing a few of the Brightening Eyeshadow Quads off of The colors are perfectly coordinated for a complete look, including all-over lid colors, darker crease colors, and highlight shades for the brow bone. My favorite palettes from ELF are "Brownstone" and "Drama."

Even better - order the Coastal Scents 88 Color Palette. It may seem to have way too many shades for a beginner to use, but believe me: when you really start getting into makeup and experimenting with different, bolder colors, you will be glad you bought this from the very start. It's a great tool for any makeup beginner OR fanatic to have in his/her arsenal.

4) Eyelash curler: Whether or not you're planning to wear mascara, curling your lashes instantly makes your eyes look wider and more doll-like. I don't have any particular brand picks for this - I find all the curlers I own do about the same job. I carry a curler around in my purse to touch up my lashes throughout the day and give my look a little pick-me-up!

5) Brushes: Most eye shadows, especially drugstore picks, come with little sponge-tipped applicators. These will do the job, but they are difficult to clean and therefore aren't sanitary for continued use. The are also not ideal for blending out shadows or applying them quickly and evenly to the lid. If you are planning to eventually wear makeup everyday, I wholly suggest investing in some brushes to make your look easier to achieve and more professional. Here are the two basic brushes I believe every makeup user should have:

-Eye shading brush: This brush is an absolute necessity for applying a full eyeshadow look. There are any variations - some are very flat while others are fluffier, but they all serve the same purpose of packing color onto the lid.

-Blending/crease brush: This will be a fluffy, dome-topped brush that is necessary for applying color into the crease and blending it out so there are no harsh lines. Applying a darker color to the crease adds dimension and depth to the eyes, making them appear larger.

Brand picks: For those who are comfortable with ordering online, I highly recommend the $1 eyeshadow brush and the blending brush from The bristles are soft and pick up color perfectly, applying it with full intensity. For those who would rather buy brushes in-stores, check out the Studio Tools brushes from Target. They are inexpensive and good quality and were the very first brushes I owned.

Probably the most popular brand of brushes are from MAC, but these are fairly expensive, most of them costing between $20 and $50 apiece. If you are willing to make that investment as a beginner, these brushes will last you a very long time and make your application of makeup all the more easy and professional.

Those are my suggestions for eye makeup products I believe every beginner should pick up right away! Hope I helped.

NEXT UP: Face essentials

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