Starting your makeup journey

Just the basics


Courtesy of Ultra Beauty’s official Facebook page

By Molly Hamilton, Collegian Correspondent

Now that you’re in college, you might feel like you missed the boat on learning the ins and outs of makeup. Maybe your parents didn’t let you wear any when you lived at home, maybe you didn’t have an older sister or friend to teach you or maybe it just hadn’t sparked your interest until recently. Being a makeup beginner can be intimidating, confusing and overwhelming all at once. There are countless YouTube tutorials, blog posts and Instagram accounts all preaching different techniques. That’s where this short guide comes in; to give you a basic understanding of the supplies, tips and tricks that you’ll need to get started on your makeup journey.


There are a lot of fancy, often confusing tools out there when it comes to makeup. Despite the plethora of oddly shaped brushes and beauty blenders you’ll see at the nearest Sephora, you really only need a few of the basics to start out. First, you’ll want to invest in a set of eyeshadow brushes. Don’t be tempted by individual eyeshadow brushes — if you stick with a prepackaged set, you’ll likely be getting more for your money and you’re guaranteed to have a wider, more diverse variety of brushes without the hassle of choosing each one individually. The other tools you’ll want in your kit are an eyelash curler, large powder brush and a spoolie. You might be thinking that all of these supplies are bound to add up cost-wise, but drugstore brands like EcoTools and Sonia Kashuk make affordable brushes without skimping on quality.


When you think about face makeup your mind probably jumps straight to foundation, however, diving right into full-coverage foundation isn’t a great idea if you’re a makeup beginner. You should take a close look at your skin to evaluate the amount of coverage you truly need to feel comfortable. There’s a big difference between wanting to even out the tone of your entire face and just covering up a few spots. If you’re interested in something for the whole face, to cover widespread redness or uneven skin tone, a tinted BB cream is a good way to go. Most BB creams are light coverage, buildable and extremely forgiving. If something for the whole face sounds daunting or you’re just looking to hide some dark circles or smaller imperfections, you may want to invest in a good concealer. Keep in mind that concealer is not as forgiving as BB cream and it can be difficult to find your shade. Before committing to a shade, you should make sure to test it on your face and look at it in different types of lighting. If you take the concealer route, you’ll also want to pick up setting powder, which will help it stay put and prevent creasing.


For the past five years or so there’s been a lot more emphasis on eyebrows than in the past. They can be one of the most daunting parts of the makeup process, as it’s incredibly easy to over-pluck or over exaggerate them without meaning to. The easiest brow products on the market are brow gels like Glossier’s famous Boy Brow, which holds brows in place while depositing a subtle tint to make them appear thicker. The ease and convenience of brow gels makes them ideal for beginners. You might be wondering about plucking and shaping your own brows — this is ill-advised if you don’t have any experience, but if you’re dead set on it, a good general rule is to pluck less than you think you need to and focus most of your efforts below the brow.


Eyeshadow is generally much more complicated than it looks. The perfect smoky eye or glittery going out look of your dreams will take a whole lot of practice to get right, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some simple looks that anyone can master. A good rule of thumb for a subtle everyday look is to pair a light neutral brown all over the lid with a slightly darker, but similar, shade in the crease and on the lower lash line. This can be made slightly fancier by adding some glitter to the inner corner of your lid. If you’re not interested in eyeshadow you can always just stick to mascara. When choosing the right mascara, it’s never a bad idea to go with something waterproof. Also, keep your hair color in mind –  someone with lighter hair may want to go with a brown mascara for a more natural look, whereas someone with darker hair might prefer a true black.


If you’re a beginner, lip products are where you’ll likely have the most freedom, but with such a wide range of colors, finishes and product types it can be hard to know where to start. Instead of going for a solid or liquid lipstick right away you might have better luck starting out with tinted balm or light stain. Applying highly pigmented lipstick requires a handful of extra products and a lot more practice than a stain or balm, both of which are highly forgiving and buildable.

Molly Hamilton can be reached at [email protected]