Today, I have a post from MY NEW INTERNET FRIEND, STEPH. I asked her to write a guest post after another friend, Denys, said she thought, based on Steph’s comments, she’d be a great fit for the site. After Denys pointed it out, it seemed so obvious! DUH. The only reason I missed it was because I spend most of my time thinking about myself.
Because cosmetics and beauty have always been a part of my life, I often forget that not everyone has the experience and know-how that I do. It’s come up here before. Steph pitched her idea for a post about tips for beginners who are looking to step up their beauty game, and I was like, YES, DO THAT!! Her recently acquired knowledge is thorough and insightful. She’s a natural!
I’m super excited to have her stepping outside the comment box and into the spotlight! I hope you all enjoy reading what she has to say as much as I did. Thanks for your great comments and warm messages, Steph! I’m so happy your voice is a part of The Lab Bunny!
Hi! I’m Steph, fellow beauty junkie! I’ve been a fairly regular commenter on The Lab Bunny and was extremely flattered to be asked by Sarah to guest post. I’m a novice when it comes to makeup, especially compared to Sarah’s mad skills, but I’ve been actively working to get better over the last year. I want to offer some advice on getting started to my fellow newbies, but first I want you guys to understand why I stayed away from makeup for so long.
My first experience with makeup was a traumatic one. I was in the fourth grade and had been picked to represent my school for a fundraiser. Being the representative was a BIG DEAL; I wanted to look perfect for my moment onstage, so I asked my stepmom to give me a makeover. She agreed, and I immediately started imagining what I’d look like once she was done. I’d never worn makeup before, but even at that age I was a firm believer in its ability to make the ordinary into something more.
I remember sitting down in the dining room, surrounded by her beauty tools. As she went to work, I envisioned what the end result would be. I was guessing I’d pretty much look like Cindy Crawford or Jennifer Aniston. As soon as she finished, I raced into the bathroom to check out how gorgeous I’d become, only to see this staring back at me:
I wish I was joking, but I had bright red lipstick, an insane amount of blush, clumpy mascara, and blue eyeshadow for days. I’ve got nothing but love for Mimi, but I just don’t have the coloring to pull that kind of look off. As I stared at my reflection in horror, I heard my dad call to me that it was time to head out. There was no fixing this before school started.
I’m not going to get into the details of how that day went down for me, other than to say that the adults at my school were surprisingly polite about my brand new baby hooker look. Predictably the other kids were assholes. I decided that day that makeup was not to be trusted. Some people looked good with it, but I was not one of those people. I stayed pretty far away from makeup after this, except for lip gloss and mascara when I occasionally went to a school dance. Luckily I was a big tomboy in high school, so it didn’t come up often.
It wasn’t until I hit my mid-twenties that my girly gene finally kicked in. I started small by having mini spa days every few weeks, complete with manicures, face masks, and deep hair conditioning treatments. To me, these things are basically the gateway drugs of the beauty world. They take almost no knowledge or expertise to use successfully, so using them served as a good transition into girliness. After a few months of that, I felt ready to start tackling makeup again.
Getting into makeup can be really intimidating. There are a million different products, many of which you may not have realized existed before. Below is the best advice I have for someone who’s just starting out.
Know what look you’re going for, and don’t get overwhelmed. There are so many different ways to do your makeup, and if you don’t get an idea in your head of what you like, it’s going to be hard to decide where to start. Take some time to look at pictures and think about what speaks to your. Do you want to look natural? Dramatic? Retro?
Personally, I’m obsessed with a perfect cat eye and really red lips. When I started out, I knew that’s what I wanted to be able to do; it helped me get an idea of what products (other than the basics) I need to buy and what techniques I needed to learn. Going to a makeup counter and asking them to give you an application in your favorite style is also a good idea before you start buying products. A smoky purple eye could look amazing on you, or it could make you look like you’ve just gone up against Mike Tyson for a few rounds in the boxing ring. It’s best to find that out before you buy the eyeshadow.
Practice every chance you get. DO NOT wait until an hour before you’re leaving the house to attend a party to become an expert on creating the perfect smokey eye. You will fuck it up, you won’t have enough time/expertise to fix it, and the night will end in tears. When the pressure’s on, stick with tried and true makeup you’ve done in the past. Practice applying colors, products, and looks you’re never used or done before when there’s no rush. One of my favorite times to test new tricks out is just before I wash my face at the end of the night. Even if I completely screw it up, I only have to look at my face for a minute before it becomes a clean slate again. There are still things I regularly make a mess of, but practice really does make perfect.
Use the internet! Seriously guys, it’s not just for porn anymore. There are a million different resources available, including everything from product reviews to step-by-step tutorials. Whenever I’m getting ready to buy something new, I do a ton of research before I take the plunge so I don’t get stuck with something I hate. Once you’ve got a short list of products you’re interested in, head to a Sephora, Ulta, or department store makeup counter and test all the things. There is no substitute for getting a product in your hands and checking it out for yourself. I always feel better about making a big makeup purchase if I do both of these before I pull the trigger.
Some of my favorite online resources for buying products and getting tutorials (other than The Lab Bunny, of course) are listed below.
Reddit’s Makeup Addiction Subreddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/MakeupAddiction/) Reddit can be an awful place sometimes, but their Makeup Addiction subreddit is fantastic. You’ll find links to articles, tutorials, information about new products, and before and after pictures. You can also post your own pictures up for constructive criticism and suggestions on your makeup.
Reddit’s Makeup Exchange Subreddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/makeupexchange/) This is another really useful subreddit, and it’s one of the first places I go when I want to try a new product. It’s premise is this: users post up lists of the products they have that they’d like to get rid of, or lists of products they’re trying to track down. Other users can then offer to swap products from their own collection, or buy products outright. Sometimes the products are used/sanitized, sometimes they’re brand new. I’ve had great luck trading here; this month alone I picked up Urban Decay foundation and the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette for well below retail. More details on how the swapping system works are listed on the site, and there are many other makeup swapping sites out there if this concept interests you.
Temptalia (http://www.temptalia.com/) This is one of the greatest sites for product reveiws. Not only do you get detailed descriptions, ratings, and gorgeous swatches to look at, duplicate shades from other brands are linked so you can check out all the options available to you.
The Beauty Department (http://thebeautydepartment.com/) This site has so many comprehensive how-to guides for basically every aspect of makeup application. If you don’t even know how to apply foundation yet, The Beauty Department can help.
xoVain (http://www.xovain.com/) This site has a lot of good (and completely random) makeup tutorials. They did “how to look like Bowie” earlier this year! Alle’s posts in particular are wonderful.
I hope this was helpful! I know I’m kind of long-winded, so thanks for putting up with my rambling.