A Beginner's Guide to Buying Makeup

Photo by Karen Laårk Boshoff: Pexels

Have you ever wandered down the beauty aisle of a convenience store and felt completely overwhelmed by all of the products to choose from? There are all sorts of creams, powders, gels, and serums that promise to make you look great, but they don't come with instructions on how best to use them. Each product has an application and should be used in a certain order, which is where this guide comes in. Whether you have experience using one or two products and want to branch out, or you've never touched makeup before in your life, this guide will help you decide what you need and teach you how to use it.


It's always good to start with the basics. Primer will determine how the rest of the makeup you put on looks, and can make it last longer too. A good basic primer will fill in the pores and imperfections of your skin, smoothing it out and giving you a good surface for your makeup to stick to. It will also help prevent your makeup from absorbing or sliding throughout the day and which will keep it from looking blotchy or uneven. Have you ever seen someone walking around with an orange face? Primer can help with this too. Providing a barrier between the oils of your skin and your foundation can stop makeup from oxidizing and turning orange. Most primers are colorless, although there are a variety of options available. Some are tinted green to correct reddened skin or blemishes, others have calming oils in them to relax the skin, and still others will block UV rays. Start with a simple one to find a brand you like, and branch out from there.

BB Cream

BB cream is one of those mysterious substances that seems to claim to do everything at once. Many advertise as a foundation, acne cream, sunscreen, anti-wrinkle cream, and primer all in one. While BB cream can be a useful tool in your beauty cabinet, don't be too taken in by all of these promises. BB cream is essentially an alternative to foundation. It won't give you the same coverage that foundation does, but that means it's also easier on your skin and has a lighter feeling. It's good for a more natural look, or for days when you don't want to put much work into your morning routine. You can put on primer followed by BB cream, but don't wear BB cream and foundation. This is a waste of the cream, plus it often makes makeup look thick and cakey. You can, however, put on a few layers of BB cream if you need more coverage somewhere. Rub the cream on in small, gentle circles using the pads of your middle and ring fingers, and let each layer dry before you add another.


Foundation might be the most common staple found in women's makeup bags. Although it's available from many brands and in many forms, foundations all do the same thing -- make your complexion look smooth, even, and bright. Of all the products you buy, you should be the most selective when it comes to foundation. First, you'll need to decide if you want a compact powder or a liquid foundation. Each has its merits; liquids tend to be good for dry skin, and powders are more suitable for oily skin. It's up to you  to find what is comfortable and blends well with your skin. 

Start by looking for familiar brands that work well for your family or that make other products you like;  remember,  when it comes to makeup, the more expensive choice is not always better. Many companies rely on brand recognition to charge more for makeup that has most of the same ingredients as more moderately priced options. Once you settle on a makeup line, you need to choose the right color. Finding a good match for your skin can be difficult, but there are ways to test the color before you make a decision. If there are any testers out, try a  small amount on the inside of your forearm. The skin there is usually a reasonable approximation to your face's complexion. Wear the sample around for a little while, and check it in different types of light. If after several hours of wear and exposure to both natural and artificial light, the makeup still blends well into your skin and hasn't changed color, it's probably a good choice. If you can't get a sample, hold the foundation up to your forearm and compare the color of the makeup to the skin there. If there's a window, check it out in sunlight and make sure the color is the same.

Now that you've made your selection, it's important to put it on in a way that gives you the coverage you want without looking too unnatural or obvious. Before you put on the foundation, apply your primer first and let it dry completely. If your purchase is a liquid, apply it using the same method as BB cream, being sure to blend it well and let it dry. Check your face carefully for streaks or uneven spots. If you've opted for a compact, use a rounded brush like a kabuki brush, applying the powder evenly using small, round strokes and brushing off excess powder. You can also use the pouf that many compacts come with, although it won't blend as well or evenly as a brush.


Once your foundation is dry, the next product to apply is concealer. Concealer should be used sparingly to cover dark spots, eye circles, and blemishes. Consider whether or not you need this;  poorly done concealer can sometimes look worse than the blemish itself. When purchasing a concealer, use the same color matching process as when choosing a foundation. If you can't find your color, remember that it's better to choose a shade too light than a shade too dark. The concealer may darken over the course of the day, and a dark spot will look more conspicuous than a light spot on your face. Dab the concealer precisely where you need coverage, and blend it well with the surrounding area. Concealer should be the last layer of makeup you apply to your face before setting it all.

Setting Powder

Setting powder is not strictly necessary depending on what makeup you use, but it will keep everything in place longer and  make your face look more defined, and it can blur out remaining imperfections. It is usually a good idea to use setting powder if you have used liquid foundation or concealer. Setting powder should be clear or lightly tinted;  at this stage, your makeup should give you the coverage and appearance you want. The ideal powder will always be loose, and you should use a large, soft brush or pouf to pat the powder all across your face. Let it sit for a minute, then brush off any excess powder you notice. Setting powder must go on last in your routine, after all your other makeup has dried.

With so many varieties of makeup, it can be daunting to decide what products you need and what form you should buy them in. Hopefully, you now have a sense of what products best suit your needs, and feel confident in your selections. Makeup can look disastrous or cheap when it goes wrong, but when applied correctly, it can enhance your best features, increase your confidence, and help you make great impressions.

Autor: Laurel Payne
Photo by Karen Laårk Boshoff: Pexels