I’ve been beauty-obsessed since girlhood. Some of my earliest beauty memories include running my fingers over my grandmother’s perfume bottles—and trying on her frosty pink lipstick. As I grew up, I pored over magazines and beauty guides. I especially loved learning the little tips and secrets about how to blend foundation or choose the right shadow for your eye color. The most valuable tips I’ve gleaned, however, were learned more organically via trial and error, sometimes the hard way. In fact, they’re not so much tips-and-tricks but guiding principles that keep makeup and beauty fun and inspiring—while helping me (and hopefully others) look and feel their most confident and radiant.
Through my work writing about beauty, I’ve sampled and purchased several products, but you don’t have to have tried as many brands as I have to have a fruitful relationship with beauty and know what works for you.
The Life-Changing Makeup Principles I’ve Learned after Sampling Hundreds of Products
Free yourself from being a purist. When I switched to naturally formulated makeup, I lived for a few years as a purist before realizing that I needed to let myself have a little fun and not berate myself if my favorite lipgloss, for example, had a few synthetic ingredients. I’ve also fallen into the idea that only high-end products would fit the bill—but this isn’t true either. Now, my makeup collection is a mixture of ultra-affordable, luxury, natural, and somewhat conventional stuff—and it’s just what I need.
Use your fingers—at least a few times. As much as makeup brushes can really elevate the application process, I find it helpful to use your fingers to apply various products (except for possibly mascara!), especially when you’re trying something new. Using your fingers allows you to really get to know the texture of your products—and it adds a wonderful sensory element to the application experience.
Skincare really is paramount. Having acne was a blessing in disguise as it pushed me to refine my diet, eschew animal products, and do extensive research on the right topical ingredients for my condition. These days, I am often complimented on my healthy glow, but I never forget that it wasn’t always like that—and that makeup looks best on well-cared-for skin. So if you’re able to invest in one category of beauty, make it your skin.
You don’t have to love what’s on trend (it may not love you back). As with clothing, buck any makeup trend that doesn’t completely stir you—and especially if that trend isn’t ultra flattering for your complexion/bone structure/coloring, etc. For example, bone-dry matte lips don’t inspire me (and they don’t do anything for my lips, either!).
If something works, it’s okay to stick with it. As someone who is tuned into the beauty industry, I constantly see new brands and new products entering the market. It’s natural to feel a sense of FOMO when you spot something new or on-trend, but rest assured that you most likely won’t be missing out—especially if you already have products that work for you. It may help to try to only purchase something new when you run out of something—or for reasons other than good marketing of a fresh product.
Compliment other people on their makeup. You may just learn a few secrets. Complimenting others is a wonderful way to form a bond and start conversation. Plus, I’ve also learned about some really wonderful and unexpected products by simply complimenting a friend on her eyebrows, perfume, or highlighter.
A little concealer and mascara plus a swipe of your favorite lip color can save the day. As Sali Hughes points out in her cult-favorite guide Pretty Honest, makeup application can buoy our mood during hard times: “During the darkest periods, beauty takes on an extra significance, and, for many, can become one of our most effective coping mechanisms.” I found this to be true on days when, as a new mother, I’m a combination of sleep-deprived and anxious. Even if I spend a mere three minutes in front of the mirror swiping on concealer and mascara, my mood is markedly improved (and my face looks instantly brighter).
Glamour isn’t about perfection. It took me far too long to realize this, but once I did, I started to enjoy my makeup routine even more. Although we live in a selfie-obsessed, airbrushed era, true glamour lies beyond perfectly applied everything. I’m not sure it’s something I can sufficiently define in words, but it’s definitely something you know when you see it. So next time you appreciate someone else’s glamour and style, observe that that person’s attractiveness probably doesn’t rely on flawlessness (and therefore, the same can be said for all of us). This is something to truly celebrate!
What makeup rules do you follow?
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