Five Make-Up Tips Every Woman Needs to Know

I recently was elevated to Sephora’s highest level of their loyalty membership: VIB Rogue. This was an honor I was way too excited about and probably speaks more to my Sephora addiction than anything else. BUT it got me thinking that maybe I should share some of the make-up knowledge that I learned along the way with you. Credit for this knowledge goes to “make-up mentor” Jen Cieslak, online make-up tutorials, and the cosmetic goddesses who wear the coveted black and red Sephora uniforms.

These are very basic tips just to get you started and is for those of you who don’t want to spend the time or money to reach an unhealthy level of addiction to Sephora like I have!

  1. Pick the Right Foundation

This is such a basic ingredient to a successful make-up routine, but one that I see so many women missing. You can tell your make-up is not right for you if you look at yourself in a mirror (using natural light), turn your head to the side, and can see a different color between your cheek and your neck, breaking on your jawline. How so many women go wrong here is that when they’re in the make-up store (which unfortunately are often ill-lit), they test the foundation color on their hand or arm, not their neck. Your hands/arms are usually a darker shade than your face because of how much more we protect our faces against the sun, and how often we wash our face (removing all the dead skin cells). So the best way to pick the right color is to test multiple shades on your neck and see which one blends in best. Also note that everyone either has a blue hue undertone to their skin, or a yellow hue (also known as cool or warm undertones). So while your foundation may be correct on the light vs. dark scale, you may be using one with the wrong hue. Don’t know which hue your skin tone has? Check out this nifty little quiz here! Also note that the right foundation is not limited to just the right color and hue: it needs to be right for your face’s needs. So evaluate whether you have dry or oily skin, lots of creases or blemishes, or whether you don’t need much coverage at all. Personally I use Make-Up Forever HD Foundation, but that’s what I’ve found to be best for my skin.

Quick Tip: Doing your make-up for a big event? (Or like me, for your own wedding?) Make sure to go with a foundation that says “HD” and does not include SPF. You see, SPF is designed to keep UV rays off of our face. That’s great for protecting us from the sun… but the problem is, when a camera flashes, it is still bouncing the light from the flash back off your face, leaving you with the “ghost face” look that no one likes.  Here‘s some other foundations that are great for preventing this problem.

Quick Tip #2: For a long time, I used Mac’s Studio Fix Fluid SPF foundation, and the great thing about this is that Mac has a recycle program. For every 6 bottles you return of a Mac cosmetic product, you get a free lipstick!

 2. Use Primer

Primer. Oh primer how I love you. How I feel about primer is similar to how I feel about cauliflower from the last post… it’s like a tiny little super secret agent that so many people don’t utilize but can actually save you lots of money and time spent on reapplying your make-up. And I am referencing both face primer and eye primer here. Would you ever think about painting without using a paint primer? Probably not! Because you want the paint to last and look smooth right? This applies to make-up too.
I stole this quote from this website, but it explains how primer works all too perfectly: “Primers are used to create an ideal canvas for makeup – they fill in fine lines and pores so that the makeup doesn’t pool in them, leaving the skin looking flawlessly smooth. They also help to stop makeup from sliding off the face so that it lasts longer.” I used to be so frustrated with how great my make-up looked when I left for work every morning and then how much of it was off my face by the end of the day, but once adding this primer and this HD powder to my regimen (can you tell I love the Make-Up Forever line?), I never truly have to reapply! (Unless I just want a little touch-up here or there).
As far as eye shadow primer goes, I can’t begin to tell you what a game changer this is. Since I started using eye primer a couple of years ago, I’ve never had another eye shadow crease and my eye make up stays on All. Day. Long. This is a MUST! I recommend either Urban Decay, Tarte, or Too Faced brands for eyeshadow primer. I’ve used and loved all three (plus you can even pick out some that have a little shimmer to them!)

Quick Tip: When applying anything to the eye (if you’re not using a brush, like in the case of primer), make sure to use your ring finger to apply it. This is the weakest finger and will therefore apply the least pressure to your eye, which will help you not pull against your skin, thereby decreasing your progression towards wrinkles. This same theory applies when applying eyeliner – don’t pull your eyelid outward in order to see what you’re doing – it will create more wrinkles down the road!

   3. Eyebrows are Key

If you’re like me (and grew up in the 90’s era of over plucked eyebrows), you regret the choices you made as a 14-year-old to continuously pluck the eyebrow hairs that, at the time, seemed like they would always grow back. My mom tried to warn me. She really did. But now my eyebrows do not fit into the trend of thick, full, luscious eyebrows that you see parading down the red carpet. Good news is all is not lost! Eyebrows are SO important because they are the frame to the beautiful picture that is your face. Don’t worry, you won’t look crazy or like you have fake eyebrows after using eyebrows filler (in fact, could you even tell I fill in my eyebrows every day?!)…. you’ll just look NORMAL. And it’s crazy how much filled in eyebrows frame up your whole face.
A lot of beauty bloggers recommend Anastasia Brow Wiz. I haven’t personally tried this yet but it looks great from the videos I’ve seen. I use Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse and it’s been fantastic – and lasts forever! Don’t believe what a difference it makes? Check out the before/after pictures here – and even google more pictures if you’re still not convinced! After filling in your eyebrows a couple of times, you’ll get the hang of it, and you won’t ever be able to leave the house without doing it again!

Quick Tip: Remember that your eyebrows are “sisters” not “twins!”…so they are not necessarily created equal. One may have more of an arch or start closer to your nose. That’s ok. Try and make them look as similar as possible, but follow each one’s natural lines and shape. 

     4. Eyeliner Rules

One of my make-up pet peeves is poorly done eyeliner. That probably sounds silly to say, but it’s true! I see girls with the most beautiful eyes, and then they cover them all up with loads of eyeliner, hiding their natural beauty. So my first tip… and I’m just going to be bold here and say it… is very few people, in very few circumstances, can pull off eyeliner on the bottom of their eye. I haven’t done it in years. Literally. When eyeliner is too severe on the bottom lid (unless it’s for an intense smokey eye…which is more easily said than done!), it makes your eyes look small and heavy, dragging down your face. No one wants that! Well-placed eyeliner on the top lid, however, can open up your eyes and draw the focus in to the beauty of your natural eyes.
If you’re wondering what color eyeliner to buy, check out this helpful Allure article with great color and brand recommendations for your particular eye color. I’ll tell you though, eyeliner is not something I typically splurge on. I think drug store eyeliner can work just as well as the high-end stuff… IF you use primer and apply it correctly. And if you do use eye primer, make sure you give it time to dry before applying anything on top of it.

Quick Tip: If you want to do the cat-eye or winged eyeliner look, use a strip of tape or a spoon to help you apply and line it perfectly. I did this for my wedding to get a bit more of a winged eye look!

     5. It’s All in the Brushes

The correct brush can not only help your make-up look better, but it can help lengthen the life of your make-up bottle. I think a lot of people are hesitant to buy make-up brushes because they can be very costly. The good news is, with proper care and maintenance, they can literally last a lifetime. I still use the same set of Mac brushes I got when I was 18, plus some brushes a friend gave me in college as a gift, and have purchased maybe 2-3 additional brushes since then. So while it is definitely an investment up front, it can save you money down the road by helping you to use less of your make up when you have the proper brush to apply it with. And the right brush really does make a difference in how your make-up appears. Check out these two diagrams (#1 and #2) for amazing guides on what brushes to get, and what to use them for.
As far as care and maintenance go, I was really bad about this for a long time. My friend Jen had to give me a little slap on the wrist and reinforce the important of cleaning your make up brushes to me. You know better than anyone what’s reasonable for your schedule, but I would say aim for cleaning them 1-2 times a month. You can buy great brush cleaner from any cosmetic brand… or you can use dish soap and water, which is what I do! The reason this is so important is because it no only helps your brushes stay in good shape and last longer, but it helps clean out the oil and dirt that has gotten on the brushes from your face and the air. You don’t want to be applying oil onto your face every morning! That won’t do anything for your skin.

I’ll close with two tiny little extra bonus tips for you.
#1: This is one of my favorite secret products. I almost don’t want to share it with you because I feel like almost no one knows about it and it is SUCH a game changer for under eye circles. But hey… I like you guys. So I’ll share. And to be honest, I didn’t even think of myself as someone with dark under eye circles until I saw the difference that this product makes. And now I can’t go back! Bonus? IT’S $7 PEOPLE!!! You can’t beat this. It’s Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser.
#2: Got a few extra minutes and even more interest in make-up? Check out this Cosmo article with awesome make-up tricks that will take you to level 2.

Ok let me hear from you now… what’s your best make-up tip? What did you learn today that you didn’t already know? Got any make up questions I can answer for you? Let me know if you try any of the products I recommended!




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5 thoughts on “Five Make-Up Tips Every Woman Needs to Know

  1. Could you maybe do a video of you doing your make-up one day to show us all these techniques?!

    I have the hardest time doing almost all this. I like to do my make-up but can’t seem to find my right colors or shades.

    Thanks for all your tips!!


    1. That’s a great idea! I definitely may do that at some point. Until then, check out this article and see if you can figure out what colors are best for you: I also recommend going to either Mac or Sephora and letting them help you pick out your best colors. You could even get them to do your make-up for you at Mac to get lots of good recommendations, you’ll just have to buy something of course 😉


  2. I love all of your great tips Mary!! I can’t agree more that primer was a total game changer for me! I agree 100% with using for face and eyes, especially if you have oily skin! Something that has also helped me with oily skin is on days where I want makeup to stay just right all day, I use Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray – weird spraying my face, but it helps so much, and I can’t even tell it’s there! I’ll have to try the Maybelline you mentioned! Currently I use Makeup Forever concealer under my eyes on those mornings I didn’t get enough sleep! But can’t beat $7! Like you, I didn’t realize I ever had dark circles until I tried it for the first time! I can’t wait to see eye shadow tips from you, and contouring – I’m always afraid I will get it too dark!


  3. fabulous!! Tks for sharing – you are definitely the queen of gorgeous makeup – how many women can say they do makeup for weddings??? You can!!
    One more quick tip – Rodan and Fields has a new Lash Boost that can help not only with eyelashes but also those thin eyebrows!! Check it out 🙂


  4. THANK YOU for the “eyebrows are sisters, not twins” comment.
    I think that there are somedays when I need that little reminder! (And I shall hear your voice in my head telling me those words of wisdom! haha) I feel you on the 90’s/00’s over plucking. The mistakes we made as teens… Have you ever been to the Brow Bar at Ulta? You are basically an expert on makeup, but for people who are struggling with brows, it’s a great place to start at figuring out the best shape for your face, and how to fill them in with which tools, etc.


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