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Beauty Basics: Makeup Essentials for Beginners

Blush and eye shadow

You may be ready to start dipping your new brushes into a sea of colors, but before you dive into the deep end, let this guide to the ultimate makeup essentials for beginners help you get your toes wet in the ever-growing world of beauty products. We enlisted the expert advice of Jessica Kendall—hairstylist, makeup artist and owner of Beauty Asylumto help us understand everything from the how to the how much? Come on in, the water’s fine!

  1. Foundation
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    Just like artists who must prime before painting, you too must start with a clean canvas. After you’ve prepped your skin, foundation is your first step. To avoid the dreaded “cakey” look, Kendall recommends applying foundation using a beauty sponge. It absorbs product, allowing you to gradually add the ideal amount of foundation to your complexion.

    Try: jane iredale Liquid Minerals A Foundation

    Buy now with free delivery
  2. Concealer
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    “Concealer is a must-have staple in your beauty routine,” says Kendall. And we’ll gladly bet on that statement! Concealer offers the photoshopped-looking finish everyone seeks; however, it just may be the trickiest makeup essential for beginners to master.

    “The two main differences we want to look for when buying a concealer are face concealer and eye concealer,” explains Kendall. “Typically we want a hydrating concealer to go under the eye and soften the look of any fine lines. Concealer for the face tends to be more dense and drying and this is perfect for covering up that pesky blemish or discoloration.”

    Try: RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up Concealer

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  3. Bronzer
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    Now that you’ve got a flawless base, it’s time to make a splash. “A great bronzer makes my top five of must-have products,” Kendall tells us, adding that it’s essential to add a touch of color to a washed-out complexion. How to do so without going overboard? Kendall says to dust a little bronzer into the hair line, across the cheek bones and neck to give an instant pick-me-up.

    Try: ILIA Nightlite Bronzing Powder

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  4. Neutral Eyeshadow Palette
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    Neutral Eyeshadow Palette

    A neutral eyeshadow palette is a perfect 10 across the board. Stick with taupes, bronzes, browns and cream-colored shadows for an easily blendable, effortless look great for all eye colors.

    Kendall breaks down how to get the natural look with just three simple tools:

    • Eyeshadow brush: this is the staple for applying powder loosely on the lid.
    • Smudge brush: this brush is usually packed together with dense bristles to apply a heavier amount of product. Look for a dome shape the size of a pencil eraser to provide more application control.
    • Blending brush: this gives the option to apply a soft amount of color in the crease and/or buff the shadow above the crease.

    Try: Tarte Cosmetics Tartelette In Bloom Clay Palette

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  5. Eyeliner
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    Eyeliner is 90% sultriness, 10% glam and 100% vital. Plus, it can easily take any makeup look from day to night in a stitch. Go with a pencil eyeliner—it’s much less fussy and great for beginners first starting off.

    Start by applying the color in the middle of the eye and lightly dot the pencil into the lash, gradually working your way to the outer part of the eye. Connecting the dots is an easy way to create a more natural look.

    Try: Kjaer Weis Eye Pencil

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  6. Mascara
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    Now it’s time to lengthen those lashes with some mascara. Not even the most novice of makeup beginners can fumble with this one. However, the days of pumping the wand in the tube and plumping the eyelashes with triple coats are gone! Simply take your freshly dipped mascara wand and apply one to two coats before you complete your look. An absolute makeup essential for beginners, mascara darkens, thickens and lengthens the lashes for a put-together look on the daily.

    Try: Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara

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  7. Brow Powder
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    Brow Powder

    “Any beginner can start filling in their brows using a brow gel or a powder shadow,” says Kendall. But if you’ve marathoned beauty gurus’ bold-brow routines only to have them look, well, not like theirs, Kendall recommends powder. “Powder tends to be more forgiving when you first start off. Look for a more coarse brush to apply the product so it doesn’t apply too much product at once.”

    Try: Glo Skin Beauty Brow Powder Duo

    Buy now with free delivery
  8. A Nude and a Bold Lip Color
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    A Nude and a Bold Lip Color

    A key item for an irresistible pout, lipsticks can change an entire look with just a simple swipe. “The perfect neutral and a pop of color are two lip colors every girl should have in her purse,” says Kendall, recommending beginners to stick with a formula that has more hydration for its forgiving nature.

    “To find the perfect lip shade, opt for a color slightly darker than your natural lip undertone to create the perfect wash of color. A pop of color can be your preference of coral, berry or pink.”

    Try: Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick

    Buy now with free delivery

Freelance Writer

Kaleena Stroud

Kaleena is a freelance content writer based out of Los Angeles. She is crazy about books and travel. If you can't find her unearthing used novels at a thrift store or typing away at a coffee shop, she is probably out of the country. Kaleena graduated from California State University, Long Beach where she began her career as a technical writer but now specializes in SEO content and web copy. She also enjoys improv shows and trying out new recipes.

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