Makeup 101: Makeup basics for beginners

Hi loves!  This post is going to be all about my favorite subject, makeup! If you are new(ish) to makeup and want to learn more, this post is for you. It will help answer questions like “What products should I invest in?” “Should I go with high-end or drugstore makeup?” “What do I need to start out with and what can I wait on purchasing?”

My old makeup habits were sad to say the least. I didn’t have very many products (and certainly not any good ones) and I was clueless on how to apply them. I started on a mission to learn all I could about makeup and two years later am still on that journey but have learned oh so much. Now it’s time to share what I’ve learned.  Soooo if you’d like to learn how to get your makeup collection started or improved upon without wasting money on products you don’t need (like I did waayyy too many times) then keep on reading! 

*Feel free to skip around to the sections you are most interested in. You might feel more educated in some areas than others. I won’t be offended if you skip over those parts 😉 Also look for the video with more info at the bottom of this post.

MAKEUP 101 (1).pngSkincare

Let’s briefly touch on this. Skincare is super duper important. Good skincare can help the appearance of your makeup immensely while poor skincare can do just the opposite. Think of your face as a canvas. If you’re starting out with a bad canvas, you’re going to have to apply more paint (aka makeup) and you’re going to waste good paint doing so.

I don’t care if you wear nothing besides powder and mascara, you need to be taking your makeup off every night. Makeup wipes and/or a good cleanser will do the trick. I don’t want to get too far into skincare but I highly recommend having a routine that involves a few different products based on your skin’s needs.


Additionally, bad “paint” can ruin a good canvas so it’s important to have good products. So let’s jump into those starting with primer. Primer is a base for foundation that helps it to last longer and keep from smearing. Depending on the type of primer, it can also help color-correct, fill in pores, reduce shine or add a long-lasting yet subtle glow. Definitely have a primer in your collection and use it whenever you use foundation. You’re going to get a lot more wear out of your face makeup that way.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

For primer, it doesn’t really matter. Find something that fits your needs, like filling in pores or adding a glow. I would not stretch the budget for a “high-end” primer however I do believe you will find the formulas to be much nicer if you can spend a little bit more. I generally use Too Faced primers A$that cost around $30 and last me a couple of months.


The biggest thing here is color. The whole purpose of foundation is to even out your skin tone. We’ve all seen people who’s foundation doesn’t match and it’s not a pretty sight. Test foundations on areas that are true to your skin color i.e. your arm or the back of your hand. If you use fake tanner, take that into consideration. You may need to buy a few different shades for those “in between application” days. Whatever you do, do not use foundation to make yourself look more tan.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

Doesn’t matter. I have equally good luck in both departments. Again, color is key here. Find what your budget allows. You’ll learn more about what formulas work for you as you go along.


I recommend having at least a couple in your collection. Concealers are great for highlighting certain areas of the face, like under your eyes where skin tends to be darker. For that purpose, you will want a concealer that is 2-3 shades lighter than your foundation. They are also great for covering pesky red or dark marks on your face. For that, you will want a concealer that matches your foundation tone. Concealers provide much better coverage than a foundation but in turn, will get more cakey and crease more easily so you want to use them sparingly.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

I would recommend at least a little bit more high-end concealer. The cheaper formulas tend to cake and crease more easily and just don’t give the best coverage. Ulta and Sephora have a huge variety of concealers and a good range of price points. There’s not point in using concealer to correct problem areas if it’s only going to cause more problems itself.

Bronzer & Contouring

If you’re going to dive into contouring, I would recommend using cream /liquid products to start. Until you are able to play around with brushes, powder products just aren’t as forgiving. I like to get a darker shade of my foundation and use that. It lasts a long time because you don’t need to use much for contouring.

If you’re looking to just add a subtle glow or only contour the cheeks a bit, a powder bronzer works just fine. It’s really just a matter of cool tones vs. warm tones with bronzers. When picking out bronzers, look to see if it has more of an orange undertone or more of a grey undertone. It helps to compare a few next to each other (see the video at the end of this post for an example). You want bronzer to look natural, so pick one that compliments your skin the most. I suggest matching the tone of the bronzer to the tone of your skin, so warm to warm and cool to cool.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

Whatever your budget allows. With bronzer, the brush you use is more important. I almost always suggest getting nicer brushes. Look for a “natural” brush, meaning a brush using natural hairs. More than likely, the bristles will be two-toned. Natural hair puts product on your face much softer than synthetic hairs do, which is exactly what you want with bronzer.



Doesn’t matter. High-end products are most likely going to have more pigment but definitely do not push the budget with this. Find some colors you like, play around, and eventually you’ll find a few brands you love and can explore more color options with.


I loooove highlighter. It’s just so fun. I’ve bought quite a few because I look at it and think “well duh I want that shine on my face!” Then I get home and try it out and am disappointed because it just doesn’t work with my skin. This has happened several times with both drugstore and higher-end products. Some have been to sparkly or too pink or not pigmented enough. Your best bet is to test it out on your skin and see if you like how it looks.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

Testing out the product may not be possible with drugstore products. On the other hand, they are cheaper so it may be worth the risk to buy it before you try it if you absolutely love how it looks in the packaging. Note: If you are starting your makeup collection, I wouldn’t worry about getting a highlighter right away. It’s more of a fun extra, rather than a staple product.

Translucent Powder

Yes, you need this. Translucent powder is absolutely essential for setting your makeup. aka making sure it stays in place. Yes, I know I said that’s what the primer is for but this sort of has a different job. It keeps makeup, especially concealer and thicker foundations, from creasing. “Baking” is a popular method that uses translucent powder and 5-10 minutes of your time. You leave the powder on your face, let it set, and voila! You have makeup that is going to slay all day. It also prevents excessive oiliness and shine and helps fill in pores. I’m telling you, it’s a must-have product in your collection!

Drugstore vs. High-end?

As with most products, the higher-end ones are going to give you slightly better results but either drugstore or high-end will be just fine. Your skin and other makeup products will react differently to different formulas. If the first translucent powder you try doesn’t quite do it for you, try another one. There are also tons of product recommendations out there, I’m just not going to get into that in this post. 🙂


I truly believe everyone should do something with their eyebrows. What that is, depends on what kind of natural brows you have. For thicker, fuller brows, some taming and shaping with a gel might do the trick. For thinner, more sparse brows (like mine) a brow pencil or gel to fill them in and shape them will do wonders. The eyebrows are a major focal point on the face, so grooming them can really change the way you look. If you have naturally magical eyebrows, I certainly envy you!

Drugstore vs. High-end?

I cannot recommend anything better than the Anastasia Beverly Hills line of eyebrow products. Yes, they are a bit pricier than drugstore but they are literal magic! They have pencils, gels, name it. And sooo many colors to choose from. Do you absolutely need this line of products? No. However, since the brows are such a big focal point, you may want to splurge a bit on good eyebrow products if possible. If you have a great dupe for ABH, let me know!


Start with a pencil/crayon if you do not have much experience with eyeliner. Eyeliner’s original purpose was to make the eyelashes look thicker at the base, but now we’ve evolved to get quite creative with it. We’ve accepted winged eyeliner and smoldery smokey eye looks into our society. Am I mad? Not even a little bit. I love a good wing! If you’re just starting out, don’t attempt these looks quite yet. Eyeliner is a tricky beast and can ruin your whole face of makeup with one fail swoop.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

Eh, doesn’t matter. I literally grab the easiest to reach one at the drugstore and go about my day. This method has introduced me to only a few I would never buy again but typically, eyeliner is eyeliner. If you can test it out on your hand before buying, go for it. If you like a more subtle look, go for a pencil. For a more intense look, a crayon or gel will be your friend.



Until recently, I used the same method to buy mascara as I mentioned I did with eyeliner. Keep trying until you find one you love. Again, there are tons of great product reviews out there. Mascara has a shelf life of about two months before the product goes bad, so this is an easy one to play around. You might find you use different mascara for your top and bottom lashes, mostly because of the wand shape. Don’t worry about this right away but keep it in mind when playing around.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

Play around with drugstore and only venture into the high-end stuff if you can splurge a bit. The formulas really aren’t going to be that much different with the different price points.


Step 1) Get an eyeshadow primer. Step 2) Use it every time you apply eyeshadow. Eyeshadow primer is a must. I used to think it was silly and was proven soo wrong once I started using it. It will change your eyeshadow game drastically! As far as eyeshadows go, definitely have a good “neutral” or “nude” color collection going on but have some fun too! That’s what eyeshadow is all about. Add some color! Add some shimmer! Go dark! Whatever your heart desires. Eyeshadow is really fun to experiment with. It’s also the one thing I’ve learned the most about when it comes to application and brushes so start exploring and see where your creativity leads you.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

I’ve definitely noticed a different in formula with drugstore vs. high-end eyeshadows. You get so much more pigment and wear with shadows that are a bit nicer, so it’s worth the money. I recommend investing in a few more high-end eyeshadow pallets so you can play with some colors and figure out what you like. Morphe Brushes has great beginner palettes for rather cheap. In all honesty, I’d skip over drugstore eyeshadows if you can. You’ll notice a huge difference with nicer products.



Have fun with colors and pair them with lip liners. That’s about all I have to say for lipstick basics. Lip liners are key. You don’t need one for every single lipstick color but getting some that are close to several shades of lipsticks you own is a good idea. It keeps the lipstick on longer and cleans up the edges of your lips. Nudes and peachy tones are safe bets if you haven’t used lipstick much before. I wouldn’t say it’s something you need to wear every day (unless you want to!) but it’s nice to have a few lipsticks in your collection. It’s like adding curtains to a room. Just a nice finishing touch to pull everything together!

Drugstore vs. High-end?

There are good drugstore lipsticks, there are good high-end lipsticks. There are bad drugstore lipsticks, there are bad high-end lipsticks. The tricky part about lipsticks is that not all colors are made equal, even if they’re the same brand. That’s just the name of the game. Check product reviews if you want to learn more!


We’re almost done troopers! BRUSHES!!! Ah I could go on forever about brushes but I’m going to keep it rather short with just my number one tip. DO NOT use the same brush for more than one thing. If you are using your foundation brush for your blush, it’s time to quit. You will see such a difference when you separate brushes by product. I know it seems like you’ll need a lot of brushes, but trust me it is worth the investment.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

Above anything else, invest in your brushes. Higher-end brushes will do you wonders. The nice part is that unlike makeup products, brushes aren’t going to run out on you so you get a lot of use for your money. Morphe and Sigma are great brush brands.  They offer high quality brushes for a very fair price and also have detailed description about the uses of each brush on their websites. So so great for beginners! In my opinion, anything drugstore you should just skip over. It might take a while to build your brush collection and that’s ok. Get the bare necessities to start and you’ll start learning more about what brush you need for what product.

Setting Spray

Yes, you need this. Yes, it’s another product that helps keep your makeup in place. You spray it all over your face once you’re totally done with makeup and it adds a sort of protective layer to your newly finished work of art. You could jump in a swimming pool and it would stay put. Maybe don’t hold me to that but seriously…this stuff is amazing.

Drugstore vs. High-end?

Doesn’t matter. There are a lot of great ones out there. I have yet to find one that did help at least somewhat. I do use a higher-end setting spray because I think it’s a really important product that I use every day but drugstores have some quality ones as well.

Phew! That was a lot! Thanks for sticking with me on that one! If you have any questions, please please please let me know and I would be happy to answer!

The video version of this is also up on my YouTube channel! I’ll be getting more in-depth on specific products coming up so please subscribe if you’d like to see more!




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