Back to Basics: Base Makeup for Beginners

I tend to forget that most people don't spend almost a huge chunk of their free time reading blogs, browsing new product releases and watching tutorials like I do. This post can serve as a favorites post for all my beauty aficionado readers and a starter guide for those who seek guidance on how to even their complexion. These are general tips and products that I swear by. Of course everyone has different skin types and preferences so there will always be a bit of trial and error when it comes to beauty products.

If you're starting from owning absolutely no makeup, I'd suggest investing in three great products for a complete face: a concealer, a liquid base such as BB cream, tinted moisturizer or foundation, and a powder. Primer is nice to have but not a must, especially if you're on a budget or you don't want a lengthy getting ready process.

Concealer is used most often under the eyes to hide dark circles, on blemishes or fading scars and areas of acute redness often around the nose and mouth. If you're just starting out, I'd recommend just getting one that is slightly salmon toned because it will counteract the blueness under the eyes but it shouldn't look so stark that it won't blend out evenly on the rest of your face.

I like the Mac Select Cover Up as an undereye and spot concealer because it provides medium coverage and is not drying. My favorite spot concealer from the drugstore is Collection's Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer which unfortunately is only available in the U.K. The packaging is rather rubbish because all the words have rubbed off the tube but the concealer itself is very high coverage but easy to blend and long lasting.

If you don't have spots to cover and you simply want something to brighten under the eyes, I highly recommend the Shiseido Sheer Eye Zone Corrector*. Concealers in pen format are super easy to use; just click out a bit of product, swipe a few lines under the eyes and blend with your ring finger.

I am often asked what is the different between foundations, tinted moisturizers and BB creams. To be honest, the difference really depends on the brand and specific product you are comparing. Some foundations are super sheer and have added skincare benefits and sun protection while some BB creams can have quite high coverage while lacking sunscreen. There is no one rule that determines what a liquid base is besides the name of the product. That being said, generally BB creams and tinted moisturizers are more "everyday friendly" as they give less coverage than a traditional foundation. BB creams tend to have an awful shade selection with only one or two shades to choose from.

I really enjoy the Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream because it's very easy to blend and it gives a healthy luminous finish without looking oily. If you have a medium skintone, I'd recommend the Marcelle Golden Glow BB Cream for that same dewy finish. I recommend starting with all over bases with less coverage because you want to avoid looking cakey and very made up. A pea sized amount of BB cream is all you need for your whole face and you can just portion out the drop all around your face, applying more on the areas where you need a bit more coverage. You can go in with your concealer after to build coverage on specific areas. This looks a lot more natural and also feels more comfortable on the skin.

To apply your liquid base you could simply use your fingers if you don't want to spend money on brushes. But in my experience, brushes make a huge difference in application because it smooths the product on better and you end up wasting less product. On the very affordable end of the spectrum, I'd recommend the E.L.F Studio Powder Brush. It's my favorite $3 brush that I've been using for years. The Real Techniques Buffing Brush is good for the price but you have to purchase it in the Core Collection set. If you're willing to spend a bit more, I'd recommend the Sigma F80 which blends liquid products into the skin like a dream. I also like the Beauty Blender for more high coverage bases but you have to wash the sponge after every use to keep it in good condition. Come to think of it, I actually don't have many high end foundation brushes....

To ensure your beautiful base stays in place all day (or for at least a majority of it), invest in a good powder. If you struggle to find a powder that matches your skintone, go with a translucent setting powder. I reach for the Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder very frequently and even though it seems expensive, you only need the smallest amount for your entire face so this will last you a long time. This white powder disappears onto the skin and blurs pores and imperfections without giving you a ghostly pallor. If you want to add more coverage without layering on more liquid foundations or BB creams, opt for a powder foundation. One of my favorites is the Shiseido Sheer and Perfect Foundation* because it clearly reduces redness and evens out the skin without looking ashy or cakey. I always keep this in my purse to touch up my base.

If you're looking for inexpensive powder brushes, I recommend the Coastal Scents BR-C-S43 and BR-C-S31. Both of these are large, fluffy brushes that won't disturb your liquid makeup as you apply powder. Coastal Scents has sales all the time and you can purchase these brushes for less than $10 each. If you don't want to order online, pop into your local drugstore and pick up some Ecotools brushes. I use my Ecotools Mini Kabuki Brushes all the time and they're great for travel as well. For a luxurious splurge, you can't go wrong with the Make Up For Ever 128 Precision Powder Brush, possibly the softest synthetic brush I own. The MUFE 128 is dense at the base but fluffy at the tip so it lays down the smallest amount of powder gently.

This post turned out to be a lot longer than I had intended it to be. Let me know if these back to basics posts are helpful! What are your base makeup must-haves?


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