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Choosing Makeup Tips

Read these 12 Choosing Makeup Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Make-Up tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Should I completely cover over my freckles with foundation?

Freckles and Foundation

Freckles are fabulous! If you wear a heavy foundation to completely hide your freckles, you are covering up a lovely aspect of your skin. Let them show! Choose a foundation that has a sheer to medium coverage. It needs to match your skin underneath the freckles exactly. Do not match your foundation to the color of your freckles. Your face will come out way too dark, you will have a line of demarcation, and it will not match your neck.

People with freckles sometimes have a hard time finding the right foundation. Freckles tend to be warmer in tone and color, but the skin under could be the opposite, cool tone. If you want to find out your skin tone exactly, visit a Prescriptives makeup counter. They are the original creators of the “Colorprint.” Colorprinting is a complimentary service they provide to find out the exact undertone of your skin. They can then choose a foundation for you that is your exact match.

What is the best lipstick for my skin tone?

Choosing The Right Lipstick For Your Skin Tone

The general rule with lipstick is that warm colors look natural on warm skin tones, and cool colors look most natural on cool skin tones. That said, you can always venture outside of your color family. Contrast equals bolder, more dramatic color, while complimentary colors are going to look more natural.

For a great everyday color, pick something that is only a shade or two deeper than your natural lip color. Laura Mercier's Sheer Lipcolour in “Just Lips,” “Healthy Lips,” or “Baby Lips” are three no-fail choices. Although, the best part about lipstick is that it's not a handbag or expensive coat, so if you pick the wrong color you won't feel too bad. Just head back to the makeup counter and try another color on for size. One can never have too many lipsticks!

Where can I find the widest range of makeup for my skin tone?

Makeup For All Skin

Not every cosmetics company makes foundation and color for all skin tones. Sometimes it's more complicated for women of color to find one that matches their skin tone exactly. You can't make any sweeping assumptions about someone's skin tone, because everyone's skin is different no matter what your background is. Whether you are African American, Latina, Asian, Middle Eastern or one of the many other ethnicities found all around the world, your skin has its own beautiful shades and hues. Look for companies who take that into consideration and make it their priority to work for everyone. Iman Cosmetics, Shiseido, Fashion Fair, and MAC are some companies that have led the way in making the widest range of colors available for all skin tones.

Is department store or drugstore makeup better?

The Difference Between Prestige and Masstige- When to Pinch or Pony Up?

You can separate all cosmetics into three categories:

  • Department store cosmetics, which are considered “Prestige” or luxury brands.
  • Mid-priced products, known as “Masstige”. This term was created by Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske in their book, "Trading Up." These are mid-priced products that have more of a premium feel to them. Stores including Bath & Body Works, Target, Kohl's, and Wal-Mart are promoting "masstige" products.
  • Lastly, you have your good ol' fashioned drugstore products. These products include mainstream items like Almay, Loreal, Maybelline, and more.
So the question is where should you buy your cosmetics? Other than budget concerns, which common makeup items should you pinch your pennies or pony up for? In a Pinch

Mascara- You replace this product every three months, so why shell out for the expensive kind when most of the cheap formulas are the same as the expensive ones?

Lipgloss- There is not much difference here either, anything clear or sheer is going to be the same as the pricey ones.

Eyeliner- Just make sure it goes on smoothly and isn't dry.

Nail polish- Formulas are the same and unless you use a great topcoat, neither will last more than a few days.

Trends- Anything trendy that you aren't sure will become a staple in your makeup wardrobe you should scrimp on. That bright lime shadow that was perfect for summer and now looks a little too much like lizard's eyelids for example.

Pony Up

Foundation- It's just too hard to find the right color of foundation because you can't try it on. There is also a wider variety of colors at the prestige level for almost all skin tones.

Eyeshadow- The quality and color selection of expensive eyeshadow is vastly superior to what's at the drugstore. They contain more pigment and will wear longer than the less-finely milled drugstore kind. The color is bold and vibrant and you use less overall so they actually last longer, too.

Blush- For the same reason as the eye shadows, and drugstore blushes tend to crumble and break apart. If you drop it, it's a goner. Department store ones will withstand a little rougher treatment in your makeup bag.

Bronzer- It tends to go on smoother and the color selection is better. Drugstore brands tend to be a little too dark or orange.

Brushes- Makeup quality brush hair makes application easier and smoother. Plus, if you take good care of them they'll last forever—it can be a one time only investment.

But pick and choose what works for you, and your budget. A combination of the two can save you money and will definitely round out your makeup collection.

How can I tell if I need a makeunder?


Everyone has heard of the “makeover,” but do you know what a “makeunder” does for your look? It tones down your look. The question is: how do you know if you need a makeunder?

You might need one if your morning makeup routine takes you more than 45 minutes. Either you are just a perfectionist, or you are piling on way too many products. Go ahead and count how many makeup items you use in applying your makeup. For example, if you are applying five different eye shadow colors everyday, pair it down to two and see how different you look. Or, another look in need of a makeunder is if you are going with dark lipstick, heavy eye makeup, and a bright blush. Only one feature should be strong, and keep the rest neutral and soft. You might be surprised at the positive reaction you get from people when you use less makeup.

What are some common beauty blunders?

Common Errors in Makeup Style

Correcting common errors in your makeup style is easy. You have to think of your face as a blank canvas. Would DaVinci have painted the Mona Lisa with her tongue sticking out? Allow me to help you turn your makeup mistakes into makeup masterpieces!

WRONG COLOR FOUNDATION - This is a very big one. If your foundation doesn't match your skin tone, it is the wrong color for you. A lot of women try to go a little darker than their skin tone to give them more color. You can match your foundation to your skin tone and give yourself some color if you wish with a little smartly dusted-on bronzer and blush on the apples of your cheeks.

DARK LIP LINER – If paired with a lighter lipstick the look is simply bizarre. Try a lip liner in a shade almost the color of your natural lip. Colors like spice, hazel or nude usually do the trick. You never want your liner to look obviously different from your lipstick.

BLUSH CONTOURING - Unless you are a trained makeup artist, this look is very hard and unnecessary to do on your own. For everyday wear, a natural blush color is best swirled lightly on the apples of your cheek, blending up towards your cheekbones. No streaks or darker blush colors to contour under your cheekbones. The goal with blush is to look like you have a healthy glow, not like you're auditioning for a 1980's soap opera.

BLACK EYELINER – Black eyeliner is a stunning style in the right context. At night, usually paired with a smoky eye, and smudged. But black eyeliner can be much too harsh for day wear. Try a soft plum, khaki, brown, or even a charcoal gray shade is much more appropriate and pretty during the day.

FLAKEY MASCARA- There is just no reason for this to happen. It only occurs with old, dried out mascara. Go buy a new mascara, and make sure you replace your mascara every three to four months.

Should I wear black or brown mascara

Black vs. Brown Mascara

The point of mascara is to make your eyes stand out. Black does the trick in the best possible way. Here's a little quick trivia for you: The first mascara was invented by Eugene Rimmel in the 19th century. The word “rimmel” still means mascara in French and Italian. Early mascara was made from coal dust mixed with petroleum jelly; probably not very good for your eyes. It came in a cake form that a chemist made for his sister Mabel… which eventually became the company Maybelline. Don't you just love makeup history class? The modern form of mascara didn't get introduced until 1957 by the great beauty pioneer Helena Rubinstein.

What kind of makeup should I wear at my age?

Makeup For Your Age

Makeup shouldn't be age specific. When applied correctly, it's timeless. You don't have to do anything different at 30 than you would do at 50. Wear what you like, and what's comfortable for you. The only makeup item that you might need to change as you get older is your foundation. As skin ages, sometimes it gets drier and lacks a natural glow so in this case, a more hydrating formula may be beneficial. Otherwise, don't let age limit your makeup choices!

How has makeup evolved through the years?

Makeup Through the Decades

Makeup trends have come and gone over decades. The modern evolution of makeup started in the early 1900's. Before that, many ingredients women used in cosmetic application were actually quite toxic, including the use of lead and mercury. In 1914, Max Factor created the first pancake makeup. Then in the 20's, makeup really started to come into its own when he came out with the first lip gloss. More sophisticated women started to feel like they could wear makeup in public, while those outside of the major cities still felt that makeup looked cheap and tawdry. In the decades that followed, up until the 60's, movie stars set a lot of the trends in makeup style. People enthusiastically copied Marilyn Monroe's signature black eyeliner and ruby red lips, and it's still a popular style today. The 60's brought about the mod look with an “anything goes” attitude that included white eyeliner and a look that is often associated with fashion designer and mini skirt inventor, Mary Quant, who came out with her own line of mod cosmetics in 1966. The 70's were very natural. But over time, as makeup style changes, everything seems to come in cycles. One decade will be complete with dramatic makeup like in the 80's, and then the next reverts back to a more minimalist approach. Now, as the new millennium is here, it's exciting to look forward to what the next trends in makeup will be. Maybe even a lip gloss that senses when you need to reapply and just robotically does it for you!

As a transgendered person, where can I find helpful makeup tips?

Transgender Beauty

Everyone deserves to feel beautiful, and no one understands that more than Veronica Vera who in 1992 founded her “Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls.” This academy in New York City offers courses specifically in makeup application and style including subjects like beard cover and false eye lashes. For someone undergoing the transformation, feeling beautiful is key.

A couple of tips to keep in mind:

  • A close shave is easier to get with a traditional razor blade such as Gillette's MACH 3 ($9) which has a triple blade system, rather than an electric shaver. This will provide your face with the smoothest surface possible with less irritation for your makeup.
  • Full coverage foundation is your friend. This will help to even out the skin tone and provide a proper base for color application. Miss Vera believes that, “in putting the clothes in the closet and letting the girl out, we can help you to be a happier, healthier and more loving human being.”


How to Figure Out Your Best Colors?

To figure out your best colors, you first need to identify whether you have warm or cool undertones. What is your skin’s surface tone? It's not as simple as skin color. Two people can have the same skin color but the undertone might be very different. However, everybody falls into one of three categories.

1. Neutral – A mixture of cool and warm undertones

2. Cool – red, pink or bluish undertones

3. Warm – peachy, golden, or yellow undertone

So, how do you figure out which category describes you best?

Look At Your Veins

Simply look at the color of your veins on the inner side of your wrist. Are they blue or green? If they appear blue, then you have cool undertones. If your veins are more greenish in color, you have warm undertones. (Of course your veins aren't actually green, they only appear that way due to the yellow or golden tints in your skin.)

The Jewelry Trick

While you may look stunning in both gold and silver jewelry, which one really makes you shine? This has nothing to do with your personal preference or which color is trendier at the moment. It’s all about the radiant and glowing effect that either gold or silver has against your complexion. People with cool undertones look great in silver jewelry while warm-toned people look fantastic in gold.

Take the Neutral Test

What neutral shades flatter you the most? Do your face, eyes and skin look better in brights and black hues or off-whites, ivories and brown shades? The former suggests you have cool undertones, while the latter signifies warm tones.

How do I find makeup that won't upset my skin?

Makeup For Sensitive Skin

Buying new makeup is difficult for everyone because it is hard to tell how the product will work at home. People with sensitive skin have an especially difficult time because it is often easier to forgo new makeup instead of risking break outs. Many companies have noticed the problems those with sensitive skin have, and there are several options available.

Lighter makeup made of powder is a better option than heavy liquid that will clog pores. Start looking at specialty stores that offer organic, natural products. These will have less ingredients that upset the skin. Many makeups are also designed specifically for sensitive skin. However, this does not mean they will work for everyone. Ask what makes the product more gentle than others and look at the ingredients.

Those prone to skin problems need to be more careful when buying makeup, but they can still look beautiful with the right products.

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Guru Spotlight
Mary White