Makeup Tips and Buying Guide for Beginners

Hi Renee! You’ll probably think I’m a late starter because I’ll be 17 this year and yet I don’t know a single thing about makeup. Which is why I decided to write an email about this. I’ve never used makeup. I occasionally use face powder but that happens very rarely. This year though, I want to start using makeup but I have no idea where to start. Should I buy a good foundation or powder? What would you suggest? Where should I start? – Khansa

beginner's guide to makeup

Seventeen is not late at all! Whenever you feel you are ready to wear makeup – that’s the best age. :) I know that when I started to wear makeup, I was so overwhelmed by everything and didn’t know where to start. Here I write the “order” in which I personally started, and perhaps can be a guideline for you too.


Makeup for Beginners

So makeup is pretty simple, it’s broken down to the following parts:

  • Face: Coverage makeup such as foundation, concealer, powders, BB Creams, etc.
  • Eyes: Products such as eyeliner, eyeshadow, eyebrow pencils, mascara
  • Lips: Lipgloss, lipstick, lip stains, etc
  • Cheeks: Blush, bronzer, highlighters, etc.

For a beginner I think you really only need the very basics. I mean, can you imagine one day not wearing any makeup, and then the next day you have a full face on? Yikes! What I did when I first started wearing it was to slowly start trying each product, seeing what I liked, and then took it from there.



I started with eye makeup because that seemed to be the most “exciting”! Well, at least it was for me – I remember I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some eyeliner! However, eyeliner may be too much right at the beginning, so for the eyes, you can start off with mascara (as I did!). My first mascara ever was from MAC, but if that’s out of your price range, I love the mascaras from The Body Shop and Bourjois as well. For tips on how to apply mascara, check out my posts, Simple Mascara Tricks.

Only if you want, then just grab some eyeshadow and eyeliner for more “special” occasions. If you really want to go all out and experiment with eye makeup (it is the most fun, in my opinion!) some products I really love that you can check out are listed here.


After I started wearing a bit of mascara, within a few months I wanted to wear more makeup! That, and my dreaded teen acne started, so I desperately was looking for something to cover up all my blemishes, and even out my skintone, so “base” makeup was next for me.


Foundation comes in various forms, from pressed powders, liquid formulas, stick formulas – you name it. Since you’re a beginner though, I would recommend starting with a tinted moisturizer or a BB Cream, to get you used to the feeling (and application)… and to be honest I prefer those over good old foundation – foundation is just too thick for my liking. But experiment at the shops to see what you like best. I would recommend the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturzer (very pricy, but it’s AMAZING) and Bobbi Brown’s BB Cream. If you’re looking for drugstore versions, there is Pure Beauty’s Jasmine Water BB Cream which I liked, as well as a CC Cream by Rachel K.

For concealer – this is where you must do some experimenting! I would actually only recommend concealer if you feel you need it – if you have dark eye circles or a bit of blemishes, then grab one. If not, leave your skin free! I would recommend just going and trying whatever feels right, though I LOVE Laura Mercier’s Secret Concealer, Benefit’s Boi-ing and Clinique’s Derma Blend Stick Concealer. When I was starting out however, I bought some from the drugstore – Maybelline, Bourjois, you name it – and worked my way from there.

As for powder, if your skin is really good, skip it, or get a really “light” one like a translucent powder. I use one by Aubrey Organics. It doesn’t have any color and hardly looks like anything, but it just “sets” the base makeup and prevents your skin from getting too oily.

So, conclusion: I personally feel that as a teen, you really don’t need to paint your face with so much “base” makeup (actually, make that at any age!). I just feel it looks too fake, and as a teen you are already so natural and pretty, so you should be enhancing that, not covering it up! So I’d seriously jst recommend a tinted moisturizer and leave it as that. If you have a problem with acne and blemishes, on top of a tinted moisturizer, a concealer topped off with powder will cover those suckers up!


For cheeks, invest in a pretty blush! If you have fair skin, a pink/peach would look great, but if you have tanned skin, oh my goodness please get a dusty rose color! Tanned skins look AMAZING in them. If your skin is darker, I too recommend a dusty rose or even a plum color would look lovely!

Personally, I was never a big fan of blush when I first started out (I have only realized the importance of it recently) so I usually skipped it. I did, however get a bronzer which was nice for days when I needed a little color. Blush can be a bit tricky though – I could never get my cheeks looking “even” in the beginning! – so check out my post How to Apply Blush for more help.



For lips – I think it’s quite simple! :) Go around and check out colors you like and just wear them!

Oh, and just as a general tip: make sure you don’t use expired makeup! Check out the shelf life of your makeup here, and how to properly remove your makeup (very important!) here.


I hope my tips have helped some of the newbies to makeup. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below, and for those who are experienced in makeup, please add in your tips as well! I’d love to hear them; and also – how old were you when you started wearing makeup, and how did you start?

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  1. I started at 17 as well! I wish you had written this post back then :P I remember struggling with getting eyeliner on – i always ended up with a hideous gap between my lash line and the eyeliner line! it was incredibly frustrating! I guess the best way to get used to make up is to just keep practicing. I remember thinking I’d never ever be able to put on eyeliner or that I’d never get used to mascara (made my lashes feel all spidery and unnatural when I first started!) Having said that, I still feel like a total newbie when it comes to makeup especially when I watch those makeup videos on Youtube (how do they make it look so effortless?!)

    I’ve always wanted to try using blush but I’ve only seen them look gorgeous on fair skins. I’m a bit tanned so I’ve always been a bit skeptical. any recommendations for dusty rose blushes?

    • Hey Ri! Ooh I took forever to get my eyeliner looking even, too! I agree, practice makes perfect! Haha those on YouTube are experts, I guess! Maybe that’s why they’re called “gurus”? Haha

      For blushes, my go-to is definitely MAC. They’re affordable and pigmented very well, and the pan is quite large – I only “just” hit pan for one of my blushes and it’s been 3+ years! :)

  2. nayla khatib says:

    ahhh. this takes me back to the days where i first put on make up. i guess i started to put it on regularly [for parties] at 17 but the first time i used concealer and base was at 15, for prom :P My mom n best friend put it on me and i was thinking” WHAT IS THIS ON MY FACE!?”
    But i agree with Renee.

    if it’s basics, for beginners, i’d say just a little concealer [unless your tone is even and proper]
    a little bit of eye liner and lip gloss. :D but i DO love mascarra. pretty eye lashes make the eyes look beautiful.

    eye shadow is like dress up. you don’t really need it. :)))

    • Totally agree – just the basics for beginners! Haha you are so cute! When I first tried mascara too I was like WHAT IS THIS?! But it looked so pretty and now I’m used to it :P

  3. Hey Renee!

    Thank you so much for your answer! At last, I find a clue about where to start. Eye makeup sounds very exciting! Especially because I’m a glasses wearer so maybe eye makeup can make me look a little less ‘geeky’ (I look unbelievably geeky, which is why I started thinking about wearing makeup) and my parents don’t allow me to wear contacts as I’m very reckless. I’ll definitely try this out soon, thank you so very much!

    Have a good day,

  4. I also started wearing make up when I was 17 (that was last year, hahaha!). I was going to university so I thought that’d be the best timing. I mean, my new friends have never seen me before I wear make up. I do not want people to know that I have never worn make up before. Although it was not that much of make up that people barely notice it, I did not like it whenever somebody commented, like “Oh, now you wear make up!” or asked me why I now wear make up.

    When I first started out, I only wear lip products, since it is the easiest to apply. Back then I only combine balm (to prep my lips) and gloss. Even now, that’s still my favorite combination, because I feel that lipstick looks a bit unnatural for me. But lately I’ve been trying to use lip-stain and do the natural gradient lips.

    Then I started using base make up. I use concealer and powder on top of clear moisturizer + sunblock because my skin happens to be good… ;) I only have horrible eyebags due to these sleepless nights. I also use blush but only when I go out with friends.

    For eye make up, I only use them if I go out with my friends, and all I use is eyeliner. I do not use mascara because my face is oily, so it often smudges, but if I use the waterproof one, my lashes always get pulled when I remove the mascara.

    But the most important thing is, before you want to invest in make up, I think it’s better if you invest in good skincare first. A lot of my friends who wore make up everyday got a lot of breakouts and skin problems because they did not really invest in good skincare products and that results in putting thicker and thicker make up… which is not good in my opinion. I think it’s also important to know the order of what skincare products you should use before you put make up on. And never, ever forget to wash your face from all the make up at the end of the day!

    Confidence is the key in wearing make up. If you think you look good, you’ll feel good. But if after you wear make up you feel uncomfortable, there’s no need to force yourself to wear it. :)

    (Sorry for such long comment. I can’t help but to share because this reminds me so much of when I first started.)

    • I used to have the same problem with mascara! I usually solve it one of these ways
      1. Have a really goog water proof mascara and an amazing waterproof makeup remover. It’s not supposed to tug at your lashes. Just gently press it on your eyemake up and it should glide off. Lisa Eldrige has a good video on that. (Look her up she’s amazing)
      2. Have a really dry formula mascara. I thought all mascaras were pretty much the same, but of course not :P There are some that are really dry that don’t smudge as much as others.

      I hope that helps. :)

      • Johanna, thank you for your tips. :)

        I cannot stand waterproof mascara as every time I remove them, I lose about 6 eyelashes… no thanks! I stopped after using 2 mascaras when I was 15 and never looked back.

        Josephine, do you remember to let your mascara dry fully before you blink, etc? Singapore is so hot and stuffy and my mascara never smudges because I make sure it is completely dry. I think a lot of it is also the formula, what mascaras are you using?

    • I love long comments, thank you for taking the time to write, Josephine!

      I have to agree with you on the skin thing. Skin is SO important. I am in the works of writing my story – and my tips – on finally beating acne, so look out for that soon! Khansa wrote (the above was just a part of her email) that her skin was quite good so I didn’t touch upon skincare. But I so agree with you – it’s best to have a great “base” for makeup , therefore good skin.

      it’s funny to think of how people react when you first wear makeup! I cant really remember mine since I kinda got into it slowly, so I had no comments. but I can imagine, people might go WHOA! if you put too much at the beginning XD

  5. I don’t like foundation on my face, but I find BB Creams to be perfect. After your facial routine, use some suncreen on your face, let it set in and then blend in the BB Cream.
    Sun protection is crucial in your early ages because it can in fact prolong ageing. Mom told me so. <3


  6. Hi, I TOTALLY agree with Josephine.

    ” most important thing is, before you want to invest in make up, I think it’s better if you invest in good skincare first” By taking care of your skin, you will look forever youthful n radiant with or without make up.

    My cousin loves to wear make up. She will never go anywhere without it, even when she went to a funeral or hospital visits. My sisters & I used to envy her. Oh…how beautiful & elegant she look with all that make up & dress but we are too lazy.

    As she grow older, her make up become thicker & thicker. You can see scars, blackheads & occasional breakouts on her face. Without make up, she look even worse. Pale, uneven skintone with acne scars & panda eyes. A lot of people commented that she look much older than her age.

    She may have all the good make up tools & products but without a good skincare regime & healthy diet, all her efforts are in vain. She will forever have to hide under all those thick make up.

    • Oh dear… yes I agree skincare is very important. As for your cousin, there is stuff she can do to take care of her skin now. Though some damage is irreversible, I am sure there are other ways. For starters you should tell her to wear sunscreen and acne scars can be removed by laser :) But I totally agree that makeup to cover all that looks makes you look much, much older.

  7. i’m not new to make up, but this was a huge help. I’ve always been confused on the subject of whether foundation or concealer goes first, and where the powder fits into all of this. Besides that, it’s great to hear an opinion on what kind of make up you should buy depending on your age or skin type. I’m about to try out laura mericier’s tinted moisturizer and the bo-oing concealer you’ve raged about ;)

    I was twelve or thirteen when I first tried out the regular drug store foundations, fifteen when I transferred to the nicer make ups, and at sixteen I barely started investing in some nice blushes, foundations etc.

    • Thank you Hannah! :) I am so glad it could help beginners and non-beginners alike! As for the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer… buy is asap!!! For Benefit’s Boi-ing, I was just told that the formula has changed? Granted I haven’t restocked since the last time so it’s been awhile, but since when?! Eeks… PLEASE try it out at the store first before you buy it. But Laura Mercier… oh my, wonderful products. Her concealer is also very good!

  8. When I started wearing makeup, like josephine , I started with lip gloss with very light natural looking colors. But now along with lip gloss I also love lipsticks. Just by wearing bright color lipstick gives my face a fresh look even when I am tired and do not have a good night sleep. Some times I do not even use foundation , conceler or eyeshadow , I just put on lipstick and eyeliner and I am out the door.

    • Yeah, I suppose we all start off natural and then like to play! Interestingly, I have gone back to the “natural”, and I know that natural looks better for older women. it’s funny how you can start and end up at the same place, makeup wise :D

  9. I think colors just represent how a person want to dress themselves . When I like to dress up I go with bright colors like pink and red shades I love them , but when I want to dress down I use natural colors I use both. Try bight colors you will feel like you are full of life , also bright colors will make you look less tired , it just gives a face a fresh look. Try it. I love shades by avon you can check out the website @

  10. i love mascara and would like to start using it but how do i remove it at the end of the day?

    • I realize it’s been awhile since you’ve posted this comment and I’m not the writer of this blog so I’m probably not the person you expected to reply! But, I do have some suggestions :]
      Taking off eye make-up in easy! You take it off using make-up remover, just make-sure it’s okay to use around your eyes (read labels and directions on the bottles or look them up online before you purchase them at the store.) An inexpensive make-up remover that is great for on the eyes is baby oil! Who would’ve thought? It’s great because even if you get it in your eyes a little it doesn’t stink or burn or even really bother your eyes, because it’s make for babies! I have contacts and have gotten baby oil in my eyes many times while wearing contacts and I haven’t really had a problem, but I definitely recommend taking them out before using a make-up remover.
      Baby oil works on removing all make-up though. And it’s VERY cheap :] Hope this helps. I’m no expert but this has worked amazing on me, it’s great for people with sensitive skin (as do I) and leaves your skin “baby” soft :]
      Oh and it removes make-up effortlessly. No rubbing or scrubbing and it comes off the first time!

  11. I think I go through phases with what makeup I feel like wearing now. Lately I’ve been skipping the mascara…but when I was just starting to wear makeup, it was all about the eyes for me too!

    Also, Laura Mercier is pretty amazing. Both the concealer and tinted moisturizer are fantastic!

  12. Avon’s Moisture Effective Ete Makeup Remover is gentle and removes mascara and eyeshades easily. Give it
    a try you won’t be disappointed

  13. When I first started wearing makeup at about 19, I started with only tinted moisturizer, lip gloss and defining my eyebrow with eyebrow pencil. And that was more than enough in my opinion.

    Concealers, blush, foundation, eye makeup and loose powder started to only kick in slowly one by one as I start to age. The older I get, the more I need LOL.

    Perhaps Khansa might want to consider shaping her eyebrows and using eyebrow pencil to define her eyebrows. I personally find that it makes hell a lot of difference. One can look more sophisticated somewhat with well kept brows. If her parents insist that she can’t switch to contact lenses, there are still plenty of sleek looking frames to choose from.

  14. Thanks for the great tips and guides Renee! I’m just started to learn makeup last week and I found that eye makeup is a little bit tricky and difficult for me. Just checked out your Simple Mascara Tricks post and learnt a lot from it :)

  15. Just wanted to stop buy and say thanks so much for this post, and your post about makeup tips for glasses wearers. I am a complete noob at wearing makeup and I’m in my twenties, and I had no idea where to start. This is a really great list for someone who has no idea. So yesterday I went out and picked up some basics (BB cream, eyeliner, mascara and a foundation brush) and now I’m feeling slightly less terrified of looking like a clown.

  16. I’m 25 and I’m still pretty much a makeup beginner. I’ve played around with it occasionally since I was probably 16 or 17, but I’ve only just now started getting to the point where I’d like to wear it more often (and out in public!). When I first started playing with makeup, I’d wear just a touch of very neutral eyeshadow, mascara, and a nude-pink lip gloss. Now I’ve gotten better at putting on eyeshadows, so I actually use a crease color and highlight color (still very neutral with brown/taupe shadows), but I’m still awful at applying eyeliner, so I’ve consistently steered clear of that. I need to take a day and just practice putting it on and taking it off over and over and over, lol! I do wear a foundation now, as well as lip colors that are a little less on the nude side. I have a pink that I like and a red that I think I like but am not brave enough to wear in public yet.

  17. Thank you so much. I am seventeen and going through the same drama. Am so glad to have found and read this!

  18. I wore makeup around age 22, but only for a short time. I am reading this article to find out what to do now at age 50. My daughter is coming over shortly and we are going to make a trip to the drugstore. Wish me luck!

  19. Hi Renee :D

    I started using makeup when I was 18(I’m 19 now). I’ve never had use for it and used it first time on my graduation ceremony/party. Mostly because I was lucky enough to have OK skin, no acne, even color my whole teenage years. But around age 18 the skin around my mouth became darker then the rest of my face and the dark circles on my eyes suddenly started rebelling xD after that I’ve tried using BB cream, but I’m struggling with finding the right color that maches the rest of my skin(like neck and such)! tried the lightest I found in Norway, but it’s too dark. It’s so weird ’cause my skin is actually the tanned type Q___Q what did you do to find the right color? do you folow any sort of “rules”?(like; “it should be lighter then the color of my hands” etc.)

    I’ve also heard that you should always wear moist-cream(or something) under the BB cream/foundation but I recently read that it’s not good for your skin after all. So I’m a bit confused! My skin doesn’t really like it when I wear thick/non breathing makeup, and when I remove it(the makeup) my skin get’s weird, so should I use moist-cream after removing makeup as well? (my skin doesn’t really like it when I do clensing stuff either, it’s kinda sensitive to that sort of stuff…)

    oh, about the eye liner thing. When I use liner-pencil it just get’s smudgy(after a while) and makes my dark circles look darker, so when it comes to eye liners what do you reccomend? Gel liner? Pencil liner? or Liquid liner? and do you think cheap ones are just as good as an expensive one?

  20. I’m starting but I’m 14 and I’m not sure if I should be clogging my pores and I’m looking for a good drugstore tinted moisturiser. Any advice?

  21. hi! I’am from bd. I need ur help. If i wear use only face powder then blushes,it will be gd?? Sorry fr my poor english..:-(

  22. I started off with many of the brands youre using now but i never saw any benefits. When i used the make up i think it eventually made my skin worse and more sensitive. Then my friend introduced me to a new exclusive line of makeup products. Its working amazing for me and my skin looking & feeling so much better

  23. im 49 year old male can send tou my e-mail how to put on makeup for a male and what makeup txywomano use so I can look like a sexywoman how to chose falls false eye lasers an how to putt on and also how to pluck my eye browse or the mane
    Of sites qear I can down load to my phone what to do tgank u

  24. Georgia says:

    This is great, I’m quite new to makeup too and what you said you used to used(just mascara, no blush etc.) is exactly what I do but it’s great to see the products you recommended too!

  25. I have a skin tone that is that pale i haven’t found any foundation that is light enough (i have tried really expensive ones aswel)
    What would you suggest? Also powder or liquid etc?

  26. Hello! I’m 25 years old as of 2 weeks ago. I want
    to try out makeup. The most I’ve worn was lip gloss and mascara. Can u say late bloomer?! Lol. Any tips or suggestions?

  27. Hi Renee! I’m Kayla, and I need just some basic tips on how to use make-up.. But I don’t want it to look like I have spent hours doing it! I need some tips on how to make it look natural aswell.. I’m 15, and I am on a budget of my own pocket money – R350. Not much! How can I spend it in the most beneficial way?
    It would be great if you could give me some useful tips.
    Thanks, Kay.

  28. I’am 19, and I have never used make up :D
    But I’m willing to :)

  29. i started putting makeup when i was 11 .. i started it by just putting a light powder and lipgloss .. then when i was 12 of course !! i started moddle school that age so i also started to experiment things and i like to put mascara and lipgloss that time.. now tha i’m 13 , i am putting eyeshadow , blush , mascara , sometimes i also put eyeliner on my waterlines and just a simple lip stain .. i do this everyday :D for me makeup is already part of my life ..

  30. Hi , My name is Jasmine and I’m 18 I really don’t wear makeup the only thing inwesrcis mascara. For the last year or so I have become interesting in the fashion and make up . I go on YouTube and watch these different make up videos . So I have become interesting in doing that . Mr question to you is that what are the steps for a face routine like foundations can you list the rules into applying foundation blush and can you list then in order to how you apply everything in order ….. Pretty much I’m asking how go your face beat and makeup artists say .

  31. i have make up and put on but by the 3 it is ruined. i even put primer but it didn’t really work -.-

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