Overcoming Anxiety is a series where Cat shares tips for balancing a desire to be social with various phobias/fears. If your life is severely impacted and/or limited by your own anxiety, please consult an actual mental health professional. She is not one.
This week, we’re pulling together the supplies needed for a simple “day” look. It’s more complicated than Part 2, but with a little practice, could become an easy part of your routine (if that’s what you’d like).
The goal with your typical “day” look is to actually appear as though you’re not wearing any makeup.
I know, I know. Don’t get me started on that Catch-22.
In order to achieve le “day” look, you’ll need the following supplies*:
Buying your first brushes can be a little daunting, but you don’t have to go the pricey route. This set by Sonia Kashuk is available from Target and has more than what you need for a starter kit. If you can’t find a pre-assembled kit that suits your fancy, make sure to at least get your hands on a blush brush, tweezers, a few eye shadow brushes (usually a bigger, thick one, a shorter thick one, and a thin one), and maybe maybe maybe a foundation brush. Some people prefer these sponges. I just use my fingers. Each brush really can make a difference in how the makeup gets applied to your face – sometimes you want big swaths of colors with blurred edges, sometimes you want tight, precise lines. It all depends on the look you’re going for and the part of the face you’re working on. The tweezers are for eliminating any unwanted facial hairs.
Eye Shadow Primer
I highly recommend this primer from Urban Decay. I use it, my friends use it, and I’ve constantly read good things about it. Primer helps any eye makeup you apply go on smoothly and also stick to your eyelids a lot longer than it would without it. I used to skip the primer and the oil on my eyelids would end up causing a weird buildup of shadow in the crease of my eyelid, or everything would migrate below my eyes for a raccoon look (not immediately after application – it usually took a few hours for problems to pop up).
Light, Medium, and Dark “Neutral” Eye Shadows
Another Urban Decay recommendation here. (Cheaper alternative here). Regardless of skin tone, you’ll want an eyeshadow close to your natural skin color, one that’s a few shades darker, and a third that’s substantially lighter. Make sure none of them have much, if any, shimmer or glitter. The light one helps create highlighted areas, the dark one creates shadows and contrast, and the natural skin color one helps you blend the other two so that there are no unwanted harsh lines.
Blush is a bit tricky in terms of choosing a color, but as long as you apply it lightly, you should be okay with nearly any pinkish color (really!). Nars brand in Orgasm is a cult favorite (and it does look great!), but there’s nothing wrong with a drugstore brand alternative like Physician’s Formula. When in doubt, bring a friend (to help cut down on any social anxiety) with you to a Sephora near you and a salesperson should be able to help you pick out something appropriate. Blush helps give your face a healthy-looking glow.
If you are incredibly fair skinned with very blond eyelashes, you’ll want a brown mascara. Otherwise, black should be just fine. I like DiorShow, but have heard great things about CoverGirl’s ClumpCrusher. Oh! And as someone with allergies, I highly recommend going with the waterproof formula whenever possible. Mascara is great because it makes your eyelashes stand out and appear longer – and anything that helps bring attention to your eyes is generally a plus when it comes to makeup.
Foundation or Tinted Moisturizer/BB Cream
This is another item where you’ll likely want to consult with a helpful makeup expert in-person. Sephora is great, though I ADORE the people at Laura Mercier. Social anxiety tip: if you go to Laura Mercier, they’ll likely expect you to buy something. Check their website for prices to make sure their stuff suits your budget. You’ll know foundation is the right color when, if you apply a thin layer on your jawline, it seems to disappear into your skin. Double check how it looks both in the store and outside in sunlight – different lighting conditions can make it appear a slightly different shade. Tinted moisturizer and BB cream is a lot more forgiving when it comes to color, but you’ll still likely want to try it on at the store rather than attempt to buy it online. All three products help smooth out the color of your skin and mask any discoloration or unwanted redness. BB cream and the tinted moisturizer are generally more sheer and have some level of SPF. Foundation gives you more coverage. I tend to use BB cream for day looks and foundation for evenings.
You’ll want concealer to be just as close a match to your skin color as your foundation. Consult a makeup expert in-person. Concealer is much thicker than foundation or BB cream to help cover up really stubborn discolored spots on your skin, dark circles, etc. I rarely use concealer, but when I do, it’s Maybelline CoverStick.
I really love Nars’ Frisky Summer and think it can work well for a range of skin tones, but you should really try and find a lip gloss that’s a few shades deeper than your natural color. I’ve heard good things about Revlon’s Colorburst. Lipgloss adds shine and color to your lips without being too dark (it lets a little of your own natural tones through), though it can feel a bit sticky.
If you’re feeling bold, you can also pick up these additional extra items:
Eyeliner Pencil or Liquid Eyeliner
These help to better define the eye. I like Kat VonD’s Tatoo Liner in Ink Black and Urban Decay’s 24/7 glide on pencil in Matte Blackest Black. This is another instance where, if you have very pale skin and very light hair, you’ll want to go with a lighter, more brown shade instead of black.
Bronzer does the opposite of brightener – it shades and contours areas of the face that you want to appear to recede. This helps give your face additional dimension. Try Physician’s Formula pH Matchmaker Bronzer for a simple drugstore version. You may want to also invest in a bronzer blush, which gives you a little more control than a blush brush.
Eyebrow powder helps fill out and define your eyebrows – and a strong eyebrow draws in more focus on the eye. Talk to a makeup counter expert for advice on color. Benefit, Urban Decay, and Anastasia Beverly Hills all have nice options for eyebrow powder. You’ll also likely want to look for an eyebrow powder brush to go with it.
No, that’s not a torture device. Eyelash curlers essentially crimp your lashes so that they appear longer than they really are. I use this one from Shiseido, but you can make do with a drugstore find if need be.
Next week, I’ll show you how to use all these items and you’ll be well on your way to exploring makeup at an intermediate level.
*Note: I write from the perspective of a light-skinned, multiracial individual. A LOT of important things have been written about the dearth of good products available for dark skin. I’ve heard that Iman Cosmetics and Smashbox are good brands to turn to, but have not used them myself. If you’ve had luck, please tell us about it in the comments section!
More from Overcoming Anxiety:
She lives in the Bay Area and cites her diverse background as her biggest influence: her visual artist mom is half-Chinese, half-Greek, and from Hawai’i; her film-loving, world-music curating dad is from Montana; and she lived in both California and Montana while growing up. She loves at least a little bit about virtually everything (Pokémon Snap included) and aims to be a Jane of all trades. By day Cat is a multiple-hat-wearing media person.
She is also allergic to felines.