Requested: Low Budget Barely-There Makeup (How to Look Polished for Less)
Say you’re just starting out with makeup and you don’t want to wear a whole lot, or invest in a lot of tools and brushes. Let’s face it. The No Makeup Makeup Look can cost more than full-on makeup. All those HD products, Face and Body Foundations, high-end shadows and fancy stippling brushes that promise an undetectable makeup result might work great but aren’t always realistic when you’re on a budget.
So how do you get yourself looking more polished without it costing a pretty penny?
Here are some basic tricks to consider.
1. If you have money for just one foundation, make it a higher-coverage one. You can always mix 2 parts foundation with 1 part lotion (or more) on the back of your hand for a sheerer, more lightweight, “HD”-type foundation, and your product goes a LONG way compared to getting a tinted moisturizer for about the same price.
Note: No foundation in the world, no matter how good it is, will look great if it doesn’t match your skin. Spend some time to find the best possible match.
2. Use your fingers to apply. If you don’t have a fancy stippling or buffing brush, the good news is - you don’t REALLY need one. Here’s how you apply the most even layer of foundation possible with your fingers.
After you mix in any lotion, use the pads of your fingers like a sponge and lightly pat-pat-pat the foundation over your face until you get a light, even layer all over and there are no patches or uneven areas to be seen.
NO RUBBING ALLOWED!
The patting helps to press a thin, even layer of foundation, lift away excess product, and does not disturb anything that has started to set on the skin. Essentially, you get the fullest (and most even) coverage possible with that amount of product.
To get the same effect with a brush or a rubbing motion, you’ll almost always end up wasting a lot more product and time.
3. Don’t use a concealer that’s noticeably lighter than your skin.
Find exactly your skin tone, and find something with higher coverage so you can cover more with less product.
Why? Because using a much lighter concealer to cover dark circles and “highlight” the area under your eyes only works when you have a lighting crew a la J-Lo and Kim Kardashian. In real life, you just end up highlighting what you want to hide, AND telling people how hard you’re trying to cover them up.
You need a skin-tone powder to neutralize the lightness of the concealer, but if it’s the No Makeup Makeup look you’re going for, visible powder is one of the biggest giveaways.
I’d only recommend setting your skin with some translucent powder if you have oilier skin or live in a very humid climate, because your sebum or moisture in the environment will remove the powdery look quickly.
General word of advise: Concealer can make you feel better when you have that important interview or you’re about to meet the man of your dreams, but don’t turn it into an emotional crutch and end up spackling it on. The average stranger won’t notice or care about that little bit of redness or the shadows under your eyes, and the people who know you would probably rather not see thick, crusty concealer on your face. Relax a little!
4. If you are dry, live in a dry climate, or just don’t like how powder looks, this is a super-cheap trick for getting a non-greasy face that isn’t flat and matte.
Use a single-ply sheet of tissue and lightly cup it over your face where you want it to look matte. Don’t press hard or you will rub off your makeup. Just cup.
This lifts the excess moisture from your foundation and concealer, and leaves mostly pigments so you get the coverage, but with invisible, natural texture.
This is an important part to making any face look more polished. It’s always a good idea to get it done professionally (or by someone who you think has nicely-groomed brows) and then maintain it yourself after that.
BUT - if you’re sure of yourself and want to take it on, then make sure you do not overdo it. Thick unruly brows are ALWAYS nicer than over-plucked or tadpole brows (also otherwise known as the “comma” brow, below).
I always want to run screaming when I see them. A general guideline; STAY AWAY from the inner half of your brows when you are clearing up your browbone area, and keep the shape nicely tapering from thick (inside) to thin (outside). Don’t keep plucking further and further inwards or you’ll end up like the image above.
Everybody’s brow thickness varies, so I’m not going to say what is too thin or too thick, but there should be no obvious “comma” or tadpole head. *shudder*
If you’re filling it in with a brow pencil or powder,
- don’t overemphasize the arch or you’ll look like a 50’s villain with a fierce “V” brow.
- look for noticeable gaps and sparse areas and only apply minimal product, before building up as needed. Most brows are thicker in the inner halves, and you might not need to darken that portion.
- always use a slightly grey-toned pencil or powder, UNLESS you have red hair, in which case you can use a regular brown.
6. Define the eyes with a soft taupe brown that is MATTE and slightly deeper than your skin tone. But this shade is different for every skin tone, so how do you find your perfect shade?
You don’t need to go out and hunt high and low. Just dip your shadow brush into your regular skin-colored face powder and then tap it lightly into a generic matte brown shadow a few times to darken the shade a little.
THAT’s all you need to get a good color for you.
It’s not going to be too visible going on, but it will define your socket line and lid area, depending on whether you want to emphasize your socket (better for hooded and mono-lids) or just the general eye area (if you have a defined double-lid).
- For hooded/monolids, apply the color ALONG the dotted line, where your eye socket is the deepest.
- For double-lids, just apply the mixture on the entire area BELOW the dotted line.
7. For the lash line, there are 2 things you want to try to do for that “my eyes but better” look.
- Emphasize the base of the lashes so they look denser
- Curl and darken the lashes themselves (if you have light hair)
For the first part, you just need to run a black or brown (if you have red or blonde hair) pencil along the upper lash line.
Then, use the oldest trick in my book; rub it back and forth to soften and smudge it out so it emphasizes your eyes but looks more like a smoky shadow than a hard line.
Lastly, you curl your lashes.
If you have dark hair and your lashes curl easily, you can just leave everything as is.
If you have very straight or down-ward pointing lashes, invest in a pair of eyelash curlers. If you’re scared of them, there are those partial curlers that allow you to curl them section by section so you won’t clip your skin.
You might need to look on ebay to see if you can locate these, as I’m not certain about availability outside of Asia. If you’re in Asia, most drugstores and Japanese cosmetics brands SHOULD carry something like this.
When all else fails, get an electric lash curler. I believe Sephora has one. Just check with one of the assistants. I find these take a LOONG time but they’re the least scary way to get your lashes pointing upwards.
At this point, if you have fair lashes or your lashes are a little on the short side, you might want to get a mascara. But there are a mind-boggling variety to choose from.
The best ones for a more “natural, wispy” look are formulas that are quite wet and/or brushes that aren’t too full and dense, because they go on in lighter layers and don’t give you clumpy spider-legs. Good options include Great Lash and Lash Blast.
Here’s a guideline.
You can tell by the mascara on the bristles that this is going to be a thick and dramatic formula. How it looks on the brush is how it would look on your lashes.
THIS wand on the other hand, barely looks like it has much product coated on it at all because the formula is quite thin. A better option if you really want your mascara to look VERY natural.
I like just a tiny bit of visible mascara. It might look obvious on camera, but in real life, this amount actually looks fine, and was done using just a single coat of Great Lash.
8. Cheeks can have a touch of color but NO shimmer or glitter!
Pick your poison, depending on whether you prefer a matte bronzer for contouring or a little bit of pretty color on the apples. I prefer a soft blush, and I find mousse and cream blushes that contain no shimmer are the best options.
To make sure you apply equal amounts to both cheeks, get a little on your finger tips and press the fingers of both hands together to distribute it evenly. This way, you don’t end up applying too much on one side, and having to apply more on the other to balance it out. It could go on and on and you end up with WAY too much color.
9. For the lips, I have just one product recommendation. Get a tinted lip balm in a stick form, in a deep cherry shade, but with minimal pigmentation and no visible shimmer. It’s idiot-proof and flattering on everyone. A stick balm also doesn’t look overly glossy. You just look like you have moist, healthy, naturally-reddened lips.
I used my absolute favorite, Cover Girl Lipslick in Hipster.