Much like having a signature wardrobe look, I have recently had a light bulb moment and discovered I also have signature make up look.
Let me begin by saying I love make up. Love it. I love the ritual of putting it on, I love the smell of it, I love the sound of a compact snapping shut, and the sound of the lid clicking over a tube of lipstick makes me all warm and fuzzy. I’m a marketers dream – make the product smell nice and the packaging look pretty and luxurious and you can almost guarantee I’ll find some reason that I absolutely must have that product.
Not that long ago, a colleague said “I will never understand these girls who put on a full face of makeup in the morning to come to work. I would rather spend that extra time in bed.” I sheepishly admitted to her that I was one of those girls. I could see her automatically examining my face for traces of said makeup. Her response was “Really???? You would never know.” At first I was a little annoyed. You mean to tell me I spend all that time (well, it’s actually not that much – usually 15 minutes, tops) putting my face on and you can’t even tell! But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, isn’t that the point? To play up the features you like (my eyes) and play down those you don’t (my too-rosy cheeks), and leave people thinking that you are naturally that doe-eyed and luminously glowing. Thinking back on it, it was probably one of the best compliments I could have received – to me it says that my makeup makes me look polished and pulled together, without looking “made up”.
So, again, after many years of failed attempts at hot new makeup trends, I’ve streamlined my makeup look, and with it the number of products in my makeup bag. It has taken me a while to realise that when I was buying new products or colours, they were really just variations on a theme. And the products I was throwing out or giving away (usually to my mum who, like me, is a bit if a makeup fiend. Either that or she is too polite to say no to my makeup hand me downs), were those that I hadn’t used because they didn’t fit my makeup aesthetic. This realisation has also given me the strength to say no to palettes of eye shadow, no matter how adorable the packaging.
So what are my makeup kit essentials?
1. Primer. As Mr Napoleon Perdis says “not to prime is a crime”. It smooths the skin, leaving the perfect foundation for, well, foundation and helps your make up to stay the distance however long your day may be. A lot of cosmetic brands have a primer now, and it is a good idea to buy the primer and foundation together because they are made to complement each other. I’ve tried a couple of brands, but usually go back to Napoleon’s AutoPilot Pre-Foundation Skin Primer. It smells great and acts like bondo, so your make up doesn’t move until you go to take it off.
Foundation is probably my key, can’t-live-without product. As I mentioned, my skin tends to be a little on the pink side, and being quite fair, I flush easily. Foundation gives me a lovely even skin tone and plays down the pinkness. I go for a medium coverage, and am currently using Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place makeup. And stay in place it does – I can get home after work, and working out, and my foundation still looks as fresh as it did when I put it on in the morning. And at AU$50, it is a lot cheaper than many other foundations on the market.
It’s time for a confession. I probably don’t really need to use powder. Especially considering I love a dewy, glowing base. I just love make up (as I’ve mentioned). However, in an attempt to justify my makeup addiction, I have heard that a light dusting of powder helps to set your foundation, giving it true staying power. At the moment I’m using Chanel “Poudre Universelle Compacte”, for no real reason other than the fact that I’m completely seduced by the black enamel case, and those white interlocking Cs.
Blush is one of those products that I have multiples of in my makeup bag. And they all seem to be within a shade of each other. It’s not like I need that many – one palette of foundations lasts me years (even though I know I should be sending it to makeup heaven after 12 months or so). I love that it gives me a hint of colour, without making my cheeks too rosy. Currently in my makeup bag are:
MAC Powder Blush in Mocha
Napoleon Mosaic in “Blushing”
While the Napoleon blush looks a little heavy and dark, althoughts little squares blend together to add just the right amount of flush. In addition, the colour is buildable so you can be as light- or as heavy-handed as you want.
6. Eye brow pencil
I’m quite fair – fair skinned and fair headed. My mother has always envied my eyebrows – their shape, their colour. She credits this to having rubbed Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on my brows when I was just a baby. Her jealousy comes from the fact that she was of a generation that over-plucked, and her brows have never been the same since.
Because I’m fair, my brows can tend to fade once I’ve applied foundation and powder. So to give them more definition, I use an eyebrow pencil. Not a dark one, not to give me Groucho Marx eyebrows. One in a shade that is just a shade darker than my natural eyebrow colour, to define my brows and open up my eyes. I currently use MAC “Impeccable Brow Pencil” in “Dirty Blonde”.
7. Eye shadow
When I was a little girl, it was not uncommon to see women matching the shade of their eye shadow to the colour of the clothes they were wearing. If I’m completely honest, I know some more, ahem, mature ladies who still do this. I must admit, when I was in my late teens, much of my makeup, including my eye shadows, was in some varying shade of pink. I didn’t cake it on, but it was pink nonetheless.
As with my wardrobe, I’ve since discovered that less is more and the trick is to make it subtle so people can’t really tell at first glance whether you’re wearing makeup or not. So now I opt for more neutral shades. In summer, it is a nude – champagne coloured wash of colour, like Napoleon’s “Sparkling Bubbly”.
In winter, I opt for a colour with more depth, such as a taupe. Napoleon is my go-to again here, and I’m a huge fan of “Leather and Lace” – a taupe with just the right amount of shimmer to it. And best of all, it is a buildable colour, so if you’re after something a bit more intense, you can just apply more until you’re happy with the result.
8. Eye liner
Eye liner is another product I would be lost without. Although, I fear I may not be the best at applying it, and after more than 10 years of wearing eyeliner, I still don’t think I’ve mastered that “flick”. My uber stylish friend (the one who makes me sigh with envy every time I see her), is a guru at liquid liner. Alas, I’ve yet to master that art, and I’m a kohl pencil girl. My old faithful is Lancome’s “Le Crayon Khol” in Noir. It has a smooth, even application, and a beautiful intensity of colour.
Mascara is my second key, can’t live without product. I literally feel naked without it. I’m not brand-loyal when it comes to mascara – I usually try something new each time it comes to buying a new one. But I have to say, my favourite so far has been Christian Dior’s Dior Show mascara. It delivers the perfect combination of length and volume. It has an enormous brush (rumoured to have been developed after Dior makeup artists were using toothbrushes to coat model’s lashes backstage to create voluminous, luxurious lashes, when a regular mascara wand just wouldn’t do).
There have been new formulations of late, but I think this is still the best. I admit it is a splurge, but I think it is worth it.
I never used to be into lipstick – I was purely a clear gloss/lip balm kind of girl. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that without a bit of colour on my lips, it tends to make my whole face look washed out. And that’s never a good thing. I read once that the most flattering lip colour a girl can wear is one that is two shades darker than her natural lip colour. Obviously, this is going to be different for everyone, but my current favourite lip colour is “Athens”, by NP Set, the diffusion line of Napoleon (available at Napoleon concept stores, Target, Big W). The texture is super creamy and moisturising, and the colour is just perfect for me.
So, they are my makeup essentials. What are your can’t-live-without products?