A few months ago I became fascinated by reading about, browsing online and in shops, purchasing and trying out make-up. Make-up was not a hobby that impacted my earlier life – looking back, I think this was due to a combination of my personality (ever.so.serious), the fact that I had pretty much perfect skin throughout my schooldays, and not having a clue how to apply it so that on the odd occasions that I tried to get on board with it I would end up looking ridiculous and taking it all off.
A few months ago, I properly discovered beauty blogs and YouTube channels and got hooked. Since then, I’ve learned new words (spooly; dofer), discovered the difference between dry and dehydrated skin and found myself at the Shu Uemera counter earnestly asking the saleswoman if the foundation I was inspecting had SPF as I didn’t want to look too pale in pictures. I’ve bought my first powder, eyebrow gel and eyeshadow palette. I suddenly had two sets of Real Techniques brushes. I was applying a full face of make-up just to chill out at home. I had a problem.
The obsession waned, as my obsessions invariably do, but I’m still more interested in make-up than I was before, and I think I’ve learned some useful things worth sharing:
1. Budget make-up can be pretty darn good…
‘Drugstore’ brands is a term imported from the US – once you realise this it becomes much less irritating; here it means the cheaper brands found in Boots and Superdrug. The foundations, bronzers and eyeshadows I remember my peers wearing in my younger years probably put me off cheaper make-up for a long while. Because of these memories and my limited appetite for make-up (I used base and blush only), I’d always been able to splurge a little bit on brands – Clinique City Block and Benefit’s Benetint were my staples from my late teens until my mid-twenties. But one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt from the online experts is this: budget make-up is actually good now. (Or maybe it always was and I just didn’t know it.) Either way, a make-up habit suddenly became an affordable aspiration for me.
The best bit about having beauty bloggers as your online besties is that they not only tell you that cheaper make-up is fantastic; they also do the testing for you and point you towards the right gear. The sheer number of products available can be overwhelming – let these women take the tyranny out of that choice. It is from these oracles that I discovered the Soap & Glory bronzer which saw me downgrading from NARS Laguna and saving me £11 every nine months or so.
2. …But high-end stuff generally still wins out
You might disagree with me here (and please leave a comment if you do) but I still think the best version of any product is always going to come from a luxury brand. There may well be products where there’s a high-street version that’s better than a particular brand’s offering, but the ultimate version of any item – foundation, concealer, eyeshadow, whatever – is invariably going to come from the higher end of the market. This does come through from the experts’ videos: sure, they all rave about the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer, but the NARS Radiant Creamy always wins the day. Soap & Glory ARCHERY works well, but wouldn’t they choose the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz given the choice? I came to this conclusion myself after weeks of testing out foundations under £10. But more on that in a future post.
3. With these women on your side, shopping for make-up is made easy
When it comes to topics on which I am not expert, I don’t want to do loads and loads of research. So having beauty blogs in my life is like having a an extra circle of friends whose opinion you really trust. Women who test out products then provide me with a shortlist. Want a new foundation? Watch a couple of YouTube videos, google ‘Sali Hughes foundation’ and you’ve already narrowed down your choice from hundreds to a handful. Filter by price and availability and I bet you don’t have to choose between more than three when you hit the shops. There is pretty extensive list of make-up I’ve selected using this method and that I highly rate, which includes (but is not limited to); a bargainous and highly effective powder; the easiest to apply and longest lasting lipstick I’ve ever tried; a good-quality cheap foundation; the ultimate eyelash curlers; and the thing I use to set my eyebrows almost every day. The only downside? Once you’re so empowered in the make-up aisles of Boots, you do suddenly have less cash for other endeavours.
4. You’re gonna wanna get some concealer
Maybe because I thought I didn’t need it (in addition to foundation? Really?!), or maybe because I couldn’t get the application right, until six months ago I never wore concealer. Don’t be like me: buy some. It really does make a noticeable difference to dark eye circles, scarring and permanent blemishes if you get the match to your base/skin shade right. It also reduces the amount of foundation you need to use. There are loads of great cheap ones (shout outs to these ones from Rimmel and Maybelline). Although I felt a little let down when I did not get along with every beauty blogger’s favourite: Collection Lasting Perfection.
5. Eyeshadow isn’t so scary (but I still can’t get along with eyeliner)
As with concealer, I didn’t start wearing eyeshadow until last year. This was more to do with my inability to perform proper application (resulting in clown face) than with any belief that it didn’t work and/or look good. I had long lusted after Alicia Florrick’s smokey daytime eye but didn’t know where to start. Turns out if you watch enough YouTubers applying their eyeshadow, and invest in a Mac 217 brush and a basic palette, you can achieve a passable eye make-up ‘look’ with minimal effort. I’m not saying I’m a pro or anything, but someone did compliment my eyeshadow at a party last weekend so, you know, I’m getting somewhere. Sadly, the same is not true of eyeliner, with which I still struggle. Although I can just about draw a line with a gel or powder and a tiny brush, mastering a kohl pencil or liquid pen remains a distant dream. So I should probably keep watching…
What make-up tips have you learnt from YouTube? Who are your favourite beauty bloggers?