If you’re just getting interested in makeup or want to style your hair differently, there are a few products and tools you’ll need. You could go to a makeup counter and a salon for a makeover and then buy all the products, but that’s not always the practical choice if you’re on a budget. Build your own custom beginner’s beauty kit with a mix of splurges and inexpensive products.
Makeup for beginners:
Start with the basics, then pick up a new color to play around with every now and then as you get comfortable. Look for:
Eye Shadow: Begin with a palette of neutral-toned shadows, from white or cream to black or dark brown. Since shadow quality plays a big part in how it wears throughout the day, it’s usually wise to go beyond the drugstore here. LORAC Pro and Urban Decay Naked palettes offer a range of colors wide enough to work for anyone, and you can do anything from the simplest daytime school or office look to a smoky eye for nights out. For a budget option, try the NYX Cosmetics Butt Naked Eye Color Kit, which comes with blush, highlighter, and bronzer, or try the Makeup Revolution Affirmation 32 Piece Eye Shadow Palette.
Dark Liner: A pigmented pencil can be smudged out for a smokier look or left crisp. It can be used on upper and lower lash lines. Choose a darker shade from the NYX Slide-On Pencil collection. Want to splurge? Urban Decay’s 24/7 Liner is a winner.
Black or Brown Mascara that Lengthens and Thickens: Look for a mascara that will do it all so you only need one. Redheads and fair-skinned blondes may feel most comfortable with a brown or blackish-brown shade. Black is a fairly universal option, though. Try the L’Oreal Voluminous line or CoverGirl Lash Exact.
CC Cream: For everyday wear, a CC cream can take the place of heavy foundation, offering light to medium coverage, moisture, and treatment. Try the Urban Decay Naked Skin One & Done Hybrid Complexion Perfector for smooth coverage.
Concealer: There are color correctors out there that can better target the redness of pimples or the blue or purple tones under the eyes, but for the beginner, a creamy concealer that works anywhere is the best choice. Try Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer for a creamy, opaque finish that doesn’t crease under the eyes or highlight skin imperfections.
Blush: Start out with a neutral shade that has a hint of pink or peach when you’re first building your kit. These will complement any makeup look. Try Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush, which is good for dry or oily skin types and available in a range that has the perfect shade for any skin tone.
Lipsticks: You may be fine with one neutral shade to wear with everything or prefer to have one neutral, something deeper, and something bright. Choose moisturizing shades in the opacity you prefer. Some women may feel comfortable in an opaque nude shade but want a sheerer red or fuchsia. Others may want a simple pink gloss to wear most days but go bold with an opaque red or plum for special occasions. Browsing in a store that has testers on display (department stores, Ulta, Sephora, etc.) will provide the best results because you can swatch several before making a purchase.
Hair for beginners:
This is a place to splurge, at least when it comes to styling tools.
Curling Irons: The longer your hair, the wider the barrel of the curling iron should be. Look into brands like Hot Tools, a reasonably priced line that gets results.
Flat Irons: In general, BaByliss lines are effective on most hair lengths and types.
Heat Protection: Always use heat protectant before heat styling. This minimizes damage and makes hair look silkier. Try Beyond the Zone Turn Up the Heat Protection Spray.
Shine Serums: A shine serum can add an extra glossiness even to air-dried locks. Apply when hair is damp or dry. Biosilk Silk Therapy does the trick without weighing hair down. For a budget option, try Garnier Nutrisse Sleek & Shine.
Some of the products you buy may be able to multi-task (like dark black shadow as liner or a shadow in your palette that can work as a blush), so you won’t necessarily need everything on the list. Build the kit that works for you.