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I’m a 30-something woman who spends the majority of her time wearing grey sweats and a messy bun. Truth be told, I don’t know a ton about makeup. And before last year, I knew even less.
But when I decided to start tackling things I’d always wanted to do, but intimidated me like whoa, makeup was up there on that list. Through trial, error, and guidance from a very talented makeup artist, I’ve accumulated an affordable makeup collection ideal for the woman who knows nothing about makeup.
My Makeup Background
In 6th grade my sister took me Clinique. It was my first time being painted with brushes and powders. And I remember as we eventually selected this lipstick and that mascara feeling like I could conquer the world.
By the time I got to college, I was still wielding the same black-plumping lash color and neutral lips.
I knew little about foundations and nothing about blending. And while I saw how my roommates and basketball teammates transformed themselves with subtle tones and cat-like eyeliner — my feeble attempts left me feeling more like a stumbling bumpkin than va va voom godess.
Fast forward a century and was still the mostly makeup illiterate gal. Only now, I was a 30-something woman. The problem was:
- I didn’t want a makeup routine that took all morning.
- I want one that cost the national debt.
- I didn’t want someone to tell me I needed to replace all my products if some of my limited supply could be used.
The key was finding help from someone down to earth. Someone who wouldn’t make me feel silly asking questions like, ‘why can’t you use the same brush for your powder as you do for your bronzer?’ (It’ll mix your bronzer and powder, causing your face to become one color.) And, I needed that person to not be solely focused on turning a buck by convincing me to buy products.
As luck would have it, one of my friends is a makeup artist. She happens to also be named Mikaila — it was clearly meant to be.
Before & After
Neither of these photos is particularly good. The lighting’s terrible. The backdrop is…less than inspiring. I’m not wearing overly flattering clothes. Nor am I really ‘working’ the pose. But, I thought it was important to share a quick look.
In my humble opinion, I think these pictures further illustrate that makeup isn’t the end all to be all. But, also show that a little bit can give you that extra bit of polished confidence we all sometimes need.
The products listed here were selected based on Mikaila’s recommendations and my own experience. Each one is something I use regularly and would strongly recommend.
This is a drugstore buy, which my pocketbook fully appreciates. But even more important, I love how this keeps my face feeling soft and hydrated, without feeling oily. Plus, the SPF 30 gives me some protection from the sun.
Another good drugstore recommendation from Mikaila, I use this creamy concealer as a highlighter under my eyes, between my brows, on my chin and above my lip. It really helps brighten the bags under my eyes while evening the splotchier parts of my face.
Though my makeup arsenal was limited growing up, I’ve always come back to Clinique’s Superbalanced Makeup. I use it for all-over coverage after I’ve applied the Maybelline concealer. It’s lightweight, so it doesn’t feel sticky or heavy. Even when I get hot and sweaty, it doesn’t have that nasty drippy feel that a lot of other foundations do.
First, let’s just get this out of the way. This bronzer smells and tastes like chocolate! Yes, I said tastes. It’s completely safe to taste. Plus, it delivers a sun-kissed glow that makes me feel like I’m ready to take charge. Just be sure to use a soft hand with the brush. A little can go a long way.
Mikaila recommended using a finishing powder to help your makeup stay longer. I often forget this step, so much so I didn’t even include the finishing power. But, we selected a double-sided brush that worked for both my powder and bronzer.
As Mikaila recommended, what you want to look for in a brush is something with high-quality bristles that don’t fall out and stick to your face. This double ended option from Sephora was a budget-friendly solution that works great and feels lovely against my skin.
My early loyalty to Clinique has persisted, in large part because the beauty counter feels so much more approachable to someone like me. The women helping are often less done-up and the color palettes tend to be more subdued and natural. I like the All About Shadow Quad collection because it simplifies matching colors. Currently, my go-to is the ‘Teddy Bear” a matte finish of nude tones that works for day-to-day activities.
Prior to working with Mikaila, I was using pricy beauty counter primer and mascara. I thought it was the only way to get my eyelashes to pop. Little did I know that a drugstore brand could give me the same umph for a quarter of the price and half the work!
Per Mikaila’s instructions, I don’t imagine I’ll ever again skimp on my lips. She took me to MAC — a place I had previously been so intimidated by. But the girls there were amazing and so supportive of the fact that I was in my 30s and learning about makeup.
They helped me consider a wide variety of different options and then try on different colors to find something I was comfortable with. Ultimately, we went with something a little more subdued than I’d intended. I really thought I wanted bright red lipstick. (Crazy, right?)
In the end, we went for a more natural look, with a hint of purple. Sticking to the Matte finish, gave me the most flexibility to have something that wasn’t in your face, but could be dressed up with a bit of lip-gloss.
Lipliner was another surprise. I never expected to wear or love it. But I do! The MAC girls helped me pick creamy lip pencil that was easy to apply. Better yet, using it helps my lipstick stay on and looking great for hours.