My Sister is Letting Me Redo Her Makeup Collection -- Or Ideas For Your Makeup Bag When Starting From Scratch

Most of the makeup my sister was hoarding was the same stuff we used as tweens for dance recitals (tri-color Maybelline eyeshadow compacts, anyone?).

I recently visited my sister in Michigan for her Medieval-themed engagement party (which was awesome, by the way), and was -- per usual -- her resident makeup artist. We’ve shared at least 15 years of dance recitals, plays, Halloweens, school dances, family weddings -- and I always (happily) take care of her beauty needs for these occasions.

I traveled light, leaving most of my precious makeup collection at home (damn you, Spirit Airlines and your $50 carryon bags), which left me with only the can’t-live-withouts: concealer, BB cream, powder compact, mascara, eyeliner, and some neutral shimmer shadow. (Apparently I can’t live without a lot of supplies.) I assumed that whatever makeup my sister had laying around could fill in the gaps for both of our makeup needs -- I dressed as a fortune teller and she a renaissance queen.

But, I was wrong. Oh so wrong.

My sister is a bare-minimum kinda chick when it comes to makeup: like, usually just a touch of mascara. Considering the fact that she has enormous blue eyes and the skin of a newborn infant, this is not a problem whatsoever. But the makeup collection she does have, for occasions such as her engagement party, was in such a state of disarray that the beauty writer in me couldn’t help but have a mini heart attack.

First of all, most of the makeup she was hoarding was the same stuff we used as tweens for the aforementioned dance recitals and school dances (tri-color Maybelline eyeshadow compacts, anyone?). We had a brief stint as a Mary Kay family around 2005, the graveyard of which is also residing in my sister’s makeup drawer. Most of the stuff she had was like, open and turned upside down, crumbling all over the semi-useable, and several un-useable, brushes that lay at the bottom.

After an over-dramatic explosion about the state of her makeup collection (we had a good laugh about our opposite-ness), I asked her to explain herself:

“I’m just not good at makeup. It smears all down my cheeks and makes me look like a baby prostitute,” she said.

Fine. (To be fair, this is a drawer of stuff she literally never uses. The mascara and occasional eyeliner that she does use had a beautiful little place of their own within the bathroom mirror.)

I’ve spent countless Christmases and birthdays sneaking in a moisturizer, fragrance or other beauty product into my sister’s gifts, hoping that something would click and she would return with me to the makeup-obsessed darkside. (Care about the perfect no-fade lipstick with me!)

But my plans never worked. She’d much rather a book, movie, comic or scarf over makeup any day. (Damn her and her varied, fascinating, intelligent interests!)

So, imagine my utter delight and surprise when I got a text the other week from baby sis, asking me to redo her makeup collection for her birthday (which is this Thursday -- happy birthday, Molly!). She said she’s ready to fully embrace adult womanhood with a respectable collection of makeup for everyday wear.


After collecting myself from the excitement, I sat down to think about my ultimate wish list for a makeup bag when starting totally from scratch, with practical purposes in mind. I’ve decided to share this list with you, because you yourself might be going through a makeup renaissance, or might need to streamline your makeup collection, or might just be interested in these awesome product recommendations.

For the face:

Lancome Effacernes Waterproof Protective Undereye Concealer

The key to any sort of face cover-up -- and especially for those of us that aren’t super into makeup -- is that it should feel like it’s not even there while also doing its job. Hello, amazing Lancome Effacernes Undereye Concealer. This formula is super creamy and blendable, it’s non-drying, and it has a ton of staying power.

The product is branded as undereye concealer because of how well it works for under the eyes (a lot of concealers get too tacky and unblendable on this delicate area of the skin) -- but this concealer is really great for any area of the face, in addition to its magical undereye powers.

I chose this concealer for my sister’s revitalized makeup collection because it suits her needs perfectly. She has basically perfect skin, and only really needs concealer for under the eyes and the occasional spot blemish. A little bit goes a long way with this lightweight Lancome concealer that is easy to use and works wonders.

NARS Soft Velvet Loose Powder

It’s no secret that I’m mildly obsessed with NARS products, as I recommend them to you and everyone else every five seconds. But I love this powder -- and it’s perfect for any newbie’s fresh makeup collection.

After applying concealer to any trouble spots, this powder is perfect for setting, providing a “soft focus” finish on skin. You shake a bit of the loose powder out, and apply it to your face with a large powder brush. I love this product because it provides some coverage without being too heavy or cakey -- it’s just right. It also helps to give your skin a little pop and glow, even if you just wear it alone. It’s also great for maintaining any shininess you might get midday -- as this powder is great for oil control.

For the lips:

Estee Lauder Pure Color High Intensity Lip Lacquer

I’m a lip color junkie, but that doesn’t mean every newbie is (yet). That’s why I love about this Estee Lauder Lip Lacquer -- it has the pigment of a lipstick with the easy application of a gloss. It looks gorgeous on and has great shine, while keeping lips hydrated. Application is easy -- it glides on like a gloss and is easy to blend and build upon. It can be worn with a lip liner but it’s not necessary as the formula doesn’t bleed. An essential addition to any makeup bag.

For the eyes:

Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eye Palette

Too Faced has some of the best eyeshadow formulas and palettes on the market in my opinion, and the Chocolate Bar Palette does not disappoint. I chose this palette over the many other awesome, mostly-neutral eyeshadow palettes out there because this palette includes a few pops of color in addition to the chocolate-infused neutral shades. I want to include an all-occasions palette for my sister’s revitalized collection, from casual workday to fun night out, and this palette has that. The shades are gorgeous, pigmented and easy to apply, and the variety of shades can create a ton of different looks.

Bare Minerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer

I’ve recently started using Bare Minerals’ Prime Time primer for face -- and became obsessed. I’m happy to report that their eyelid primer is just as fabulous.

Eyelid primer is essential if you’re wearing eyeshadow and you don’t want it to “smear down your cheeks and make you look like a baby prostitute” -- and I strongly recommend this formula from Bare Minerals to keep your eyeshadow looking classy.

For the brows:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz & Brow Gel

My sister’s a natural light blonde and so most eyebrow products can appear too heavy/obvious with her fair brows and skin. That’s what I love about this Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil -- the pencil is SO thin, that getting an even, natural-looking brow fill is essentially foolproof. (I find with a lot of standard-width brow pencils, it’s easy to go overboard in application.) The thinness of the pencil also gives you the option to shade as little or as much as you want, as the product is buildable. The pencil comes in a ton of shades, with “Taupe” being a great shade for blondes looking for a subtle brow fill.

The Brow Gel is a must for anyone, especially practically-minded chicks like my sis. Even if you don’t feel like penciling in your brows, the gel will set and define your brows with barely any effort. Anastasia offers a variety of shades of tinted brow gel, but I’m a big fan of clear.

What products would be on your brand-new makeup collection wish list?