How Did You Learn To Apply Makeup?

I did it Oklahoma-style.
Publish date:
April 22, 2014
makeup, lipstick, eyeliner, smokey eyes, application tricks

The other day, I was playing around with these MAC PatentPolish lip pencils Baze kindly gifted to me because she is an excellent employee. Since they provide a much more subtle gloss than my usual POW matte selections and I was wearing a petal pink, Baze suggested I do a more dramatic eye to balance out my subtle lip. (What she actually said was, "Give me some more Emily!" Baze is wonderful.)

So I pulled out the Naked 2 palette currently residing on my desk for some reason. (I think Annie and I were going to do a post about the Naked palettes something like six months ago when she worked here. And we've moved offices. My desk is a nightmare.) With the little desk mirror the company has helpfully provided to appease my vanity, I did a light daytime smokey eye with shades of brown shadow and this Le Joli eyeliner in Chocolat that came from God knows where.

To be honest, I'm not that great at a smokey eye. But Rebecca was pretty into my desk makeup skills. Her words: "I was so impressed with how you just whipped that out with the long brush thingie." I paraphrase, but Baze was not kidding when she said the woman is picky about makeup. I've seen her put on a thin coat of lipgloss, look in the mirror, freak out and promptly remove it. (I just read this line to Rebecca and she wants you to know that it was not lipgloss, but a VERY DRAMATIC lip color. Guys, I swear, it was two shades off her natural lip.)

Anyway, it made me think about the origins of my makeup skills. Where I’m from, there is a time in a girl’s life when her mother invites the Avon (knockoff) lady over to give her a makeover. For me this time was the summer after 6th grade, when we sat together at the dining room table while she unpacked the little pink vials and tubes that contained the world’s feminine secrets.

I learned all the old-school tricks -- a thick liquid foundation on my blemish-free 13-year-old skin covered by a coat of powder, an expertly blended tri-color eyeshadow map (lid, crease, highlight), pink frosty lipstick to top it all off. The sales rep showed me how to cake it on and then my mother sweetly bought me the products I needed to replicate the look.

After that, I didn't go a day without my foundation-powder-eyeshadow-eyeliner-mascara-blush-lipstick regime, even during a bout of pink-eye in college. (I just bought a new mascara I could infect and throw away.) I didn't really know wearing that much makeup was optional. In Oklahoma, women won't even run into the 7-11 without their faces firmly ON, so it took me almost a decade in New York before I realized I'd look a lot better if I scaled it back. Seriously, I would have rather gone out bare-assed than bare-faced.

I guess I "relearned" how to do my makeup around 28. Probably the greatest beauty milestone of my 20s was the day I stopped lining underneath my eyes. Probably the other biggest beauty revelation of my past decade was that my skin looks much better when you can actually see my skin. Ever since my adolescent beauty consultation, I'd been piling on the foundation and powder until my face was both matte and several shades darker than my natural color. I also had no idea you could buy makeup anywhere other than a drugstore. Not knocking drugstore products, but a good Sephora can really take a girl's beauty routine to the next level.

Now I just wash my face, rub in a little bit of Josie Maran Illuminizer, put on mascara and a swipe of liquid liner, a little cream blush, and one of my hundreds of lipsticks. My updated routine takes about 5 minutes.

I don't know how unusual the whole "home tutorial" scenario is, but I'm curious how everybody else learned to apply makeup? From a relative? From magazines? And did you learn it all wrong like me? If so, please upload your ridiculous middle school makeup photos below. I just asked Baze how she learned and she said she taught herself and went around wearing a lot of pinks she "had no business wearing," which I'd really like to see.