New to Makeup Series: Get a Little Help from Your Friends

You decide one day that you want a more polished look.  Or you get invited to a formal gala.  Now what???  The best way to get started is to get a litte help.

Do you have a friend or acquaintance who always looks polished and put together?  Do you wish you could get the look that they seem to effortlessly achieve every morning?  Then I encourage you to ask that person for help.  It can be intimidating to approach someone out of the blue and ask them for advice.  However, I can assure you that there is absolutely no better compliment than being told that you look so goood that someone else wants to look like you!  I am sure your friend would love to go to the makeup counter with you, and may even recommend a good makeup artist that they know at one of their favorite counters.  And if they're just an acqanintance?  Then this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

As I've previously mentioned, I my first makeup routine was care of a Mary Kay party, and it was a positive experience.  However, this may not always be the case.  Ask around for a good consultant in your area.   It may seem strange to seek out a Mary Kay party, but you can always bring a friend.  And don't feel pressured into buying a bunch of stuff you don't want or need.  You can also order online, though you miss out on the personalized makeup lesson.

On the whole I think the strength of Mary Kay makeup is neutral, wearable, everyday makeup.  They also have new looks put together by their makeup artists in each catalog, which are also available on their website.  They give you the colors they used in each look, as well as application instructons.  Check out their all in one compact, which is great for traveling and keeps all your colors in one place.  I also enjoyed their medium coverage foundation, which feels light on your face and gives you an even complexion.  However, beware of their bath and body products, which are very perfumey.

May Kay is quite a controversial makeup line in some circles.  Its poor reputation is mostly rooted in questionable business practices that have resulted in unhappy ex-consultants.  My experience with Mary Kay has been positive.  I really enjoyed the makeup I have tried, and the guidance I got from my consultant was great.

Most department store makeup counters have someone on hand that will be more than happy to paint your face.  And most will do just that.  Unfortunately, you will walk away looking like a clown.  I have had many such experiences.  In fact, just after Christmas I went to my local Clinique counter looking for a new foundation.  The sales lady gave me a sample of foundation and then showed me their limited edition holiday collection.  The collection was an absolutely lovely assortment of pink, plum, and purple hues.  The blush in that collections was absolutely fantastc - a very finely milled pinky plum that went on like a dream.  I was so impressed by that darn blush that I allowed myself to be talked into a makeup look using those colors.  My sister found me ten minutes later, looking so clownish that she had to walk away so that she wouldn't burst out laughing right in front of that poor sales lady.  There was a noticeable gap between my lashes and my cream liner.  My eye shadow was completely unblended.  My blush was applied too heavily.  I had on BRIGHT pink lipstick (the shade was actually called EXTREME PINK), and the highlight under my brows was WHITE.  If this was my first makeup experience, I would have left that store in tears of frustration and disappointment.  All the colors suited me well.  Yes, that includes Extreme Pink Lipstick.  The problem was that they did NOT all belong on my face TOGETHER!

Here are some tips on how to avoid a similar experience.

- Ask the person if they are a trained makeup artist.

- Ask around or search the web for recommendations of makeup artists in your area.  Check out makeup forums, such as Specktra.net, and don't be afraid to post questions.

- Take a look at the artist's makeup.  Look for makeup that is well blended (think GRADIENT of color, and not STRIPES), paying special attention to eyes and cheeks.  And don't worry, just because the artist is wearing really bright colors does not mean that she will apply those colors to your face, unless that is what you are after.

- When you find someone you like, make an appointment.  Avoiding peak mall hours will ensure that the artist has plenty of time to devote to you an is not constantly distracted by other customers.  Book the appointment during the day, so you can look at yourself in daylight.

- Tell the person that it's your first time getting your makeup done, and give them some guidance as to the type of makeup you are after (more polished, neutral, day-to-evening, formal event, bold lip, etc.) and ask for tips and techniques while they apply the makeup.

- If there is something you do not like, tell them.  For example, if the lipstic is too bright, ask for a more neutral one.  Alternatively, if the lipstick is so neutral it completely mutes down the color of your lips, ask for something with more color.  Too pink?  Too brown?  Too red?  Let the artist know.

- Once your makeup is done, go outside and look at your face in daylight.  How does that foundation look?  Foundation should even out your skin tone, but it should still look like skin.  It should feel light on your face.  There should be no color variation between your face, neck, and decollete.

- Keep in mind when booking your appointment that you will be expected to either pay for the appointment or purchase products.  For example, there is a $50 fee for a MAC makeup appointment, or you need to buy at least $50 worth of product.  Keep in mind that the artist just spent a significant amount of time with you when they could have been selling products to other customers. 

- You don't have to buy EVERYTHING the artist recommends.  It is perfectly acceptable to ask them to write down the names of the products you are not buying after your appointment so that you may go back and purchase them later.  If there is something you didn't like, don't get it.  And keep in mind that the drug store has lots of very good quality mascaras and plenty of brown eye shadow and liners, all for a lot less money.  However, foundation and concealer are very hard to match by yourself, and the drug store has thousands of lipstick shades that don't have testers. So prepare to be able to say NO THANK YOU to products you don't like or aren't sure about.

- Counters I recommend: MAC, NARS, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Estee Lauder and Laura Mercier.

I would love to hear how it goes, so keep me posted on your progress.  And come back for the next installment of this series, where I will recommend a handful of products that are a good starting point for an everyday look.

Best of luck!

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