Makeup 101 For Dummies

Say what you want, but make-up completes a look. If you have on a hot dress and hot shoes, hair is done right, but your face is naked or the makeup is applied incorrectly, the look is not complete or atleast not what it could be. Keep in mind that I am referring to formal looks or going out looks, when one makes an effort to look nice from the neck down. What about the face? Do I believe that one needs a face full makeup when they’re casually dress going to the mall? No, it’s not necessary, in fact, a face full makeup isn’t always necessary, but I have friends who disagree with me altogether on the makeup issue, but nevertheless I am slowly making them believers. If you don’t know how to apply makeup, chances are you don’t know what products to buy and that is why many women opt out of wearing makeup-the lack of knowledge. Here’s where I come in  …..

The Makeup Essentials:


A Good Moisturizer– FIRST, start right with a well cleaned and well moisturized blank canvas.

Concealer (optional)– this goes on BEFORE foundation; it basically covers ONLY blemishes, scars or  under eye circles. It never covers the entire face like foundation, just the blemishes. Note: concealers should ALWAYS be a shade lighter than your natural complexion. However, please blend and don’t apply too much under the eyes.

Foundation– if you don’t need concealer, foundation goes on first, foundation evens your skin tone and perfects great looking skin. Even women with great skin sometime need foundation to even certain areas of their face. Foundations come in different types: liquid, cream, stick and for the summer: tinted moisturizers.

Great Foundation and Concealer Brands For Women of Color:

(you can find these brands at your local drugstores or department stores)

  • Black Opal
  • Fashion Fair Cosmetics
  • Make-up Forever
  • IMAN Cosmetics- Perfect for women of darker skin tones; provides an extensive amount of darker shades
  • MAC Cosmetics-be careful, MAC is great theatrical makeup, therefore it can look to drag queenish if too much is applied

Pressed Powder– pressed powder is the product that comes in a compact cases, typically with a mirror and sponge. This is ideal for women with oily skin. It is applied right after the foundation and prevents the face from getting to shiny.Or in some cases, the foundation is skipped and some women just use this as their base, although I recommend women with dry skin avoid this as it can make your face with look ashy.

***Utensils/Tools to Have****

  1. Make-up Sponges
  2. Eyeliner
  3. Eye make-up remover or Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly
  4. Blush/bronzer brush
  5. Compact case (w/mirror)
  6. Eyeshadow brushes or applicators
  7. Mascara (waterproof for special occasions)


  • When applying foundation, I like to use my fingers instead of sponges. It gives me more control, looks more natural and I use less foundation than if I were using a sponge that has absorbed more foundation than I actually needed. Some people disagree and use brushes, to each its own.
  • For most black women, we come in all shades and tones, thus it is not always possible to find the perfect foundation in one bottle. Therefore, my advice would be to pick two shades that are the closest to your skin tone and make your own custom blend.
  • To prevent eyeshadow from getting on your face when applying, first get some good eye brushes. Then what I like to do is apply my shadow BEFORE I add my foundation. I put a little bit of foundation on my lids so that the shadow will set. If there still is eyeshadow under my eyes or on the side, I take a little bit of eye makeup remover and wipe it off before I apply the foundation. I do know that some professional make up artists apply loose powder under the lids and if powder drops, with one sweep with the brush, its gone. Since I am not a professional, I stick with what I know best. I think that works only if you’re applying a full face of makeup.
  • The myth about foundation is that it must cover your entire face. This is not true- if you choose the correct color for you skin, foundation can go only on certain areas of your face that needs it most (i.e., your T-Zone). This prevents the “cake-like” look and looks more natural.
  • Be realistic when selecting eyeshadows; know that not every eyeshadow work well with all skintones. And your eyeshadow doesn’t necessarily have to match what you’re wearing.
  • In the daytime, keep it simple, less is better!
  • Eyeliner makes eyes pop, but avoid the raccoon/Egyptian look -when there’s too much eyeliner and its drawn on the entire lid heavily. I feel like that look is only cute with a smokey eye. Instead use light, quick strokes when applying eyeliner to the rim of the eyes. And if you’re using a pencil, make sure the point is sharp and not dull to prevent smudging and the liner from running later on.
  • DON’T FORGET TO BLEND! I cannot stress this enough, this includes concealer, foundation, eyeshadow, etc.
  • Please try to get those eyebrows done, your eyebrows structure your face, so keep them arched or atleast shaped-up. Don’t overpluck and if you can, try to get them professionally done.
  • Once you are done, go view your face in natural light (only during the day) and artificial light. This lets you know you have blended your foundation well and there are no streaks or visible foundation lines.


These are books that I own or have read that are really helpful for the make-up challenged. The Essence book is really extensive and offers not only make-up tips, but hair and beauty tips as well. The last two are by the celebrity make-up greats, Sam Fine and the late Kevyn Aucoin. You can find these books at, other book stores or at your local libraries.

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