Beauty Basics

Beauty Basics Guide: How to Pick Your Foundation, Primer, & Powder

Beauty Basics Guide: How to Pick Your Foundation, Primer, & Powder | Writing Between Pauses

Welcome to the beauty basics guide! My first post, a guide to brushes, was so successful, I decided to keep going! If you have a beauty basics question, or an area where you think a guide would help, let me know in the comments. I noticed that so many beauty blogs don’t post a basics guide when it comes to beauty; we’re all learning and sometimes we all need a foot up!

Foundation, primer, & powder are considered the base of your makeup. When you have a good base, you can pretty much always feel confident about your makeup. As well, if you’re main concern is evening your skin tone or hiding a few blemishes, your base is where you want to focus most of your energy.

When it comes to choosing foundation, I know it can be super overwhelming; there are so many to pick from! This post won’t necessarily help you pick your specific foundation; I instead hope to help you determine what you should look for in a foundation, as well as a primer and powder. Let’s get started!

Primer

I know I just mentioned foundation, but it makes more sense to work from the bottom to the top in terms of application.

Primers are incredibly popular for helping smooth out your foundation, make application easier, and increase the wear time. There have always been debates on whether you need to use primer or not; a lot of people do and a lot of people don’t.

I happen to fall into the category of someone who avoids primer; occasionally, I will test one out. But usually, I decide I don’t need it; the reason is because primers often don’t play nice with my skin at all. I’ve yet to find one that really worked for my skin.

That being said, lots of people love primers. If you want to try one, here are a few things to look for.

If you have dry skin: Primer is often ideal if you have skin that is quite dry or can get flaky with foundation. Hydrating primers, like e.l.f.’s (which is super affordable), can help boost your skin’s moisture before you apply foundation. There are thankfully lots of hydrating primers on the market; here’s a great list of 10.

If you have oily skin: Primer often doesn’t place nice with oily skin, so you have to make sure to pick your primer well. Check your ingredients; slippy, silicon-based primers are better for dry skin, so avoid those. Any primer that promises “mattifying” is better, but make sure to spot test accordingly. The Tatcha primer is one of the best on the market, but for $22, is a little spendy; here’s a list of a bunch of options.

If you have regular skin: If you feel you’re neither super oily or super dry, you can pretty much get away with anything. The world is, essentially, your oyster—primer-wise, that is. Here’s a great list of 15 primers that you can check out.

Foundation

Foundation! If you’ve found your perfect primer (or you’ve decided to skip it for the moment), it’s time to think about foundation.

It goes without saying: not everyone needs or has to use foundation. You aren’t obligated to have perfect skin. However, if wearing foundation lets you feel more comfortable, then it is entirely up to you.

Like I said, there are so many foundations to choose from. I’ve reviewed what feels like hundreds of foundations for this blog alone. My most comprehensive post was about the foundation quizzes offered via Sephora and Ulta; you can read that post here.

When it comes to choosing foundation, here are a few things to look for:

If you have dry skin: Avoid foundations that offer “matte” or “mattifying.” These foundations will be too drying on your skin and will most likely contribute to dryness, texture, and flakiness. Look for dewy or hydrating foundations; go for water-based foundations, as opposed to cream foundations, which will be too heavy on your skin. My recommendations include Too Faced’s Dew You foundation and Wet’n’Wild Photo Focus Foundation.

If you have oily skin: You can play with using dewy foundations, but if you get oily throughout the day and tend to have your make up break down, matte or mattifying is the way to go. Cream foundations tend to work best on oily skin, but it depends on your needs when it comes to foundation. My recommendations for oily skin are the Hourglass foundation, Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation, and Too Faced Peach Perfect foundation.

Powder

Powder is probably the base product I’m most passionate about. Honestly, with the right setting powder, regardless of your skin type, your base will be amazing. Just like with foundation and primer, some people don’t necessarily need powder; if you have exceptionally dry skin, you aren’t going to want a powder that is super matte. However, if you have oily skin and you skip powder, you’re doing your base a disservice.

I’ve reviewed a ton of powders for my blog and I have a very specific set of requirements for powders—all of which are based on my skin type (which is very, very oily). This isn’t necessarily going to work for everybody because I follow the Wayne Goss method of powdering before foundation, then powdering after.

One mistake I often see people make is baking with a ton of powder on their undereyes; this is because we see beauty gurus or instagram videos doing it. Plain and simple: this will make your undereyes look terrible. It looks great for photos. And if you only set your undereye concealer, then the rest of your face makeup… isn’t set. Using powder all over your face makes it easier to apply powder blush and contour, as well as highlight. So, simple: a light layer of powder over your entire face.

If you have dry skin: again, you’re going to want to be careful with powders, as they can be quite drying. Look for a powder that doesn’t offer mattifying or long-lasting power—and definitely avoid talc-based powders. A few powders I’ve tried that I think would work great for dry skin would be the Hourglass powder and the Make Up Revolution luxury baking powder.

If you have oily skin: There are definitely levels of oily skin, but if you struggle with your foundation breaking down, I highly recommend trying the Wayne Goss method. (You can read about my foundation process here.) My favorite powder for oily skin is the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores powder; nothing sets like this powder does. If you are oily, this will keep your skin dry all day.


That’s it! The basics on choosing the right products for you and your skin. Have anything to add? Share with me in the comments!

Beauty Basics Guide: A Complete Guide to Brushes

Beauty Basics Guide: A Complete Guide to Brushes | Writing Between Pauses

The number one question I get in my day-to-day life, as well as in my email, and in comments, is: what brushes do I need if I’m new to makeup?

I’m definitely not the first person to be asked this question (and I’m definitely not a makeup expert, just someone who likes a little makeup), but I do have my own ideas of what makes a good “starter brush” collection.

Back when I started getting into makeup, I bought a really, really cheap brush set at Walmart that I used for years: it had a big fluffy face brush and a blush brush, as well as a selection of not-very-good eyeshadow brushes. These brushes shed hairs like it was their job, always rinsed out black (not a great look), and were more plastic than anything else.

I’ve since moved on from that era of my life (although I only recently finally threw away the last of those brushes, it was nearly 15 years old! I’m ashamed), and thought I’d share the advice I usually give to people who ask me what brushes I recommend for daily use.

Face Brushes

Face brushes are, as seems obvious, brushes you use on your face: for foundation, powder, and blush, as well as highlighter and contour. I use a ton of face brushes every day, but when it comes to basics, I only have two recommendations.

Best Face Brushes

1. A Good Kabuki Brush

A kabuki brush is a dense brush that works well for putting on foundation or buffing things out. I use my kabuki brush for:

  • applying cream foundations

  • blending out my contour

  • blending out my blush if I put on too much (it happens)

  • applying my baking powder

I use an elf flawless selfie brush; it was $6. You really can’t beat that price. (Technically, it isn’t a “kabuki” brush, but it looks and acts just like a kabuki brush.) I’ve used this same brush, buying new ones every year or so, for years; it is super affordable. But because you use it to applying foundation and oilier products, you need to wash it extremely regularly. Overtime, that can cause mold and mildew, as the bristles are so tightly packed. So keep your eye on it and if you notice it looking (or worse, smelling) funky, toss it and buy a new one.

What Face Brush Do I need
Learning to Use Brushes

2. A large, fluffy face brush

This brush is large and fluffy. It’s perfect for:

  • Applying powder or brushing away excess after baking

  • Applying blush

To me, a fluffy face brush is the most essential brush you need, but that might be own bias, as I wear a lot of powder. The brush I have here is a FARAH face brush; you can find a similar one here. However, elf, as usual, makes a really great affordable version.


Eye Shadow Brushes

For me, those two face brushes are all you need for your entire face; you can use both of them for foundation, powder, blush, contour, whatever else you need. From there, it’s just eyeshadow brushes.

What Eyeshadow Brushes do I Need
Eye makeup brushes
Tapered Blending Brush

Tapered Blending Brushes

You’ll need at least one, but I prefer to have two. Sometimes, I apply color with one, then work on blending and diffusing with the other. But really, that’s just a personal technique. My two favorite brushes are the tapered blending brush from FARAH and the Elizabeth Mott tapered blending brush.

These brushes do just about everything:

  • Blend eyeshadow

  • Applying color

  • Applying highlight

If you have any eyeshadow brush, this is really the one to pick.

Packing Brush
Contour Eye Brush

Packing Brushes

Packing brushes are designed to applying color to the lid before being blended out. If you’re doing more complicated looks, these brushes can be a great way to pack on color before blending out. My two favorites are from my Ipsy bags, but I like this one from Elizabeth Mott.

Brush Sets

In general, a great way to save money and get a variety of brushes is to buy a set of brushes. Here are a few of my favorite sets.