A Beginner’s Guide to Makeup

I woke up the other day to find an email addressed to all the female students in my faculty about an upcoming workshop on corporate makeup.

I couldn’t help it, I laughed.

Honestly if I had the time/exerted the effort to advertise the following service, I’d be perfectly happy to sit down with someone, figure out their makeup needs, go shopping with them (or start up a shopping list for them) for their makeup. And then sit them through a tutorial personalized for their faces and schedules. Like, that’s my idea of fun. I break out into mini-lectures whenever I do makeup for my friends.

While I believe you should do whatever you want with makeup (including not want them at all), there are all sorts of expectations to wear some minimal makeup in the workplace these days, therefore the popularity of such workshops. I do think that corporate makeup is something all girls should learn to do.


So what is corporate makeup? While there’s no real definition to it, the expectation is this: you have to look clean and polished, so it’s makeup that conceals eye bags and blemishes, and brightens up the face. There are lots of ways to achieve this, but achieving a fresh base with foundation and concealer is important. Mascara and light eyeshadow colours do wonders in brightening the eyes, and rosy cheeks are great for combating a sallow complexion. Lips are usually kept creamy and as close to the natural lip colour as possible (MLBB – My Lips But Better Lipsticks are a staple in every working woman’s wardrobe). Sure, you can go ahead with bright lipsticks and dramatic eyeshadow at work, but that’s only if you’re confident of pulling it off and know that people you meet at work won’t judge you too badly for it.


Personally, I’m just as equally likely to wear colourful eyes and dark lips to as I am to wear neutral makeup. 

This tutorial is meant for my peers who have little to no experience with makeup, so there’s going to be a lot of basic things here. It’s makeup for people who struggle with makeup and want things that are fast and efficient, and who simultaneously don’t enjoy having all that much makeup on their faces.

Makeup supply list (Think of this as your Hogwarts supply list):

  • Liquid or cream base (liquid foundation or BB cream)
  • Powder (loose or pressed, I prefer pressed powder because it’s easier to touch bring in a travel pouch. Loose provides more coverage though.)
  • Concealer
  • Eyebrow colour (pencil, or double up an eyeshadow)
  • Eyeliner (no liquids, gel or pencil, or both. Use the gel if you’re more confident, but liquids are the easiest way to mess up your eye makeup when you’re in a hurry)
  • Eyeshadow duos – you should have two minimum in your stash.
  • Mascara
  • Powder blush
  • Cream blush
  • Lipstick/tinted lip balm
  • Lipgloss

Recommended brands

Note: Beyond looking at Sephora, do check out online suppliers in Singapore to get hold of brands you can’t usually find. These would usually save you money too. Please note that the brands listed below aren’t extensive, but are products I have tried personally before, unless mentioned otherwise.

For brushes: Ecotools, Real Techniques and Cosmetica (available at select Wattsons) have great brushes. Cosmetica’s face brushes tend to be on the floppier side though, so be wary of that.


My brushes from Ecotools are the best thing ever. They haven’t shed once and are so so soft. 

On a budget:

  • Happy Skin (which now ships overseas^^) has skincare foundation, so you can take care of your skin as you wear your makeup, and just about everything they sell is excellent and comparable to higher-end brands.
    DSCN185220141031_224021Happy Skin’s SS Creme and ZZ Cream Foundations are both silicon-free, long wearing, pigmented, and feel great on the skin. The SS foundation has hydraulic acid and ZZ foundation has salicylic acid  to treat acne. 
  • L’Oreal’s Infallible Eyeshadows have excellent pigmentation
  • L’Oreal and Maybelline have great eyeliners and mascaras
  • Revlon has great lip products, from their matte lip balms to their Super Lustrous Line
    IMG_6311DSCN3062And they have great packaging too. 
  • NYX has great products in every line, but some duds too, so check the reviews before purchasing.
  • Sleek has got some great eyeshadows, I am in love with the Sunset palette
  • OCC Lip Tars are slightly more expensive than the average drugstore makeup in Singapore, but still cheaper than MAC
  • I’ve not tried it myself, but I hear Top Shop has decent lipsticks and cream blushes too.

If you have a little more you can splurge:

  • Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown make the best foundations, with the most extensive ranges for shades.
  • The Body Shop does a great concealer, and I hear that the rest of their makeup range is quite decent
  • MAC has an amazing range of lipstick colours
  • Benefit only works if you have a really pale skin tone because their products are pretty sheer, but it also means it’s impossible to overdo
    Their Tropi Coral set is quite awesome. I like how you get to try a variety of different products. 
  • bareMinerals has some of the best eyeshadow palettes
    My Next Big Thing eyeshadow palette is is incredibly pigmented.
  • Clinique’s Cheek Pop Blushes are highly recommended, and I love their Chubby Sticks.
    DSCN1997DSCN2000Clinique’s Ginger Pop Blush, with their Curviest Caramel, Boardest Berry and Heftiest Hibiscus. All are pigmented, long wearing, and feel great on the skin. 
  • I haven’t tried LORAC myself, but LORAC has excellent eyeshadows too, at fairly decent value.
  • Just about everything from Urban Decay is excellent.
  • Guerlain is horrendously expensive, but is quite amazing.

What you shouldn’t skimp on

  • A good foundation in your shade – it’s best to get a dermatologist approved, non-comedogenic foundation so that it won’t clog up the pores. Mineral makeup has become very popular these days because it’s unlikely to trigger allergies or acne (do check ingredients list still though). When choosing liquids or cream makeup, avoid anything that feels greasy or balmy on your skin because those are likely to clog up the pores. Personally, I prefer to skip makeup that has silicon in it to avoid a break out – bad experience from silicon-based primers when I was in Theatre.
  • A good makeup remover – I love Biore for this. Their makeup remover for eye and lip is incredibly effective, and so gentle it doesn’t sting if it does get into your eyes. You don’t want a bad makeup remover you have to keep rubbing on to get your stuff on.
    All my Biore makeup remover products. They work so great. 
  • A good blush – like foundation, this goes directly on your skin so you don’t want something that will clog up the pores and cause pimples
  • Skincare – not really makeup, but this is all part of the regime. I tend to pay less for things that I wash off, so drugstore brands like Neutrogena for my facial wash, but Laneige, Avene and Kiehls for moisturizers and acne removal.

Other great reads for makeup beginners:

19 Awesome Eye Makeup Ideas for Asians
Eyeshdow tutorials for Asian Eye (Part 1)
The Vertical Gradient Method

The Beginner Basics Series:
A Beginner’s Guide to Makeup
Beginner Basics: Foundation
Beginner Basics: Makeup Brushes
Beginner Basics: Primers
Beginner Basics: Eyeliner

– – –

Follow me!


This entry was posted in Tutorials and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A Beginner’s Guide to Makeup

  1. Great article! I love Benefit’s High Beam. I will check out their Tropi Coral set, it looks pretty. I also like their Big Easy Liquid to Powder SPF 35 Foundation. It covers my freckles better than other products I’ve tried.

  2. Juvy says:

    Everything covered! Will share this helpful post. 😉

  3. Pingback: Beginner Basics: Makeup Brushes | Natzi's Stash

  4. Pingback: Beginner Basics: An Introduction to Foundation | Natzi's Stash

  5. Pingback: Beginner Basics: Prepping and Priming | Natzi's Stash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s