Made Up

An Intro To My Makeup

$25 of pretty

$25 of pretty

Just over two years ago, I switched jobs from a pure-programming, behind-a-computer-all-day, best-dressed-because-my-jeans-don’t-have-holes job to a terrifyingly corporate environment. I went from a place where the CEO wore shorts, to one where the click of high heels rang through the halls. This was a job change I wanted to make. I like people. I like writing. I like coding too… but I wanted a mix, and this was my chance to get it.

And I did.

But before I showed up at my first day at the new job, I thought very carefully about how I wanted to look. How did I want people to see me? I could get by with my wardrobe for a while. My hair was ok. (Not great, but ok. That’s another post.) But I had just crossed the threshold of 30, and borne my second child. It was time for me to start wearing some makeup. Oh, and moisturizer.

So I did. Here were some of the things I weighed in my makeup decisions:
1) I didn’t want to wear a lot of makeup (or look really made up)
2) I didn’t want to spend a lot of time putting it on
3) I didn’t want to spend very much money on it
4) I wanted to be able to buy it in a store I already went to
5) I needed to come up with a good, non-obnoxious way of removing the makeup every night, so I didn’t seem young due to zits
6) I didn’t want to feel like I HAD to wear makeup to look normal. I wanted to feel makeup-free and confident on weekends and other days.

I’ve accomplished most of these goals. Here’s how I did it:

1) Moisturizer with SPF 35. (Target – $9.99) I use Neutrogena oil free moisture at least in part because it rubs in quickly and easily, and comes in appropriate portion controls. (I had trouble with some other kinds I tried giving me way too much.) Even if you do nothing else, if you ever might think you could care a little bit someday about how you look…. use a daily moisturizer with an SPF over 20 to prevent wrinkles. And by daily, I mean every day since you will burn much more easily if you use it regularly and then forget one lovely clear day in October. (Not that I ever did that. Ahem.)

2) Pressed powder. I use the Maybelline Shine Free Pressed Powder #4 Beige. (Target) It costs $4.94. The primary purpose of the powder is to reduce the shininess that comes from the moisturizer. (I actually brush my teeth between steps 1 & 2 in order to give the moisturizer time to “Sink in”). I think this has a pretty big impact on how I look – it gives me a more polished, even look.

3) Mascara. I have blonde eyelashes. I like to use brown mascara because I don’t like a look that screams EYE MAKEUP, but brown mascara is not an “in” color so I’m still wrestling with finding the perfect mascara. In the interim I use Maybelline Great Lash. ($4.44 Target) Beware if you wear mascara and have never worn makeup before… if I had even plausibly present eyelashes I’d probably skip it. When you are wearing mascara you cannot cry or rub your eyes while you’re wearing it, or you look awful. Waterproof mascara may be ok, but it’s really difficult to get off afterwards. Try both ways – and not wearing mascara. If you wear mascara, can you keep your hands off your eyes? Are you a cryer? Do you have darker lashes? These should all affect your decision about whether to wear mascara, and what kind to wear.

4) Eyeshadow but… for my eyebrows. I also have blonde eyebrows. They sort of vanish by themselves. So I more or less paint them on with brown powder every morning. You probably don’t need this, unless you also have pale facial hair. Once again I find myself with a $5 Maybelline product (Maybelline Expert Wear Eye Shadow – $4.49 at Target.)

That’s my daily routine. It takes two minutes. Nothing in that set costs more than $10 … you can stock up brand new for $25 at Target. (And most of that is moisturizer.) The powder goes fastest, followed by mascara, followed by moisturizer. I have yet to “finish” an eyeshadow.

At the end of the day, I remove it all with makeup wipes from Costco (~$15 for a bajillion). Chemicals yadda yadda, but awfully convenient and not at all messy.

There are a lot of makeup elements I don’t use, that you may need or want. For example I don’t:

– Use blush. I have a great natural blush and I don’t need it.
– Use eyeliner. I have not the skills. Nor do I want the “made up” look that eyeliner gives you.
– Use eyeshadow as eyeshadow. I only do this when I’m dressing up, and I have trouble making it look the way I want to look. The colors in eyeshadow are very particular to a season or trend, so you can easily go wrong in eyeshadow if you don’t know what you’re doing. (See also: blue, green, purple)
– Use lipstick. Proper lipstick is a dangerous thing, in terms of going where you don’t want it, being hard to maintain, and being hard to get a color that flatters. I use a lip gloss if I am feeling fancy, but most of the time I have naked or lip-balmed lips. Again, my lips have good natural color, so I don’t need it. Some lipstick colors are highly seasonal, so it’s easy to go wrong.
– Use foundation. I just never have. I have relatively good skin, so I don’t really need it. Also, when I see people whose makeup seems excessive to me, it’s usually with eyeliner, foundation and bright lipstick. That may be why I avoid those three.

Do you wear makeup daily? Do you feel naked without it? Do you know how to put it on? What mystifies you, and what have you mastered. Do you feel that expensive makeup is really that much better than cheap makeup at Target? What’s your makeup story? What do you do every day?


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ellen
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 13:33:04

    I have never been a regular makeup user. When I started my current job I intended to wear at least a little to seem more professional, but we’re a pretty schlumpy bunch in my department and with one exception (who was hired a few years after me) none of us wear makeup.

    The real problem I’ve encountered is that I seem to have developed skin allergies to almost every moisturizer, eyeshadow, blush, sunscreen, and lotion. If I try to wear eyeshadow with a distinct color to it, I will have bumps verging on blisters within minutes. With lighter shadows I can get through the day but will develop rough, red patches of eczema and it’s similar for all the other items I just listed. For a while I resolved that I would wear mascara and lip stain, which I did for about two weeks but then forgot one day, which became two, which became every day.

    I joke about my definitely not being a Southern Lady, which has been underscored once again by my new routine of going to the gym before work. I leave with damp hair (blow dryers and my hair do not mix, plus I am lazy) and no makeup. There is a woman there who actually brings rollers and does an elaborate blowdrying and makeup regime.

    I don’t think it hurts me within the library, but I probably should make more of an effort to appear professional when interacting with the larger university community. The attire you see around campus varies from jeans/shorts and Hawaiian shirts to business suits, however, so there’s not exactly a consensus on what counts as professional. It definitely varies between staff/faculty/administration/colleges/departments.



    • bflynn
      Aug 02, 2012 @ 14:46:51


      I wonder if Bare Minerals might work for you. I’ve heard that they’re really good for people with allergic reactions. Not that you really NEED to wear pigmented makeup, but it might be nice to have options.



      • Ellen
        Aug 02, 2012 @ 14:49:22

        I tried that, and I didn’t get eczema patches from it, but it did really dry out my eyelids. Unfortunately, most moisturizers then cause eczema so when I tried to correct the dry skin, another problem popped up. Sigh…


  2. Jodi
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 13:55:10

    I should try that moisturizer! I’m using an Olay SPF 15 (but with mineral makeup over that, which does give some sun protection). It isn’t good enough on the lazy makeup-free weekend days.

    I have a similarly simple morning routine, but don’t do the mascara (I do eye shadow . . . brightens up the darkish color under my eyes to have shadow above). My lashes/brows are dark enough.

    I learned how to apply at a makeup party a friend hosted . . . $50 and bring your own makeup and an artist taught each person how to apply for their own self. Best investment, and a fun night!

    Given concerns about chemicals in stuff, I made the transition to mineral makeup. I got some freebies from and LOVED how easy it went on, how ‘naked’ it felt, how well it covered said dark circles (blame my Italian ancestry). For mineral makeup, not a lot of money. Lasts a long time. I do need to remember to order online when I get low though.

    As for eye makeup remover – olive oil works great! It is cheap, natural, and a little goes a long way. I put some on a cotton ball and it removes everything! I have a tiny bit in a small travel bottle in my bathroom. Something to consider when those wipes are gone, if you care about that sort of thing. My regular cleanser works just fine to remove the other stuff if I’m going sans mascara/eyeliner.

    PS, love this blog! As far as fashion, I’ve made a similar transition over the years. My biggest aha-moment: finding classic styles that fit my body for ease of dress and better confidence.


  3. Natalie
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 16:38:19

    I use Dr. Jart BB Cream for a foundation, a tinted moisturizer. I like it because a) one step rather than two, and b) it is adaptable to a variety of skin tones. Otherwise, I had the problem that my foundation was too light once I’d tanned, too dark once the tan faded, if I managed to buy the right tint at the start, which I rarely managed. I tried mineral, but I found it rubbed off on my phone and stuff really easily. I could even smell it sometimes, like it would puff off my cheek when I answered the phone. Plus I have seen warnings here & there about mineral inhalation being unhealthy. I do not like that it has an SPF component, because I’m such a desk jockey. I need my vitamin D! At least Dr. Jart is under 30. I have read horror stories about SPF 35+ having incredible quanitities of chemicals and being potentially hazardous to your health.


    • bflynn
      Aug 02, 2012 @ 18:21:57

      That skin-tone-matching-with-tanning-differences might be one reason so many moisturizers have an spf – helps keep your skin tone consistent!


  4. Natalie
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 16:46:12

    Oh, and Brenda, you need a neutral palette for your eyes! There’s no need to modify for seasonality. I use the Urban Decay Naked palette, because I love using an abundance of shades. I also like that it is a slight bit sparkly. I love Urban Decay because it is gorgeous and it was created by a tech girl! Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems, created Urban Decay to provide non-pinky-girly shades of makeup to the world. She is my hero. The woman has a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford, built the coolest cosmetic company out there, and created a center for study of English women’s literature. In her spare time, she rides a Harley, runs a farm where she raises heirloom animal breeds, and fences in full period costume.


  5. Bezoar
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 03:18:55

    What do you do when traveling? Are there smaller sizes of the Neutrogena etc., and do you carry a pack of wipes?

    …Okay, maybe I’m considering starting to wear makeup now.


  6. bflynn
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 00:35:17

    Good questions… which it probably would’ve helped if I answered BEFORE you traveled. Oh well. I use Neutrogena Dry Touch Sunscreen, in part because I didn’t like it as well and so it became my backup sunscreen. I usually check my toiletries. I use Olay Facial Cloths, because they are not pre-moistened and thus weigh less and are easier to take with me. (Also, those ROCK for backpacking.)

    And I thought you looked lovely last time I saw you!


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