Makeup Savvy

I always get asked for recommendations or suggestions of what people should buy, invest in and avoid. I also get asked a fair bit about core products people should have in their make-up bag and what I use myself. Well ladies, now is the time for me to share… these are my top beauty must-haves to ensure your makeup nag is full of useful, effective and value-for-money products that will have you looking fabulous in no time.

Primer is the one product every girl should invest in. A primer will basically cover over the top layer of your skin with a slight film that reduces lumps, bumps, discolouration and general ‘wear and tear.’ This may sound a bit scary, but once you’ve tried it I can assure you you’ll never go back. A good primer will also enable you to get the best out of your makeup – it can reduce oil, grease, movement and increase the colour and performance of makeup too. I’ve been using Cover FX primer for a while now, but at £45 a pop it’s a heavy price to pay. I’ve also used other primers which do the job well, including Avon which is cheap as chips at around £6 and New CID which comes in a huge tube for around the £20 mark. I actually took a friend into Boots last weekend to get her a primer for her skin that’s suffering from baby blues – she picked up a L’Oreal Studio Secrets primer, which at £12.99 is a fantastic price for the quality. So there’s plenty of choice for you!

I’m sure if you asked any girl what is the one product they couldn’t live without, the vast majority would say foundation. I’m not within this category, I have to admit, because my skin has always been pretty clear, fresh and youthful… ok, I’m just bragging now. People forget though that foundation should be used as something to help you achieve a flawless canvas when you’re having trouble with spots, blemishes, uneven skin tone or other problems… you shouldn’t be using it every day, and certainly not to go to the shops. (I know you do!) The more you pile foundation on, the more your pores will become clogged leading to a vicious circle of makeup trauma. If you are going to use foundation it should be as light as you can get away with and contain ingredients that are going to help your skin, i.e. vitamins, minerals or fruit extracts. I’ve been using nothing but Bourjois foundation for the past four years and love the way their formulas are light, yet covering and contain fab ingredients that will help my skin to look even fresher. My favourites are 10 Hour Sleep Effect, which leaves you with a dewy-barely-there finish, and Healthy Mix, which smells delicious and contains a cocktail of fruit to restore your skin.


I love powder. It was one of the first pieces of makeup I bought and it’s stuck with me ever since. Not everyone likes to use powder because they feel it can go cakey and looks ‘old lady’ like, but I find it evens my complexion, covers any red bits and sets my makeup so there’s minimal disruption to my face throughout the day. Loose powder is fab to use in the morning as a light dusting will set your foundation without making you feel like you’re clogged. If you take a compact with you then the option is always there to ‘touch up’ during the day – one thing I’m literally never without. If you use a loose powder it will also help any blusher or bronzer blend into the skin better, creating a more natural look. I religiously apply blusher as it gives your complexion depth that can sometimes be covered by makeup, meaning you look fresher and more natural. If you apply it direct to the skin it just ends up looking scary – think that woman from The Apprentice! You use so little powder that it doesn’t make a huge difference what brand you use… at the moment I’ve got 17, MAC and Bourjois all in use.

They say your eyes are the window to your soul so you better make them look pretty. The biggest difference to your face can be made with just a few simple products – my must haves are white eyeshadow, black eyeliner and a decent mascara. A white eyeshadow can completely change your look by brightening your eyes even when you have the worst hangover. One of the best industry tips is to apply a little to the inside of each eye to  make your eyes look wider, brighter and more beautiful. I also use a dusting of white eyeshadow as a base for whatever colour or liner I’m applying as it stops that yellowish look that can sometimes appear. My favourite eyeshadow is Bourjois in Blanc Diaphane as it’s easy to blend, slightly shimmery and lasts forever. I’m also using a Dior shadow from a palette and have previously used Rimmel to death! You also need a decent black eyeliner which will give you an amazing striking line and pop your eyes, whilst still being able to be smudged and create a smokey eye. I have so many black eyeliners but my new favourite is Super Shock from Avon – for literally a few quid you get a fab crayon liner that has the best pay-off I’ve ever seen, lasts for ages and can be easily blended. Mascara is a tricky one as every person will want something different – lengthening, volumising, separating, multiplying, growth… you name it, the industry offers it. My tip is basically to be sure of what you want and choose a mascara based on recommendations rather than claims. It’s well known that the makeup masters claim the most ridiculous things and have even ended up on Watchdog recently.

So the finishing touch had to be the lippy. I have so many lipglosses, lipbalms, lipsticks and a strange mixture of all three, that half the time I don’t know where to start. In your makeup bag you should definitely have a decent lipbalm so that your lips are always in tip-top condition – try Carmex, Burt’s Bees and Blistex which are all cheap, moisturising and smell delicious. Lipgloss will work for any occasion so it’s good to have a selection of colours from neutral right through to impactful deep, dark shades. A lipgloss will give you a slick of colour without feeling too ‘overdone’ and makes you feel all sexy and pouty. Invest in some glosses from my favourite brands, including Korres, Benefit and Revlon, or even go to the cheaper brands like Collection 2000 and Avon who also have some great products on offer which will give you that glossy hit without the hit to your purse. I love a striking lip colour too and lipstick is perfect for a special night out or when you want to look like a fashionista. Chanel is the ultimate brand for lipsticks, offering lustrous colour, a moisturising formula and richly pigminted result – but if you can’t justify splashing out a fortune, then Bourjois and Revlon are my ‘go to’ brands for fab colours with formulas which don’t remove a layer of skin when you apply them. I love bright oranges, striking pinks and of course the siren red.

So this is what hides in my makeup bag. I don’t claim to be a makeup artist or someone who is in any way trained to give advice, but through many years of trial and error, plus over two years working for a cosmetics brand, I can safely say I have found my way to makeup heaven. What are your must-haves? Do you have any advice to give fellow LBQ readers?


1 Comment

  1. Bettina@BeautySwot
    October 15, 2010 / 1:58 pm

    My essentials are a good moisturiser, primer, foundation, nice base eye shadow, mascara, blusher and gloss or nude lipstick – if I had nothing else!

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