The characters in novels, poems, songs, plays, and films are almost never “us.” Yes, there are songs people write from their own point of view, and novel characters based on real people. But more often than not, characters are completely invented, or at least heavily fictionalized. They think things the artist does not think. They do things the artist has never done and would never do. Some of those things are not done for moral or lifestyle reasons. Others are simply mundane activities the artist does not do, such as driving, working on cars, selling, eating seafood, or working out. Wearing makeup is one of those activities. Many people simply do not wear makeup. If you are one of those people, but you have created a character whose story needs to involve makeup application, here is a thorough makeup routine for modern times.
Primer: Face primer is a clear liquid or serum applied to the face before actual makeup is applied. It is meant to protect and prepare the skin.
Concealer: This is a heavy cream, usually in stick form, meant to cover up blemishes, dark circles, and areas of skin discoloration. It is also available in a little tube with a wand-like applicator.
Contour: Contouring is meant to make areas of the face recede. It is typically done around the sides of the nose, under the cheek bones, and around the chin and jaw. Your character will draw lines on with a stick that looks a bit like a lipstick tube, then blend the contour out with a brush. Some cosmetics companies sell contour in powder form as well.
Highlight: This is contour’s counterpart. Sometimes it is placed next to the contour to make the area above it appear to come forward. It can also be used on its own as a sort of bright highlighting powder over cheekbones or nose.
Foundation: This is the skin colored liquid or cream that goes all over the face and is blended in with a brush or sponge called a “beauty blender”. Some people use contour and/or highlight before foundation, some use it after.
Blush: Most people apply blush on the cheekbones or round “apples” of the cheeks. It comes in a variety of shades and colors, usually in the pink, peach, red, gold, or mauve families.
Powder: Sometimes referred to as setting powder, this is the product that is applied all over the face with a brush to set the face makeup.
Eye primer: Primer for the eyelid is a different product than primer for the rest of the face, but it serves the same purpose. It prepares the eyelid for eye shadow.
Eyebrow powder or pencil: If your character strives for a trendy look, give her…or him… full, thick eyebrows for 2021. Those who do not have full eyebrows fill them out with powders and pencils.
Eyebrow gel: Think of this like hair gel, but for the eyebrows. It’s packaged in a tube with a spoolie, like mascara. Inside is a clear, sometimes tinted, gel. It’s used to set the eyebrow hairs after the color is applied. Some people use it on its own just to make the brows look “done.”
Eye shadow lid color: The first step of an eye makeup routine is to place a shadow, typically a medium shade, on the lid. Some makeup artists do the crease first.
Eye shadow crease color: Your eye crease is the area where your eye meets your head. Most people darken this to make their eyes stand out.
Eye shadow outer V color: This is the darkest color most people wear. The outer V is the outer corner of the eye, and slightly inward. Have your character make a V shape with the eye shadow on the outer corner of the eye.
Eye shadow highlight color: Many people highlight under their eyebrows, and at the inner corners of their eyes, with the lightest color they use.
Eye liner: Most people, even those who do not wear makeup or know how to apply it, can recognize eye liner. It comes in pencil, liquid, or gel form and a variety of colors. There are a few different looks one can create with it. You probably noticed someone wearing eyeliner that winged out past the edges of her eyes, and others wearing eyeliner that sat in a straight line above the eye.
Mascara: Mascara is the product that makes eye lashes look longer, fuller, thicker, and darker. It can also curl them, though many curl their lashes with a special clamp like tool called an “eyelash curler” before applying their mascara.
Mascara is another product that is typically pretty noticeable. You may especially notice it when someone who normally uses it every day does not have it on.
Lip stick or lip gloss: Lipstick is the one makeup product that most people know about. The tube you most likely picture when thinking of lipstick is the most common form, but there is liquid lipstick as well. Lip gloss and liquid lipstick look alike in the packaging. Lip gloss is just shinier, usually sheerer lipstick.
Setting spray: Many people squint, then spray their face with a mist as a final step in their makeup routine. This is setting spray, a way to make sure the makeup stays in place.
These eighteen steps are a basic “full makeup” routine today. Some people use more makeup, drawing a line with a lip pencil before applying lipstick, adding more eye shadow colors, using two eye liners, or layering a lipstick and a lip gloss. A second powder is sometimes used to “bake” the undereye concealer, then brushed off before the rest of the routine continues. Seventeen to twenty steps is a common full makeup routine.
While this is a full routine, remember that many people do not do a full routine.
Everyone, including every woman, does not look good in full makeup. Some only use a few of the products listed. Eight steps is pretty common for a short routine, but some use fewer, aiming for a minimalist makeup routine of two to five products. (I can wear eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick or lip gloss for everyday. If I really want to look made up, I add one eye shadow. Anything beyond that and I start looking like a cartoon character.)
When showing your character purchasing or using makeup, remember that it can cost a lot of money. There are brands that offer cheaper alternatives, but a full look done with products from some of the most sought after brands can cost hundreds of dollars. Use the standard product names described above if you want to avoid making a statement about your character’s finances and/or spending habits, rather than copying the name of a product you see at a friend’s house. People can and do save up, splurge, look for sales, collect coupons, and even swap to get the makeup they want. But nobody with a minimum wage job, frugal financial habits, and no personal debt has a brand new full set of MAC, Urban Decay, or Makeup Forever products.
For further research on specific brands, colors, prices, and shade names, the websites “Ulta Beauty” at www.ulta.com and Sephora, located online at www.sephora.com offer a wide selection of products at various price points.