I Don’t Know *Anything* About Makeup, But I Gave it a Shot – Here's How it Went

Hi! I’m Emily, I’m 20 years old, and I genuinely have no clue how to do my makeup. Like a lot of women, quarantine has lowered my motivation to try to learn. I’ve never been some “anti-makeup” person, and it’s not like I’m too busy for it; I just never got around to experimenting. Honestly, when I even think about trying to do my makeup, it’s intimidating – I don’t know where to start. But I always see TikTok makeup artists doing these crazy intricate designs and shapeshifting from beautiful to stunning, and the other day, I had a wild thought: “I could do that.”

Okay, maybe I can’t do that, but I want to do more than my current routine, which consists of simply eyeliner, mascara, brows...and maybe a dash of eyeshadow, if I’m feeling especially fancy. So instead of jealously looking at other people with their flawless makeup, I decided to give it a drugstore, lazy girl attempt. Come on this emotional journey with me, as I learn that makeup isn't easy.

On Wednesday I had a Zoom interview and a video project, so it seemed like as good a day as any to look camera-ready. I didn’t own much, so a trip to Target was in order. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, so I planned to piece together what I needed based on my recollection of the countless makeup videos I’d been watching. Unfortunately, when I got to Target, I was met with shelves that were more than bare.

I didn’t want to go into the COVID-19 hotspot of the mall, and there weren’t many other stores nearby, so I had to change plans. I ended up just buying what I could find, digging around for foundation, contour, new mascara and eyeliner. I knew that I wanted the Maybelline Fit Me Foundation ($6) because I'd seen it in a lot of “beginner” makeup tutorials, but I had no clue which shade I was so I had to hold the bottle near my skin and guess. I meant it when I said I know nothing

Related: Best 11 Drugstore Makeup Products That Changed My Makeup Routine

After I checked out, I went home and got to work. Here’s what I looked like before makeup:

Photo of me before makeup! Original photo by Emily Anne Jones

I didn’t really follow any specific makeup tutorials because I’ve seen so many of them on TikTok and Instagram. I thought it would be more fun to try and do what I could from memory. I started by using the Elf Poreless Putty Primer ($8) to prime my face. After that, I applied my foundation and realized it was probably too pale for me (which is weird, because I am very, very pale). It got even worse when I applied my concealer under my eyes and on my cheek bones (which I think is what I’ve seen beauty gurus do), and ended up looking like a ghost. Using the Coty AirSpun Loose Face Powder ($6) setting powder made my problem worse – I was so pale, I scared myself.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to put you through having to see a picture of it. I wouldn’t want to scare you, either. Regardless, in true makeup artist fashion, I decided to trust the process and continue on. I added NYX Matte Bronzer ($9) under my cheekbones and around my forehead, following the pattern from this TikTok, and honestly? I've never looked weirder.

I worked on blending it out as much as I could, but still felt like it looked painfully obvious that I was wearing bronzer. At this point, I didn’t know whether I was looking good or notl; I'd been staring at the mirror for so long and had so many products on my face that I couldn’t even remember what I was supposed to look like. I hadn’t realized how long all of this would take, and I was getting dangerously close to my interview time. So, I really had no choice but to keep moving along. 

After I blended in the bronzer and added the blush, I started to look less like Casper the friendly ghost, and only slightly ill. I was starting to regain hope! I figured that my last saving grace was my eyes, and hoped that they would complete the look. I filled in my eyebrows with some brown eyeshadow (which is how I usually do them). I also put a bit of light brown eyeshadow in the outer corner and crease of my eye, and was actually impressed by how easy it was and how decent it looked.

I tried my new eyeliner, specifically because I wanted to try winged liner, but it was absolutely terrible. It barely showed up as a light gray on my eyes, no matter how hard I pressed or how many times I went over the line, so I went with my old trusty eyeliner. Unfortunately, I still couldn’t figure out how to do a wing. I tried following tutorial after tutorial, went through about 100 cotton swabs, and finally just decided a small, thin line would be best. 

The new mascara I bought was also a complete flop. I'd read that burgundy or dark red mascara can help make green eyes pop, but I absolutely hated it. Even after two coats, it barely covered my lashes, and the dark purple just came off as black. So I also used my old mascara – Maybelline Lash Sensational ($9) – which I’ve been using for years, and it worked way better. 

I finally finished putting everything on, but I had to immediately hop on my interview since the makeup had taken longer than I thought it would. Because of this, I couldn’t take photos until a couple hours later. However, it stayed almost exactly the same as when I first did it thanks to the setting powder! Here are some ‘after’ photos in different lighting:

Photo after makeup pt 2 Original photo by Emily Jones

Photos of me after makeup Original photo by Emily Jones

I really liked the finished product. I’m not sure it was worth the stress, especially because even though my skin looked flawless on camera during my interview, it looked rather cakey and powdery in real life. I’m sure there's probably a way to prevent that, but it’s definitely not something I plan on doing on the daily.

Overall, I’ve learned two things. One: makeup is insanely hard, and not all products are created equal. I have loads of respect for people who can do this so flawlessly, especially given how expensive even the cheapest products are. Two: this is definitely something I can practice, and I look forward to improving. I'd like to work on a routine that’s less involved than a full face but more than a bare face, so maybe that'll be my next attempt!