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Big sisters are awesome. From chauffeuring you around in their car to letting you borrow their clothes, paying for food and coffee, giving dating advice and generally being a built-in best friend, big sisters are the best. 

Well personally, I wouldn’t know. I assume having a big sister is amazing, but I didn’t have one to share with me her sage advice about the world. I had to learn a lot on my own, including how to do my makeup and take care of my skin. 

If you’re like me and don’t have an older sister to assist in these ways, or even if you had a big sister but would rather take advice from someone else, let me help. 

As a long time makeup enthusiast, I’ll be your big sister for the day and teach you the basics of makeup.


The first step of any makeup look, whether it’s an everyday shine or all out glam, is skincare. 

Taking care of your skin is important for preventing acne, moisturizing your skin and reducing oil and dirt buildup. 

Choosing between all the serums, cleansers, toners, creams, exfoliants, masks, treatments and sunscreens is overwhelming, but since this is a beginner’s guide we’ll start with the basics. 


Our skin is constantly covered in dirt, oil and debris. Using a facial cleanser helps to rid the skin of unwanted particles and bacteria and provide a refreshed look and feel. 

I use a Burt’s Bees brand facial cleanser, but CeraVe is another popular and safe brand with different cleansers for all skin types. 

Sunscreens and Moisturizers

The sun is one of the most damaging factors that affects our skin. To protect the face from harmful UV rays, using sunscreen everyday, even during the winter, is very important. 

To keep the process simple, you can get a two in one moisturizer and sunscreen. 

CeraVe, Neutrogena and La Roche-Posay have popular selections of moisturizers with sun protection. 

Remember that the best skincare is what makes you feel like your best self. As long as you start with cleansing your face daily and protecting and hydrating your skin with moisturizer and sunscreen, you’re off to a good start. 

Face Coverage

After skin care, the first step in a simple makeup routine is face coverage makeup such as foundation, BB cream, CC cream, concealer and powder. 


The purpose of a base for your makeup is to help cover blemishes and smooth out skin tones. 

I prefer BB cream over foundation or CC cream because it is lighter and won’t look like you have cakey skin, but it has less coverage so darker blemishes may still show through. 

I use the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream Skin Perfector for everyday makeup looks, but every makeup brand has a selection of foundations, BB and CC creams to choose from. 

Picking a color can be tricky, but try to match the shade to the color of the skin on your neck. 

You can use your hands, a flat brush or a beauty blender to apply base makeup. I think beauty blenders work the best to smooth out the makeup evenly. 

Whatever applicator you choose, remember to blend the makeup past your chin onto your neck so you aren’t left with a harsh line dividing where you put makeup and where you didn’t. 


This step is similar to the base, but instead of applying concealer everywhere you’ll want to concentrate on specific blemishes and under your eyes. 

Concealer colors should be a shade or two lighter than your base, and you’ll want to place small dots of color directly to where you want to cover up. 

Your fingers, a smaller flat brush or a beauty blender will work to blend out concealer. You should pat the makeup around the area you hope to conceal rather than rub because it is gentler on the skin and helps smooth out the products better. 

I prefer the Maybelline Fit Me Liquid Concealer, but find one that works for you. Products will look and feel different for everyone. 


Powder mattifies the skin and helps keep makeup in place all day long. 

Loose powder is easy to apply by taking a large fluffy brush or a sponge applicator and dusting a small amount of the product all over your face. Some powders come with applicators in the packaging. 

Powder isn’t meant to add extra color to the face, so try to find one in a similar tone to your base color. 

Some people add contour to their base routine. Contour adds dimension to the face, but it can be tough to master. I recommend that beginners skip it, but if you do want to try contour, apply it before you put on powder.

Blush and Bronzer  

This is my favorite step in the makeup process. Blush and bronzer add color to the face and you can be creative with what colors you choose and where you put them. 

You don’t have to use both blush and bronzer. In fact, do as many or as few of the steps in the makeup process as you want because it’s all about fun and feeling good in your skin. 

Cream based blushes and bronzers create a dewier look and are easy to blend, but they can wear off during the day more than powder-based ones. 

If you pick a cream based blush or bronzer, you can use your hands or a medium-sized fluffy brush for application. Brushes work best for powder-based products. 

Practice applying the products to different areas of the face to see what you like best. 

I put bronzer under my cheekbones and on my forehead, and I put blush on the high points of my cheekbones and on my nose. 

There are so many shades to choose from when it comes to blush ranging from pinks to reds, oranges, purples and even yellows and browns. 

Bronzers are usually plain brown, but you can choose if you want cooler or warmer tones. 


Eye makeup is entirely individualized. Everyone has their own style and preference, so we’re going to keep things very simple. 


There is no shortage of eyeshadow colors and palettes spanning the entire visible light color spectrum in shades, but if you’d rather not worry about picking another product you can use your blushes and bronzers as eye shadows, too. 

I prefer to use my bronzer as an eyeshadow so that all the colors on my face match. 

You can use your fingers or a small brush to sweep the product over your eyelid, but be gentle rubbing your eyes with your fingers. 

Eyebrow Gel

In a simple makeup routine, it is easiest to set the brows in place with a gel and not worry about filling them in with a color. 

Many people don’t even touch their eyebrows in the makeup process, but I like to brush them out and set them in place so they don’t get unruly during the day if I happen to touch my face. 

If you want to add a little color to your brows you can get a tinted brow gel or use a brow pencil before adding the gel. 


This last step for the eyes draws attention to the lashes by darkening and lengthening. 

Similar to eyeshadow, you will never run out of options when looking for mascara. The most common colors are black and brown, but you can find a mascara in any color. 

Mascaras usually focus on a specific purpose such as lengthening or thickening, so if you have a preference for what you want to accomplish with mascara, pay special attention to the labeling. 

Finding a mascara wand type that works best for you might also take some trial and error, but have fun with it. 

My favorite mascara is the Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara, but it took a long time to find one that works for me. 

Be careful when applying makeup so close to your eye. Mascara wand bristles can be damaging if you accidentally poke yourself. 

Go slowly and coat the entire lash. You may want to add several layers of mascara to build the product up. 

Some people only add mascara to their top lashes, but I do the bottom as well. 


The final step of this beginner’s guide to makeup is lips. Simply adding a lip balm of your choosing will help to add moisture and bounce to your lips. 

If you want to do a little more, I recommend finding a fun and glittery lip gloss. Milani Keep It Full Nourishing Lip Plumper is my all time favorite. 

I hope this big sister’s guide was helpful. Just remember that makeup is supposed to be fun, so do what makes you feel good and don’t worry about rules.

Just blow yourself a kiss in the mirror, tell yourself how pretty you are and go enjoy your new makeup.

Merrick is a third-year at Penn State double majoring in English and Journalism. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching sitcoms, scrolling through Pinterest, and hanging out with her cats.