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4 Makeup Bag Essentials for Beginners

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

All my life, I never bothered to learn how to do my makeup. I was lucky enough to have my mother and sister who would do it for me for special occasions, but other than that, I never really felt the need to do it myself.

I was not the person who would dress up every day to go to high school (I always had respect for those who did; I was just way too lazy to wake up extra early to make sure I looked good), and my morning routine consisted of me brushing my teeth, splashing some water on my face (thankfully, I’ve also learned a better skincare routine, but that’s a story for another time) and quickly running a brush through my hair.

The same went for me when I headed off to college, once again with me valuing sleep over how I looked.

But that all changed this past year when I started to take part in on-camera work for the first time. Now, I had to wear makeup, but I had no idea where to begin.

So, for those who weren’t allowed to wear makeup and want to get into it, who are like me and were too lazy to try to figure it out or if you just want to get started in general, here are some of my favorite products that I think you absolutely must have in your bag.


Mascara is a must-have! This is by far the item that I use most from my collection. It brings your whole look together by making your eyes stand out. I tend to just wear mascara on a daily basis because I love how it makes me look a little more put together.

To apply: take the brush and put it at the base of your eyelashes. Slowly wiggle it up towards the top of your eyelashes and repeat this process until all your eyelashes are covered. I tend to do two coats to really make my eyes pop. You can also apply mascara to your bottom lashes for an even more dramatic look.

If you’re looking for a cheap mascara to get the job done, I recommend Maybelline New York Great Lash Mascara, which you can get at Ulta for $7. If you’re willing to spend a little more but don’t want to go too high-end, check out Pacifica Big Dream Volumizing Mascara, which is $16 at Ulta. And, if you want to go with a high-end product that lasts all day, I cannot recommend Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara enough. It is by far the best mascara that I have ever used in my life. It goes for $27 at Ulta.


Up next on our list is concealer, which is a lifesaver on the days when you don’t get enough sleep. There are various types of concealers — powders, sticks, creams, liquids and more. There are also a lot of different concealers for different skin types — normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination — with varying types of coverage. And, to make it even more confusing, there are different purposes for different concealers, such as going a shade lighter to highlight or going a shade darker to contour. But for beginners’ purposes, let’s keep it simple.

I like to use a full-coverage creamy concealer to cover up my blemishes and under eyes. I personally have very sensitive skin, so I recommend buying a higher-end concealer to minimize allergic reactions. If you’re fortunate enough to have non-sensitive skin, most drugstore brands work just as well.

For those looking for a more inexpensive concealer, I’d go with the NYX Professional Makeup HD Concealer Wand Medium Coverage Under Eye Concealer, which is available at Ulta for $6 and comes in 22 shades. For more coverage that isn’t too expensive, try Morphe 2 Hide and Peek Concealer, which comes in 15 different shades and is sold at Ulta for $12. For a really high-quality concealer that stays on all day and isn’t cakey, my personal favorite is Tarte Creaseless Undereye Concealer, which comes in 30 shades. You can get it at Ulta for $26.

Blush & bronzer

It took me a very long time to realize that there was even a difference between the two of these, but there is a subtle one. According to Byrdie.com, a bronzer can be a blush, but a blush is NOT a bronzer. Blushes are used to add slight color and warmth to your cheeks, while bronzers are used to make you look tanner. Blushes come in different shades (usually variations of pink), and bronzers will come in more browns and golds. Bronzer can be used for more natural looks to give more emphasized color and definition. Blush can be used to add a little bit of flush to your cheeks.

Also, a little bit of a life hack that I learned is that you can use blush or bronzer on your eyelids instead of eyeshadow for a more natural and subtle look. I personally like to use a little bit of blush for my makeup looks to give me some more color on my (very) pale face, but at the end of the day, it all comes to personal preference.

An inexpensive blush that I would recommend would be Essence The Blush, which comes in four colors and is sold at Ulta for $3. For a more middle-ground blush, try my personal favorite Ulta Mineral Blush, which comes in eight colors and is sold exclusively at Ulta for $12. For a much more high-end and pigmented blush, try out Laura Mercier Blush Color Infusion, which is $32 at Ulta and comes in 10 different shades.

Lip color

I said lip color here instead of lipstick, lip gloss or lip tint because it really comes down to a matter of personal preference. I know some people prefer a matte lip, while others hate the way that it feels on their mouth. Some like a shiny gloss, while others prefer a more refined tint. Either way, a look might not be truly tied together without some form of lip color. Even if it’s just a tinted lip balm, lips can make or break your look.

I tend to prefer a more natural, toned gloss, so my favorite lip product of all time is e.l.f. Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick in the color Sangria Starters. I seriously cannot recommend this product enough — it goes with almost every look, and I always get compliments on it whenever I wear it. Breaking the Ulta streak, you can get it at Walmart for $9. If you’re looking to treat yourself and go with a really high-end shiny gloss that moisturizes your lips and lasts all day, you should try Bobbi Brown Crushed Oil-Infused Gloss, which comes in 12 different colors and is available at Ulta for $29.

Lauren Cooney is a junior at the University of Florida, where she studies journalism with a sports and media specialization and psychology. She is a features writer for Her Campus UFL, and she also volunteers with UF's video production team GatorVision.