Makeup: basic principles

Every woman knows that her favourite makeup product is as crucial to her look as her favourite garment; however, not everyone analyses the qualities that lead us to buy some products over and over, while others are left unfinished. In fact, if you don’t like the colour, finish, or performance of your makeup, then you will never be happy with it.

Creating a makeup look is comparable to designing an outfit: it can be neutral or trendy, classy or eclectic, practical daytime or glamorous evening, for hot or cold weather—imagine a style that suits you, then combine your makeup products in the same way.

No matter how good your makeup products are, and how well thought-out your look is, the application of makeup is crucial. In the introduction video we show you a complete series of application steps for daytime makeup. You need not follow these steps precisely, but rather should learn from these makeup techniques and use them according to your personal needs.



Confused by the wide range of available colours, many women stick with just one or two that suit them, and are reluctant to try anything else. Others buy almost everything newly offered and later regret having spent money on products they rarely use. The range of “your colours” is broad, but you need to know which ones will look natural on you; which ones will be compatible with the clothes you intend to wear; and how to combine your colours.

To achieve harmony between your makeup, your natural colouration, and the colours of your clothes, keep in mind the two functions played by your makeup colours:

  • Essential colours are neutral and correspond to your natural colouration: your skin tone and the colours of your hair, eyes, and lips. Essential colours usually lie between the two palettes, encompassing subtle cool or warm undertones.
  • Accent colours will emphasise your lips or eyes, depending on where you want to draw attention. Accent colours must be in contrast with your skin tone and in accordance with the colours of your attire.
Makeup colour

Makeup hue is divided into two main palettes: warm and cool. Warm hues have yellow undertones, while cool hues have blue undertones. For every hue there are different grades of saturation, from pastel to very dark. Another dimension of colour—brightness—is determined by the sheerness or opacity of a makeup product.


The finish of your makeup is no less important than its colour. Think of lip gloss versus matte lipstick. Even when the same colour, they produce dazzlingly different looks: from sexy and voluptuous to classy and sophisticated.

A makeup’s finish is defined by its opacity, and whether it contains iridescent particles. You can experiment with finishes, mixing products of different opacities. Your choice of finish will depend on your taste, but it must also be appropriate for your age, your skin type, the season, and the occasion. For example:

  • Glossy sheer lip makeup adds volume to your mouth, looks very youthful, and is best for informal everyday makeup, but it doesn’t suit mature faces.
  • Creamy finish on your skin or lips gives a soft and natural appearance, and looks good on women of any age, in any environment.
  • Matte finish is sophisticated and classy, is very well-carried by mature faces, and is the best choice for formal makeup. However, if your skin, lips, and eyes all carry a matte finish, you may find the overall look too dull.
  • Iridescent eyes, lips, or cheeks—provided by sheer makeup with iridescent particles—will add shine and softness to your face.
  • Metallic eyes or lips—provided by opaque makeup with iridescent particles—can look bold and trendy on younger faces and deeper skin tones, if not overdone. It is not flattering on mature faces, or on pale skin in photos or videos; quite the opposite is true for dark skin.


When we refer to high-quality makeup, we usually mean that it is easy to apply, lasts long, feels smooth, smells good, and is beneficial for your skin. These qualities are aspects of makeup performance. They depend on the product’s appropriateness for your skin type, and the quality of its ingredients.

Some performance requirements can be incompatible; for example, creamy hydrating products cannot be long-lasting, and vice versa. As for the quality of a makeup product, it corresponds more to the price tag than to the marketing claims, and it will not vary significantly among brands in the same price category. Indeed, the vast majority of brands outsource the manufacture of their makeup, therefore the colour and finish will be particular to the brand, while the basic ingredients and manufacturing process will be shared by many brands.

If you don’t have an unlimited makeup budget, you should be cautious when experimenting with makeup to avoid owning products that you never use. Here are few guidelines:

  • Determine your skin type and set your expectations before you go shopping for new products.
  • Be critical of product features in magazines, as these will have been purchased by the brands mentioned; however, they can be a good way to discover new products.
  • Check out online product reviews and discussion forums; these are the most independent sources of information, and you will find opinions from different people with varying requirements and skin types.
  • Try to collect free samples that you can use at least a few times. Testing a new product on your wrist doesn’t enable you to judge its performance.
  • Don’t get stuck with one makeup brand, unless you have used and loved everything you purchased from them.
  • Be on the lookout for any ingredients that you might have a reaction to, and always give preference to fragrance-free products.
  • When speaking with a makeup salesperson, don’t just listen to her. Carefully watch her face when she answers your questions; she will always look less enthusiastic when talking about a product she doesn’t like.
  • Splurge on frequently-used makeup, such as foundation. Spend less on a lipstick or eyeshadow that you intend to use only for a special event, unless it’s your own wedding.
  • Pay attention to the quality of the packaging, e.g., the hinge and latch of an eyeshadow case. The packaging can often wear out before the makeup does.


When creating a look, you will need to keep in mind all aspects of your makeup products; however, the most important role is played by colour. It’s a good idea to take makeup hues from the same palette and play with saturation and brightness to create one of the following basic combinations:

Light eyes and lips

Light eyes and lips: natural low-maintenance makeup. It can be casual or sophisticated, and is the first makeup routine to master.

Light eyes, accentuated lips

Light eyes, accentuated lips: powerful grown-up makeup, to put your mouth or your smile forward. Wear this “read my lips” makeup when you’ve got a message to deliver.

Accentuated eyes, light lips

Accentuated eyes, light lips: playful, youthful party makeup. Also perfect as formal makeup for any event, unless you are delivering a presentation.

Accentuated eyes and lips

Accentuated eyes and lips: glamorous and exquisite. This is a look to wear with styled hair, an impeccable manicure, heels, and confidence.