Illustration by Corrinne James.

Illustration by Corrinne James.

Hi, there! I’ve always shied away from makeup, just putting on lip gloss and mascara for special occasions only. I want to try to start wearing makeup more often, but I have no clue where to start. I don’t really want to put on foundation or anything that is too much of a hassle, but I’d like to know what do to look classy without it being too bold. Thanks! —Charlotte, 13, New York City

Hi, Charlotte! First things first: Makeup is whatever you want it to be, whether that means it transforms or enhances, and “classy” is whatever makes you feel bomb. Judging from your question, though, you sound like someone who likes to keep things simple. Developing a foundation routine can definitely get a little tricky—and time consuming—I totally understand why you’d want to skip it. Guess what? You totally can!

There are five facial features I’d suggest focusing on—and just a few products I’d recommend using—for an easy, “put together” makeup look. It’s my go-to routine for concerts, job interviews, family dinners, and other special occasions. Here’s how it all comes together:


Low-key, but pretty sleek, right? OK, so let’s start with…

Eyebrows. Our brows frame our faces, and that arguably makes them a person’s most important feature! I like to use an eyebrow pencil and/or a gel to tame my brows. When picking out a brow pencil, makeup artists recommend buying a color that is two shades lighter than your hair if you have dark hair, or two shades darker than your hair if you have light hair. Eyebrow gels are sometimes clear, but there are also tinted varieties (I’m partial to the tinted eyebrow gels by NYX). You can use both of these products, or one of the two, or none! Use an eyebrow pencil to lightly fill in your brows, if your brow-hairs are sparse. Eyebrow gel will help you get your brows into shape and keep them that way throughout the day.

Eyes. Mascara subtly alters your look without adding too much drama because it enhances what you’ve already got going on. I’d recommend a mascara that has a curling wand, like NYC’s Big Bold Curl. Apply two to three coats for the best results! And, as an optional step, finish your eyes off with some eyeliner (a thin line of dark eyeshadow works, too, if you don’t have pencil or liquid liner).

Under-eyes. Among the zillion types of makeup, concealer is extra-optional; however, it can really brighten up your face, especially when you use it to highlight your eyes. My concealer of choice is Rimmel’s Match Perfection Concealer. I make an upside down triangle under each eye (the tip of the triangle points down) and then blend with my fingers or a makeup sponge.

Cheeks. Cheek stain creates a natural-looking flush. It also tends to last longer than powder blush! This is especially true if you’re skipping foundation (powder sticks to foundation, but not as well to an au naturel face). Another cool thing about cheek stains: A lot of them can be used as lip color, too! I’m a fan of Benefit’s Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain, which is pricey but can sometimes be found in a cheaper travel size.

Lips. I’d recommend using a neutral, natural-looking matte lipstick, or even just sticking with a tinted lipgloss, like one of these Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipsticks by Too Faced.

And that’s all there is to it! Once you get the hang of it, this whole routine will take you five minutes, tops. I hope this helps! ♦

Do you have questions about makeup, hair products, or other stuff that’s made to enhance your natural gorgeousness? Send them to [email protected], and we’ll get right on the (cosmetics) case.