Some girls are “girly-girls” from the moment they leave the womb. They’re masters at dress-up when they’re young, they’re not afraid of makeup and playing with their hair, and their fashion sense is on point no matter what’s on trend or how old they are.
Then, there are girls like me. Ones who grow up awkward, have cowlicks they can’t figure out what to do with, are terrified of the mall because it overwhelms them and only know about the makeup in their mother’s bathrooms that quite frankly scares the hell out of them. It’s not that they necessarily don’t want to wear makeup or nice clothes, it’s just that no one ever really told them how to navigate a beauty department or dress for their body shape.
It took me a long time to get the hang of fashion and beauty. Sure, I wore eyeliner and foundation through high school but I promise you the foundation was always too dark (I just couldn’t accept being pale – I look back and wonder why on earth I hated my skin, it’s pretty great!) and my eyeliner mimicked that of a panda’s or raccoon’s eyes. My hair was also a beast I just couldn’t tame – curls that were really tough to manipulate or hold in any style other than thin, flat and frizzy.
It wasn’t until I stepped foot in Sephora for the first time on a mission to find a red lipstick that I really started to explore what was out there in the world of beauty. It was scary as hell! All of the different brands, sections for hair, face, body and perfume, combined with gorgeous employees and shoppers walking the store and knowing exactly where to go and what to get was (and still can be) exceptionally overwhelming. But, over time, I made a habit of visiting the store to figure out what was what and before I knew it I had found my own little paradise I genuinely loved exploring.
Knowing that I’m not the only person who’s ever felt like a Sephora, Ulta or HBC beauty section is like a mountain they just can’t conquer, I thought I’d share my advice for getting more comfortable going somewhere other than the drugstore for your beauty needs.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. While qualifications of staff vary from store to store (MAC employees are certified in makeup artistry on some level, department stores are staffed with employees at specific counters who know their respective brands inside out, Sephora reps receive plenty of samples and training from brands), you can usually count on employees to offer advice or suggestions based on popularity, price points, customer feedback, etc. Granted, there’s no guarantee you’ll be getting genuine expert advice, but if you’re totally lost and need help getting pointed in the right direction, ask away.
Scoop up samples wherever and whenever you can. Most stores are happy to give you samples of just about any product. This is especially helpful for things like skincare products, foundation, perfume, and hair products. There’s just no way to effectively test certain products when you need to see how they wear over time, and if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for or what you should be buying, get. some. samples. Wear them over a day or two, see how they react/wear on your body and make an informed decision.
Fresh off a Sephora makeover, where I discovered one of my favourite lip stains (but was still figuring out a brow shape that worked).
Book a makeup/beauty consultation. This is a great way to get informed about what to include in a beauty regime and try out products with an artist applying your makeup. That said, be warned: I’ve heard many horror stories of makeup applications gone wrong and again, there’s no guarantee you’re dealing with a seasoned MUA, so really keep that in mind and use it as an opportunity to ask a lot of questions and try out some products you weren’t sure how to apply or how they would look on you.
Read, watch, read some more. Beauty blogs, magazines, YouTube channels – they’re all out there, and there’s no shortage of advice and reviews from beauty enthusiasts like myself to well-known artists like Wayne Goss. This goes for hair products, skin care products, makeup and more. If you’re standing in the middle of Sephora holding something you want to be sure will work for your skin, pull out your smartphone, Google whatever it is and I guarantee you the first things to come up will be blogger and magazine reviews that will tell you the truth about what to expect.
Find a professional MUA and book some time to really dive into some tips and tricks. This can be a more expensive option, but worthwhile if you have tricky skin or want advice on where to invest in products and where you can be a bit more frugal. BlushPretty (who I write for) is a great example – they offer Beauty Lessons starting as low as $90 and are a reputable company who knows their stuff, so you know you’re getting expert lessons and advice. Lots of beauty companies offer sessions like these, so do some searching and see if something out there works for you.
Finally, remember that it might take a while before you get comfortable or find a look that works for you. For example, my brows have been a variety of shapes and sizes over the last few years and I really only feel like recently I’ve settled on a product and shape I’m comfortable with (brows are HARD y’all). I think what it boils down to is forcing yourself to step outside your comfort zone and just start exploring what’s out there.
Happy beauty shopping!