How did you learn to apply makeup?

Trial and error for the most part! I read through some photo-by-photo tutorials here and there, but it was largely just trying to replicate the type of placements/styles I saw others posting on Livejournal’s mac_cosmetics community.

— Christine


Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
Chel Avatar

From models on the magazines and sometimes the tips provided, from looking at the cool upperclassmen during highschool, help from friends, YouTube tutorials, Pinterest how-to’s and eventually practicing on my own

Veronica Avatar

Playing with my mom’s stash when I was very little… Then trying to recreate the looks in magazines when I was a teen in the 80s. I also started buying books such as Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin and Bobbi Brown books. I learned so much from those!

Now that there is YouTube and endless tutorials, my daughter is learning from them.

Alana Avatar

I didn’t start wearing makeup until freshman year of high school, and even then it was just eyeliner, nothing else. I was the only one in my family who wore makeup and my mother didn’t know anything about it so I had to learn on my own through trial and error! I usually only changed the way I did something if someone commented that it didn’t look good.

Pearl Avatar

Mostly MAC – they used to do face charts long ago and I saved and catalogued them and would pulll them out when I wanted to replicate a look. I’ve had to re-learn a few things about placement and technique as I age. I’ve also watched youtube videos here and there but anymore, it’s about what not to do and they are cautionary tales.

joy Avatar

lots of youtube tutorials and practicing every day for about a year… the videos that helped most were from. claire marshall, frmheadtotoe & vintageortacky.

Z. Avatar

Originally started wearing makeup around age 11/12, but that was only mascara. Once I got to high school I would steal my mom’s concealer and powder to try and deal with the oily breakout situation otherwise known as my face. Officially started using liquid foundation around age 15, but I had no idea what was good and where to find an appropriate colour match – I spent years walking around in shades way too dark because drugstore ranges lightest shade was frequently still too orange for me.

I didn’t really start actively learning about makeup until I started getting into youtube around 2014 – and even then, I didn’t start doing my brows regularly until 2016 and only got into eyeshadow/blush/bronzer/etc last year. Youtube is where I “learned” the majority of application tips, tricks, etc, but for the years applying makeup beforehand it was mostly just trial and error with the occasional seventeen magazine tip thrown in.

Mariella Avatar

Trial and error and, since the inception of youtube, by watching some youtube videos. I’m old enough to remember also what used to be pretty much the only way for young girls and young women to learn – step by step in now defunct magazines like Glamour and Mademoiselle (and Seventeen, which is still around, I think). That and trial and error.

Wendy Avatar

Seventeen magazine around 1980, when I was about 12. My mom didn’t wear makeup with the exception of white or pale pink nail polish and a swipe of an Avon lipstick sample on special occasions. In fact, I wasn’t allowed to wear anything but lipgloss. But that didn’t stop me!
There used to be ads for Maybelline and Cover Girl products that laid out a whole collection and showed how to apply.
I’d skip hot lunch at school (I know, that’s bad) and buy a bottle of juice or soda for lunch. I’d pocket the rest. When I saved enough for an item in the ad I’d stop at Rite Aid on the way home from school and buy it.
One of my aunts knew how much I loved makeup and bought me a pink Cover Girl palette with blush and eyeshadow in it and it was my prized possession.

Ana Maria Avatar

I just applied make-up as I imagined it should be applied. My mom doesn’t wear make-up so I never watched anyone apply make-up before I started. Those many years ago, especially in my home country (Romania), there were no YouTube videos nor magazines showing how to do make-up; I was just seeing how make-up looks on other people as a final result (in real life or on TV). But back then I used to wear just foundation, powder, mascara, maybe eyeshadow for special occasions.
I was in my mid-twenties when I started watching Youtube and seeing how it should be applied. And then my make-up love has grown and my make-up become more complex.

Nicole D Avatar

For the most part of my life I was into minimal makeup, by choice. The only makeup I wore in high school was a tinted lip balm, mascara and sometimes a lipstick. No makeup prior to that. Once at university, I added an eyeliner. Infrequent use of light foundation /powder/eyeshadows started when I was in my late 20s (I’m approaching my late 30s now). I’ve always been into skincare though and I was lucky enough to have an excellent skin during my teens and later on.

When I got into makeup on a frequent basis, I used as inspiration Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin and Bobbi Brown’s Makeup Manual. Also, YT tutorials, especially those made by Lisa Eldridge and Andreea Ali (a professional MUA currently living in Paris), are super helpful and a constant source of inspiration for me. I love their style of makeup.

Nancy T Avatar

Tons of practice and some humiliating mistakes! But, seriously, also through some well needed advice from my equally hooded lid cousin Debbie. She was the one who explained to me that I needed to bring my shadow up higher up over my hood. The there were also pictures in my old Glamour magazines that inspired me to play with using various colors together and to use contouring techniques on my lids. Then came the 80’s, when I learned to be so much more adventurous and avant-garde! Over the years, I just keep on learning more and more how to work with what I got and improve on it.

P.A. Avatar

Like you, I tried to recreate looks I liked on models/bloggers- and I pickled up tips from other enthusiasts on tumblr, youtube and Japanese magazines like Ranzuki, Ageha and Egg and even had a subscription to US Glamour for a while.

I still watch youtube videos for inspo and look ideas, I tend to get stuck in a rut if I reflexively do what I like.

Mary Avatar

I can tell you who at 14 made me first aware of the transformational power of makeup , Drag Queens ! I remember watching my friends male cousin and his friends on Saturday night transforming from mere mortal guys to the most beautiful , glamorous Goddesses , left quite an impression . Wigs , heels , lashes , lipstick and poof ! Lol…..

Adriana Avatar

Great question Christina. I was very fortunate to have a mother who worked as a model for Neiman Marcus Downtown Dallas,Texas,….this was back in the 1940’s and 50’s. Around age 16 or 17 she allowed me to start wearing makeup. She taught me how to apply foundation with a sponge, check color, eyeliner (the perfect cat eye) and lipstick application with a brush, starting first with outlining the lips and then filling in with the bullet for a perfect lip. My mother wasn’t big on eyeshadow but by my twenty’s and the era of Cher I fell in love with eyeshadow and never looked back. Elizabeth Taylor was a real role model as well as Sofia Loren when it came to eye makeup. I was also fortunate to have worked for Chanel and Dior cosmetics. Attending their training seminars with their top makeup artists was a tremendous learning experience.

Genevieve Avatar

Trial and error too. Learning what shades work best on me and giving other shades (like olives, neutrals, greens and lately coppers) a go.
It helped having a makeup specialist from EA show me how to best place eyeshadow on my hooded eyes.
Learning from the blog here about foundation undertones and how I have pink undertones and not yellow or neutral and buying accordingly.
Readers’ comments here have helped a lot too.

Claire Renee Avatar

Definitely trial & error…especially error in my teens. In the 1970’s when I was learning as a teen, I bought lots of magazines: Glamour, Mademoiselle, Miss Chatelaine, Cosmopolitan & occasionally Vogue. I studied photos closely and when Way Bandy was doing covers for Cosmo I copied him lots. Through the years I also paid attention to Kevyn Aucoin and a few more contemporary make up artists. I don’t pay a lot of attention to YouTubers. Maybe I’ve just clicked on wrong ones but most look very amateur to me and they pack it on and don’t blend. I do watch Wayne Goss a bit. Must be getting old but not crazy about the packing it on bit & abhor the Kardashians…..really don’t care for their “look” (plastic). I took a CIDESCO cosmetology course in 1978 & it was all about enhancing & chiaroscuro principle.

Brenda C Avatar

All the magazines I poured over as there was no internet when I was a teenager. Then I had a friend in my early twenties that was really into makeup and she opened my eyes to makeup sponges and high end makeup that was the beginning of my makeup obsession and here I am.

Erica Avatar

Playing with makeup and reading countless magazines, beauty books and fashion related programing. I think even with step by step youtube tutorials, learning how to wear makeup requires trial and error bc many people on youtube aren’t any more experienced than you and what works or appeals to them may or may not work and appeal to you!

Sílvia Avatar

Got interested by watching my beautiful mom always so stylish and the rest of women in my family they all love makeup and dressing well. She also took me to buy my very first skin care regime Clinique. Also had my face done a couple of times the very first time it was horrible too much yellow cakey foundation on a teenager yuck! Couldn’t wait to get home and wash my entire face! And I learned to hate full civerage. What were they thinking on a teenage with clear complexion? Second one was really nice actually. Read many teen magazines, bought two Bobbi Brown books which I really liked since she goes for a natural look and I’m pale so is perfect for me and she keeps it rather simple also. Then discovered YouTube and have watched thoudands of videos but I couldn’t say I’m any expert yet. Lol! Not even mid-level. But have learned many tricks here and there.

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!