Make-up for beginners: Easy steps that will start your love affair with cosmetics

Feel like make-up just isn't for you? Or that you're completely clueless when it comes to creating a smoky eye? These make-up for beginners tips might change your mind

make-up for beginners: lipstick
(Image credit: Getty)

Even if you have the most amazing make-up products on the planet, if you don't know how to apply them then it can all seem a little pointless. 

If you have the best foundation (opens in new tab), the perfect nude lipstick (opens in new tab), all the right brushes and tools, (opens in new tab) but zero clue where to start, it's never too late to learn the basics of make-up artistry. 

With a helping hand from some very qualified experts, we'll have you painting your lids and lining your lips in no time at all. 

The best make-up tips for beginners

‘Colour and shading will accentuate any under-eye circles, blemishes, and discolouration in the skin. So, if you want to experiment with colour, then it's essential to create a beautiful canvas before you start,’ says Chanel Make-up Artist Kay Montano.

 The best tip for make-up application 

‘Always find good, natural light to apply your make-up in. This is crucial for creating both natural and dramatic looks,’ says Kay Montano. 

The best make-up primer

The key to successful make-up application is good skincare. ‘Our complexions can get dryer as we get older, so play around with creamy textures and don't neglect the prep!’ says Strictly Come Dancing's Head Make-up Artist Lisa Armstrong.

Lisa adds, ‘Make sure your skin is moisturised well, and prime skin ahead of application for a hydrated base and flawless finish.’

We like: Lisa Armstrong's All About The Base Priming Moisturiser, £15, Avon  (opens in new tab)

Lisa Armstrong's All About The Base Priming Moisturiser

(Image credit: Avon)
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The best foundation for mature skin 

‘Older skins should choose a lighter base and avoid compact powder foundations as they will accentuate fine lines,’ says Kay Montano.

We like: Chanel Sublimage L'essence De Teint Ultimate Radiance-Generating Serum Foundation, £110.00, Harvey Nichols (opens in new tab)

Chanel Sublimage L'essence De Teint Ultimate Radiance-Generating Serum Foundation

(Image credit: Chanel)
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The best concealer for mature skin  

‘Concealers in wand form tend to be lighter and less dense, making them ideal for mature skin,’ says Kay Montano. Kay adds, ‘Only conceal where needed and pat in with your fingertips until you're satisfied with the improvement.’

We like: Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Concealer, £25, Look Fantastic (opens in new tab)

Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Concealer

(Image credit: Laura Mercier)
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What eye colours suit older eyes? 

‘Mature skin can look grey and muddy around the eyes, so browns and greys won't always work in the same way they did when you were younger. Instead, try aubergines and plums – they're brighter, a lot more flattering, and accentuate all eye colours beautifully,’ says Kay Montano.

We like: Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner in 926 Purple Chic, £22, Feel Unique (opens in new tab)

Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long-Lasting Eyeliner in 926 Purple Choc

(Image credit: Chanel)
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How to wear a bold lip

Make-up-Artist Gucci Westman says, ‘Don't be afraid of a bold lip. A pop of tomato red or bright fuchsia is so joyful and brightens up your entire complexion. Use your fingers to create a softer, diffused look or apply with a brush for more definition. You'll be surprised by just how much brighter your skin and eyes will look. Keep the rest of your make-up clean and luminous, a little foundation where you need it, a touch of dewy highlighter on the tops of your cheekbones and also in the inner corners of your eyes."

Bobbi Brown PRO Artist Hollie Ellis adds, ‘If you wear glasses, bold shades are especially beautiful because they can balance out the heaviness of some frames.’

We like: Westman Atelier Lip Suede in Les Rouges, £78, Harrods (opens in new tab) 

Westman Atelier Lip Suede in Les Rouges

(Image credit: Westman Atelier)
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How to apply your eyeshadow like an expert

‘If you're new to eyeshadow and blending seems daunting, try using a shadow stick as these creamy formulas are super easy to blend and once dry, they won't budge,’ says Lisa Armstrong.

We Like: Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour, £25, Space NK (opens in new tab) and Lisa Armstrong Dazzle Eye Stick, £10, Avon (opens in new tab)

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour

(Image credit: Laura Mercier)
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What eye make-up should over-40's wear?

’Women over 40 shouldn't shy away from eyeliner,’ says Lisa Armstrong. Lisa adds, ‘A liner not only emphasises your eye shape but also draws attention away from under-eye bags or lines. If anything, you want to accentuate the eyes and open them up by using eyelash curlers and volumising mascara.’ And you don't have to choose brown shades as the old wives' tale may suggest – black can be worn at any age. If anything it is certain brown shades that can make the skin look older. 

We like: Clarins Supra Volume Mascara, £23, Clarins (opens in new tab)

Clarins Supra Volume Mascara

(Image credit: Clarins)
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The best blusher for older skin

‘Don't be afraid of using colour on the cheeks,’ says Hollie Ellis. She adds, ‘Blush always brightens sallow or tired skin and can make it look so much healthier. Cream blusher gives a youthful glow to the skin and is much better to use on mature complexions over powder. They're also easy to apply and great for doubling up on the lips.’

We like: Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge, £23.50, Bobbi Brown (opens in new tab)

Bobbi Brow Pot Rouge

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The best beginners’ make-up kit 

Rachel Hardie, NARS Lead Artist, says, ‘I would recommend having a capsule kit that contains staple products which go with anything. Then add in colours to your make-up wardrobe. 

‘You will feel more comfortable just adding one element that pushes you out of your comfort zone rather than trying out lots of new things at once.’ 

We Like: Nars Mini Seduction Set, £24, Nars (opens in new tab)

Nars Mini Seduction Set

(Image credit: Nars)
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All about beauty, Lydia House has been writing about creams and complexions for over a decade. Contributing to titles such as Women’s Health, Grazia, Stylist and The Evening Standard, Lydia also uses her vast knowledge of the industry to consult leading health and beauty brands like Rituals, Tisserand and The Inkey List. Spending her working life obsessing over ingredients and formulas, Lydia believes that feeding your skin from within is just, if not more important, than the lotions you slather on. And even with a busy life and work schedule, she will always find the time to fit in a pampering session (or two).