Some beauty lessons: what I've learned

I've been meaning to write this post for a while, and since I can't decide what product to review for the day, I thought I'd write this one.

Below are some lessons I've learned in my last few years as a beauty junkie. No doubt there are trillions more lessons I need to learn, but at least I can pass these on now and hopefully there's a something in there that might be useful.

Apply concealer after your foundation, not before it

I don't know about you, but for years I put my cream concealer on first and then put my liquid foundation over the top. The result? You rub the concealer away of course and it loses its purpose.

For ages this issue annoyed me and I never thought to look into it. Loser. The solution was simple: do your foundation first and then put the concealer where it needs to go, being sure to blend. Sounds obvious, yes? But so many of us don't realise this 'rule', and it's an important one.

Note: this rule doesn't apply if you're using a powder foundation over a powder or cream concealer - in that case you can do things in the order you want (because you're not rubbing in the powder foundation, just dusting it over the top - so the concealer stays in place).

Do your eye makeup before anything else (including foundation)

People have told me to do this many times, and I never did until one day I applied my eye makeup first by accident (I had such bad preggers brain that I totally forgot to apply a base).

What a happy discovery!

When I wound up with eyeshadow fallout (as I sometimes do) and mascara on my skin (as I always do because I have puffy eyes), I could so easily remove it and then apply my foundation over the top. Amazing. Why had I never listened to anyone about this?!

If you're anything like me, it'll feel really wrong to change the order of your routine - but I urge you to try this at least once and discover the joy.

Don't stock up on sh*teloads of your favourite product when it's on special, unless you're absolutely sure you'll want to use it again and again without trying something new

I'm quite certain I'm not the only one who's fallen for this one - again and again and again.

You know how it is. Your favourite online shop or Priceline is having a half-price sale and so you buy at least three of your favourite foundations/primers/whatevers. Then you finish a bottle, only to decide that you'd much rather try something new before going back to the old one - either that or your skin changes a little (maybe it's become darker in summer or drier in winter) and you need to source a different product.

I have three foundation compacts that I bought in the post-Christmas sales in December 2013 (hey, they were less than $20 each, and they're normally $40!), plus a fourth of the same product that I've just opened because I knew I needed to make a dent in my stores - even though what I really wanted to do was open a BB cream I'd received from Memebox and try it.

Thankfully, the foundation compacts only contain 14g of product and they last about two months (and have an unopened shelf-life of 2+ years), so I'll definitely be able to get through them - but I wish I'd limited myself to two and then bought two more in the post-Christmas sales this year if I really wanted them again. Because sales aren't a one-time event, even though we often think they are! Your favourite product will most likely be up again in the discount line soon enough.

I find this applies more to makeup than it does to skincare, because it's unusual for me to find a range that works better for my skin than the few I have on rotation. But even so, I've got plenty of products from subscription boxes that I want to use, and a back-log of skincare products to get through first. It's all too much!

Don't stock up on sh*teloads of products, full stop

See, what happens when you have five moisturisers/BB creams/lip glosses in your stores is that - aside from feeling overwhelmed - you try to rush through what you're using so you can finish it, rather than just enjoying and rationing the product like a 'normal' person.

I reckon you also find that you use more than you need to with each application (or apply more times than you need to each day), which is still a waste even if you tell yourself 'at least it's getting used'. And you don't really want to be caught out in public having shovelled on the foundation because you're trying to get through the bottle.

I've done this with BB/CC creams (the products I always have too many of because I love them) - applying heavily because I know I'll be home working all day and 'hey, it's my sunscreen so I'll need extra' - and then having to wipe some off because I need to run some errands and don't want to look like I've been applying the stuff with a spatula.

You may have seen that, as of a week ago, I've sworn off buying any new beauty products for a whole year (see my post on that here). I'm doing this to give myself a chance to use and enjoy what I have, rather than worrying that things are piling up and might go off.

Just looking at what I have, I reckon I've managed to put a stop to the purchasing - which fortunately was less a cost issue and more a volume one, because like many I'm a discount shopper ; ) - just in time so that I'll be able to use what I have, rather than speed through it. It's actually been a relief, although it's certainly not a relief to be watching all the Memeboxes I'm already missing out on (!).

I'll live.

Products have shelf-life symbols on them, so you know how long they're meant to last

A lot of people don't know this one. On every makeup/skincare item, there should be a little open container symbol with eg '12M' or '24M' printed on it. This is how long your product will last once opened.

Unless your products are organic or contain active ingredients, they'll have a shelf-life of 2+ years prior to opening (although you can check this by running a search for the item's series number online or contacting the manufacturer).

Other products will actually have expiry dates printed on them for you.

It's good to know how long things last so you know when you need to use them.

Control your stash

I've mentioned this in my earlier post on makeup storage/organisation (see here), and it's related to the above point.

There are many ways to control your stash, but what I do is have two spreadsheets: one where I enter the dates I bought things, the storage time prior to opening and when I need to open the product by; and another where I note when I opened something, what the expiry date is, and when I need to finish it by. Sounds anal but it was easy enough to do and I just update my records every now and then in front of the TV.

Note: I view the shelf-life of some products in particular - like powders - with suspicion. Companies want you to throw things out and buy them again, so is a 12 month shelf-life really accurate? I've heard that many products can go for 3+ years, so long as you store them correctly (in a cool dark place). Be guided by your gut (and your senses). 

Turf your mascara when it's ready to go because you risk eye infection. Toss your foundation if it has started to separate and smells funny. But your blush? What's the worst that can happen - you get a pimple? You will have your own view on this, but that's mine.

Another way to know when you've opened something is to mark the date of opening on the container with a texta. I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to keep an eye on things.

You need toner in your life

I'm supposed to be a beauty junkie, but would you believe, I only started using toner a month ago? My golly! Why had I never used it before?!?!

The thing about toning is, you always think you've cleansed away all the gunk because your face looks and feels clean, but then you swipe a cotton pad doused in toner over your face and realise you were sorely mistaken. The pad is invariably coloured with dirt, leftover foundation and god knows what else.

Toner has to be my new favourite skincare product. I wouldn't skip it now for anything.

Don't buy cheap makeup just because it's cheap 

Ha. This one makes me laugh because I still do it occasionally even though I know better.

You know when you go into Chemist Warehouse for a toothbrush and spy the $2 bin while you're waiting in the queue, and absently find yourself reaching in and pulling out an eyeshadow because it's a colour you don't have and always wanted to try? And then you get home and use it, realise there's of course a reason why it was in the $2 bin (it's rubbish), and then it sits there because you can't bear to throw it out?

Guilty. I resolved a couple of months ago to never do this again - hopefully I can stick to that. Doesn't matter how cheap these things are - $2 is still $2. And who wants to have a drawer full of rubbish they'll never use?

If you leave your favourite products for special occasions and use the items you don't like as much every day, you'll use the rubbish and waste the gold

Use the good stuff. You're unlikely to finish a lot of it (I'm talking about blushes and eyeshadows here) within five years anyway.

'Nuff said.

Eyeliner doesn't have to be black

Ah, one of the greatest discoveries of my beauty life. I don't know why I thought eyeliner had to be black, but I did.

Try brown!


You'll still get the definition you're after, but you'll look much more natural. I'm so thrilled that I finally worked this one out. These days it's rare that I'll reach for the black - brown works so much better on me, even at night. And if I do use black because I've received black eyeliners in subscription boxes and want to use them, I now soften them with a brown shadow over the top. Gold.

Get creative, experiment and have fun

I don't know about you, but I often find it hard to just sit in front of the telly without doing something with my hands (knitting, plucking my eyebrows, painting my nails). Unless I'm watching Game of Thrones, in which case I'm glued to the thing.

Something I now love doing when I'm taking my lunch break (I work from home) is sitting down in front of some TV series that's good but doesn't have me enthralled, and playing with my makeup. It was in doing this that I discovered the brown eyeliner thing, and I've found colours that work for me when I never thought they would (eg pale/cool eyeshadows - I though I could only wear dark/warm colours).

Have fun with it. Try crazy seasonal looks and see if you can make them work for you. And when the postie comes to deliver your Violet Box and gives you strange looks because one eye is ringed in orange and the other in green, just smile and pretend to be normal.

Beauty is fun. Why would we do it otherwise?

That's all from me! Have you learned any similar lessons? If so I'd love to hear : )

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