A Beginner’s Makeup Kit

Getting into makeup is hard. Especially with trends like contouring or strobing or baking or whatever the kids are calling it these days. So I figured I would put together a quick list of things to look for when you’re just starting to use makeup.

basic kit flatlay

Don’t let the picture fool you. That’s actually not a lot of stuff, and a lot of it is optional. Now, I don’t have much drugstore brand stuff, but I’ll include links to Amazon* to products in a variety of price ranges.


basic kit eyes

I figured we would start with basic eye makeup, namely eyeliner and mascara, because that’s what I started with. At the top I have Smashbox’s Full Exposure mascara. It retails for about $18 a tube at Ulta, and it’s seriously so great. It’s not super thick or super clumpy, and makes my lashes look so full. A decent drugstore brand is Maybelline’s Great Lash, which has been a cult favorite for years. Under that I’ve got a liquid eyeliner pen, Revlon’s Color Stay Liquid Liner Pen in blackest black. I’ve been using this pen or Maybelline New York Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner for as long as I’ve been using liquid liner. I somewhat prefer the Maybelline pen tip to the Revlon, because it’s thinner and slightly more flexible, but Revlon is alright too. For absolute beginners, however, an eyeliner pencil might work better, since they’re easier to control. This is the classic Wet & Wild eyeliner pencil,  which is a first eyeliner for a lot of people.

Beyond eyeliners, I like at least using a gel to keep my eyebrows in place. I use Benefit’s Speed Brow, but I know e.l.f. makes a good one too. Finally, I wanted to mention Benefit’s They’re Real Tinted Lash Primer, which I use in place of mascara when I want to do a super natural look.

I haven’t included any eyeshadows, because I never used them when I was just starting out, but if you want to use any I suggest a super neutral palette.


basic kit face

I don’t use much on my face. Because I am lazy. So I’m not super into foundations or concealers or any of that. But when I do need to do full on makeup, like when Desiree got married, I used that Smashbox Photo Ready Powder Foundation, which I got in a Try-It Kit, which includes a primer and BB cream as well. Before this, I would use a Maybelline powder foundation,  but again, I rarely used foundation. I still barely do, since I nanny and the baby likes pressing his face against mine all the time.

Blushwise I’m really really enjoying this Too Faced Love Flush 16-Hour blush. I have How Deep is Your Love, and it’s such a great corally pink that’s very pigmented, and really buildable. On me it looks super natural, which is great because I don’t like super prominent makeup. A cheaper alternative is the e.l.f. blush in Candid Coral, however, the color is not an exact dupe. e.l.f. has pretty good quality makeup, especially for beginners.

And on the left I’ve got Benefit’s Hoola bronzer, which, just like the blush, is pretty pigmented but buildable. I really like that it’s matte, because I tend to get oily so the less shine on my face the better. I don’t really have a comparable drugstore brand here, because I was never into bronzer before I got Hoola.

Now, for anyone who wants to try contouring but doesn’t want to drop a ton of money on makeup, I’ve heard great things about NYX’s contour palettes. You all know I love NYX in general, but I’ve never actual tried the contour palette. However, I feel okay recommending it, because I’ve loved absolutely every other NYX thing I’ve tried.


basic kit lips

Speaking of NYX, it’s a great brand for beginners in general, because while everything is reasonably cheap, it’s also really good quality.

So for a beginner makeup kit, I recommend having at least one lip stain, because those are super easy to apply and they’re pretty sheer, so good for if you’re younger and not really allowed much makeup, especially at school. As I mentioned in my post about my favorite reds, Covergirl lip stains are so fantastic. They’re buildable and last for ages, and look super natural the whole time. However, if your lips are dry, stains will make that super evident. So apply a balm over it if you need to, and stay hydrated!

On to lipstick, which is so often the first kind of makeup anyone starts with. Those two NYX matte lipsticks are the most wonderful thing. The dark one is called Goal Digger, and the red is Alabama. I feel like every beginner makeup kit should have one more dramatic shade, like a red or purple, and then a more nude shade. My first lipstick every was that Revlon cream lipstick, it’s a very classic red that’s called Scarlet Velvet, but it’s been discontinued and I’m constantly on the hunt for something similar.

Nude lipsticks are tricky, because they vary based on your skin toned. The one I’ve got pictured is an Estee Lauder that my aunt gave me, but Desiree really loves NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockhom, which I’ve been meaning to buy.

Speaking of NYX, I’m really loving their Liquid Suede lipsticks, the one I’ve got pictured is called Vintage. I feel like for beginners, liquid lipsticks are so much easier to apply neatly than regular lipstick. And the NYX ones are so inexpensive that you can grab a few to experiment with different colors.


basic kit brushes

Okay so this is a little tricky because up until about two years ago, I wasn’t really into brushes, and I still don’t have a set of expensive brushes. I’ve had my eye on It Cosmetics brushes,  but currently I’m using a set I got off Amazon. I’m not sure what the brand is, but they’re super soft and don’t shed, so that’s great. And brushwise, you don’t need much. If you don’t use your fingers to apply eyeshadow, which I admit I still sometimes do, you need a rounded fluffy brush, like the one on the way right, to get the shadow all over your lid, and a brush to get into your crease, like the one on the way left, and one to blend it, like the center brush. And that one second from the left is what I use for blush, and obviously by the sate of the bristles you can tell that the one second from the left is my bronzer brush. Now, disclaimer, that might now be the technical name or use for that particular shape of brush, but that’s just what I personally use it for, and it’s what’s been working for me.

Eyelash curlers look scary, and the first few times you use one is terrifying, but they do wonders for you eyelashes. Curling my lashes makes me look awake and interested in things, even if I’ve just driven an hour for a twenty minute long meeting. I got mine from Sephora, and it was fairly inexpensive. It even came with extra cushions.


Basic kit primers

Primers help a lot, especially if like me, you have super oily skin and your makeup tends to disappear after a few hours. I can’t really recommend any other primers, because these are the only ones I’ve ever used, but they last for so long that I feel like the price is justified for both. On the left is Benefit’s Porefessional , which is for your face, and on the right is my beloved Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. This stuff is seriously wonderful. It keeps my eyelids from looking and feeling oily, and keeps my eyeshadow in place right up until I take it off myself. I usually put it on even when I don’t plan on putting on eyeshadow.

So to summarize, all you really need in a beginner makeup kit is an eyeliner you’re comfortable with, a mascara that won’t clump on you, a brow gel if you need it, blush, bronzer, and foundation if you want it, one neutral lipstick and one fun one, and maybe a primer or two. Brushes are highly recommended but completely optional, well all of this is optional I guess. That’s the fun part about makeup, you can pick and choose what parts you like. I have a hard time shopping for clothes, but makeup always fits.

As always, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

*I’m in the Amazon Affiliates programs, so if you click on one of the links I’ve provided and end up buying the product, I do get a very small amount from the sale. However, I really do love and honestly recommend all of these products.


My favorite lipsticks for when I’m feeling a touch melodramatic.

Remember last week how I made you a list of my favorite red lipsticks? Well, last summer I went on a quest in search of the perfect dark, vampy purple. And I found a few that I really really liked, and I’m finally starting to branch out from my standard reds.

purple swatches

Now, these aren’t all drugstore like my reds. A few of them are fairly pricey, especially if you’re not gonna wear them every day. I’ve provided links to Amazon*, but I’m sure that you can find most of these at your local Ulta or Sephora.

At the very top is a lip stain, Revlon’s Just Bitten lip stain and balm in Beloved/Adoration. This is a fairly sheer (at least on me) raisiny-brown purple, which looks pretty natural, so this is what I wear if I’m not wearing any other makeup, or if I’m doing my eyes super dramatic and don’t want to do super dramatic lips as well. It’s very versatile. Now, there’s a balm on the end of it that’s supposed to either make it stay for a while or to make your lips softer, but I really don’t use it.

The wine-y color underneath is NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen. It goes on so soft and velvety, and dries matte, and lasts seriously forever. This perpetuates my obsession with NYX. I know Desiree loves one of their Soft Matte Lip Creams too, I think it’s called Aspen, it’s a neutral nude shade, and looks perfect on her.

That perfect dark vampy shade underneath it is also by NYX, it’s a Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Vintage. I do have to warn you, it’s cheaper at Ulta than on Amazon. But it’s so perfect and lasts for so long that the Amazon price really isn’t that bad.

Alright, now to the more expensive things.

The next one is Smashbox’s Be Legendary Lipstick in Plum Scene. It’s a nice raisin purple, with just a hint of a shimmer. And it stays on for a while. On me it looks almost wine colored, but in the tube it looks much darker, so it’s fairly buildable.

And finally, is my 23rd birthday present to myself, MAC’s Gunner. This one was part of a limited edition collection, so it’s not available from MAC’s stores or online, but they’re selling it via their Amazon account. It’s the bluest of these purples, and I on;y really wear it if I’m feeling melodramatic and it’s nighttime.

That’s all I’ve got today, maybe next week I’ll show you my favorite pinks.

I think I do have a problem with lipsticks, lol. Comment below with your favorites!

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

*I use affiliate links, so I would get a teeny bit from each sale using my referring link. However, the opinions are totally my own, and I really do love these lipsticks.

Things I Liked Putting on My Face in 2015

I know, I know, monthly favorites is the trend around here, but let’s be real, I am a creature of habit. I don’t try new things, and when I do, my skin breaks out or I pout the whole time. So instead of giving you guys a list of the exact same thing every month, I decided to tell you about the things I kept reaching for for an entire year.

fave products 2015

See? Simple creature. Told you so.

The first thing I liked a lot is my Clarisonic Mia 1. I use it every other day, and it’s really been helping with my acne. Along with this, I use Aveeno’s Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser. It hasn’t got any exfoliation on its own, so using it with my Clarisonic is great. I also just use it on its own on the days I’m not using Clarisonic.

Makeup wise, I don’t like wearing a lot of things on my face. At 24 years old, I’ve yet to figure out how foundation and concealer work. And don’t get me started on contouring. Seriously, don’t. I wouldn’t know what to tell you. What I do wear every day is eyebrow gel. I like Benefit’s SpeedBrow. It’s a lightly tinted brow gel that sets pretty fast.  When I do wear other eye makeup, I use Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Even if I’m not using more than a little eyeshadow, it keeps my eyelids from looking oily. Which is a thing that happens, apparently. My favorite eyeliner is Maybelline’s Eye Studio Master Precise liner pen. I love the tip on this thing. It’s so thin, and I can do the most perfect little wings with it.

Above the eyeliner is Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara. It makes my eyelashes look all full and soft, and doesn’t clump at all. And my favorite eyeshadows are in the Too Faced Matte Eye palette. They’re great for a pretty natural look.

To the right there is Love & Toast’s Gin Blossom perfume, both in the bottle and the rollerball. It’s been my go to scent. I also like Love & Toast’s Gin and Lime lip balm, but was all out so it’s not pictured. I need to grab another pot of it.

Finally, I’m loving basically every lip product NYX makes. Pictured above are the Simply Red Lip Cream, Matte Lipstick, and Soft Matte Lip Cream.

Whew. Favorites. Done. All the links go to Ulta, or to the Love & Toast website. Sometimes L&T is at Ulta, sometimes it’s not. Depends on the store, I guess.

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram (and here!), or you can email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

I Carry Less Stuff in the Summer

Now that my semester is over, I find myself hauling around a lot less crap. However, I did realize that when I carried a bigger bag, I carried more stuff. But I didn’t need more stuff. And I didn’t want to carry a big bag. So after a couple hours of babysitting, I had saved enough money to buy this super precious bag. After a few hours of intense debate with Desiree over whether or not this bag would be totally ridiculous (we decided it would not be), I skipped off to Francesca’s to buy it, because they were having a sale on handbags.

Look at how perfect it is!
Look at how perfect it is! It’s called the Limon bag, and the little girl I babysit reminds me that it’s shaped like a lemon every time I see her.

The thing is, this bag is tiny. Well. Tiny in comparison to anything else I’ve carried. So I seriously have to focus on keeping it tidy and make sure I’ve only got what I need in it.

summer whats in my bagThis is basically all I can fit into my bag.

1. My wallet

This is the biggest thing in my bag. I actually had to switch to a smaller, soft wallet to get it to fit into my bag. This cute studded one I got from my cousin for my birthday.

2. Hand sanitizer

This is one of the seventy million ones I’ve got stashed away from previous Bath and Body Works excursions. I’m trying to get through my stash before I go buy more. This Fresh Picked Strawberry scent is one of my favorites. I was so excited to find it in the store that I bought maybe five, and also three or four of the strawberry scented foaming hand soaps.

3. Lip Balm

This is Love & Toast’s Gin and Lime lip balm. It’s made with extra virgin olive oil and a variety of good-for-your-skin butters, and it’s surprisingly light and not greasy. It absorbs quickly, and keeps my lips soft and nice even when I’m all dehydrated. I like it so much that I bought Desiree a matching one in Vanilla Chai, and drove five hours to give it to her. Well, I was going to see her anyway, and stopped at Ulta on the way, and ended up stuck in traffic for an extra two hours. But still.

4. Lip Balm/Gloss

This is a Yves St Laurent Volupte Sheer Candy Glossy Balm in Succelent Pomegranate. I picked it up from Sephora a while ago. It’s a balm, but tinted. Very sheer, very not-sticky. Tastes like candy.

5. Mascara

This is my favorite mascara ever. I keep the smaller size in my purse in case I need it, which is rare. Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara. I like it because it’s not too heavy, and doesn’t make my eyelashes clumpy or thick-feeling.

6. Notepad

Even though I keep track of a lot of stuff like hours I’ve worked and blog ideas on my phone, I like having some kind of paper with me to jot things down, like grocery lists or driving directions because I don’t want to have my phone out while driving. This is one of those that you can find in the bins at Bed Bath and Beyond or TJ Maxx/Marshalls. Super cheap, like a dollar or two.

7. Pen

This is a super cute pen. I got it from the dollar bin at Target, for a dollar (duh). It came in a pack of two, the other has pink stripes. I also bought a pack for Desiree and sent it to her in her birthday box. It’s got black ink.

8. Mirror

This is the same mirror from my previous post about what’s in my bag. Just a basic mirror from Forever 21, with little flowers and crystals on it. I think it was a dollar or something. Just from the bins by the cash register. I got it months ago. It’s one of many floating around in my various bags.

That’s all I’m letting myself carry for now. As the school year starts or if I travel I’ll have to move to a bigger bag, but for summer when all I’m doing is running errands and babysitting, this is all I need.

PS: That letter tray everything is arranged in is a semi-DIY. Post on that later.

Want to submit a post of your own? Email me What’s In My Bag posts or other collab ideas to thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com. Remember, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr.

Have a great day!

My makeup bag.

I figured that since I mentioned my makeup bag without telling you what was in it, I would dump it out and show you.makeup bag

Look at that, another neatly numbered picture. I’m great, aren’t I?

1. This is just a mirror. One side is normal and the other is slightly magnified. I think I got it for a dollar or something at Forever 21 or something. Right where they pile all that stuff as you’re going to the register.

2. This is a Garnier eye roller, which is supposed to decrease puffy eyes. I haven’t noticed much.

3. Lip stain. I tend to use lip stain more than lipstick or lipgloss, because it doesn’t feel sticky to me.

4. This is the bag itself. You can sort of tell how big it is by the things next to it. It’s Estee Lauder, and my aunt gave it to me years ago with two larger ones that fit the same general color scheme.

5. Tweezers.

6. It’s a brow/eyelash brushie comby thing. What is it called? I don’t know. I always have to separate my eyelashes after I’ve put mascara on.

7. Eyebrow gel. I feel weird without it. Like my eyebrows are going all over the place.

8. Burt’s Bees pomegranate lip balm. It’s the best. I’ve been using it since I was in middle school.

9. Fresh’s Sugar lip treatment in Passion. I think it tastes and smells like lemon bars.

10. YSL Sheer Volupte Lip Candy in Pomegranate Passion, I believe. It’s a super sheer, lightly tinted lip balm/gloss. I like it a lot.

11. This is a mini of Smashbox’s Full Exposure mascara. I keep the full size one on my dressing table and a mini in my bag because I’m scatterbrained and sometimes I forget to put it on. I don’t like doing eyeliner and eyeshadow all the time, so usually I’ll just do eyebrow gel and mascara as I’m rushing out the door.

12. Hand sanitizer. I have a million of this floating around my bag, desk, bedroom, everywhere. Because germs.

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