The Best Makeup Products for Beginners

Valeria H. is Real Beauty School’s Senior Beauty Editor and the instructor behind our makeup lessons. She’s passionate about sharing beauty tips, trends, and tutorials for newbies. She’s an experienced makeup artist and also the author of the popular makeup book, “Makeup Made Easy” and when she’s not crafting the perfect makeup tutorial or diving deep into the latest beauty trends, you can find her enjoying her favorite latte with a cozy blanket and watching Netflix

If you are a makeup beginner. This is for you.

With the numerous beauty brands, makeup products, and TikTok tips and tricks out there to choose from, figuring out where to start becomes overwhelming.

I get you.

I’ve been there and I’m here to help you exactly with that!

if you are a makeup beginner trying to figure out what are the best products to start your makeup journey,

this article will help you simplify the process with a complete but simple list of the best makeup products any beginner should try!

List of makeup products for beginners step-by-step

  1. Primer
  2. Foundation
  3. Concealer (Note: not for color correction)
  4. Translucent powder
  5. Cream blush
  6. Cream bronzer
  7. Powder highlighter (or consider liquid as an option)
  8. Brow gel (or brow pencil, based on preference)
  9. Eyeshadows (Focusing on shades like nudes and browns; available in both matte and shimmery finishes)
  10. Mascara
  11. Liquid eyeliner (specifically, eyeliner pen)
  12. Lip liner
  13. Lipstick
  14. Lip gloss
  15. Setting spray

Save the following list on Pinterest by clicking on the save button in the upper left corner of the image!

essential makeup products for beginners step by step

Essential makeup products a beginner needs in their makeup bag

So above, I enlist the best products for beginners (kind of in order)

BUT that does not mean that you need

ALL the products in your makeup bag.

Let’s say that if you are a beginner, you actually need even fewer products than that to get you started.

And I also recommend having two makeup kits, one kit to be like a more complete makeup kit to leave at home and one makeup kit smaller to get for travel or the everyday on-the-go.

So before jumping into the best makeup products (the full kit),

I’ll talk about the very basic essential makeup products you need in your makeup bag.

Which are:

  • Primer (matte, hydrating or pore eraser)
  • Foundation (matte, or dewy and full coverage or sheer)
  • concealer (for under eyes)
  • bronzer and blush (preferably creams)
  • mascara (and eyelash curler)
  • eyeliner
  • small eyeshadow palette that fit in your makeup bag
  • lip liner and lipstick (OR lip liner and lip gloss)
  • compact translucent powder. (here’s one of my favorites compact translucent powders)

Those products are the very essential products to always carry on with

for either a simple makeup look to do in the car or bus, plane etc. or for a retouch after hours.

NOTE: I mentioned a “compact” translucent powder.

And this is because I do not recommend a loose translucent powder for your on the go makeup bag.

This is usually a mess when you are trying to do your makeup in a hurry.

Instead, a COMPACT works better for your on-the-go kit.

I highly recommend getting a compact translucent powder for either OR for both makeup kits

I personally always have a compact translucent powder on my own travel makeup bag. And yes, I ALWAYS travel with my makeup no matter where I go lol.

Okay, I do not take ALL the items of my makeup bag for camping, but my camping makeup routine is for another time.

Okay, so another thing to note is that I’m mentioning TRANSLUCENT.

Why am I emphasizing translucent instead of regular face powders?

Well, translucent powder is not the same as setting powder, foundation powder, or any other face powder.

Translucent powders are a more fine and lightweight type of powders that do not contain any COLOR.

Not even white, so if you have a translucent powder that is leaving your face white, is not that translucent then.

A translucent powder needs to be without any color (it looks white, but it doesn’t leave your skin white)

And this is because we don’t want to add another layer of color to your makeup because we already did that with foundation and concealer.

And adding more layers of color to the skin MIGHT result in your makeup looking cakey, heavy or flaky like I explain in this flawless foundation guide.

SO yeah, if you have been struggling with cakey, patchy makeup…

Try switching to a lightweight translucent powder to set your foundation because that might be the problem.

My favorite compact translucent powder is this one here.

Okay now that we have mentioned the full beginners makeup kit list and the essentials for your makeup bag, let’s get more in depth with each product and step.

1. The Importance of a Good Base

I always talk about that makeup is so much more than just the “RIGHT” products. It’s about how to apply them , the techniques, and ALSO…

…what has been applied BEFORE.

before continuing with the makeup products list, I have to say that a skincare routine or skin prep routine for makeup is as much as important as the makeup routine.

You can have the MOST EXPENSIVE makeup products of the world, applied by the master of makeup artists on a NOT well-prepared skin and I can assure you that the results will NOT be flawless.

That’s why every master makeup artist ALWAYS carries on their kit with skin prep or skincare products.

If you haven’t worked on that, here’s a skincare for makeup starter guide that can help with that.

But for the sake of this guide,

let’s assume you are doing a GOOD skin prep routine and now you are ready to jump into the makeup steps.

1.Primer: e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer

Every makeup routine should start with a good primer.

It makes your makeup last longer and looks fresh.

e.l.f.’s Poreless Putty Primer is both, affordable and effective, which is perfect for beginners.

offering a smooth canvas for our next steps and products.

e.l.f is rocking with the new products they have launched! another GREAT primer that is also super affordable is the power grip primer.

Related: The best face primers to blur fine lines and wrinkles

Why is primer important and what happens if you don’t wear any primer at all?

If you don’t want to wear primer you can technically just skip it.

but I have to say that primer is a MUST for me because I notice a significant difference.

Primers address skin concerns like oily skin, dryness, and big pores.

Oh trust me, if you have BIG PORES and you are NOT wearing a pore filler primer, you SHOULD DO IT NOW.

It’s a game-changer!

It’s like the TikTok or Instagram filters that make your skin look blurred but in REAL LIFE.

And if you have dry skin, a hydrating primer is a salvation

and if your skin tends to get oily during the day a MATTE primer is a MUST also.

I would say if you have like “perfect” skin you can skip it without a problem, but most of us can get benefited with a good primer depending on our skin necessities.

Now let’s get to next step, foundation.

what type of foundation is best for beginners?

for beginners the best type of foundation is LIQUID FOUNDATION.

My recommendation? Liquid, lightweight but medium to full coverage foundation.

And matte or hydrating depending on the skin type.

There are TONS of GOOD foundations out there, I highlight recommend checking out our foundation buyer’s guides:

And of course, once you finish this article, check out my foundation guide for beginners here.

but to just pick one, I’d mention the following:

Foundation: Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

A favorite among makeup artists and beginners alike, this foundation offers a natural, pore-minimizing finish.

It’s simply my go-to recommendation for beginners, I love that is liquid (i do not recommend cream or stick foundations for beginners), medium-to-full coverage and CHEAP.

I mean like crazy affordable!

It’s available in a broad range of shades and adapts to your skin’s texture for a natural look.

it doesn’t necessarily have to be the matte one. I also recommend the dewy version.

If you have dry skin, check out the dewy foundation here.

Another crucial makeup product…

Concealer: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

Concealer is one of FAVORITE makeup steps.

I could say that without concealer, a makeup doesn’t LOOK complete.

I even wear concealer (a tiny bit) on my how to do makeup without foundation tutorial.

Because yes, I can SKIP foundation but I CAN’T skip concealer.

AND of my favorites and not only for me, but for thousands of customers as well, is the NARS concealer.

Perfect for covering blemishes and dark circles, this concealer offers full coverage without looking cakey.

Its creamy formula blends easily, making it beginner-friendly.

it’s not cheap, it’s more on the luxury side.

If you are looking for a more affordable concealer check out the one by e.l.f it’s absolutely amazing and cheap!

Related: 15 Best Concealer Tips for Beginners

Now let’s get into the eyes.

Oh I love eye makeup as well.

Well, I love makeup; that’s why I write this guide in the first place lol.

If you are liking the article so far, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter and get a copy of the makeup guide for beginners ebook!

2. Eye makeup for beginners

Eye makeup could be one of the most complicated makeup steps for beginners,

but don’t worry

I’ll show you a simple, non-complicated way to start building your makeup eyeshadow collection

to do the easiest eyeshadow looks that still will leave your eyes and the rest of your makeup looking stunning!

Eyeshadow Palette: Urban Decay Naked Basics

For those new to eyeshadows, neutral shades are your best bet.

The Naked Basics palette has versatile neutral colors that are great for creating everyday looks or smoky eyes and defining your eyes

Another great eyeshadow palette option is the one by NYX

I also love this palette. It has both, matte and shimmers and a more variety combination of warms and neutrals to get different looks.

If you want to directly jump into a tutorial with neutral eyeshadows and basic tips here’s one that I think you might like,

it’s especially good for those with deep set or hooded eyes(my type of eyes).

Now the next product,

Mascara: Maybeline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara

This mascara gives your lashes volume and length without clumping.

The brush design ensures an even application, making it ideal for beginners.

AND TO BE HONEST, I don’t even know WHY expensive mascaras exist, THIS MASCARA is just as good as any other expensive mascara i have tried before! It’s the best.

I always use the waterproof one, and i recommend a waterproof mascara for all that have fallen eyelashes or hooded eyelids (that tend to provoke fallen eyelashes)

because regular mascaras, or even water-resistant (not waterproof) won’t work for you. Your fallen eyelashes will still look if not more FALLEN.

only waterproof mascaras will maintain your curl through the day.

Eyeliner: NYX Epic ink Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

With a precise tip and a smudge-proof formula, this eyeliner is perfect for beginners.

for beginners, liquid PEN eyeliner is the way to go in my personal and professional opinion.

pencil eyeliner are a mess and cream eyeliner can get even WORSE.

with practice you should be able to use/wear other types of eyeliners without a problem but if you are just starting, a pen eyeliner is a life-saver.

If you want to know more about eyeliner, check out my guide on the best way to do eyeliner for beginners and the best eyeliners for hooded eyes (the challenging droopy eyelids)

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3. Blush, Bronze, and Highlight

oh this is getting even more interesting.

I don’t know about you, but blush and bronzer has been my absolute favorite part of ALL my makeups lately.

I can skip eye makeup completely, but not my BLUSH.

I think since last year, blush has been a thing in the beauty world.

I should say liquid/cream blush in particular.

And if for some reason, you haven’t joined this trend,

I highly recommend you do it!

Blush can do wonders in terms of adding personality, youth, and life to your makeup.

Related: 5 different ways to apply liquid blush for different effects!

Blush: Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush

This blush provides a natural, radiant flush of color.

It’s buildable, so beginners can start with a light application and add more as needed.

AND its just beautiful!

It leaves a natural finish and it s so easy to blend.

If you still prefer powder blush, here’s another good option for you.

now, let’s talk about BRONZER

NOTE: I’m not mentioning contour in this guide (which is different from bronzer) because, for beginners, this is not necessary. Contour is a more advanced technique that you can learn later on the road.

Bronzer adds warmth to your look, but there are some shades of bronzer that serve kind of alike a contour which means, the shades are more neutral and add definition to the look.

Just like blush, bronzer has been getting more popular in the beauty world in a CREAM presentation.

So that’s what we will include for this product list.

Bronzer: SHEGLAM liquid bronzer

And while I have not been paid by e.l.f to promote their products (neither by sheglam) I have to AGAIN add a product from e.l.f to this list.

And this is because I believe e.l.f is both a high-quality brand AND accessible for everyone.

I like both. The e.l.f putty bronzer and the sheglam liquid bronzer.


The e.l.f one is a cream bronzer and I show you how to apply CREAM bronzer as also like a contour here.

And the one by sheglam is a liquid that is just beautiful. easy to blend and leaves a natural finish.

Highlighter: Physician’s formula Pressed Highlighter

So for highlighter, I don’t have too much to say.

It’s a step that I do not recommend skipping because it adds juiciness to the look

and I believe it brings the whole makeup back to life after setting it with powder.

And for that, you can use both liquid, cream, or powder highlighter but I personally prefer powder because I feel like I can control the quantity better than with liquid or cream.

4. Lip Makeup

Lipstick: MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo

Every beginner needs a classic red in their kit.

Ruby Woo is a universally flattering shade with a matte finish that lasts for hours.

Another thing that I highly recommend for beginners is a lip balm, lip oil or lip gloss.

The matte lips tha that were on trend on 2010 are gone.

The lip makeup that is trendy right now is glossy lips.

And a good lip oil with color is the way to go with that trend.

Lip Oil: NYX lip oil tint

Like I said before, if you haven’t yet, you should try a lip oil!

This is a moisturizing tint that leaves the lips feeling soft without feeling sticky and also adds color.

OH and before I forget, LIP LINER

Wear lip liner!

I show you how to make your likes look bigger and JUICY with lip liner here.

Setting Spray: NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray – Matte

To ensure your makeup stays put, a setting spray is essential.

This affordable option from NYX gives a matte finish and keeps your makeup looking fresh.

Eyebrows: Anastasia beverly hills dipbrow pomade

Eyebrows makeup is a BIG topic to talk about.

So I’ll just leave my UPDATED eyebrows routine that I use for me and clients and especially good if you don’t have thick eyebrows.

Tools and Brushes Essentials

Makeup application isn’t just about the products; the tools you use can make or break your look. Here’s a beginner-friendly guide to brushes and tools:

Brush Types

Investing in quality brushes can significantly improve your makeup application:

  • Foundation Brush: Provides an even base and reduces product wastage.
  • Eyeshadow Brushes: A flat brush for application and a fluffy one for blending are basics.
  • Blush and Contour Brushes: Ensure that colors are applied subtly and can be blended easily.

Brands like Real Techniques and EcoTools offer affordable starter sets.


The beauty blender revolutionized makeup application. When dampened, it can give a sheer, skin-like finish to foundations and concealers.

Alternatives like the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge are also excellent

Common Makeup Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Even seasoned makeup lovers can make mistakes.

Here are a few common ones and how to sidestep them:

Over-applying Foundation

It’s tempting to layer on foundation, but less is more.

Start with a small amount and build if necessary.

This approach ensures a skin-like finish and reduces the risk of a cakey appearance.

Mismatched Foundation Shade

Always test foundation shades on your jawline and check in natural light.

This method ensures the color matches your face and neck.

Many stores offer samples, so don’t hesitate to try before you buy.

IF you already got the wrong foundation shade, here’s how you fix it at home.

Overdone Eyebrows

Eyebrows frame your face, but over-filling them can draw attention for the wrong reasons.

Choose a shade close to your natural hair color and use a light hand.

Remember, it’s easier to add more than to take away.

What’s next? Check out my latest Makeup tutorial on How to do an all BROWN makeup (latte trend)


Remember, makeup is an art, and every artist has to start somewhere.Enjoy the journey and the transformation that comes with it.

In case you haven’t noticed I think I made this guide UNINTENTIONALLY about affordable products,

but it is absolutely my professional and honest opinion based on my experience and with my clients and NONE of the brands mentioned sponsored this article.

Also, who doesn’t need to save some money when buying beauty products right now?

I hope you liked this guide.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly newsletter and get your FREE makeup guide for beginners ebook.

let me know in the comment section below what I am missing in this guide?

I read and answer ALL the comments personally or you can always email me at [email protected]

bye bye!

Valeria H.

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