From a healthy distance, makeup can be scary. Not like "Hey, babysitter alone in the house, don't go in the basement" scary. More like Apollo 13scary: Not actually a horror film, but something to avoid if you're wary of that whole outerspace thing. And Tom Hanks almost dies! It's terrifying. Anyway, I really hate movies about space.
Back to makeup—scary for some, like a fish to water for others. But that's why ITG is here, right? To make it easy for all so you can go on with your day. If, up until this very instant, putting together a bare bones makeup routine has eluded to you, stop worrying. It's not hard, and it's not going to take very long. You need maybe five products and no discernable technique to master this challenge. Read about it for the next few mintues, get your hands on some products, and literally never think about it again. Here goes:
Really easy foundation
If you don't already use foundation, now might not be the time to start. There are roughly a bajillion, really good products that will even out your skin tone without excessive blending, stipling, brushing, or anything like that. Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer gets a lot of lip service—and for good reason—but my money is on the L'Oréal Lumi Cushion. So easy, so buildable, so many shades. And very affordable. I'll be shilling for this product until the end of time.
Concealer with a wand
Chances are, this makeup bag we're building together is going to travel around from place to place with you as you live your life. One thing you're not going to want to do is stick your finger in a pot while you're out and about. Germs! Of course, you could solve that by using a brush. Or you could skip a step and go straight for something like Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer which has a lovely little doe foot applicator attached to the cap. The best way to apply is to smear a little from the doe foot onto the natural palette of your hand (that fleshy space on the back between your thumb and pointer finger) and then dab where needed with your fingers. Wash your hands first, of course. But you knew that.
A bronzer that's also a highlighter
Both bronzer and highlighter become less frivolous when you combine them. But nobody, nobody, does better than Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick in Bronze or Beige. The one downside is that it's a powder compact—so you'll need to add a brush. I'd suggest some sort of collapsible kabuki brush because it stays hygenic with its own little enclosure. Alternatively, take the brushless route and pick something like Glossier Haloscope in Topaz or Nars The Multiple in Napali Coast.
One color for cheeks and lips
This could be your typical RMS Lip2Cheek-type product, or just a lipstick that you like for both parts of your face. I've found that the Rituel de Fille Forbidden Lipsticks are the best when mixed with a little lip balm. Mix it up and make it more of a stain for casual days, then transition into more of a true lipstick look if you're looking to make that statement. Or alternate every day for the hell of it. Or just pinch your cheeks and drink a glass of wine. It's 2017 and you have options.
Yes, I work at Glossier so there's obviously a little implicit bias here, but Boy Brow is the only thing I use on my brows, and the only thing I recommend to people who are trying to build out their makeup routine. After three years, I still don't know how to properly fill in my brows with pencil or shadow. So get you a product that does it for you—fills, fluffs, holds. Or pick something else entirely! But know that brows are non-negotiable.
As for liner and mascara (I almost never do liner; I almost always do mascara), that's up to you. Depends on the kind of day you're having and the kind of look you're going for, but I don't think they're as non-negotiable as the rest. I'll just say this: Lancôme has some pretty baller liners—of both the pencil and liquid persuasion—and Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is the most versatile formula and brush I've ever come across. Do what you will with that information and let me know how it goes.