I am no expert here, so I consulted books by Bobbi Brown, Kevin Aucoin, and Carmindy (from TLC's "What Not to Wear") and assembled the following list. I tried to include affordable recommended versions for each product. You probably need pictures to get this right, but the essentials seem to be (in the order they should be applied):
Foundation—Use for spot coverage along the center of the face and as a base for eye shadow on eyelids (it will help keep it in place). Carmindy says to use liquid foundation for our age group (try L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Makeup) or tinted moisturizer if you have dry, flawless skin (like Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer). Bobbi Brown likes a stick foundation for carrying in her bag. Modern women don’t wear as much foundation as they used to, so it doesn’t have to be such an investment—you just need the color to match. Walk outside into the daylight and check in your compact before buying.
Concealer—Bobbi Brown’s number one product for brightening a face, and the one place she says to invest (maybe that's why she makes such good ones). Buy this somewhere where you can try them on before buying. Multiple shades are fine. Your skin changes color throughout the year, some are good for blemishes (like Stila Cover-Up Stick and Revlon Color Stay Concealer), some for under eyes. Always put this over foundation to prevent overloading on it and getting cakey. Carmindy likes light-reflective concealer sticks for under eyes and on the inside of the nose (like The Body Shop Concealer Pencil or Benefit Eye Bright), and says they look more natural. Under-eye concealer should be a shade lighter than your foundation.
*Any cream highlighters or blushes should be applied before powder.*
Powder—to set makeup down your nose, across your chin, over cheeks and eyelids, and under eyelids if necessary to set concealer. Try Cover Girl Clean Pressed Powder or Mac Blot Powder if you don’t already own any.
Highlighter—Use a powder pearly shimmer under your eyebrows, on the inside corners of your eyes, and the tops of your cheekbones by the outer half of your eye. This is Carmindy’s go-to, better-than-shadow makeup trick. It’s certainly quicker and easier to carry, though for my time, I'll take shadow.
Blush or Bronzer—apply to apples of cheeks with a face powder brush for a seamless finish.
Eyeliner—brown pencil works on everyone. Work it down into the lash line and smudge with a q-tip. Alternatively, you can use a dark shadow and skinny brush, which Carmindy usually does on the show. Start one fourth of the way out from your inner eye to keep it looking light.
Mascara—Apply one coat to top lashes only (classic Maybelline Lash Discovery—-waterproof smears less). I like to put this on before anything else because I always get black spots somewhere and have to wipe them off and start over. Nonetheless, I’m leaving this here because that’s how Carmindy says to do it. If you use mascara, you will need an oil/silicone-based makeup remover, such as Bi-Facils.
Lip Color—surely you have many of these already. One you may not have thought of is just all-over pencil with lip balm.
If you have time, eye shadow makes for a more made-up look. Smoky eyes are sexier than bold lip color for an evening out. To make more of your eye color, use hues that are the opposite, blue eyes=brown shadow, green eyes=purple, hazel=green, brown=blue or green.
Do not run out to buy products unless you have NONE of these at home. If you are at all like me, you have a lifetime supply of these already. Try them back out (especially after using your new self-tanner) before spending your hard-earned money. Label them “summer,” “winter,” etc. Mix heavy or cakey formulations with some lotion. Add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to broken powders and press them back into shape (when the rubbing alcohol evaporates, they’ll be back to pressed). Organize eye shadows and lipsticks into “going out,” “work,” “natural,” and “summer” groups so you can grab them easily and remember what goes together to make a look. You will probably have some things you simply don’t like and never really used. Have a makeup party with girlfriends and see if anyone else wants your products before casting them into the landfill (this is perfect for all those sample size things and lipsticks that come free with purchase). If you must go buy something, check the drug-store circular where you shop for specials and coupons (or check drugstore.com, which has discounts and free shipping over $25). Makeup is fantastically over-priced and the discounts can be substantial. Buy department store cosmetics at gift time or when you can get a makeover from a professional makeup artist who will show you how to apply it.
See lists after the jump.
Bobbi Brown’s Perfect Makeup Kit for Home Includes:
Extras from your On-the-Go Kit
Brushes (powder, eye shadow, etc.)
Tools (eyelash curlers, tweezers, sponges)
I’m adding any bleaches or dyes you may use.
Her Makeup Bag:
Brushes for concealer, blush, and powder
Perfume in atomizer (says I)
Carmindy’s Day-to-Night Desk Kit (kept in an inexpensive metallic clutch):
Oil-blotting papers (Clean & Clear—in a pinch you can use toilet-seat covers)
Shimmering eye shadow