A Makeup Artist’s Guide to Using Every Last Item in Your Makeup Bag

Photo: Stocksy/Lumina

2018 is the year to be bold...with your makeup. You'll nail the cat-eye, embrace the red lip, and rock metallic and chrome finishes. But, while all of that sounds great in theory, just how do you get from bare-faced to bright-eyed without having a totally non-chill meltdown in the meantime? Here, makeup artist Jenny Patinkin reveals the true way to find your ultimate power look via your makeup bag. 

A New Year often comes along with a set of ambitious goals that you intend on slaying for the next 365 days. In terms of your beauty game, you just might be planning on finally conquering a new look. But then there's a good chance that your next thought is, "Where do I even start?"

You're not alone. It's completely normal to stare wide-eyed at an eye shadow palette wondering what to do with it. (Everyone's been there.)

Makeup know-how doesn’t always come naturally. In my experience, the vast majority of women actually want to wear fewer products—they just want to wear them better. So just how do you figure out the go-to makeup plan that will work in your day-to-day life?

To start, it depends on your face. Part of it's about your coloring and facial anatomy, of course, and the other part is about your personal style. You should factor in your lifestyle, how much time you’re (actually) willing to spend getting ready and, most importantly, your technical skills. Because if mascara application is beyond you, then liquid liner is going to feel like mission impossible.

Your beauty bag is kind of like a buffet—you just have to decide how high you want to pile your plate and whether you want to go back for seconds. Mix and match, add and subtract, layer and experiment—and most importantly, have fun with your look.

Keep reading for the fail-proof ways to apply different makeup in your bag.

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Eyelash curler

When your lashes are straight, they cast a shadow over your eyes like a canopy. But when they’re curled, light gets to your entire eye, making them look bigger and brighter without even requiring mascara or eye makeup. Game. Changer.


So many women are scared of eyeliner. I understand—it’s going on a teeny tiny space that requires precision, but some imperfection can actually look beautiful. I’m a huge fan of smudging, which is, I swear, the easiest way to line. Making short, flick-y strokes across your lash line—right at the roots of your lashes—and then smudging to a smoky finish is not only flattering, but it’s also forgiving. Make a mistake? Just smudge some more and voila.

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It’s not just for dark circles. Apply it down the center of your face to neutralize redness, fill in enlarged pores, and cover up broken capillaries or blemishes. This way, you can totally skip foundation if you want.

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These golden brown powders and creams aren't just for summer. A light touch of bronzer on the cheeks, temples, hairline, and chin can do wonders for your complexion, giving you a healthy glow any time of year. A word to the wise: It’s best applied with a soft, fluffy brush since stiffer brushes can splotch instead of glide.


Though it can be way overdone on social media (especially with the trending Kirakira app that adds sparkle to every shimmer), highlighter doesn’t have to be as obvious to give you a glow. Just a small amount strategically placed on the tops of the cheeks is all it takes to create the illusion that your skin is dewier than a forest at dawn.

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Lip and cheek multi-stick

I’m all for a monochromatic palette if for no other reason than it’s one less product to agonize over. A pop of color on the cheeks and lips creates not just a fresh flush, but it also pulls together the rest of your look in a simple, sophisticated way. And it saves a ton of room in your makeup bag.

Jenny Patinkin is a highly sought-after Makeup Artist, Beauty Expert and entrepreneur known for her Lazy Perfection approach to beauty.  She is the author of the best-selling book, Lazy Perfection, The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying. Nationally recognized for her broad industry knowledge and expertise, Jenny appears regularly on network TV and prominent digital media channels educating people about beauty and makeup.  She has been a featured guest on The Today ShowThe Rachael Ray Show, and Extra TV, and her expert advice and artistry have been featured in GlamourHarper’s BazaarHealthMarie ClaireMartha Stewart Living, and Real Simple, among many others.

If you're looking to conquer your goals in the kitchen or at the gym, you can find all the inspo you need right this way, but if you're more in the initial reset mode, don't worry, we've got you.

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