Liners: In this context I mean lip liner, not eye liner (I'll save eye liner for another post). I've noticed recently that my lipstick tends to run off my lips and into the fine lines around my lips. Yuck. I mean, I don't even have any fine lines around my lips (yet) that are visible to the naked eye. But, lipstick somehow manages to find those tiny fine lines and illuminate them. I've been wearing much bolder lipstick of late; having less pigment in my hair warrants more pigment on my lips, in my opinion. And while bright, bold lipstick is very fun ON the lips, it's not so fun OFF the lips. So this is why I started using lip liner. I was reluctant at first, because who wants to buy a lip liner to match each and every lipstick in one's wardrobe? And then I discovered CLEAR LIP LINER. Readers, it was a revelation. And while there are many places that I will recommend a splurge, this is something you can definitely cheap out on. I have two in very different price ranges, and they both work equally well. The two I have and like are Urban Decay's Glide-On Lip Pencil in Ozone, and Sally Hansen's Invisible Lip Liner. I'd venture to say that you could probably pick up any brand in any drugstore and have the same success with it. I use it just around the edges of my lips and it does the job. If you wanted a primer effect, you could fill in the entire lip with it. It's impossible to make a mistake, as you could with colored lip liner. And one product will work with every color lipstick in your arsenal. Win-win.
Primers: There are many different primers (lip, face, eye), and while I do like face primer, it's specifically eyelid primer that I'll be discussing here. This stuff is life-changing, it really is. I have fairly oily lids, and my eyeliner and eyeshadow used to slide right off and/or smear around within hours of application, no matter how high end the makeup was. Now I have to have a pretty good cry to make my eye makeup slide around at all. It lasts ALL day long. I don't even have to touch up to go out in the evening. I've tried two different higher end brands of eye lid primer, Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion and Too Faced's Shadow Insurance. They are similarly priced, but the formulas are different. UD's is dryer and thicker than TF's, but not in a bad way. I don't have a preference between the two, but there are plenty of faithful devotees of each. There are also some very inexpensive drug store brands that are probably worth a try, i.e. e.l.f. Eyelid Primer which costs a whole buck, but I haven't used them myself.
Brows: I could easily do a whole post just on brows, many bloggers have. In fact, some have done a whole series on brows. There's a real art to doing gorgeous brows. But I'm pretty simple when it comes to my brows. I just need a little definition. This becomes especially important when a) your hair gets lighter and b) your brows get sparser with age. Brows truly do frame your face: don't ignore them! There is a lot of information out there on how to shape your brows, and how to fill them in with real snazziness. However, I keep my brow routine very basic. I do no special shaping, just a basic stray-removal every couple of days, keeping the front end of my brow directly above the inside of my tear duct. But I do need to define them. I tried a ton of pencils and powders and even a mascara-like liquid gel trying to find just the right cool shade of taupe or ash brown. I look like a clown if there is any hint of red or yellow in my brow makeup, but your mileage with vary with this. Your brow product needs to match you.
My holy grail eyebrow makeup: Clinique Brow Shaper in Charcoaled. I use the included angled brow brush and dip it in the powder. I start at the arch and brush my way out toward the ear. Then I go back to the front of my brow (over the tear duct) and use whatever powder is left on the brush to work back towards the middle. This prevents the front of the brow from being too dark; that would give a harsh look. And that's it! If it looks a little overdone, I use a spoolie brush (yes, you can just use an old cleaned mascara wand) and brush though the brows. This removes any excess and gives a natural look. If you prefer using pencil, or want a dirt cheap product that's still quite good, I used Wet n Wild Color Icon Liner Brow & Eye Pencil in Taupe for a while. I switched to the Clinique because this pencil is so soft that it has to be sharpened after every use. This can be offset somewhat by keeping it in the freezer, but unless your makeup station is near your freezer (mine isn't) that's sort of a pain. I justify the higher price of the Clinique because I use so little each day; I've been using it for months and hardly made a visible dent in the product.
Do you have any favorite beauty products that have made a real difference in your makeup routine?