Specktra for Beginners: What It Is, and How It Can Help You Be Beautiful

Published in: Beauty Tips, News

Women (and men) are flocking to Specktra’s makeup and beauty forum, but for makeup newbies, sifting through the sheer volume of information on the site can be overwhelming.

Specktra is one of my favorite beauty resources. Its members are generally nice, and on the site you’ll find lots of useful makeup application and product information, much of which appears on Specktra before it appears anywhere else. Founded in June 2003, it’s now one of the most active beauty communities online, receiving about 9,000 vistors a day, many of them very knowledgeable about cosmetics. The amount of MAC information and the number of excellent MAC tutorials on Specktra really sets it apart, but the site contains a wealth of information on other cosmetics lines as well. Each time you visit Specktra, you’ll learn something new, like breaking news about upcoming color collections or a new way to use a product in your favorite makeup line. And like the beauty forums over at Makeupalley.com, Craigslist and Sugar, Specktra is much more than a simple user forum.


So, if you’re new to Specktra, where do you start? I recently sat down with Janice, Specktra’s founder, and got a few great tips that Specktra makeup newbies can use to get the most out of the site.


How to get there – From the homepage, click on Forum, then scroll down to Cosmetics Tutorials, and click to enter the board called Makeup Tutorials.

What it is – Janice suggests that makeup newcomers begin their journey with a visit to the Makeup Tutorials section, where Specktra members post step-by-step photo, video (cool!) and text tutorials detailing how to achieve different makeup looks and styles. “That’s where you’re going to start seeing what people are doing,” says Janice. “You’re going to see products that interest you, and from there you can kind of track down your individual interests on the forum by using the search function or by exploring other areas of the site.”

I love the Tutorials board because I can find out how other women apply their own makeup and which products and techniques work best for them. I also appreciate the perspectives of the different members who post in the Tutorials board. Each has a unique style. You’ll find a wide range of looks — colorful, neutral, smokey eyes — everything! Even if I know I’ll never try a bright magenta eyeshadow with rhinestones and glitter accents, I can still learn something new just by viewing the process someone else took with the look from start to finish. Get ready to be inspired.


Member FOTD’s (faces of the day)

How to get there – From the homepage, click on Forum. Scroll down to the Sharing Your Obsession section, and then Member FOTD’s.

What it is – For starters, to access the Member FOTD’s, you’ll have to create a free Specktra member account (all you need is an email address). Registration means that unkind or non-constructive criticism isn’t tolerated, so the atmosphere is supportive. “The face of the day forum is another active and extremely popular feature on the site,” says Janice, “and is another good place for people to start.” In the Member FOTD’s section, members ask for feedback on finished makeup looks. Or, if you just want to floss a fierce look you did that day, you can do that too!

I’ve found that if you really want to step up your makeup game, taking pictures of yourself really helps. Seeing your work in photos gives you a different perspective than seeing your reflection in the bathroom mirror. It wasn’t until I started taking pictures of finished makeup looks that I caught bad habits that I’d never noticed before (I have a tendency to line my lower lip unevenly) and correct them.


How to get there – Scroll down to Cosmetic Topics and then down to Recommendations.

What it is – If you’re new to Specktra, one of the best places to make the jump from forum lurker to active participant is the Recommendations board, where you can ask others for product recommendations or makeup ideas. Be as detailed as possible when you ask for feedback. Describe the products you’re using, how you’re using them, your hair color (if you’re asking for hair help), skin type — provide as much information as possible.

The Recommendation board’s top members really know their stuff, and who doesn’t love sharing great product tips and helping others at the same time? Who knows – your holy grail red lippie could become another member’s new favorite lip color.

What if you’re too shy to post?

In real life I’m not shy at all (seriously, I’ll talk to anybody, ’tis both a blessing and a curse), but some close knit forums can be cliquish and intimidating.

If you’re too shy to start your own thread or to participate, one gentle way to get your feet wet is by saying “Hi” in the Welcome forum, located at the top of the Forum section. You can introduce yourself and get a nice, warm welcome from some of the members.

If even that’s too much for you to handle (hey, I totally understand), try interacting in the board by saying “thanks” to members who post something you like. There’s a Thank You button in the lower right-hand corner of every post. Sure, it’s a little thing, but it shows that you’re trying to put yourself out there. “Dont be afraid to send a message to a staff member,” says Janice. “Just ask, ‘How do I do this?’ We’re very friendly and we’re there to help.”


Last, but not least, pay attention to the information in the navigation bar at the top of the page.

There’s a wealth of MAC background information at the top of the main page, like links to the history of MAC Cosmetics, foundation help, a complete list of MAC’s various pigments, and much, much more. Don’t miss the fantastic Specktra blog, either, an excellent source of makeup and beauty news, product reviews and articles.

If you’re serious about makeup, or just looking for feedback or suggestions, Specktra should be in your resource rotation, and when you hit the site, say hi to Janice (tell her you’re a friend of mine!) and give me a shout — my handle is “surfdiva.” The members are cool, and the atmosphere is open-minded and welcoming.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 61 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Mrs. Lynne says:

    I LOVE Specktra! My obsession only soared higher when I couldn’t sleep at night because there were so many links to dive into. I lurked for a long time before posting my first FOTD on there. And even though it wasn’t my best piece of art, everyone who left comments were kind in doing so!

    But the information is just amazing, the people are awesome, and it really is a safe haven for those wanting to learn from people who know and aren’t afraid to share the knowledge. I too vouch for this wonderful network of sheer genius 🙂

  2. Tania says:

    Dittos to you Karen and Mrs. Lynne! I LOVE Specktra.net it’s wonderful. I go there all of the time. The people are amazing! There are several makeup artists on there too so they find out about new MAC stuff way way way before it’s released. I about died when I saw the MAC for Heatherette pics! Thanks for posting this guide Karen!

  3. Lea says:

    Thanks for the 411 Karen, I’m a definite newbie so Spektra is my kinda site. *clap *clap* for your guide, tips and recommendations on how to navigate—complete with screenshots! Awesome!

    Do your join the Forums? Or post Member FOTDs? Or post your reviews on there? I guess I’ll just have to find you.

    So much to read, so little time =)

  4. Rowena says:

    This is fantastic guide! I have to confess I get confused with Spektra, and when I have looked there are people there with thousands of posts and things and tis hard being a newbie sometimes.


    P.S. Finally got Blu Celestes ! Woo Hoo, tis beautiful!

  5. Jane says:

    I love Specktra as well. Much of the make-up ideas I do on myself I got from viewing the many beautiful FOTDs by the gorgeous members. My dive into mineral make-up was also because of Specktra, and great many make-up/beauty blogs I read are from the sigs of the members. I love that site, and my day isn’t complete if I don’t at least have a peek on what’s new up there.

    Thanks for this post! I think more beauty/make-up junkies need to learn about Specktra as I really feel participating and reading the forums could really enhance one’s skills and further the interest in beauty and make-up as a pasttime and an art. 🙂

  6. Susanne says:

    I visit Specktra.net and the blog daily. Everyone who loves MAC cosmetics should visit the site because you can always find out something new there.
    Thanks for this article about Specktra!

  7. Shimmer says:

    Thank you so much for this.

  8. Apple Diva says:

    Yay what a cool shout out. Your blog is one of the best blogs on the internets!!! WooHoo!!

  9. Apple Diva says:

    Oh yeah, Hope you are having a peaceful and thoughtful King Day!!!

  10. Janelle says:

    Nice article! Are you on Specktra as well? I love Specktra it is the best hands down for new MAC info!

    And I know I have said it before …or at least I think I have…but I love your blog so entertaining and informative! Keep up the good work;-)

  11. Karen says:

    Hi Mrs. Lynne,

    Yeah, I was a long-time lurker, too, before I got up the courage to start replying to posts. It’s a great resource and I’ve learned so much from the site. Seriously, I had no idea what the “Outer V” was till I started hanging out there! 😉

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Tania,

    You’re welcome. I really hope it helps newbies get a handle on the site, and perhaps maybe inspire long-time lurkers to say “hello”!

    I take it your psyched about the Heatherette release! I am all over Fafi like butter on toast, girl!

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Lea!

    I was a bit more active on the site a few months ago. These days I lurk a LOT, but I’d really like to get going and participate more. It’s really addictive (in a good way, though.) You’ll learn so much on that site, it’s amazing the depth of info that it has. I owe part of my MAC eyeshadow collection to Specktra, LOL. Plus, I’ve met lots of really amazing people, like bloggers Kia from Yummy411 and AppleDiva from Pumps and Gloss.

    I hope we run into each other on the site soon! 🙂

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Rowena,

    Happy to help! And yeah, Blu Celestes…have you worn it yet? What did you pair it with? Details, woman!

  15. Karen says:

    Hi Jane,

    I totally agree. I think women/men who love makeup get so much from the site, especially in terms of getting better at application and finding inspiration from the vast FOTD’s and tutorials.

    I am sloooooow to get on the mineral makeup train. I had a bad experience with Bare Minerals two years ago (broke out in cystic acne) and that holds me back from trying new things. 🙁

  16. Karen says:

    You’re welcome, Susanne! Glad to meet another specktra lover! 🙂

  17. Karen says:

    Hi Shimmer!

    Wow, thank you for stopping by! I read your stuff on the specktra blog so it’s great to meet you. 🙂

  18. Karen says:

    Apple Diva,

    Hi my friend! I love *your* blog too, miss thing. And from what I recall we met each other through specktra…aww, specktra brings people together!

  19. Karen says:

    Hi Janelle,

    Yup, I’m on Specktra. These days I do more lurking (seriously, it’s like forum crack…I log on and then it’s 5 hours later!!!) but I’m going to do more posts and contribute in the future ’cause it’s an awesome community.

    What are your fave forums?

  20. MAC Whore says:

    Thank you so much for doing this! What a great piece of info. 😉

  21. COBI says:

    Great pointers! I LOVE specktra. When I was first told about it in October 2007, it was complete information overload for me. But within a week, I was all over it.

    Worth thing about specktra is that I get more information on collections than I used to (in my rural non-MAC corner of NH), so I spend a LOT more money at MAC now. 🙂

    I STRONGLY recommend registering (which is free); it’s really the only way to keep track of what you’ve read and not read, plus there are some forums (such as Deep Thoughts) that are not viewable unless you are a registered user.

    Registering allows the board to keep track of new and old messages since my last visit. Without this, the board can remain overwhelming because there is SO much information there.

    Thanks for the write-up.

  22. Karen says:

    Hi MAC Whore!

    You’re welcome. I hope this post helps the newbies out 🙂

  23. Karen says:

    Hi COBI/Laura,

    Thank you so much for your input. Yes, registering totally helps manage information (and there’s a lot of it!).

    I am in your boat – since discovering Specktra there’s *a lot more MAC* in my life. 🙂

  24. Susanne says:

    Hi Karen!

    Thanks to Specktra I visited your site today for the first time.I took a look around and I will come back! I really like your post “MAC Originals Face of the Day, Full on Lust”! 🙂

  25. Shana says:

    Hey Karen!

    Thanks for introducing me to Specktra! I’m kind of new to
    “serious” make-up in general and their information is so helpful. My MAC curiosity is seriously sparked.

    P.S.–I love your blog! You do such an amazing job and I always look forward to your new posts!

  26. Juneplum says:

    Hey Karen! Thanks so much for the great write up about us 🙂

  27. Melissa says:

    Can’t get enough of the FOTD board. I love seeing the talent and diversity out there!

  28. Mrs. Lynne says:

    I remember thinking the SAME thing! And then I read more and found out there was also and “Inner V”! Lol.

    Hope you’re having a great week 🙂

  29. Karen,

    Specktra.net is a great web reference.

    Thanks for featuring it!


  30. Krasevayadancer says:

    As an all time lover of all things makeup and a specktra socialite (woot!) I am so happy you came up with this guide. You rock Karen!

  31. Miss_M says:

    Great article !!

    I’ve been a Specktra member for almost 2 years and I seriously couldn’t live without this piece of treasure anymore 🙂

  32. Karen says:

    Hi Susanne,

    Yay, thank you for stopping by! It’s great to meet ya. Thank you for your complement on the MAC Full on Lust Look! That’s one of my faves too.

    Are you a MAC junkie? What are your favorite products? Mine are the 266 brush (obvs, lol), Woodwinked Shadow, Shroom and Soba. There are my can’t live with-outs. Oh, and now I have to add the Moisturelush creme to that list, too.

  33. Karen says:

    Hi Shana,

    I’m so glad that you like the site 🙂 As long as you keep reading I’ll keep writing.

    Specktra is freaking amazing, you’ll learn so much. Oh, gotta warn you though – you’ll also start to lust after a lot more makeup than you used to, because once you really get to know what products are out there (honestly, MAC seems to roll out new lines ever 5 seconds) then it’s ON!

  34. Karen says:

    Hiya Juneplum!

    You are very welcome 🙂 Thank you for poppin’ by and I hope to talk to ya soon.

  35. Karen says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I totally agree. The FOTD board is amazing, and everybody seems to have their own signature style. I get so much inspiration from it…one of these days I’ll get the guts to try some of the brighter looks on there. There are so many talented artists to learn from!

  36. Karen says:

    Heya Mrs. Lynne,

    RIGHT!?!? In addition to technical knowledge, I’ve picked up product knowledge as well. Without specktra I’d never know about the infamous Urban Decay Potion Primer or the magical MAC 182 brush!

    How are things on the island?

  37. Karen says:

    You’re welcome, Gisele! Hope it helps ya during your specktra adventures.

  38. Karen says:

    Hi Krasevayadancer,

    Thanks, sweetie! I really appreciate you poppin’ by to say hi. I really hope this guide inspires more ladies/gents to check out this wonderful resource. Have a great week! 🙂

  39. Karen says:

    Hi Miss_M,

    Thank you so much! I’m glad to meet another Specktra member! I can’t live without it either! My beauty addiction has now increased 920930940949 times because of it.

    It’s great to meet you and I hope you stop by again soon. 🙂

  40. Karen says:

    Hi Megan!

    Nice to see ya. I here ya about being busy in spurts…it never seems like there’s enough time, sigh.

    Anyway, half my allergy arsenal is in your purse, LOL. Whatever did I do without Zyrtec and Flonase?

    I had my Coach Wristlet in my purse for a few weeks but I took it out because I needed it for dinner two weeks ago. I just sorta forgot to put it back in.

    And reading about your Macaroni Grill gift card just made me hungry. I want pasta…

    Anyway, I hope your week is going well so far! 🙂

    P.S. Thank you for the musical recommendation. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good show (I love musicals!!!). Last one I went to was Lion King and that was ages ago. I’ll see when it’s playing and hopefully get tickets. It also gives me an excuse to get made up to go to “the theater.”

  41. kia says:

    awesome post! who would have thought of this but you!!! this was a great idea for those who don’t know how to use specktra!

  42. Karen says:

    Thanks Kia! I think we met on specktra?! It seems like we’ve known each other in beauty blog land forever. 🙂

    Happy Tuesday!

  43. Jennifer says:

    Hey! Where was this when I joined in December? Hmmm….

    Kidding, thanks so much for this, this is a great resource and I am glad you took the time to do it.

  44. Karen says:

    You’re welcome Jennifer! 🙂 Do you have any fave boards on specktra?

  45. Mrs. Lynne says:

    I don’t even know how I stumbled on Specktra. I think I was googling something one night, and it lead to a forum response. Normally I’ll click out of forums, but that one caught my interest because it was all MAC and beauty related. Hi! Can we say HEAVEN?! I remember closing my laptop that night saying to myself, “I can’t believe I just found that!” smiled, attempted to go to sleep, then headed right back out to open my laptop and surf some more, lol.

  46. Susanne says:

    Hi Karen!

    I am definitely a MAC Junkie 😉
    My favourite products are the Eye Shadows. I started with “Aquadisiac” which was the first MAC product I bought. But “Aquadisiac” wasn’t alone for a long time, my list of Eye Shadows is long today… Of course I love Parrot, but also Pink Venus and all the other pink shades.
    I love MAC lipglasses, too. (I don’t wear lipstick very often, despite of Viva Glam I for special days!) And I would never do without Powder Blush or MSF(in all varieties of shades).

    Can’t wait for Fafi for MAC!

  47. Karen says:

    Hi Mrs. Lynne,

    What’s funny to me is when I meet people in real life and find out later that they are on specktra, too. That happened with my friend, who is married to one of El Hub’s friends’ from college. This girl went to my wedding, LOL, and we didn’t realize each other was on the site until months afterward.

  48. Karen says:

    Hi Susanne,

    I really love the MSF eyeshadows, but don’t own any regular MSF. I went to Nordies the other day to check out the N collection MSF, and even though they are really pretty, I feel like I own so many shimmer highlighters, already, ya know? Yet, there seems to be a large subsection of MAC junkies who can’t get enough of em!

    Lipglasses are great. I was just telling one of the other regular posters that I’ve gone through six tubes of Nymphette…and at least four of Spite. When I find something I really love I end up stickin’ to it!

    OMG, don’t get me started on Fafi. I am a sucker for cute packaging, so when I saw the pics posted up on the spectkra blog and I almost died. I swear my wallet started throbbing …

  49. Susanne says:

    I am still waiting for the N collection. We get the MAC collections here (Germany) usually one month later than in the US 🙁 I hope that my MA calls me soon that the products have arrived. I am looking forward to MSF Warmed and Light Flush!

    The same with Fafi. The products won’t come out here before March. Hope you share your impressions with me when you get them before me! 😉

  50. Mrs. Lynne says:

    That is amazing! It’s a small world this beauty circle we’re in. You’ll never believe this then. I actually used to live in the SAME apartment complex that Christine (Temptalia) lives in right now. Of course it was way back in the days, but that was home for me for 12 years! Who would have known.

  51. Karen says:

    Hi Susanne,

    I’d be happy to. I will probably get my mitts on Fafi soon, wheeee!

  52. Karen says:

    What a weird coincidence, Mrs. Lynne. It’s a small, small beauty world indeed. 🙂

    I bet you through some degree of separation our relatives know each other!

  53. Mrs. Lynne says:

    Hi. That’s the doing of the big boy, lol. He reads my blogroll with me 🙂

    I bet our relatives DO know each other! I’m sure you have your own set of Tita Baby and Tito Boy, hah. Have you ever been to the Philippines before?

  54. Susanne says:

    Hi Karen!

    I visit my MA today and I could test the N collection MSF. I really love Light Flush, it looks pretty as a blush, I think.
    Unfortunately the products of the N Collection still haven’t arrived, just those to test. I have to wait one more week.

  55. Karen says:

    Ha, Mrs. Lynne! I was wondering what was going on. Your lil’ one is on his way to becoming a blogger, how cute.

    And yah, I got the whole gamut of relatives with weird names. AND, growing up we had a set of wooden utensils on the wall and various scary religious pictures and statues throughout the house. 🙂

  56. Karen says:

    Hi Susanne,

    Both of those are very pretty, and would make great blushes/highlighters!

    I finally get to play with my N collection today! FINALLY!

  57. Mrs. Lynne says:

    Can’t forget the canvas cloth hanging of the “Last Supper” too, hah.

  58. Paula says:

    lol this is a bit late, i found this post using the random post button but i completely fall in love with specktra immediatly.
    is there anything like this for hair too? Im obsessed with ways to do my hair and dying it and id rly like to find a page like specktra with so many good tipps and pics but i havent found anything like this yet!

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