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.
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,