What Makeup Would You Start with if You Had to Start from Scratch?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup Tips/How To


How’s it going, ladies? I just got back from the pet store because Tabs lost yet another collar, grr!


I picked him up the cheapest replacement I could find, a red nylon breakaway for $2.99. No more $18 fashion collars until he proves he can be responsible.

Oh, I got some more bad news today. MBB reader Jackie sent a heartbreaking e-mail this afternoon. She explained how all of her makeup was stolen, and now she’s looking for advice to rebuild her collection from scratch.

“I’m heartbroken… all of my makeup, gone! I want to ask you for a list of your favorite basic makeup for daily use. I like Shu Uemura, but I’m open. I’m a basic kind of gal.”

Hey, Jackie. I’m so sorry. I’d be crushed!

I’m sure karma will come back and bite that makeup thief in the butt. Until then, try to see this as a chance to start fresh, like a makeup phoenix rising from the ashes! You don’t need a lot of different products to look great and put together.


I’d start with my tried-and-true favorite face products, the ones my skin tolerates well and that look natural.

First, there’s Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer ($42), and a tube of MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer ($15) (to even out my skin and to cover up my dark circles).

mac prep prime transparent finishing powder

Then, I’d get a good powder, one that doesn’t cake, like MAC Blot Pressed Powder ($21), MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder ($21) or MAC Select Sheer Loose ($21).


For some color…

mac a rose romance just a pinch gel blush

… I might go with MAC’s Gel Blush in Just a Pinch ($21). It’s a sheer berry that creates a lovely natural flush.


For more of a bronzy J. Lo glow, I might try Clinique’s Shimmering Stripes Powder Blush ($29.50), new for summer from the Bronze Evolves collection.


I can’t live without my eye makeup, so I’d stock up on versatile products able to work in different situations.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance

I think I’d start with an eyeshadow primer like Too Faced Shadow Insurance ($17), which I’d use to set my eye makeup.

nars modern love palette

Next, I’d get a basic eyeshadow palette with colors I could use for either neutral looks or bolder smokey looks. Speaking of versatility, I *love* the new NARS Modern Love Palette ($50).

As for eyeliner, I’d grab a few Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye pencils. They’re easy to use and long lasting, too. They’re also a decent bargain right now as UD is selling a special duo with two of the company’s bestselling shades — Zero (black) and Bourbon (deep brown) — for $24. That’s two shades for $24. Normally, the pencils are $16 each, so two for $24 is quite a steal.


For mascara, Clinique’s High Impact Curling Mascara ($14) is a good all-purpose one. It’s a deep, dark glossy black that lengthens, thickens and curls like a mo’ fo.


shu uemura pink collection

Last, but not least, I’m a pink lip kinda gal, so I’d get a few lipsticks and lipglosses from the Shu Uemura Pink collection ($23 each).


Since even I can’t wear pink every day, I’d also try to include a nude lip product like Shu’s Gloss Unlimited in BG 930N. It’s a shimmery beige from their new summer collection, Eternal Gold.

Do you have any advice for Jackie? What makeup would you start with if you had to start from scratch?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Shivotra says:

    aww πŸ™ HUGS.

    yes, first of all I would definitely start with foundation. For summer I love powder so definitely I love my Bare Escentuals πŸ™‚ Just go for the starter kits – its all over sephora.

    Then my must have is eyeliner. So Urban decay 24/7 in zero all the way.

    MASCARA MASCARA – confession, i never buy actual mascara. All of my mascara is from gift with purchases. That’s all you need. Especially since they go bad every 3 months, I just don’t find it feasible to buy a whole tube.

    Blush – I love NARS blush. They have amazing colors to suit every skin color. I love Deep Throat (ahem) and Torrid.

    Lipgloss – MAC all the way πŸ™‚ its relatively affordable.

    Eyeshadow – again I have so many quads from Lancome’s Gift with purchase. But if I buy eyeshadow, its either Urban Decay or MAC. I would start off with a pretty neutral color and then buy more colors depending on my mood/budget.

  2. cloudburst says:

    I’ve heard many stories of people having their makeup stolen – and every time part of me cannot believe people do it! First I can’t believe someone would stoop that low and b) I can’t believe someone would want to use a complete stranger’s makeup!!!!!!!!

    Anyways Jackie, my condolences :(.

    Here’s what I would start with

    1. MAC Studio Finish & Select Cover concealers, the former for zits & the latter for eyes.

    2. Loose powder – MAC Prep & Prime or Dior Skin.

    3. Maybelline Great Lash waterproof mascara

    4. Kevyn Aucoin’s eyelash curler

    5. MAC Tecknakohl eyeliner in Graph Black

    6. MAC Pro palette & refills in Espresso, Shroom, Satin Taupe, Carbon, Contrast, Cranberry & Nylon.

    7. Shu Uemura e/s in ME Brown 850

    8. MAC lipglass in Explicit

    9. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey

    10. NARS Albatross highlighter

    11. Bobbi Brown Pale Pink & Apricot blushes.

  3. Liz! says:

    You already know your face concealers and foundation, so I’ll leave that up to you.

    However, when you start hitting the lipglosses, I’d suggest trying NYX’s Mega Shine lipglosses – they’re medium coverage, nonsticky, cruelty free, and four dollars a pop. I like them better than any high end gloss.

    I’d also check out their eyeshadows, which I pick up for a buck each at the same store I get the lipglosses (sorry, it’s a little indie fashion store full of cheap clothes and makeup). I think they’re definitely comparable to MAC and waaayyy cheaper.

    FYI, before you invest in a brow set, try a clear mascara, like Great Lash (instead of a pink tube, it’s a clear tube). You don’t need anything fancy for that area.

    I have really acne, breakout prone skin, but have never had any problems with Physician’s formula powders. They can be pretty cheap, especially when on sale. Consider trying them for all your face powders. Also, NYX blushes come very highly recommended by one of my favorite beauty bloggers, pursebuzz. I don’t use blush (the natural flush is enough, lol!) personally, but I haven’t heard anyone complaining about the NYX stuff.

  4. Lana says:

    That sucks, Jackie. I would die if I lost my pounds and pounds of make up!

    For eyes, I would get Satin Taupe and Shroom from MAC. Nice, neutral colours.

    I don’t use much foundation any more so I am afraid I can’t be much help in that area. My concealer is a cheap drug store variety – Maybelline, but it does the trick.

    For blush I use The Big Easy by Cargo. Its a peach shade, so I think it would compliment any skin tone.

    And for Mascara, I alternate between Lancome Definicils and Maybelline Great Lash. Both are awesome.

    I’ve recently fallen in love with GOSH Eyeliners. They have tonnes of colours available, but I like classic black and a browny-grey colour called Metallic Brass.

    I also don’t use lip gloss or lipstick unless I am going out, but for every day colours I like most pink colored MAC lipsticks.

    I hope this helps in some small way!

  5. Jaimie says:

    I’d definitely try motives foundations and eye pencils

  6. Rachel says:

    i wont give a big list, just some basics πŸ™‚ hope your search goes well!

    mascara: make up forever smoky lash, my all time fave
    concealer: stila perfecting concealer
    powder: i like bare escentuals, physician’s formula, and clinique
    eyeshadows: urban decay’s sin is my perfect beige, mac sable is my go to for a smokier look.
    and i love all mac lipglasses and lipsticks

    good luck hun!

  7. Gracie says:

    Awww, I’m so sorry your stuff got stolen πŸ™ I know what it’s like to get something stolen, I was in china and all of my money I brought with me got stolen by Chinese pick pocketers who were selling knockoff watches. They cornered me trying to sell me watches and stole my money pouch when I wasn’t looking. It’s scary, and it really sucks! I guess this is stuff I would reccomend to start out with:

    1. A foundation or tinted moisturizer ( whichever you prefer)- I like mac studio fix fluid

    2. Concealer- anything from mac

    3. A finishing powder- like mac mineralize skin finish natural or prep + prime powder

    4. Blush- I love nars orgasm, but I hear other colors from nars are great too!

    5. Bronzer (optional, unless you’re super pale like me!)

    6. An eyeshadow base (udpp, tfsi, paint pots, ect)

    7. I would say look into coastal scents pallets, they have lots of colors that are good quality. The good news? Each pallet is around $20 and they have 28-88 colors in each one!

    8. Eyeliner- my fave is definitly urban decay 24/7 liners

    9. Mascara- covergirl lash blast all the way!

    10. Lipgloss- (any from mac, nyx, nars or shu umera)

    11. Lipstick- try the nyx round lipsticks, they’re great quality, they’re cheap, and they come in like a gazillion colors!

    I really hope this helps you Jackie, and my heart goes out to you! <3

  8. yaya says:

    oh no! that really sucks πŸ™

    this is what i would get to start from scratch:

    -clear lip gloss
    -shimmer lip gloss (too faced mirror mirror is my fave)
    -concealer (MUFE is my fave)
    -eyeshadow color primer (UDPP sin or any of any of Too Faced Lockdown cream eyeshadows that have the prime insurance made into the formula)
    -mascara (MAC plush lash or Chanel inimitable)
    -black/brown eyeliner (i love NYX jumbo sticks)
    -eyeshadow palette (ebay/coastal scents/urban decay/MAC)

  9. Citrine says:

    Wow, that sounds really scary (and I never knew that people actually steal makeup…)

    anyway if I were to go from scratch

    1. Cheek stain- Benetint (just a very nice basic)
    2. Blusher (one cool one warm) I am liking Benefit Thrrrob & Coralista
    3. Lip Gloss (I can’t just pick one) a bright pink, neutral pink and something peachy.
    4. Eye shadow- The modern love palette Karen mentioned, although I have the duos…I like making self-coordinated Stila palette as well…
    5.Mascata- I like Anna Sui for that
    6.Eyeliner-Stila Smudge pot or use Nars Pandora with a flat brush.

    P.S. Foundation, powder and tinted moisturizer are my mortal enemies…

  10. Vonvon says:

    I’d recommend to buy makeups in palettes – an eyeshadow palette (I’ve read that over there, there’s lots of nice eyeshadow palettes of brands that are not found here. So want to try them!), an Estee Lauder all-in-one face compact (the ones you normally get in their gift sets) and last but not least, a lip palette (consisting of lipsticks and lip glosses).

    there you go…for a start, you could get lots of colors and shades in just 3 palettes. Good Luck Jackie!

    Vonvon´s last blog post..Bobbi Brown Makeover – In Detail and a Mini Giveaway

  11. Arika says:

    Gosh, this is a tough one. If I had to re-build the stasholla, I’d start off with my HGs and add slowly.

    1. Foundation- Laura Mercier’s Oil-free TM

    2. Concealer- Clinique All About Eyes concealer

    3. Powder- LM’s Mineralized Finishing powder goes well with the TM

    4. Eyeshadow palette- Clinique Teddy Bear quad; basic matte neturals but I love them!

    5. Eyeliner- I’d go with a simple brown one that goes with everything, like BB Espresso (gel or e/s) or Chanel Teak.

    6. Mascara- Clinique High Impact, baby!

    7. Blush- either Bobbi Brown Coral (powder) or Becca beach tint in Peach (cream)

    8. Lipstick- my favorite MLBB l/s, Clinique Tenderheart!

    9. Lipliner- Chanel Papaya. It’s pricy but it’s perfect, and I love it under my fave lipgloss.

    10. Lipgloss- Chanel Unity Glossimer. And I’d probably grab Tangerine Aqualumiere while I’m at it!

  12. bluematilda says:

    hey, just so you know, nyx is still having their anniversary sale, 50% off! so even though it is inexpensive to begin with, now you can really stock up! if you google mac dupes you’ll find a lot of comparable nyx eye shadow shades…code is nyx50, and it works at both nyxcosmetics.com and cherryculture…

  13. Christina says:

    You poor thing… I’d hate to have to start over, but maybe you can see it as an opportunity to try new things!

    It sounds like everyone’s got you covered, but my one recommendation is the mascara I’m using now — Maybelline Volume Express. It’s cheap and my lashes have never looked longer or darker.

    Good luck!

    Christina´s last blog post..The Action Squirrel

  14. YadiQ says:


    i so feel your pain- i think i would die if i lost my makeup – i am seriously attached to it ! <>

    everyone here posted awesome suggestions

    the one that i am especially partial to is the too faced shadow insurance – i cant live without this!

    i hope your makeup thief applies their makeup in all sorts of ugly ways and hope they look like an ugly fool

    heres to shopping for new makeup!!! <>

  15. Kim says:

    Since I’ve only started using makeup religiously as of recent, I’d say to get some bang for your buck you should only get a few basics and work up from there.

    If you’ve got some semi-nice skin, I’d say start with a tinted moisturizer with SPF. If your skin tends to show a bit more redness or imperfections within skin tone, I’d say get something like Bare Escentuals’ bareMinerals foundation (btw, built-in SPF!). It’s sheer but buildable, which is great for the coming months.

    As far as concealer, I think you could probably start out with a drugstore brand until you can really get back into the swing of luxe buying. I’ve found that L’oreal’s True Match concealer is actually pretty good. It’s not hard to blend into the skin and build to a natural looking makeup-free look:). It comes with a brush instead of a doe foot applicator which I found odd but it does the job.

    Eye shadows: Get a pallette! This could save you a TON of money so you can get more later. Get something like the Get Baked pallette from UD. Neutrals and very awesome! This way, you can have a range of colors you can sort of put on alternately throughout the week πŸ™‚

    PS–I hope whoever stole your stash gets whats coming to them.

  16. Shiny says:

    Awww that sucks… I hope that person has an allergic reaction to your stuff and has to walk around with a rash on their face.

    If I had to start over, I would just buy better quality products the first time around. I have a drawer of cheap lipsticks that I don’t wear because they don’t suit my colouring. I would just buy fewer lipsticks in basic shades (brown, pink, nude, red) and own fewer.

    I don’t have many suggestions since Karen is beyond thorough and has listed some awesome items… I will say that Sephora brand Electro eye pencils are pretty good if you want a cheap alternative to the UD pencils.

  17. Monkey says:

    If I had to start over…

    Mascara – Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes…doesn’t irritate my eyes and is mostly natural…gives pretty good volume and length
    Blush – Clinique’s Aglow and Korres’ Natural…both of these are very subtle and probably would fit most skintones
    Lip tint – Korres has awesome lip butters that not only keep lips moisturized but also give a pop of subtle color…the Quince and Wild Rose colors are great!

    good luck, and sorry to hear about your makeup πŸ™

  18. ines says:

    first of all… hugs!

    face (basic): MAC blot powder pressed in light, bareminerals powder foundation spf 15 in fairly light, MAC select cover up NC 15

    face (color): NARS the multiples in orgasm and copacabana, NARS powder blush in orgasm, guerlain poudre bronzante legere in brunette

    eyes (basics): bobbi brown eyeshadows in champagne quartz, copper sand, heather mauve and gunmetal popped into her four-pan compact, bobbi brown gel eyeliners in black, sapphire shimmer and ivy shimmer, blinc kiss me volumizing mascara in black, benefit brow zing in 03 dark

    eyes (for fun): some fun colors like MAC parfait amour, swimming and blue flame to layer over basic colors, false eyelashes like makeup for ever artisic false lashes 125, fashion false lashes 113 and shu uemura individual false lashes and some eyelash glue

    lips: bobbi brown lip liner in pale pink, NARS lipliners in jungle red and funny face, NARS lipstick in funny face (fuchsia), NARS matte lip stain in indian red (scarlet), MAC delish (a shimmering nude), the body shop liquid lip color in 02 golden pink, NARS lip gloss in chihuahua and pillow talk (guava and azalea).

  19. claudia says:

    LOL one of my cats would always find a way to rip off her bling-y collar! In addition to the new collar, maybe you could get Tabs microchipped, so if he is found, a vet or an animal shelter can scan him and call you up.

    As for makeup from scratch, I guess I would just have to start with the basics, i.e. items that I use on a daily basis:
    MUFE HD foundation 127
    MAC MSF Natural in Medium Plus
    Laura Mercier brow duo in Brunette
    Stila blush in Tint
    Mascara (for drugstore items, I really like MF volume couture)
    Stila Kohl eyeliner in Smoky Quartz
    Stila Chocolate palette
    lip balm

    I haven’t tried many neutrals from Shu, BB, or so on, but I stock up on things at the Stila Warehouse Sales…

  20. pouneh says:

    OMG that is heartbreaking πŸ™ I wish we had more info about your budget and preferences (fav brands)
    Since u already had a collection I am sure u have ur list of HG which u should stick with

    Face: Drugstore i would go with Revlon colorstay or Maybelline mineral power (both powder and liquid) or L’oreal true match, high end i would go with Cilinique sorry to all the MAC fans but i can not recommend any face or lips products since i am allergic πŸ™‚

    face color: I am pale and blush and bronzer are more important than eyeshadow to me…drugstore i like Covergirl’s cheakers (the 3 in 1 or the single ones), NYX and milani for blushes…bronzers Milani, saly hansen by carmindy, PF…Hgh end…Nars blushes…Clinique,Cargo, Benefit…bronzers..TOOFACED..sephora brand, Nars,Lorac

    and good highlighter from Nars or even MAC…or a Milani and PF

    Eyeshadows…I would get a pallet for sure (mayb CS)…or UD, or Toofaced candy bars…for cheaper but good quality i would go with NYX trios…or Milani singles…or Revlon colorstay palletes…for me Neutral, pinks and purples, greens and blues r a must have

    of course do not forge ur fav eye primer (UDPP or TF)

    eyeliner…I use eyeshadows 96% of the time…but i love Clinique’s gel/cream liners…or Bobbie browns…liquid color stay from Revlon…or MAC liquid liner…pencil UD, MAC, PF, Revlon…and NYX for GREAT colorful ones

    mascara: I have naturaly long dark lashes so on a given day i go with Covergirls clear mascara…but i also love Clinique’s lash doubling, Maybelline’s full and soft, Colossal, lash discovery, L’oreal telescopic

    Lips: TINTED lipbalms i love Revlon’s beyoung natural..Tarte, and used to love Burt’s bees…for gloss…covergirls wetslicks (nonesticky) Sephora brand…l’oreal or revlon for lipsticks…Clinique lipsticks…i like Avon’s lipsticks too

    IN case if u have lost ur brushes as way (i sure hope not) give Ecotools a try and a get some brush guards to protect them πŸ™‚ (thebrushguard.com)

    good luck πŸ™‚

  21. pouneh says:

    I forgot to mention concealer…I would go with NYX concealer in a jar (yellow for circles and then u skin color) i have has some luck with Covergirl’s fresh complexion…and Maybelline’s mineral power…MAC studio fix is excellent as well.
    IF your are going to buy any NYX as another person have mentioned take advantage of the 50% of sale…I am just placing another order because i am moving and am kind of rebuilding my shadow collection πŸ™‚

  22. penelope says:

    moisturizer with spf 15…so important, lip balm, lip gloss, and mascara

  23. Glosslizard says:

    Oh, Jackie! That really stinks! πŸ™

    A few suggestions:

    A black and a brown eyeliner, that UD set sounds perfect!
    A neutral eye palette (the Modern Love palette looks great) and a colorful one like the Stila’s Precious Pearl palette.
    I like Max Factor Lash Perfection for an inexpensive mascara choice or Chanel Exceptionnel for an expensive one!
    Benefit’s Coralista blush is a wonderful, buildable powder blush, I’m loving it right now!
    A tinted moisturizer for summer coverage
    Lipsticks and glosses of your choice!

    Also, be sure and check out Sephora, Ulta and the like for some great sets to help you rebuild your stash stat!

    Good luck!

  24. marisa says:

    this sucks!!! the first thing i would think of if i had to restart my whole collection, since i would have to buy a bunch at once, is to try and keep it on the less expensive side. that being said, some stuff you just gotta go for a pricier brand. my recommendations:

    foundation: loving maybelline dream mousse liquid foundation, its great for sheer color.

    powder: i use loreal true match it gives me sheer color because i dont really want more than that and mattifying.

    TIP: because you cant go buying too much at once, you might want to just layer foundation in the places that you would normal use concealer.

    eyeshadow: maybelline makes great quality shadows, and you can get a palette for super cheap.

    TIP: get a palette that includes a matte shade just a bit lighter than your eyebrows, that way you can use it to define your eyebrows as well! and use any dark color to double as eyeliner. a light shimmery one is great as a highlighter. i swear eyeshadow is super versatile!

    blush: this is one thing i just havent found a drugstore brand for. i go for nars. whatever color you like.

    bronzer: physicians formula, hands down!

    mascara: covergirl lash blast does amazing things for my lashes! i’d wait on a curler because you should get a nice one but it’s really a luxury you shouldnt skimp on.

    lips: for lipstick i’d go mac, lipgloss i’d go nars.

    good luck!

  25. JAckie says:

    Aw.. Karen… Guys you’ve made my problem into a feature… I’m so touched! Suddenly excited coz (sing -song) I get to get new make-up… And wow great list i’m so looking forward to trying new ones and one or two fav… you guys a great….
    Karen muah big kiss for ya!!!
    I’ll up date my ‘treasure’ k…

  26. lexi says:

    first and foremost i’d start with MAC #266 brush and my eyebrow shadow shade – espresso

    2. shadow paint pot in either MAC’s Rubenesque or benefit’s birthday suit

    3. Plushlash – black

    4. Stila tinted moisturizer/MAC Mineralize Skinfinish powder

    5. Bobbie Brown – bronzer/blush duo or NARS blush or multiples combo

    6. lips – I’d do a creme stick liner (MAC) Creme O’Spice and neutral gloss – bare escentuals

  27. lexi says:

    oh and technakohl in black!

  28. Elissa says:

    1.) Tricia Sawyer foundation & Brush
    2.) MAC Minerliazed Skinfinish as a powder
    3.) NARS blush – pick your fav
    4.) Bobbi Brown cream eyeshadow – pick your fav
    5.) MAC Blacktrack fluidline
    5.) Bobbi Brown Cream Lipstick in Rose Petal

  29. Aleia says:

    the one thing I really can’t live without, that seems to cover so well (After trying so many concealers) is: MAC Studio sculpt concealer with a 217 brush.

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