Last Saturday, I went to my doctor because her receptionist told me she couldn’t refill a prescription (for iron pills, which I haaate) over the phone. When I got there, the doctor said I only needed blood tests every three months so I actually didn’t need to be there at all. She kindly didn’t charge me a co-pay but I’d taken a $15 cab to get there so I was pretty bummed that I’d wasted half the morning making my way to the east side. So I did what I do almost every time I’m feeling down: I looked to my 101 in 1001 list to find a way to make myself feel accomplished and in charge. There are plenty of goals I couldn’t cross off in a single day (as much as I’d have liked to board a flight to visit my brother in London right then and there) so I scanned my options until I landed on no. 90: have my makeup professionally done.

I’ve admitted this before but just in case you’re new around here: I am a total beauty novice. I have a few products I swear by (you can read about those here) but I literally never go outside my comfort zone when it comes to makeup and I’ve had a hard time finding online resources on makeup for redheads. You won’t find me rocking a smoky eye or reading up on the latest and greatest BB cream (mostly because I still don’t know what that is). Truthfully, I’ve never really had a great experience with makeup artists (a very orange-y senior prom look comes to mind) but I was determined to find someone who could impart her knowledge on skincare and an everyday beauty look that would enhance my natural look (read: no violet eyeshadow that would “complement my red hair” — no really, I’m good).

So I grabbed an iced coffee and walked ten blocks from the doctor’s office to Sephora and booked an appointment with a personal beauty expert (free with a minimum purchase of $125, which I learned is extremely easy to spend there). I killed time before my appointment by picking out a few books in the Strand at Club Monaco across the street, which is really the best pick-me-up there is. By the time I was settled into the makeup chair, I was caffeinated, in better spirits, and ready to learn from the best.

As you read, it was a pretty spontaneous decision and I didn’t have crazy high expectations going into it. But can I just tell you? My mind was BLOWN. We spent the next 90 minutes remedying my skincare concerns (dry complexion, under eye circles) and reviewing makeup techniques (this little guy is a game-changer). After every step, she’d spin me around to the mirror and I’d marvel at how much better I looked: still totally like myself, but like I’d just come back from a tropical vacation or woken up from twelve hours of sleep. Youthful, fresh, awake, alive… I looked like the best possible version of me.

makeup for redheads

(Is now a good time to confess that I will never feel comfortable taking a selfie? Here’s all the evidence you need.) If I haven’t already lost you and you’d like to know which products were my favorites, here’s what my “personal beauty expert” used on me. This is her recommended skincare regimen for dry sensitive skin and well as makeup for redheads!

skincare regimen for dry sensitive skin

clean  //  tone  //  treat  //  moisturize

The cleanser and toner both smelled incredible and left my skin feeling clean but still hydrated (I told her I hated that tight skin feeling that more drying cleansers give you and somehow she knew exactly what I was talking about). And I love that the anti-wrinkle serum also protects skin against environmental factors like UV rays, secondhand smoke, and city pollution — definitely a good weapon to have in my NYC arsenal.

foundation for dry sensitive skin

primer serum  //  tinted moisturizer  //  corrector  //  concealer

The next step was to create an even foundation for makeup. My skin looked so radiant after this phase that I would have felt totally comfortable leaving my apartment after just these four steps (and maybe a swipe of mascara). Sephora has an awesome tool that takes a picture of your exact skin tone and it turns out I’ve been using the wrong shade of my favorite NARS tinted moisturizer. She tried to sway me with Bobbi Brown foundation (which was gorgeous) but I liked that you can still see my freckles through a more sheer tinted moisturizer so NARS it is. Three application tips: apply your foundation or tinted moisturizer with a moist Beauty Blender, your corrector with a brush, and your under eye concealer with your ring finger (your pointer finger is too much pressure).

bronzer for pale skin

bronzer  //  blush  //  double sided brush

I was a little skeptical of finding a bronzer for pale skin but I really liked the way this accented my cheekbones. A new-to-me lesson on applying bronzer: start at your ear, applying in the shape of a 3 (or an E, depending on which side of your face you start on). Then use the angled side of the brush to add blush above the bronzer in a figure 8 motion to blend and sculpt.

eye makeup for pale skin and red hair

eye stick  //  eyelid primer  //  eye shadow  //  eyeliner

This is the part where I noticed the biggest difference: my eyes. The makeup artist used this eyelid primer and the corrector above to mask redness around my eyes and the slightly purple undertones above my eyelids. It took probably ten seconds and made me look instantly more awake. I’ve tried to do the same thing with regular concealer before but it tends to cake into fine lines, which the eyelid primer totally prevents. Bingo! Not pictured but equally magical: this mascara. Whoa.

face map for redheads

She also created this face map (which really puts the “art” in “makeup artist”) to help me remember what goes where (I told you I’m a rookie at this). I definitely didn’t buy everything she recommended but I had no problem spending $125+ on the primer serumcorrectoreye stick, and eyelid primer, among others. It was such a fun way to turn my morning around and I really learned a ton. I will be sure to report back on the products that become part of my everyday routine! Have you had your makeup professionally done? What did you think? Does makeup come naturally to you or is it something you’ve had to learn about? Do tell!

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  1. the makeup looks amazing and so super-natural! i’m a bonafide product junkie, but i could probably use a lesson to get back down to the basics and get a new perspective on my beauty routine!

  2. THANK YOU for sharing!! I’m the worst at sticking to my Bare Minerals, a light eyeshadow, and mascara only. Definitely going to check out some of these products!

  3. Such lovely, natural makeup! Would you mind sharing which Sephora you visited, or even the name of the makeup artist? Thank you for such a fun post. 🙂

  4. I sooo need to do this! My skincare routine and makeup routine could definitely use a major and complete overhaul. I always thought of doing it at a department store makeup counter, like Clinique, but I didn’t realize Sephora had consultants that could do it for you. I’m definitely adding this to my list of must-dos to save up some money for!

  5. Aww, so sorry to hear about that mishap, but hey at least something good came out of it! Your selfies are adorable and it’s great that you feel empowered – makeup is meant to enhance!
    xx, Mikkaela

  6. This was a really fun post! I remember just LOVING Sephora when I was in Hawaii a few years ago. My take on make up is pretty simple day to day – BB cream, NARS bronzer, Maybelline mascara and whatever concealer happens to be in my bag, plus some lip balm. It’s so fun to discover new ways to do things and new products. I was a bit of a novice until a couple of years ago when I bought a book called Amazing Face by Zoe Foster – a hilarious and very experienced Aussie beauty editor. You should check it out for more tips and tricks!

  7. I love Diorshow mascara – it’s the absolute best and makes my eyes really pop without looking clumpy! My sister borrowed mine over Christmas break and loved it so much that she went and bought herself some. So glad I got to read this post, I definitely don’t know that much about makeup but reading this really wants me to learn more because right now it’s more a trial and error project…

  8. Love this!! Caudalie has some gorgeous skincare – their radiance serum is one of my all time favourites. And isn’t that Nars tinted moisturizer amazing?? Eye primer was a total game changer for me & my oily lids a few years ago. I use the Urban Decay original one everyday & it makes such a difference. I think a lot of people are intimidated by Sephora but it’s so much fun!! And the staff are usually amazingly helpful 🙂 xo

  9. I wouldn’t say “naturally coming to me” but I am self taught from trial and error. I am also a redhead, and I tamper with it to make it a little more …uh… orange. I wear bronzes on my eyes vs purples bec purple makes my undereye shiners more ridiculous and basically undoes all the work I put in to covering them up every morning. I love the Tarte SmolderEyes fat pencil in Bronze bec it basically lines and smudges into a nice smokey bronze and saves a step. Then I can use a shimmery nude / champagne shadow all over and skip right to mascara!

    My big “key” products are concealer under my eyes, translucent pressed powder to set it and dust all over, brow filler, blush, that Tarte pencil, champagne shadow and lots of mascara. I don’t do lip stuff. Ill use a CC cream on days I have more time and care more.

  10. I’m so glad I’m not alone in the fact that I’m a novice at makeup. I feel like I’ve had the same basic routine since high school, and use the same technique 7 days a week (which the addition of some mascara on the weekends). At 26 I think I’m getting a little too old to get away with this, so it’s on my list of 101 in 1001 as well. I was originally going to go to Saks but thanks to this recommendation I think Sephor sounds like the way to go!

  11. I definitely need to take advantage of this at Sephora. I’ve got a system but I’m pretty sure it’s not a great one & that even if I have the correct products I certainly don’t have the correct technique!

    This is going down on my list to accomplish this winter!

  12. It makes all the difference to see – just like you said – the best version of yourself and how to create that look yourself! After my first deployment, I had a lot of sun and wind damage on my skin and was feeling pretty self conscious, so my dad {best dad ever award} took me for a professional makeup lesson. The professional showed me how to care for my skin, what products would help with the dryness and sun damage, and how to smooth everything out so I looked and felt not just like me again, but a better version of me. It sounds like an exaggeration to say that makeup done properly can be totally life changing, but it’s no exaggeration!

  13. Oh my GOSH was this an exciting post for me! I am a fellow porcelain-skinned redhead and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to deter cosmetic sales associates from trying to sell me PURPLE EYESHADOW. *groan* It’s energizing for me to see a makeup post I can relate to for once. Your final makeup look is absolutely stunning and I am definitely taking notes! Could you explain the figure-8 blush application motion more?

    Thank you for waving the redhead flag strong. Your fearless attitude and goal-setting mind is an inspiration! Love the 101 in 1001 list!

    1. Another redhead–I like some purples–figgier usually, but I have dark circles and I skip it bec of those! It just made no sense to me to spend all morning covering those and then put purple back on!

  14. I absolutely love this post. It’s so well written and also extremely helpful. Your blog content is amazing as of late, amazing job xoxo

  15. I did this last week at Sephora, too! I learned SO many tips and tricks that I had no idea existed and walked out with a few more new products than I anticipated 🙂

  16. You look amazing! I think I tend to get into a skincare routine rut – using products just because I always have. Going to see a professional would be a great way to make sure I am using what’s best for my skin – I may have to head to Sephora very soon!

  17. You look AMAZING! I have an appointment later this week to learn some things about my skin. I hope I have the same luck!

  18. Not that you didn’t look totally amazing before, but the makeup looks really nice! It’s very subtle and classy. And I agree – it is WAY too easy to drop $125 at Sephora without even meaning to! And as far as learning makeup for myself, I’ve finally perfected winged liner – only took a year!

  19. This is one of my favorite posts ever, Mackenzie!! I love hearing what makeup artists recommend – especially the more random things like toner and corrector. That Bobbi Brown corrector is probably the only makeup that I’ve used for as long as I can remember and have never changed. It really is the best!

  20. A few years ago I was in your same place. I wore a tinted moisturizer and mascara – that’s it. After having my makeup done at Sephora for an event I discovered the benefit of a few key items like primer, liquid liner, signature lip color and some blush. Now I have a routine that takes 5 minutes but looks like it takes far longer! I always feel so much more put toegther!