The Essentials Guide: Eyes, Brows and Lips

Happy post valentines day lovebugs. It has been a hot minute since I have posted a blog, so true to my promise here is the next instalment of my “Essentials” series. This one will have fewer product suggestions as I feel when it comes to these categories, there is SO much variety that I think it best you explore and discover. When necessary I will pop in a few choices, but for the most part I will be describing what types of products you should be keeping an eye out for.



As a beginner essential set, the best place to start with eye shadows is a nice neutrals palette. A good palette should have everything you’ll need, brow colours (as you will see below), matte blending shades and shimmer/satin shades for a fancier night look. There are a few key colours I look for when selecting what I would consider a versatile neutrals palette;

  • matte black
  • matte dark/chocolate brown
  • matte lighter brown
  • matte cream or pinky highlight
  • bronze toned shimmer/satin
  • golden shimmer/satin
  • champagne or silver toned shimmer/satin

It might sound silly that I haven’t mentioned any colour, but this is an essentials guide after all and colour is not at all essential to create fantastic looks. Now what palettes would I recommend?

  • In the Light Palette by Stila; easily accessible in Australia from your local Mecca Cosmetica, this palette is a beautiful compact number. It has everything you would need with a bit of choice in extra shades to make any look pop. If you love this and want to add some more colour into your collection check out the other palettes in this “In the…” collection from Stila. $62 AUD
  • Lorac Pro Palette; a fantastic palette and probably my number one choice except this one is a little hard to get your hands on in Australia. It was my valentines day present this year from my wonderful partner, but if you want to get your hands on this little beauty you can mail forward it from the USA. The whole top row is matte and the bottom is satin/shimmer. Absolute perfection. The end. $42 USD
  • Urban Decay Naked 1 and 2; these two palettes are raved about in the blogger world and I might be shot for saying this, but I am not a huge fan. I mean the shadows are absolutely stunning and phenomenal quality but I just don’t think it is as great a beginners set as everyone says. My qualm with it is that the palette is too full of shimmers with not enough matte blending shades, but that may also be because I need darker matte shades to blend on my dark skin tone. That being said, it is still a great palette that I would recommend. I don’t suggest buying both, it is just a matter of if you are wanting cooler or warmer shades. Naked 1 tends to run a little cooler than the 2. $81 AUD


When it comes to liner colour every girl needs a black liner! It is an absolute must! For some of you, I would also suggest a dark brown or grey liner which is less harsh than the black for an everyday look. Now you have a few choices, pencil, liquid or gel. It all comes down to the effect you’re going for. I find a pencil is great to really smudge and smoke out a look on the upper and lower lash line, whereas liquids and gels are far better for a crisp clean line or a sexy cat-eye. Here is where I am totally useless in my suggestions, I am a die hard follower of the Indian cosmetic brand Lakme when it comes to any form of liner. Their pencils and liquids are great, however you can only really get hold of them in my motherland of India. So instead, let me give you some ideas on what you should be looking for when buying these products:

  • Pencils: look for something soft and buttery that will smudge initially but set after 5min or so. You do not want the smudging to go so far as that it runs down your eye half way through the night. I always do two swatches on my hand, give one a quick rub to see if I like how it smudges out and leave the other as is. I will continue walking around the store and in 5 min see if either of them rub off easily. It is a quick and easy test that will show you the texture of the pencil as well as how it will wear. The real test is how easy it is to get the swatch off your hand once your’e home and washing your hands.
  • Liquids: as a beginners essential I would suggest a felt tip pen liquid liner. Easy to work with and control which is key. When testing these, you want to apply the smudge test again, give it 5 min to set though. You also want to make sure the colour is as crisp and deep as possible; if it says black it should be black not some dark grey or blue. Make sure the swatch on your hand gives you a non streaky solid line of colour.
  • Gels: these give you so much control and precision in shape when applied with a liner or angled brush. The characteristics you look for in a gel are much the same as in a liquid deep colour, setting time and longevity of wear. The other good thing to ask before buying a gel liner is how quickly they dry out in the pot. Make sure you keep them away from moisture and keep the lip on tight between each use.

As a beginner I would suggest a pencil and a felt tip liquid. The gel can get a bit finicky, but I personally love the finish so if you are adventurous and looking to expand go for a gel if you so please.


I am not going to spend much time on this. There are so many options out there it would be pointless me spending ages talking about this so I will say a few key things.

  1. Every girl needs a dark black mascara, no debates.
  2. Mascaras have curling, lengthening or volumising properties. Pick which ones you feel you need and read the product description to see if it will deliver.
  3. No point spending money on mascaras. They dry out fast, should be replaced every 6 months anyway and the affordable options are absolutely awesome sauce anyway (yes, I did just say awesome sauce).

If you are looking from brands to explore, I think Maybelline and Rimmel do absolutely amazing mascaras. I have also recently found that Essence mascaras are affordable, effective and quickly becoming my new favourite mascara line. So head into your local store and start with those.


Brows to me are an essential part of a complete face. Brows, concealer, mascara and a lip product are 4 essentials whether or not I have a full face of make up or not. Now when it comes to brows, it truly is a preference thing. There are so many products out there and it is a matter of your finding what your holy grail products are. Because of this I am going to go more so into the type of products available to make your brows look groomed and what effect they create, rather than giving you a whole list of recommendations. The general rule I always hear, regardless of what product you use, if you have light brown or blonde hair you can do 1-2 shades darker with your brows, if you have dark brown hair you can go 1-2 shades lighter. However, if you are anything like me this has never worked. I have black hair and there is no way running a shade that is 1-2 shades lighter through my brows will make them look full or shaped. So I end up running a matte grey/black through the tail of my brow to the midpoint and a matte chocolate brown through the head and blend it in well with the black for a nice gradient effect. This is what I like most on my own face, but honestly when it comes to your brows it is playing around with the right shades and shapes to get what you like the best. So onto the products:

  • Brow Gels and Waxes; these can be tinted and provide a natural colouring to your brow for those of you with already quite full brows or brows that can be a bit unruly and need to be set into place. A tinted brow gel/wax won’t add a whole lot of colour or shape and more help define an existing brow shape. You can also use a clear brow gel just to set the hairs so they don’t start sprawling around half way through the day. If you want my honest opinion, a cheap clear mascara is the best way to go!
  • Brow Powders; these are effectively well marketed eye shadows. It is also my personal product of choice as I feel it gives the most natural but defined and bold finish. If you start off with the general 1-2 shades lighter/darker rule it is probably the best way to go. I would honestly just head to your nearest eye shadow palette (like the neutral options mentioned above) and find shades that suits. You want an angled brush to work the product through your brows and a spooly just to brush them out. The thing to keep in mind when selecting a good colour is also the undertone, some can be more ashy and grey and some can be more red. I think trying to keep the undertones similar to your hair colour gives the most natural finish.
  • Brow Pencils; personally I am not a fan brow pencils except for a few which I will go out of my way to mention. Why? Well I think it is very easy to get a overly defined, pencilled in brow which to me look hideous. It is difficult to get even distribution of product and so easy to go overboard into drag queen territory. Usually it is because the colour and formulation of cheaper pencils is off. Now having said that there are 2 pencils I think are the exception to my general experience. The Kevyn Aucoin precision brow pencil ($39) and the Hourglass Arch brow sculpting pencil ($48). I know they are both pricy, which is probably why I still would not recommend them, but they definitely do work. The waxy formulation and shade options mean that it keeps your brows in place all day and it is fairly easy to avoid the dreaded ‘scouse’ brow.



What are we looking for with a gloss, something non sticky, relatively long wearing that will add a nice sheen. It is easy to get carried away with lip products (like eye shadows) due to the vast variety of colours and shades, but keep in mind this is an essentials guide. When it comes to a gloss I think the only one every girl needs is a clear or very light pink gloss that they can wear on its own or over the top of a matte-r lipstick to add some moisture and sheen. Any affordable brand will do, I wouldn’t suggesting going off and spending loads of money on a basic lipgloss.

Lacquers and Lipsticks

I have done a full post on lacquers, so if you want details go read this.

They are basically like a liquid lipstick, so have high pigmentation, therefore you probably don’t need a lacquer and a lipstick in the same colour. When it comes to lipsticks you want to think about what finish you are after (matte or sheen) and your colour selections. I find it is a difficult to buy lipsticks because you never really know the longevity of them until you try them. If you have the opportunity to try them on your lips in store, I would suggest you wear them out and see how it goes. My suggestions for brands that I have experience good staying power with are Stila Long Wear Lip Colours, Rimmel Lipsticks, Lakme Lipsticks and NARS Lipsticks. I think it is a matter of everyone seeing what lasts on them though, so if you can try before you buy. I am also not going to suggest exact shades as I feel with everyone’s different skin shades and tones, different lipstick shades will sit differently. Instead I will suggest a few broad colour categories I think need to be in everyone’s collection. I will give you a MAC lipstick shade as an example of what I have in mind as MAC lipstick dupes are widely available and you will be able to find something similar.

  • Red; this can be a blue undertone red (MAC Ruby Woo or Russian Red) which makes your teeth look super dooper white or an orange undertone red which can suit a lot of warmer skin tones (MAC Lady Danger)
  • Cool toned pink; MAC St Germain
  • Hot pink; MAC Candy Yum Yum
  • Nude; this will vary for everyone depending on skin tone. Your nude should be a shade darker than your natural lipcolour, unless you have very pigmented lips. You do not want a concealer lip effect, but more so a my lips but better colour. I find MAC Angel  or MAC Creme Cup work well for most Caucasian skin tones as pinky nudes.

And there you have it folks, you can add purple lipsticks and true oranges, coloured eye shadows and liners and whole multitude of other things, but these are my essential picks. I am sorry for the lack of specific product choices, but I feel there is such variance with everyone I wouldn’t feel okay making a suggestion without knowing exactly what you are looking to get out of your products. If you are in doubt please shoot me a comment and I will do my best to answer any questions or queries you might have. Until the next instalment…

xox your local bohemian.

3 thoughts on “The Essentials Guide: Eyes, Brows and Lips

  1. Another awesome post for the makeup beginners amongst us!! Gosh it can all get so overwhelming but I am definitely feeling a bit better about what to buy/learn to use.

    Would love to see some specific how-tos (ie. The winged eyeliner you showed me how to do and where to put highlights on your face) as they are totally something I would bookmark and refer back to!

    1. I am totally on it, will snap some nice photos in good daylight and have that up for you soon 🙂 they will be quick and easy to do as well in this busy day and age we are living in ❤

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