A Break-Up Make-Up Tutorial

Inspired by. 

a selfie of Heina with the tutorial makeup applied to her face
Make-up, what make-up? Who’s made up? You’re made up!

It never feels good to get dumped, but even if there’s no chance of you getting back together, you can “make up” in other ways. If looking good makes you feel good, here are some tricks to help you go from feeling dumpable to humpable — or at least to help you look better than you feel. You can trick people — especially your ex — into thinking that you’re doing fine, but also that you aren’t trying too hard. This “I don’t care, but somehow I appear perfect” look, often called the “natural” look, takes a lot of work and time, so be sure you’re feeling that whole “I’m a strong independent bad-ass” thing.

What You’ll Need

Ulta's Extreme Wear Cheek Stain in Desire
True story: My favorite cheek stain is a discontinued shade called “Desire”.


Step One: Think about your pretty things rather than the pretty thing that just gave you the boot.

Did you get lazy during the relationship and stop upgrading your cosmetics because your ex is a basic babe/bro or simple sib? Throw out all funky-smelling and/or old makeup, sanitize what you’re keeping, and fix anything that’s worth saving. Think about your beauty tools rather than the tool who just scorned you by cleaning your brushes, sponges, and blenders.

Did you buy cosmetics you didn’t particularly like specifically because your partner did? Re-purpose them (lipstick as blush! blush as eyeshadow! bronzer as blush! eyeliner as lipcolor! matte shadow as brow-filler!), clean and give them away to a friend if possible and safe, or simply toss them.

Heina's hands with uneven, ragged nails
You win this round, pointer finger.

Your hands are your most basic tools. Right now, they probably look a mess. Let’s fix that, since revenge is a dish best served cold by impeccably-manicured mitts. Cut your nails down to the same size as your shortest nail, since the person who cares least always wins in relationships. Smooth away any snags, like your ex thought they were doing by getting rid of your edgy self.

Polish with two thin coats of a neutral color that doesn’t have to look perfect to still look polished and seal with a single coat of fast-drying topcoat. If you’re feeling too angry for anything neutral, just the topcoat is fine — it will give you the clarity you never got from your ex. Set your manicure with a spray or drying drops so that nothing but time can ruin the effort you put into your fingertips. Also effective is fanning your fingers in front of your face to keep back the tears or immersing your fingertips into a bowl of water as icy and cold as your ex’s heart. You don’t have the time to sit around waiting for anyone, least of all your nails, to figure themselves out.

Step Two: Add something to your beauty arsenal to set the mood for self-care.

The addition can be anything that you’ve been putting off acquiring for any reason or even something you’ve never heard of that you find out you could use. Return the new-with-tags cute underwear you bought that you never even got to wear for your ex and use the money for something that they, along with the rest of the world, will admire on you.

Every item linked in the lists above is a beauty find that costs around or less than $10. If you’re broke but nothing on the list appeals to you, you have three options.

  1. Go to the mall. Sephora carries inexpensive trial sizes on luxe items and Sephora employees will give you free samples if you ask nicely. If you’re within four weeks before or four weeks after your birthday, you can get a free gift from them for signing up for their Beauty Insider program. Other mall makeup stores, like MAC, will sometimes be generous with samples, too.
  2. Head to the strip mall. The drugstore brands have really been stepping up their game lately. ELF is pretty cheap and some of their products are great. Ulta carries both high- and low-end brands and will send you coupons if you give them your email address ($3.50 off $10 purchase, typically). They also have a birthday freebie program.
  3. Talk to your fiercest femme friend. If they aren’t a total jerk, they will probably be happy to give something to you. Hell, you could trade something you wanted to give away in Step 1.
a make-up free selfie of Heina
I actually woke up like dis.

Step 3: Prep your face.

Warm, gentle water will soothe your nettled soul. Exfoliation is essential, but be sure not to take out your anger on your face by scrubbing too vigorously. If you have access to a steamer and pore extractor, all the better to exorcise that ex. Pat your face as gently as you’d hoped your ex would let you down and moisturize.

Step 4: Apply your makeup.

Sit down in front of a mirror with plenty of time set aside and your cleaned, updated tools and colors arranged conveniently near you.

  1. Start by applying the foundation using your sponge, fingers, or a brush to give yourself a stable new start. Unlike concealer, with foundation, you’re not really hiding anything from anyone. Focus the application to those trouble spots so that they’re as invisible to others as your relationship problems were to you. Blend well with the sponge for a too-good-to-be-true glow. If your skin really has trouble holding onto a good thing, use primer underneath as a first step or, if you’re using a sponge or brush, wet it with setting spray instead of water before application.
  2. Use your cheek color to add to the dewy effect. Choose one the color that your ex should have flushed in shame at the mere thought of dissing your bad self or the shade your cheeks turn after you’ve had the best sex of your life (casual post-break-up banging, obviously). Steer clear of any color that resembles how you look when you flush with embarrassment or anguish.
  3. Fill your brows with a color that is matte and a little less ashy than how your skin has been getting since you started taking all those long, hot, sob-obscuring showers.
  4. Set your brows. If you don’t have eyebrow wax or gel, hair gel or hairspray applied using a spoolie brush totally counts, unlike the compliments your ex gave you as they made their way out of your life.
  5. Carefully rim your lower waterline with the soft eyeliner so you don’t further irritate your weepy orbs. Then, add a little bit of the eyeliner to your top lid as well. If you’d like to make your lashes look even fuller, line your top lids with the black felt-tip liquid eyeliner. Be sure to keep it a thin line hugging just along your lash-line, as imperceptible as the line you crossed leading to the baffling end. Keep your hands well-steadied by spite.

    Heina applying lip color to her lips with a brush
    As I made this shade myself, I’m calling it “Pansexual Make-Outs”

  6. Apply the lipcolor of your choice. If you’re using lipstick, make sure you use a lip brush so that it doesn’t look too dramatic and apply a lipliner first so it stays in place — you’re a lady or gentle-person, not the “crazy ex” of dating mythology. For best results, go for a your-lips-but-better shade of lipstain. One that’s slightly pinker than your natural lipcolor will make you look like you’ve been making out with like, so many babes, and not as if you’re trying to look presentable.
  7. Add highlighter to show off your best features. — you know, the ones your ex must’ve stopped paying attention to in order to give you up. Apply just under your brows to give the illusion that you’ve been maintaining them, to the inner corners of your eyes so you don’t look so sleep-deprived, to your cheekbones so that you look fiercer, and/or to your cupid’s bow so that your lips look tempting in a distant way. Blend with fingertips as light as you wish your heart would feel.
  8. Finish your face with a thin dusting of translucent powder, so that you can finish what you start, unlike some people. A loose powder that imparts a cooling sensation will add to your calm, put-together look.
a selfie of Heina with colorful lipstick and other fancy makeup applied atop the natural look
Is this the face of sadness or glamour? Or both?

You can add eyeshadow, a thicker line on your top lids, a bolder lip color, and some mascara to take your look to the next level so that you can rebound — or at least look smoldering enough to where your ex will wonder why they dumped you at all.

Or you can stick with the original look and rest assured that you look like you’re resting assured.

Featured image via.


A Break-Up Make-Up Tutorial

7 thoughts on “A Break-Up Make-Up Tutorial

  1. 1

    I found you via another blogger/friend and have to say, before this post I found your content brilliant, thought provoking and insightful (as well as inspiring). After this post? Ten times more. I have myself used makeup to both shield myself from the world and also express myself within it and coming from a brilliant woman I am growing to admire, just helps me feel that much better about such expression. I adored this post. Thank you!

  2. 2

    Fun post, and I say that as someone who doesn’t use makeup (long story having to do with allergies, bottlecap glasses, and makeup-hating husband of 34 years). But damn, you’ve got an excellent face to make up. Any ex who dumped the un-made-up Heina clearly did not make the decision based on looks.

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