Beauty 101: Which Basic Beauty Skills Did You Never Quite Get The Hang Of?


My New Year’s Resolution was to stop biting my nails, and I’d say I’ve been pretty successful thus far, thanks to regular manicures from a professional. I’d try to deal with them on my own, but I don’t know how.

It’s not that I haven’t tried: my bathroom is currently filled with resolution-ready impulse purchases encompassing every nail care product ever invented, though when I’ve taken the initiative to try to give myself a manicure, I end up with nails that look like they’ve been shaped with a pizza cutter by someone who has just had about 17 whiskeys to drink. The polish I slather on, meant to hide the wonky shapes, is layered on like frosting and is typically smudged (impatience) and covered in Q-tip threads (failed clean-up attempts). On the flip, when I let them grow between manicures, they come in shaped like giant pieces of pointy toast and typically end up stabbing me in the eye whenever I attempt to take my contacts out. In short, it’s not surprising that I was previously a nail biter for 29 years.

There’s something somewhat embarrassing about being almost 30 years old and not having basic grooming methods down, though not having nails for the majority of my life may account for part of my cluelessness. I’ve watched the manicurist at work, watched YouTube instructional videos, and read articles on proper shaping, but I always end up looking like a mess. My nails, I’ve realized, are best left to the professionals.

But in discussing my nail-fails with others, I’ve come to realize that not having the basics on lock is pretty common: several friends, for example, admitted that they still couldn’t apply eyeliner without stabbing themselves in the face. The way they picked up the “basics” was also varied: some of them claimed that they never had any interest in learning (and still don’t, thanks very much, societal beauty standards), others said they’d tried to teach themselves using tips in beauty magazines, and others claimed that they’d learned everything during middle school sleepover parties or by watching their mothers. I learned by reading the directions, because I am a nerd, which is why I spent the first two years I wore makeup with all four colors of the eyeshadow package swirled on my eyes at once, looking like Sephora just threw up on my face. Trial and error, I suppose, is the best way to go about it.

So how about you, commenters? What are some beauty basics you’ve never quite been able to master? Share yours in the comments, and we’ll try to get some answers in a later post.

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