Paula Marantz Cohen at The Smart Set:
The items that constitute a “basic” makeup regimen are variable from person to person, though the conventional prerequisites are as follows: moisturizer, concealer, foundation, mascara, eyeliner, blush, and lipstick. All the above also happen to be umbrella categories for a vast empire of additional products. There are many varieties of concealer, for example: for blemishes, for scars, for sun discoloration, for broken blood vessels, for dark circles. Lipstick can range from practically indelible to the sheerest gloss, in flavors from watermelon to key lime pie (an ideal snack for the anorexic), and have secondary functions like lining, moisturizing, and plumping. Foundation can be liquid, spray, or powder, under the assumption that the skin is a complex geographical terrain that must be treated with different agents for different strata. The eyes have an entire phalanx of products too numerous to go into. And I haven’t even started in on products to tighten pores, fill in wrinkles, and counteract redness — all minor industries in themselves. It is also possible to use makeup the way doctors use drugs off-label: blush as shadow, lipstick as blush. And there are folkloric co-optations with things like soy sauce and wasabi. I can personally recommend toothpaste as an overnight pimple remedy.
A relatively recent cosmetic innovation that intrigues me is foundation primer. Someone in the bowels of the cosmetic industry must have had the revelation that just as an artist primes a canvas before beginning a picture, one ought to similarly prepare the skin before putting on makeup.