I love experimenting with my style. Whether it’s my clothes, decor, or makeup, I like trying new things as a way to get to know myself better. Sometimes something sticks, like colorful day dresses, which were my go-to outfit choice for about four years. Sometimes it doesn’t, like the three weeks I tried to dress vaguely bohemian and people kept thinking I was in my pajamas. (My neighbor: “You have such great taste in sleepwear!” Me: “Thank you, these are my normal clothes.”)
Makeup is one of my favorite ways to experiment with style. A single eyeshadow palette can give you a dozen different looks, and you can get even more when you add lipsticks, eyeliners, and other makeup to the mix. Since moving abroad, I’ve been playing around with my makeup more (because, frankly, it’s cheaper than buying new clothes), and have been really interested in the differences between Dutch vs. American makeup. While I’m no expert and I’m fairly new to living here, I thought I’d share some observations in side-by-side makeup looks, and add a few tips for finding your own style at the end.
Dutch vs. American Makeup: The Basics
Me without makeup on.
I think emphasizing clear skin is something that is fairly standard in both American and Dutch makeup. In America, people seem to like adding a little more dimension to the face with bronzer, blush, and highlighter, whereas I see more Dutch people wearing one concealer or tinted moisturizer to even out their complexion.
Hairstyles tend to be smoother and a little more slick in the US. In Holland, I see a lot more windswept or slightly messy hair. Whether that’s because it’s cool, easier to maintain, or just the result of how windy it is here, I can’t say!
Dutch vs. American Makeup: Eyes
I see a lot of warmer, coppery colors in American eyeshadow. People also tend to blend a few colors pretty smoothly, so that there’s a gradient on the eyelid. In Holland, I more often see one color on the lid and a little bit of that same color on the bottom lash line, like a smudgy eyeliner. Cooler colors like silver seem more common here than they are in the US.
Liquid eyeliner, and specifically a cat-eye or winged liner, are really popular in the States right now. In the Netherlands, I see people use an eyeliner pencil or stick more often, and then smudge it out a little to create a softer and smokier look.
Dutch vs. American Makeup: Lips
I wear very little lip color (mostly because I always end up smudging it on my coffee cup), so I also don’t notice lip color as much as other people would. From what I have noticed, people in the States tend to go for richer reds and more berry tones. In Holland, I see either natural lips or a more coral color.
The Final Product
I really like how the US look turned out, in part because that’s the makeup aesthetic that I’m most used to (having only moved a month ago), and in part because I think I’m probably better at applying this kind of makeup.
The Dutch makeup turned out really differently than I expected. I didn’t mean to make the eyeshadow so cat-eyed, and I think the lips are too bright for this eye color (TBH I only own three lip products, two of which are samples, so I had to make due with what I had). Though I’m not totally happy with the execution, I think the bolder eye is pretty reflective of what I see around here, as well as the more windswept hair.
Tips for Finding Your Own Style
After years of messing around with makeup, I eventually found a style that felt like “me.” If you’re looking to develop your own makeup style, here are a few things you can try.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
I think makeup tends to be politicized quite a bit; people are judged for wearing “too much” makeup as often as they are for wearing no makeup at all. Enough! I don’t make judgements when I look at a person’s makeup because the way they want to express and present themselves is none of my business.
Notice and accentuate your favorite features
Whether you’d prefer to look more natural or you like to look go for a dramatic look is up to you. In either case, you can bring out the features in your face that you like most. If your eyes are your favorite feature, you can find eye makeup that brings out their color or shape. If you like your cheekbones, highlighter and a little bronzer can make them more dramatic.
Turn to the internet for technique
Everything I know about makeup, I learned from YouTube. For years in high school, I watched beauty gurus and learned how to do things like blend eyeshadows and pull off winged liner. Do a YouTube search for “makeup tutorial” and find looks you like to try yourself. They’ll teach you a lot of the basic techniques to help you get the technical makeup stuff down.
Find the styles and techniques you love
Look around at your friends’ makeup or the makeup looks you see on blogs or social media. What kind of looks are you drawn to? You can experiment with these yourself, and experiment with looks that you think are exciting but maybe wouldn’t think to try yourself. The only way to figure it out is to practice!
Explore, Refine, and Evolve
Try different styles and see what feels like you. After you find a look (or a few) that make you feel like yourself, you can try to refine those with the colors that best suit your skin tone and eye color (or not! While I like to choose bronzy eye colors because they bring out the blue in my eyes, you might like green or purple dramatic eye makeup that has nothing to do with complementing your current look. That’s totally fine — your makeup should be about you). Finally, don’t be afraid to let the looks evolve. You’re constantly changing and growing, and your look can always grow with you!
Those are my tips, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Which of these looks is your favorite? What’s your makeup style?