My number one tip for overall good makeup - find a good makeup artist and take a makeup lesson - learn to create everything on your face. A good makeup artist will be able to show you what to look for before leaving the mirror (ie - where to put that final touch of concealer - and whether that concealer should be dark or lighter) as well as the appropriate techniques to create a good look for yourself.
My two favorite makeup lessons of all time were with Gaspar Cruz and Fran Krauss (wife of awesome photographer Richard Krauss). My most recent makeup lesson was just prior to Mrs. Pennsylvania International 2013 with Fran Krauss. I have been mostly using her techniques, but I still revert back to the "Gaspar" eye when I want a bold and different look.
Starting with foundation and powder, here is what you will find in my makeup cabinet.
FOUNDATIONSBudget Foundation: Revlon Colorstay
Expensive Foundation: Christian Dior AirFlash (air brushed foundation right at home without the expensive kit). This is by far my most favorite foundation ever! I put this foundation on and it lasts for hours and hours without even requiring a powder touch up.
Mineral Makeup: Mary Kay, but Bare Minerals and Physicians Formula make some nice products as well.
MAC - this used to be my staple foundation; I used to only use MAC products to create flawless photo ready skin. However, given their price point, I find that they are edged out by equally performing Revlon Colorstay and flattened to the ground by the performance (but not the price) of Christian Dior AirFlash. I still believe that MAC produces great products, but I just don't find myself at the MAC counter anymore because there are lots of companies that produce great products.
When applying foundation, I use a Beauty Blender, purchased from ebay for about $1 (they are typically sold for $10 at the beauty stores). I will use it wet when applying Revlon and use it dry to blend out the Airflash.
Choosing a color: TEMPTALIA - use this handy tool to find your perfect foundation shade (especially useful for drug store brands).
CONCEALERI have some favorite concealers, but I don't get as excited for these as I do for foundations. Right now, you will find me using one of several products.
Clay Spann's Concealer
Benefits Concealer Kit (the pink is great to brighten eyes)
Amazing Cosmetics Concealer - a little goes a really, really long way. This stuff is terrific! Buy the smaller concealer; unless you are doing your makeup every day and using a lot of concealer, you will likely throw out this concealer before running out of product.
POWDERSI will grab one of two powders when my foundation and concealer are complete. Either It Cosmetics HD Powder or a Mary Kay loose powder. I don't see a difference between either of them. If I want more coverage, I will use a very light hand to apply Mary Kay's mineral powder. I am really enjoying Mary Kay's new packaging because you can turn the inside of the powder so that what is in the bottom stays in the bottom (ie - you can close off those holes so that more powder does not come to the top of the container).
Clay Spann's Powder
Remember the Clay Spann Tip - when you really want to look flawless, carry two powders - a lighter one for under your eyes and a powder to match your skin tone for the rest of your face.
MAC Finishing Powder - this is something I will always have in my makeup bag, but it is usually found in my purse because it removes shine without making me appear as if I just added ten more pounds of makeup.