"I was playing in my mother's makeup," she tells PEOPLE. "I had blue eye shadow and red lips, and I put crazy blush on. I looked like a clown, but I thought I was so beautiful."
Her routine has come a long way since then – the singer often does her own makeup for appearances – but her love for the basics remains.
Asked what she wears to look awake after sleepless nights spent with baby Blue, she replies, "Lip gloss – I love L'Oréal's Infallible 8 HR Le Gloss in Coral Sands – and a little bit of blush."
Growing up around her mom Tina Knowles's salon, Beyoncé learned a lot about beauty. "I like to experiment [with my hair]," she says. "I love playing around with highlights or bleaching the tips. I can cut and style my own hair."
In fact, she recently gave herself a trim, cutting two inches off her ends. "I just parted it in the middle and chh-chh-chh," she reveals.
But it's inner beauty that she values most – and she hopes her daughter will learn to do the same. "My biggest thing is to teach [Blue] not to focus on the aesthetic," she says. "It's really about who you are, and the human being, that makes you beautiful."
The Secret of Old MascaraStill, being a superstar means having to focus on the physical. When asked if she's comfortable leaving the house without makeup, Beyoncé says, "Every day in my life is a part of my history, and I've worked really hard on my career and my life. So I make sure I wouldn't be upset if somebody saw me."
That means her standard lip gloss and blush, plus moisturizer – "I don't have to spend that much time on my skin," she admits – and sometimes, mascara.
"I'm pretty good at throwing out the expired stuff, but I hold on to my mascara for a long time," she says. "I actually prefer old mascara. It makes your lashes thicker and longer."
But regardless of who's seeing her and where, the star is feeling better than ever. "I have embraced my flaws," she says. "And I feel more confident."
Reporting ALEXIS CHIU