scheherezhad: five various makeup brushes with different pigment powders on them (brushes)
[personal profile] scheherezhad posting in [community profile] beauty
In this post, we'll cover the basics of your face makeup and how to figure out what products you need.

Skin Tone

Last time, the important thing we needed to start with was skin type. This time, it's skin tone. Knowing your skin tone will help you more easily find the right shade of face makeup. There are three skin tones: warm, neutral, and cool. This has nothing to do with your skin color; any skin color, dark to light, can have any of the three tones.

Warm skin has yellow undertones. It is more flattered by gold than silver, and ivory or off-white rather than stark white.

Cool skin has pink or bluish undertones. It is more flattered by silver than gold, and stark white rather than ivory or off-white.

Neutral skin falls in the middle, and it is the rarest of the three tones. Neutral skin can lean slightly toward warm or cool, but overall has no strong pinks/blues or yellows when compared to something stark white.

Most people have a preference of silver over gold or vice versa in their jewelry, so you probably already have an idea which tone you are just from that. If you're still unsure, you can hold a sheet of white paper next to your face to see whether you look more yellow or more pink/blue in comparison, or compare your skin with something orange and something pink to see which looks more right.

If you still aren't sure, go to a makeup counter. The artists are there to help and will find your color match. Don't feel like you have to buy anything immediately, either! Most makeup counters have samples, so you can try foundation to see how it wears before you make a decision.

Getting as close a match as possible is important. There's a good chance you've seen girls or women whose foundation looks like a mask, with an obvious line showing where the makeup application stopped. Sometimes they've chosen a foundation with the wrong undertone, or they may have chosen one that is simply too dark for their skin because they want more color in their faces. Foundation is meant for evening out skin tone, not for adding color. The other face products--blush, bronzer, contour powder, and highlighter--are for adding color and dimension.

The mask look is also an excellent example of why blending is important. Make sure you blend your foundation down into your neck in order to avoid that telltale line.


Choosing a foundation

Now that you know your skin tone, the next step is determining what kind of foundation you need. There are two main factors to consider: 1) how much coverage you need, and 2) your skin type.

The amount of coverage you need will determine what weight of foundation to look for. You can go for full coverage, medium or medium-buildable coverage, or light or sheer coverage. Most people do not need full coverage unless they really want to cover up any imperfections like scarring or birthmarks. If you don't have many imperfections, light or medium coverage should suffice. If all you need is to even out your skin tone a little bit, a tinted moisturizer or light coverage powder foundation might be all you need.

Skin type is going to effect what formulations work better for you. Oily skin does better with shine-control or oil-control foundations and matte finishes, whereas dry skin does better with hydrating or moisturizing foundations and slightly dewy finishes. If you have combination skin that leans one way or the other, you can try foundation for that skin type, or you can try a cream-to-powder foundation rather than a liquid.

For oily or combination skin, you might also want to look into mineral makeup. Plenty of companies have mineral lines now, from drugstore brands to high-end ones. If you have fine lines or wrinkles, however, mineral makeup's heavy coverage can emphasize them, and some mineral makeups may contain bismuth oxychloride, which can irritate skin and so is unsuited to sensitive skin types.


After you have an idea of what kind of product you need to look for, it's time to go find your color. The advantages of going to a makeup counter for foundation are having knowledgeable sales staff available, a wider range of colors than most drugstore brands, and better return policies. Department store brands tend to have generous return policies in case you get something home and find out it's not right for you. If that's not in your budget or you'd rather experiment with drugstore brands first, though, go right ahead. There are plenty of good foundations available, like Revlon's ColorStay.

When you're trying to find your shade and find yourself stuck between two that seem close, take them near a door or window if possible. Hold each one next to your jawline while you look in a mirror so you can see which one is closer to true. If you're at a department store or other place that has testers, dab small amounts of the colors on your jawline and compare. Your correct color is one that seems to disappear into your skin.

Remember, you may have to try a few different foundations before you find the right kind for you. Also keep in mind that you may need different colors in summer and in winter, depending on how much you tan in the warmer months.

When applying foundation, dab a few dots of product over each area you wish to cover and blend outward. You may also wish to use a finishing powder to set liquid foundation so that it will wear longer.


Along with foundation, you may want to use concealer to cover specific imperfections like blemishes, broken blood vessels, or dark under eye circles. Concealers come in pots, sticks, tubes, and compacts, so you can choose whichever type of packaging you like most as long as the product is creamy and smooth to the touch.

For your regular concealer, you want one that is only one or two shades lighter than your skin. If you go too light or too dark, it will stand out instead of blending away the spot you're covering up.

For masking redness, you might want to use a green concealer. It cancels out redness because they are opposite on the color wheel. Likewise, for brightening up dark circles under your eyes, you can use a peachy or yellowy concealer to cancel out the bluish bags. If you're able, test out some concealers at a makeup counter or store like Sephora, or buy your concealer somewhere with a good return policy in case the shade you choose is wrong for you.

When you apply your concealer, use a light hand and pat it on rather than brushing it on. Patting it on will help prevent the excess from collecting at the edges of scars or blemishes, or from settling into lines or wrinkles.

If you apply under eye concealer with your fingers, which can help the product melt and blend better, using the ring finger is best. The ring finger is the weakest digit, so it is better for working with the delicate skin in the eye area.

You may also see conflicting advice on when you should apply regular concealer. Traditionally, it goes on under liquid foundation, but some people recommend putting it on over foundation so that applying the foundation doesn't rub the concealer off. This is a matter of preference, so choose the one that works best for you. With powder or cream-to-powder foundation, however, concealer should go on first so that the powder will set the concealer and keep it in place.


Tip: If you have oily or combination skin, blotting papers are a great way to keep shine in check without having to add more powder through the day. Patting one over your shiny areas will help lift away the excess oil, making it a quick, mess-free way to touch up.


Adding color and dimension

There are a few ways to add color and dimension to your face. The most common is blush/blusher. It comes in powder, cream, and gel, as well as cheek stains. Stains are the most long-wearing, but they can be unforgiving. They dry very quickly on the skin and so have to be blended out immediately or they will set up as awkward blotches of color and will have to be washed off. Powder blushers tend to be the easiest for all skin types.

Most advice you'll find on choosing blush color recommends that you match it to the color in your cheeks after you've exercised or taken a hot shower. This will be the most natural look on you. Another tip is that the more contrast you have between your hair color and your skin color, the more intense shades of blush you can wear. If you have less contrast, aim for more natural blushes.

There is definitely room for experimentation, though, especially if you're going for a look that's bright or dramatic rather than natural.

When applying blush, it helps to smile. This emphasizes the apples of your cheeks so that you can better see where you need to apply color. Buff the blush into the apples of your cheeks in light, circular motions, then sweep the blush back and slightly up along the cheekbone and into the hairline.


Another way to add color, especially for summer looks, is bronzer. It can give you a shimmery, tanned glow. Those with fair skin must be careful, however, not to choose a bronzer that's too dark, or it will look dirty on the skin.

To apply bronzer, you can use the "3-E" technique. With your preferred bronzing brush, dust bronzer outward over your forehead, then sweep it back and down toward your ear, forward just under the cheekbone, then back and down to the jawline. Repeat on the other side. If you traced these lines on a picture of a face, you would see that they roughly form a 3 on one side and an E on the other.

If you are using bronzer on fair skin, don't forget to dust a bit over your neck, chest, and/or shoulders if you're showing skin in those places. It will look more natural than only bronzing the face.


If you want to add more dimension to your face or make slight corrections to the proportions of your features, you can contour and add highlight. As an example, Temptalia has a good photo tutorial for cheeks: Contour, Blush, & Highlighting the Face.

The blog Blab About Beauty has a post that features diagrams of different face shapes and which areas should be shaded or highlighted to balance their proportions.


Again, I'm happy to take questions. I've still got a post for eyes and a post for lips coming up, so stay tuned.
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