Monday, March 16, 2009

Makeup application 101

Have you ever had one of those flawless makeup days? You know, the kind when everything you do to your face just works, and you feel like you could conquer the world? It's an amazing feeling.

Have you ever had the dismay of realizing that said flawless face lasts about as long as your daydream about conquering the world? Me too.

I received the following question from one of my lovely readers:

"dear miss l:

my makeup never stays on my face. it looks ah-mazing when i first put it on, but then not more than 20 minutes later you cannot even tell i was even wearing makeup to start with.
am i using bad makeup (inexpensive stuff you can find at your grocery store)? would it be worth it to shell out bigger buckos for the name brand stuff? am i applying wrong?
i NEED your guidance!"

When I read this, all I could think about was how many times this has happened to me. It's frustrating, really, when you find that your foundation hasn't lasted and/or your mascara has made its way to every surrounding area of your eye but your lashes. When your eyeshadow clumps into hideous creases and your blush seems to fade.

Thus, I want to share my little tips and tricks with you all, so that we can band together and say no to the ephemeral makeup that seeks to sabotage us all.

First of all, I do think it's important to get a quality foundation. In an ideal world I think we all would love to frequent the makeup counters at our beloved department stores and indulge ourselves in all the niceties that higher-end makeup can afford us. However, after taking a long, hard look at the economy, this is not always possible.

That being said, I still believe that makeup (and clothing) can and should be an investment. For me, the foundation that I wear is the most important aspect of my makeup application process, so I spend a little more for it. As a consequence, I rarely buy new eyeshadow or liner or other, more "superfluous" makeup products. (Or I wait for a birthday or other special occasion to make my requests. Te hee.) You may have a certain eye shadow color or blush that you simply can't live without, so you might seek to save a little by buying a cheaper foundation. This is all fine and good, so long as you're still seeking for quality products in your specific price point.

But even if you spend more money on certain makeup products, you must be certain you know how to properly apply it. Here are my two steps to properly applying makeup, regardless of the price point, with options that encompass those on a smaller budget, and those on a larger budget.

Step One: Foundation

The single most important aspect of foundation application is to moisturize. I can't emphasize enough how integral this step is to the preservation and maintenance of your makeup as a whole.

When you wake up in the morning (or whatever time you choose to apply makeup) moisturize you skin (and preferably use some eye cream) at least ten minutes before you plan to apply your foundation/concealer. Why, you ask? Because the moisturizer needs adequate time to absorb into the skin. If you do not give it ample time to do so, your makeup will wear off in a matter of hours because it will have leeched onto the unabsorbed moisturizer and fade along with it.

Apply your makeup with some form of an applicator (preferably a brush like this for liquid foundation, or this for powder foundation, but if you have a leaner budget, go with sponges like these). This is ensures a more even, and less cakey, application.

Concerning the "10 minute waiting period" for moisturizer, I can personally attest that this single action makes a world of difference. I conducted an experiment on myself and was shocked at the difference that a few minutes' wait made in the overall staying power of my makeup as a whole.

If your foundation is liquid-based, always use a powder to set your foundation. Depending on your preference, a loose or a pressed powder can be used. (If you're like me and prefer to use a pressed power, make sure to apply it with a large makeup brush to ensure that the powder is dispersed evenly and does not appear cakey.) Take your powder compact with you in case you need to make small adjustments/touch-ups throughout the day.

This firm foundation will set the stage for your blush and/or bronzer and help them stay in place all day.

*If you have a little bit more of a budget for makeup, along with the makeup brushes I mentioned above, I would recommend getting a foundation primer (my personal favorite is Laura Mercier's Oil-free Foundation Primer) that you can use instead of moisturizer (if you tend to have oilier skin) or over your moisturizer (which is what I do because my skin tends to be on the dry side). A primer helps to prep your face to make it an easier canvas to work with by evening the surface of your skin. Also, I would get some oil-blotting sheets like these to carry with you throughout the day. As far as foundations go, I personally use Bare Minerals and love it. I also think the entire Studio Fix line at Mac is phenomenal. It's worth the extra money, believe you me.

Step Two: Eyes

In the past, one of my biggest makeup frustrations has come from the lack of staying power for eye makeup. It seemed like whenever I mastered the perfect eyeshadow/eyeliner combo, it would be a wasted mess in a couple of hours-- creasing and smudging would be the inevitable result, which made me wish for dim lighting or to be surrounded by people who are near-sighted.

I have learned since then that preparation is 2/3 the battle.

Add a light layer of powder and foundation to your eyelids. This will help the eye shadow to stay in place, and reduces the risk of creasing. Add a thin layer of powder to the bottom part of the eye, below the lower lashes. (This helps dissuade rouge mascara or eyeliner from smearing below your eyes.)

If you decide to use a cheaper mascara or eyeliner, invest in the waterproof variety, as this will help eliminate any "bleeding" that can result from the wear-and-tear of your daily life. If you have set your eyes with some powder/foundation, it can help eyeliner from bleeding as well. Just ensure that you select an eyeliner with some staying power. For a more dramatic and reliable effect, go with a liquid liner (it has four times the staying power of a pencil liner). But, if you're like me and don't really like eyeliner for an every-day look, skip the step all together. It's one less thing to worry about.

*If you have a little bit more of a budget for makeup, I would recommend getting a higher-end mascara, because they will not bleed as much as a drug store brand. I have recently raved about Mac's Plush Lash Mascara and Diorshow Iconic Mascara because they don't bleed at all. This is an instance where you really get what you pay for. And a lot of women think it's worth it. As for an extra eyeshadow boost, I would recommend getting an eyeshadow primer like this one, because it primes the lids and provides a smoother texture to work with. It has the same positive effects as a foundation primer, and really lengthens the life of your eyeshadow.

{For tips on lip stick application, please see this post. Though it specifically addresses red lipstick, the same basic principals apply to most other lip colors. A nice prep of chapstick and some powder and foundation works wonders.}

So there you have it my friends. Just a few simple tweaks to a standard makeup routine can engender much better results. I hope it works as well for you as it has worked for me.

1 comment:

mary elizabeth said...

this is so great! thanks!!

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