Dressing Up Your Face

There are very few times when a heavily made-up face is appropriate. A beauty pageant, Halloween, the stage at Radio City Music Hall, a convention of makeup artists…

Unless you are in a specific industry (beauty, theater, fashion, etc.), a heavily made-up face is not professional or appropriate for daytime.

I can spot the New Professionals from a mile away. Straight from college, they are wearing navy pantsuits that are either a bit too stodgy or a bit too sexy. Low ponytails or French twists slicked back and too much makeup. Ladies, I thought we all got it out of our systems when we were 14 – more makeup does not make you look more mature. These young professionals have on primer, concealer, foundation, mattifier, powder, three shades of eye shadow, a highlighter, mascara, liner, blush, bronzer, matte lipstick and lip liner to match.

More makeup will also not make you look younger or more attractive to the opposite sex.

I can also tell at a club who is the oldest, the longest married, or the longest a parent from a gaggle of ladies. She is the one with almost the same makeup application as the Young Professional, except the three shades of matte taupe shadows are replaced with shimmer shades of charcoal or plum and the matte lips are replaced with a bubble gum-pink gloss or a red creamy lipstick.

The look of an overly done face is very dated – think Designing Women or Falcon Crest. The time is gone where one should be able to tell where you applied your blush or whether or not you have used an eye or lip liner.

Makeup application becomes as much habit as brushing our teeth. Often we apply our shadow the same way we have for a decade; often we are wearing the same shadow colors for a decade! If it ain’t broke, why try to fix it? Having a cosmetics routine makes life simpler in the morning and it’s a safe way to finish the face.

With the changes in hemlines, so are there changes in cosmetic trends. To look stylish, one must not cling to trends, but be educated on them and take a few new ideas to your routine to keep things fresh. This isn’t saying every season you must embrace the hottest lip product or shadow application, but be aware of that which is around you.

A fabulous way to learn about new techniques and products is to visit a department or specialty store’s makeup counter. Do know you do NOT have to purchase anything to have them try a new look on you. Before you go, do your homework on which cosmetic lines may be the best choice. Are you looking for a sophisticated evening update? Maybe a fresh look for day? Are you curious about new colors and technology in cosmetics? Flip through beauty magazines, visit beauty blogs, Google a few well-known brands to see what they are all about. Some brands like MAC are all about great colors and flawless coverage for many shades of skin. Other brands like Bobbi Brown pride themselves on offering a very fresh look to women of all skintones.

When you visit the counter, be upfront and honest with your salesperson/artist. If you are just looking for a new day look – tell him and explain what type of lifestyle you have. Do you have a very conservative job? Are you outside a lot? Are you prone to breakouts? Do you wear contacts? While having your makeup done, ask what products she is using and ask for a hand mirror. Often an artist will offer to do the application on one side of your face and have you replicate it on the other – this is a great way to understand how to hold the tools and what pressure is needed to achieve the look.

If a trip to the cosmetics counter isn’t in your immediate future, there are easy ways to update your look for little money:
1. Buy a Bigger Brush. How big is the brush you are using for your blush or bronzer? If it’s the little one that came with the product (or not much bigger), it is time to upgrade. A larger brush will give a more natural wash of color and pretty much prevent the dreaded cheek streak.

2. Switch Up Your Lip. Have you been wearing matte red lipstick for decades? Why not try a sheer lipstick in a similar red for a slightly different and less harsh look. Queen of lip glosses? A sheer lipstick or one of the gloss/color combos on the market may be a fresh difference that will modernize your face. Hate all lipcolors? Companies like Burt’s Bees have great sheer lip tints with SPF that go on like a balm and only provide a hint of color and shine – just enough to add some polish to your face.

3. Accept Reality. Almost everyone has wrinkles, under eye circles, freckles, and enlarged pores. Working to erase all of them with various concealer and potions is possible – but usually the final result is false and frightening. Letting some of these imperfections show through will often make you look younger, not older. Let go of the magnifying mirror, and consider a lighter formula of foundation. If you have dry skin, try a day sans powder – take blotting papers in your bag in case you get sweaty. You may feel as though you are exposing your deepest, darkest secrets, but you may be amazed at how many people comment on how young or refreshed you look!

4. Downsize. Applying three shadows, a liner, a lash primer, and two mascaras just to get The Look before you leave the house? It’s very likely that no one is admiring such artistry except you. Having such a perfectly painted face often makes you look self-conscious, self-absorbed or out of touch with modern times. Try taking it down to one shadow and one lash product and see how people take it. You may be surprised at how well received you are – and how much more approachable you are by a potential mate!

5. Have Fun With Color. Color doesn't have to be kept for evening – it is possible to sport a colorful eye or lip (not both at the same time) during the day and still look apppropriate. A sheer lipcolor in a bright pink or candy-apple red can look quite lovely with fresh skin and darkened lashes. A wash of olive, cadet blue, plum or rust can look elegant and day-worthy with a neutral lip. Sometimes getting out of the taupe box can be liberating, and age-defying.
(first look by Bobbi Brown, second look by MAC Cosmetics)

11 Comments

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  2. July 2, 2008 / 9:37 am

    You are SO right! It’s too easy to stay with the same colours and forget the reality.

    I would like to add a couple of things. You should wear either a heavier make-up and very natural lips or vice versa. Too much of everything looks dreadful.

    Also in my opinion it does not matter if you have a big arsenal of different make-up products you use every day, but wearing the perfect amount is the key. Creating a natural look with make-up is surprisingly challenging!

  3. June 30, 2008 / 4:36 pm

    The quality of makeup is extremely important! After 15 years of makeup-ing I realized talc (which is in almost everything) makes me break out. For those with the same problem, bareMinerals is great and I, like Allie, will wear Philosophy’s the Supernatural. Also, I’ve just discovered Cover FX Total Coverage Cream Foundation, which is very gentle. I use it as a consealer and it blends really well into my natual skin.

  4. June 26, 2008 / 6:56 pm

    At my office most of the women don’t wear much of anything!

    The key is wearing just enough, I think. I like to accentuate natural features–making my cheeks a little more rosy, using a lip stain, “mushing” eyeliner in between lashes to make the eyes stand out without piling it on. Polished, but not “made up” like a circus clown.

    Also, I changed my focus from the makeup to achieving flawless skin, so I find I don’t need as much now that my skin is looking great.

  5. June 26, 2008 / 6:14 pm

    Others may have better suggestions, but I used to wear very prominent dark purple/black Gucci frames and still was able to play with makeup for evening.

    A smokey eye I thought worked pretty well – I would have the base be a shimmery light gray, peach, light steel green, pinkish-purple and then use darker and more matte colors closer to the actual eye. I also would pile on the mascara because the lashes are usually well-defined through the glass. 🙂

    I found doing just a wash of color or a colorful liner did seem to get missed but if I did a stronger color all the way to the brow bone and under the eye (and then just a fresh face elsewhere with a pink gloss) it would show up and look pretty cool. Again, I went hard on the mascara so that I didn’t look like a rabbit behind my frames.

    And you go girl for rocking the strong glasses! I adore that look! 🙂

  6. June 26, 2008 / 6:06 pm

    What I’m actually looking for is make-up advice for the spectacles wearing girl.. I wear quite large and black Paul Frank frames which (at least thats what I think) prohibit me from wearing flashy make up. What can be a shame for going out make up tends to be exactly the same as my day make up.. Does anyone have any tips for me..?

  7. June 26, 2008 / 3:31 pm

    Another GREAT post with FABULOUS advice! One of the unfortunate things about being a professional makeup artist is that I do notice when women wear too much makeup and when they wear the WRONG colors for their skin tone! EVERY women has some feature that is naturally beautiful (eyes, cheekbones, perfect nose, skin, lips, eyebrows). You have to really look at yourself, identify the best features, highlight those features with makeup correctly and the other features you hate will magically disappear! My wish for all the women of the world is to read this Wardrobe Oxygen post and act on the advice!!

  8. Anonymous
    June 26, 2008 / 1:26 pm

    AMEN SISTER!

  9. June 26, 2008 / 1:02 pm

    Very well said. It took me a long time to come out of my teenage years and realize that I don’t need every layer, even if my complexion isn’t 100 percent perfect. I just might visit a makeup counter this season — not just walk by and wish I had. 🙂

  10. Anonymous
    June 25, 2008 / 9:42 pm

    Awesome post!
    -Cara

  11. June 25, 2008 / 9:40 pm

    Very timely post for me, I recently began to visit make-up counters on the hunt for new make-up tricks, they are a great source of information.

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