OK, I’ve said it before, but I’ve gotta say it again: Sonja is my Makeup Mentor. She has literally taught me everything I know about cosmetics and how to utilize them. Now, I realize that I am still a major noob who can’t apply eyeshadow, but I am excited to report that that’s all about to change. Sonja has agreed to do a series of Makeup 101 post right here on Already Pretty!
Those of you who fear looking positively clownish on applying rouge will find her writing style accessible and engaging. Those of you who could apply a full face in your sleep will still be enchanted with this refresher course, guaranteed. This is the good stuff, my peeps, and I’m beyond excited that Sonja has agreed to share her expertise with us.
So, without further ado, let’s dig into the first lesson: Foundation, concealer, and powder. Take it away, Sonja!
I’ve been so into makeup since I was in my early teens that I sometimes forget there are plenty of women out there who could use some basic pointers in makeup application. When Sally asked me to write some posts about makeup basics, I was only too happy to help, because I love showing women how to do their makeup. Obviously, I can’t sit down with you personally. But I’ll do my best to guide you via the Interwebs.
Since Makeup 101 could fill an entire book, I’ll break this down into a few parts and start with foundation, concealer, and powder because it’s important to begin with a beautiful canvas. If your skin looks blotchy and uneven, it detracts from any other makeup you apply.
Before I apply a drop of foundation or concealer, I prep my skin.
- Moisturizer. Apply a good moisturizer first. Otherwise, makeup won’t go on smoothly and will highlight dry patches. If your skin is oily, opt for something light or something that controls oil so your makeup doesn’t just slide off (love that).
- Primer. An optional next step is to apply a primer to help makeup last longer. A good one will also help even out skin tone, and reduce the look of imperfections and pores. I really like shu uemura’s UV Under Base. It’s a foam that goes on nice and light and provides SPF 10 for a little sun protection boost.
- Brightener. Another optional step is to apply a brightener to reflect light, minimize imperfections, and neutralize darkness. This is really helpful if you have under eye circles, like me. I really like Benefit Ooh La Lift. Even though this is designed for the under eye area, I also swipe a little along my laugh lines. Guerlain Precious Light is another excellent option. It’s pricey but gives a lot of bang for the buck, because it’s a brightener, primer, and concealer in one.
Some people apply concealer first, but I prefer to apply foundation first so I don’t wipe away the concealer when I apply the foundation. This also prevents me from overdoing it with concealer. If you have a nice, even complexion and only want a little coverage, opt for a tinted moisturizer.
- The right color. Using the wrong color of foundation is one of the most common makeup blunders, says Guerlain’s top makeup artist Marcus Monson. (Love him! You must try to get an appointment with him if he visits your town.) To choose the right shade, he recommends applying two or three stripes of foundation along a clean jaw line and letting it dry one to two minutes. Waiting is important, because foundation changes color a little as it dries and oxidizes. The color that seems to disappear on your skin is your perfect match.
- Time of year. Remember that your skin color varies throughout the year. A color that works in the dead of winter will probably be too light in summer, when skin is darker and gets more sun – and vice versa.
- Application method. I use a sponge for a very smooth, even finish. If I’m pressed for time, I just use my fingers. Want more coverage? Try a brush.
- Portion control. I put the foundation on the back of my hand and pick up color as needed. If you slap on whatever comes out of the bottle, you’ll likely end up with too much on your face.
- Less is more. Just because you’re applying foundation, it doesn’t mean you have to look like you’re wearing foundation. Try to use as little as possible for everyday wear to keep skin looking natural. Use a little more for a more polished look. But you never want someone to notice your foundation.
- Where to apply. There’s usually no need to apply foundation to every inch of your face, since outer areas of the face usually look fine without any foundation at all. Focus on areas that need to be evened out. Start by applying around the center of the face. There’s usually redness around the nose and mouth, and on the eyelids.
- Blending. Blend outward to avoid having any tell-tale lines.
- Trouble spots. For any areas that need more coverage, like dark spots or blemishes, dab on a little foundation with your finger or a small, concealer brush. If more coverage is needed, hit ‘em with concealer.
- Favorites. My favorite foundations are Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15 for every day and Guerlain Parure Gold when I want a bit more coverage. Both perfect skin beautifully and look quite natural.
I tend to feel naked without concealer, because of my under eye circles. Concealer can really lighten up the darkness and make you look fresher and more awake.
- Color. I try to get my concealer to match my skin tone as much as possible. A color that’s too light can give a reverse raccoon look.
- Application method. With concealer, I apply with a brush or my finger. I find that sponges are too big and don’t allow enough control.
- Under the eyes. To counter darkness in the eye area, apply concealer in the inner and outer corners, as well as under the eyes all the way up to the lash line.
- Less is more. Since it’s thicker than foundation, you can easily end up with a cakey look. Apply a thin layer first and build up as needed.
- Pat, pat, pat. Blend by gently patting with your fingers. Don’t rub or you’ll just end up rubbing it off.
- Favorites. My favorite concealers are Guerlain Precious Light and Tarte Dark Circle Defense. They conceal well and don’t settle into fine lines.
For most occasions, I prefer a fresh, natural look so I tend to use just a little powder to set the foundation and concealer.
- Application method and where to apply. I recommend applying powder with a fluffy brush along the t-zone, where the face can get oily. A brush gives the most natural finish. Under the eyes and on trouble spots, I pat the tiniest amount of powder with a powder puff to keep concealer in place.
- Less is more. Use a light touch when applying powder. If you use too much, it can look cakey and fake, and make you look old in an instant by accentuating wrinkles.
- Loose vs. pressed. Loose powder will look the most natural. But it can be messy and impractical for touch-ups during the day. I love Jane Iredale Brush-Me Matte Loose Powder, because it absorbs oil, looks very natural, and has a built-in brush so I don’t end up making a big mess and can throw it in my purse without worry.
- Photos. If you know you’re going to be photographed – at a wedding or whatnot – powder is not optional, unless your skin is dry as the Sahara. Any bit of shininess is highlighted bigtime in photos. I recommend using a powder that has a matte finish and offers good coverage, like Benefit “Hello Flawless!”, and applying it with a sponge or puff.
Of course, it’s often easiest to learn when we see something demonstrated. I recommend watching Marcus in action. He’s such the makeup master. He gives a great foundation and concealer lesson in my Guerlain fall collection video.
On a tight budget?
As a beauty writer, I have the luxury of using some of the best makeup around, because I get sent samples to review. If you’ve got the cash, I definitely recommend trying the stuff I’ve mentioned. But times are tough and many budgets are tight, so if you need less expensive options, give Neutrogena or Physician’s Formula products a try. Their formulas won’t be as sophisticated. But in general, I’ve found them to be the best drugstore options. Lavera is a very good choice on the more affordable side at health food stores. It’s more expensive than drugstore fare but worth the price.
Hope this info helps! Do let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be back with more posts about how to do eyes, cheeks, and lips. You can also find various beauty tips and tricks in my YouTube videos and on my blog, Hello Beauty.
Sonja will be back in a couple of weeks with another installment of Makeup 101. Stay tuned!