Make-up at it’s best should not show. Unless we choose to apply cosmetic color as an artistic statement we want it to feel texturally light with invisible color that blends in. Right? A mistake is made, however, in thinking that to achieve this make-up needs to be very sheer or rubbed in. In fact invisibility is only achieved if the color is directly related to the hues present in our skin. Correct imperfections with total coverage or simply highlight what is there, it all becomes invisible when the hues are correct.
Like the clothing fashion that they are designed to accessorize with, cosmetic trends go in and out of style and so does our concept of beauty. Sculpted & illuminated cheek bones, plumped & highlighted lips, defined & darkened brows are the current trends—a throw-back to the “glamorous” 1980’s. But whether we choose to embrace these recurring changes or simply choose our own timeless Personal Style*, the concept of invisibility surpasses all trends and is the difference between authentic beauty or painted surrealism.
Make-up becomes invisible when the hues are correct.
As I wrote in my last blog post, solid color theory points to the fact that humans, as part of nature’s spectrum, are toned predominately with either a red, yellow or blue cast. The face is shaped with applied color most naturally when the hue of the cosmetic shares the same cast as the skin. This sounds obvious but it can be challenging. Cosmetics are manufactured, as I said above, to coordinate with clothing color trends. In any given season, there will be a predominance of one or two casts based on fashion leaving a group of people out. Each cosmetic company will specialize in their interpretation of color usually focusing on one palette or another. The true make-up artist driven colors will fare best for most people as a full range of color is offered in all palettes.
From my own collection of colors here are some photos to help you understand “neutral color” as I define it. Neutrality is what occurs naturally in you; your hair, your skin, your eyes and what color your cheeks become when they flush.
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*Personal style always dictates the way that color is applied to the face. Invisibility can still make a statement tho, like Nora with her peacock feathered hair piece. Make-up was artfully applied in shades of purple, mauve and green to coordinate while still working within her natural range of color.
I have been burning the candle at both ends lately with the project that my husband and I have undertaken in our time off. As a result, I have darker than usual circles around my dust-induced allergy laden eyes. My end-of-summer skin brightening routine has been working—the background melasma skin tones are nearly back to normal—but there is still some freckling & deep spotting. Thus my “need” for some extra make-up tricks. Here are the 101 basics on evening out skin tones and what I did on my own face.
PRIMERS: A primer is a translucent gel or moisturizer that contains clear-toned pigment that will neutralize the offending colors in your skin. Apply a thin coat under your make-up foundation or under a powder.
CONCEALER: A concealer is an opaque, dense creme that has browned-out pigment to totally cover demarcation in your skin. Apply over primer, under/over make-up foundation, under powder.
NEUTRALIZING POWDERS: A neutralizing powder is a mix of various minerals and pigments that are fleshy colored yet toned to a particular hue on the color wheel to counteract discoloration in the skin. Apply as a last step over moisturized skin or primed skin or make-up foundation.
Because I have ivory-olive skin (a yellow-green cast) any injury in my skin takes on a deeper greenish brown tone. [Melanin clusters in the skin to protect itself when an injury occurs then continues to do when ever exposed to UV light.] In my case, some summer time breaks out on my chin and some Black Fly bites on my cheeks left dark greenish-brown splotches. So I blended a primer with a faint red-orange cast. When you overlay colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel they cancel each other out. Red-orange over shadowy blue-green = neutralized beige. I smoothed on a bit over my chin and on my cheeks.
When congestion forms behind my eyes in the sinuses (for example the irritating dust from the project I am working has created this), my skin tones intensify and get an even deeper, olive-green. To counter act this tone, I blended a concealer that has the tone opposite on the color wheel. Red-violet over yellow-green neutralizes to make beige.
Because the pigment is concentrated in concealers, let the color tone do the work NOT the thickness of your application. A little goes a long way; dab, dab dab, into place.I applied a sheer coat of Moisture Foundation blended to match my ivory-olive skin harmonizing all other make-up dibs and dabs together while still letting my skin show through, freckles and all. I finished by dusting my face with a more opaque SPF mineral powder that I blended with luminescence for a moist look and that I also tinted to neutralize my skin color a bit. By “neutralize” I mean less tone-specific so that I could play around with any choice in eye, lip and cheek colors.
Here I am in different lights and different angles. I like the final result; more dewy evened out skin while still letting my own natural markings shine through. (Forgive the grainy photography – these are IPhone Selfies.)
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Do you ever struggle seeing to put on your make-up? Do your friends delicately point out the “granny hair” protruding from your chin that you did not notice? If so, chances are your mirrors and lighting are not optimal.
As any portrait photographer will tell you, side lighting is best to see AND flatter the face. Given the natural curvatures and bone structure of the face, top lighting – which most bathrooms feature – is the worst. The light hitting the brow bones cast a shadow under the eye making one look tired, the nose looks long & disproportionate and for pete’s sake, you can’t see anything. Lighting the face from the side or straight-on makes lines disappear and lets you see your face as other people see you.
In my various bathrooms through the years I have replaced top fixtures with side lights. This is a quick job for any electrician. You will have to deal with patching wall board however, unless you enlarge your mirror or cabinet to cover, or simply leave the top light fixture with dead bulbs. Currently, I have my make-up area in the dormer outset facing directly into the sunlight. I have added a table top lamp for side lighting and it is perfect. See the picture above.
Are you familiar with the old adage “How do you know if you don’t know that you don’t know?”…. It might be possible those granny hairs are there and no one is telling you but, because you are only using single magnification with quadruple aged eyes, everything looks fine. Rule of thumb; for every decade of age over 50 you need that rate of magnification to see what you saw when you were 20. At age 59 now, my 50-year-old 5x magnification is not quite enough so I am moving up to 6x.
So what did cave women do without mirrors?