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Okay, guys. You know the adage. “You have to start somewhere.” And boy, I know I started somewhere… though where that “somewhere” was I don’t want to go back to. Makeup for me started at 14 when my mom started letting me wear her Maybelline Great Lash mascara. Mascara was all I wore for a few months. Then, I added eyeliner. Lots of black eyeliner. I was in full-on raccoon mode for the first two years of high school (thanks, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, and every other emo band of the late 00s). The rest of high school was pretty equally embarrassing. I didn’t know a thing about foundation, concealer, eyebrow pencils, or any of things I love about my makeup routine now. It was terrible. And before you think, “PROOF! WHERE IS IT?!?” I came prepared:
So it’s probably not the worst thing you’ve ever seen, right? Heavily edited and HOLY KOHL, but otherwise it’s okay. But to me, I looked back at these pictures and wanted to improve. You may look at pictures of yourself now or in the past and feel the same way. You want to know what you’re doing wrong, or maybe there are techniques you have no idea about and you want to learn about them. That’s a good thing! There are no real rules to makeup per say; It is an art that is open to interpretation. However, just like art, there are skills that can be learned that can help you unlock the creativity to create whatever look you want! So, what can you do to improve your makeup?
Always prep your skin
Your skin is your canvas. Therefore, you need to prepare it for the masterpiece that you’re about to create on your face! My makeup sucked so early on because I barely even washed my face. Honestly, it was a wet washcloth when I woke up and not much more. I believe that habit contributed to my having horrible adult acne later in my life. Remember, a clean face is a happy face! Find a cleanser and moisturizer that works well for you. Make it a point to wake up every morning, whether you’re putting on makeup or not, and clean your face. Then, moisturize! Doing this will keep your skin looking fresh and young. Before you put on your foundation, use a primer. Foundation will move, disappear or oxidize without something for it to stick to, and primer has ingredients which encourage anything applied on top of it to adhere longer. These steps will create a base that will make your makeup last all day!
Make sure your foundation matches
This one can be kind of tricky because people come in almost every shade. Some people’s faces are lighter than their necks or vice versa; some people are three different shades on their face alone. This is where a bit of a strategy comes in. When trying to shade match, it best not to use the back of your hand. Try to match to your jawline and if your face is lighter in the middle, use a lighter shade there. If you’re having a hard time finding your shade, try mixing a couple of shades (maybe a shade lighter and a shade darker). If all else fails, blend, blend, BLEND. Sometimes your foundation just won’t match. Blending down the jawline and neck will ensure that you won’t look like you’re wearing a mask.
Put your makeup on in the correct light
Have you ever finished a look that you loved, only to walk outside and look like an Oompa Loompa? This is usually caused by putting on your makeup in a room with lights that are the wrong temperature. A light’s temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). Incandescent light (which is usually referred to as “warm white”) usually measures around 2700k. Lights used by photographers for photo shoots are usually neutral and measure around 3200k. Daylight is usually cool and varies between 5000-7000k. Overly warm or cool light can make you look harsh and hide the true-to-life colors of your makeup. Using a vanity mirror with neutral lights that surround your face will help you see your makeup products in their true colors – and yours too.
Don’t use a heavy hand
Blending can be such a harrowing, difficult skill. When I first started wearing eyeshadow, every color I put on my lids either faded to nothingness when I blended or just turned an ugly brown. Similarly, when I put on blush, I usually looked like a clown. I wondered why none of the makeup I was putting on my face was looking right. I then watched a tutorial by NikkieTutorials (I don’t remember which one but all her videos are BOMB!) where she said to hold your brush towards the back end and lightly blend the colors, starting with very little color and building on it. This totally changed the game for me! It makes sense; if you go into your product heavily with your brush and are just as heavy when you apply it to your face, it’s going to look harsh. Use a light hand, and build up the color to your liking.
Set your makeup
For me, it’s so important that my makeup has staying power. I put work and time into my looks; I don’t want my makeup fading after a couple hours! Setting my foundation solved that problem for me. I don’t necessarily mean baking either. Simply use a powder brush to buff or a beauty blender to press powder (lightly) into the skin after you apply foundation. This will help set the foundation so it won’t move around. It’s also a good idea to use a fixing spray after your finish your entire makeup look. If you’re going to be out all day, it’s especially important to use a setting spray like the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray to really make your makeup stay (up to 16 hours for this spray!). Setting sprays also help curb transfer and oxidation.
Most of these tips won’t really make or break a makeup look, but the devil is in the details. The small, detail-driven tips were the ones I looked for when I was just starting out with makeup. At the end of the day, it’s really about growth. I wanted to hone my skills as a girl who loves makeup and I hope this information make you want to do that too. There are many other ways to improve your makeup skills; do you have any others you want to share? What were some of your most embarrassing makeup slip-ups? Sound off in the comments below.
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Alicia Nicole xo