Put Some Pants On! Selecting and Applying Makeup


Makeup is pants for the face. Some people believe that leaving the house without makeup is like going out in public without pants. According to these people, I’ve been leaving the house with very little or no face pants (makeup) for most of my adult life.   That will change soon. I’m a full-grown, blogging woman. I need makeup!

However, I haven’t bought “real” makeup for years. When I was in middle school and high school I loved experimenting with makeup, but I made lots of mistakes. (Who hasn’t?) To avoid these mistakes in my adult life, I’ve just limited myself to some face powder, a lipstick, some eye shadow, and blush. However, I feel like my face needs some more “life.” Not too much. Just a bit more—a “refresh” perhaps. So, I went to Clinique’s makeup counter in Bellevue, Washington over the weekend to buy actual makeup and learn some tips. Fasten your belt buckles then, as I take you through the steps I followed for selecting and applying makeup.

Step one: Called my brother. My brother (Vince McGinniss) is not my doctor, but he is a doctor who specializes in facial plastic surgery. While he does not consider himself an expert on makeup, he was able to give me a source he keeps on hand for work. It’s The Original Beauty Bible: Skin-Care Facts for Ageless Beauty by Paula Begoun. Begoun studied science at Northeastern University and moved to Washington, D.C. to become a professional makeup artist and esthetician. Later, she moved to the state of Washington and set up a cosmetics store in Seattle in the early 1980s. While in Seattle, she often appeared on the local KIRO-TV station as a “beauty” feature reporter. She is sometimes known as the “cosmetics cop” who has lots of good, basic advice for selecting and applying makeup properly.   My brother graciously lent me his 2009 edition of this book.

According to Begoun, the first step to applying any makeup is to use a good skin care routine. I already have one I like, thanks to a yearly dermatologist visit. So, I was already set when I approached the Clinique counter at Macy’s Department Store in Bellevue.

Step two: Selected a foundation. “Ruddy pumpkin,” applied in a circular motion for an oh-so-attractive “streaky” effect, was not what I was looking for. Yet, whenever I’ve selected and applied foundation, this is what I’ve always ended up with.

Perhaps I’ve never selected the right shade. Begoun insists that, “your skin and foundation should match exactly.” Yet, even when I think I’ve found the right shade, my skin turns orange. According to makeup artist Benjamin Puckey, in an article by Philip Picardi on the Refinery29 website (Feb. 21, 2015), makeup can “oxidize” when it mixes with the oils on your skin. So, if you are wearing foundation and you need to re-touch, you could blot the oil on your skin with a tissue first and apply a translucent powder that won’t add any more color to the foundation. How much oil is in your skin could determine whether or not your perfect foundation shade will oxidize (turn orange) throughout the day. In other words, when selecting a foundation, it is important to keep in mind: 1) your skin type and 2) your skin tone.

I knew I’d need a lot of help with this step, so I sat down at the Clinique counter and waited for a beauty advisor. Within just a few minutes, Atousa Rahbar walked over wearing a white lab coat. Her beautiful complexion glowed and her makeup was exquisitely applied.

“If I look half as good as she does, by the time she is done with me, I’ll be very happy,” I thought.

First, Rahbar determined my skin type and color. I know, from dermatologist visits that my skin type is “combination.” So, she selected a “dry combination to oil” foundation for my skin. Next, she identified my skin tone. According to Begoun skin tones come in “olive,” “sallow,” and “ruddy.” Olive skin tones can be green in color, sallow are yellow, and ruddy skin tones are pink or red. I’m assuming I’m “ruddy.” So, we selected from some of the more pale shades displayed on the counter. Begoun recommends going to a cosmetics counter to test several shades. Rahbar chose three bottles in similar shades—varying only by slight degrees. We found one that absolutely matched!

Rahbar, my brother, and Begoun all suggest makeup foundations that include an SPF15 in them to protect the skin. The foundation Rahbar selected for me fit that description perfectly.

Step Three: Selected and applied concealer.   According to Begoun, the “classic” look consists of concealer, foundation, powder, (contouring or highlighting features/areas of the face—which is optional), blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara (if needed), lip liner (optional), and lipstick. The concealer should “offset the natural shadows that occur under the eyes,” according to Begoun. She also suggests going a shade or two lighter, which is what Rahbar selected for me.

I always thought it was a good idea to smear a large amount of concealer right under both eyes. However, Rahbar applied it a little less liberally, right below the eye. I was very impressed with the results.

Step Four: Applied the foundation. Begoun and Rahbar both caution about applying too much makeup.

“Makeup is for beauty,” Rahbar reminded me. In other words, it doesn’t have to be a mask. Indeed, Begoun echoes this sentiment: “The face should never look like it has a layer of foundation on it.”

For this reason, Rahbar just selected a few areas to place the foundation in small amounts. She explained that she would apply and blend right away so that the makeup wouldn’t have time to dry or harden. So, she began with the center of my face near the cheeks and applied a small amount of the foundation. Then, she blended it with a brush before proceeding to the forehead and other parts of my face. It hardly felt like I was wearing makeup at all. The effect was smoother. She simply evened out my complexion.

There is one disadvantage to this method, which Begoun recognizes: You might not get the full effect of the SPF15. So, Begoun suggests using sunscreen on the face first and then applying the foundation. Once we were done, Rahbar could apply a bit of loose powder to reduce the shine. (I’m very shiny.)

Step Five: Selected and applied blush. Rahbar helped me select a “berry delight” powder blush. She also showed me how to apply it to the “apple” of the cheek and just under the cheekbone. Smiling first helps with placement.

Step Six: Selected and applied eye shadow. Rahbar asked if I wanted a shiny or matte finish. As mentioned before, I’m already shiny, so I chose a matte finish. The “pink chocolate” palate, for me, held many lighter and darker options that I could use during the day. Begoun suggests applying the lighter shade on the eyelids or the entire eye. Rahbar, in fact, applied the lightest shade to the entire eyelid. She actually ended up using about four different colors on my eyes, which surprised me. I had previously only used a darker shade towards the bottom of my lid and a lighter shade on top. There are actually many other areas of the eye that can be shaded. The darkest shade can go towards the bottom and near the creases, to make a kind of “V” shape on the outside of the lid. Rahbar was able to use all of these colors deftly, in my opinion, without making my eyes look too made up. In fact, Begoun cautions, “Eyeshadows are called shadows for a reason—they build shape, movement, and interest via shading, not color.”

Step Seven: Selected and applied eyeliner. I thought all eyeliner was one color: black. However, there are shades of brown and violet that look quite stunning once applied. I decided to try a darker eyeliner color that had a hint of violet. Rahbar’s lines above and below the eyes were somewhat subtle. My application of eyeliner has never been subtle or “steady,” which is why I’ve always avoided eyeliner. However, a couple of videos online have given me hope: 1) Real Simple’s video by Kris Connel. In this video, the makeup artist demonstrates how to sharpen the eyeliner pencil to eliminate bacteria and how to hold the eye taut when applying the eyeliner. Next, she makes dots along the lashes and blends with eye shadow and an angled brush. 2) Clinique’s brief video for applying eyeliner. In this video, a makeup artist demonstrates how to use quick, short strokes just right near the lashes.

Step Eight: Applied mascara. I’ve always liked dark, classic mascara, which is what Rahbar used. And she really got in there! Don’t be afraid to get right under those lashes and pull upwards with the mascara brush. I had just been daintily painting my lashes, but Rahbar really got that color in and lifted and separated the lashes as she pulled the brush through. I really liked the effect.

Step Nine:   Selected and applied a lipstick. Rahbar chose another berry color to complement the blush. She somewhat lined my lips with the lipstick and then filled in as she went along.

Impressive! I was happy with the results and I didn’t feel too made up. It just felt like I had put my big girl pants on for once before going out.


Your Turn: What are your makeup nightmares, successes, and/or tips? Feel free to share!

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