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Friday, November 2, 2012

The Organized Makeup Applier

A real hardcore minimalist may think I'm crazy if they read this article. I apply minimalism to a lot of things in my life, I promise. But makeup isn't one of them. However, I have a list of what I use every single day, I buy only what's on that list & I don't own loads of makeup that's unneeded. I throw out every single product that's gotten old, is not the right color for me anymore or is used up immediately. I keep an organized makeup bag. Anyway, I have no idea if "applier" is a real word- but it should be! For those who don't know me personally, I am a makeup junkie. Ask my friends. I've worn it since I was ten years old. My mother has never had to tell me, "Go wash that off." For some reason, I took to applying makeup like a duck to water. I'm not one of those women reapplying it in a restaurant or anything (I am a Southerner after all and that was taught to me as a no-no for a lady!) But before I go out, more often than not, I want my makeup fully & as flawlessly-as-possible put on. I got one of those faces that lucked out in the good makeup display department, but I assure you I did NOT get a body that displays clothing equally so well, so I take full advantage of my face being my canvas! Some people on the simplicity path will tell you to ditch the makeup completely. Or you may be one of those people who either don't need it or don't like the feeling of it. Some women just truly don't have the time or inclination to wear it, and that's fine. It's of no interest to you, this post will probably bore you to tears. But for those who wear cosmetics (or have always wanted to) on your face, I'm here to help.

The first thing which you should learn about makeup is proper application technique. Technique is truly what sets classy makeup apart from so-so application, no matter what brand of cosmetics you use. Cost is not always a great indication of how good a product will perform or look. There are superb grocery store picks out there & there are very poor-quality department store products. I'm neither for or against expensive makeup- I only recommend what works for me after over two decades of trying out virtually every brand on the market in both realms (grocery & department store). For example, I've used $40 eye shadow quads that appear exactly the same as $5 ones in the container, and the wear is usually about the same. Eyelids prepped with foundation & pressed power will hold on to eyeshadow much better than bare lids, especially for those with oily skin. Again, it's often the prep work & technique that sets apart makeup longevity, not the product itself. Regardless of how long one has been applying makeup, a refresher course never hurts. I re-review technique from time to time myself. There's scores of online & book-based lessons on makeup out there. But as a rule they tend to be for applying one aspect or technique of makeup at a time. I want you to start with the basics, from foundation on up to mascara application. The classic techniques used over & over again in magazine covers, photo shoots & more are the first to learn. Trust me, when those are mastered, the most complex eye design becomes doable. You can build on these techniques, even developing your own fresh ones to create your best look. The best tutorial on classic & thorough makeup technique that I've ever found is in the link below. It is from Paula Begoun & it's appropriately called "Makeup Application Step-by-Step". I've watched it several times. Even being the makeup hound that I am, I learned a lot from watching it a few times the whole way through.

"Full makeup" application can take up to thirty minutes, until you get the hang of it. The quickest ways to shave time off of your routine? Apply your products in the same exact order every single time to develop speed. Lay out your makeup in the precise order in which you'll be using them, including the appropriate tools for application. Once you have the proper brushes, products & techniques available and you've mastered using them, it'll take about 15-20 minutes a day to apply. I've gotten it down to sixteen minutes on the nose now. I keep my products laid out in the exact order that I'll be using them in, brushes included. For me, when my face is looking it's best as I go out into the world- or even just spending the day at home- that is the biggest confidence booster ever. I have a philosophy that I attempt to follow every single day: be prepared for any eventuality that can come up. If someone knocks on the door, if I had to go to the emergency room for some reason or had an unexpected item to take outside, I do not want to feel embarrassed about the way that I look. There's nothing simplified or minimalist about feeling like you look frumpy when others see you. Not everyone will share my thoughts or opinion on the subject of makeup & that's perfectly okay. Don't feel that you have to "do it all", though. I like a full makeup look, but sometimes I just don't have the time to apply all of my products. I'll discuss how to modify the routine shortly. But below is a picture of yours truly, after using Paula's techniques for my own makeup application:

What you're seeing here is indeed my natural coloring- medium blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin. I used a berry-colored lipstick & blush here, with a white/cool pink/violet/plum eye shadow quad. Plum-colored eyeliner & black mascara were used in the case, FYI. While I can pull off a variety of different looks, I stay far away from rust, yellow, blue & green eyeshadow shades. Plum, cool/taupe-y browns, pinks, cool or true reds, berries, violet, grey, silver, white- all work well for me. I avoid anything yellow-toned like the plague, as I have a cool pink undertone to my skin. Yellow or orange bases in color make me look sallow & tired. Women with warmer skin, however, can accent blue eyes with a more pumpkin, bronze, ivory, gold or coral tone to their color choices. On the browbone, cool-toned skin looks good with a white, pale lavender, pale grey or pale pink shadow/highlighter (a little shimmer in the formulation can really look nice here, too). Warmer skin which is still light in color looks great with ivory or a very pale yellow as a highlighter shade. Darker skin looks great with a taupe, beige or light brown as a highlighting shade. I absolutely love shimmery bronze, deep cocoa, cobalt or navy blue, violet & black in shadow, liner & mascara on darker skin tones.

When I don't have time for the works, I cut out using concealer, contour, highlighter, lipliner, lipstick, eyeshadow & lower lash liner/mascara. I just use foundation, pressed powder (I hate loose power- it gets everywhere, goes up my nose & if it's dropped is disastrous to deal with), a neutral pink lip gloss, a neutral pink blush, blonde brow filler, dark brown eyeliner on my top lash line & brown mascara on my upper lashes. This is a nice, natural look that is fine for everyday plus still looks polished enough for going out.

Proper skin care is the difference between a smooth canvas & one filled with bumps, crevices & spots. Now, I love Paula's Choice for a number of reasons, especially her Skin Recovery line. I have temperamental skin. I don't get blemishes anymore as a rule, but I'm allergic to a lot of products when applied topically. Bismuth oxychloride is the big one. I didn't realize that I was allergic to this until I tried Bare Escentuals several years ago. It's nice makeup, don't get me wrong, and may be a tad quicker than "old-fashioned" liquid makeup to apply. However, within a day or two of using it, I had breakouts worse than I did as a teenager (which would mean BAD acne). I stopped using it- no further acne problems. I am also allergic or sensitive to most cleansers, serums, many moisturizers & a few toners out there. I am no celebrity endorser (I wish!), but Paula's Choice Skin Recovery keeps my slightly acne-prone, normal-to-dry skin happy. I don't go whole hog; I just use the cleanser, toner & moisturizer. I first use Lumene's Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover to get eyecolor off each night, though. I have drier skin in my T-zone & it's normal in my cheeks- no, I don't have that backwards, my skin's just weird- so a lot of times I just moisturize in the T-zone. I can use an AHA product every other day or a gentle exfoliating scrub daily, but not both. Either one keeps my fair undamaged skin exfoliated. Makeup should be removed every single night, no exceptions. I don't care if you use mineral makeup or not- take the makeup off. Your skin needs to breathe. Your pillowcases don't need to wear makeup. Not removing your makeup means you don't get the chance to remove dead skin cells through proper cleansing & toning. You don't get to reap any cell communication or healing properties your toner & moisturizer can provide. In other words, you're creating the opposite of the smooth canvas I'm talking about. Not removing makeup, even mineral makeup, can cause flaky skin, breakouts, whiteheads, milia, blackheads, cysts, eye infections, sinus flare-ups & allergic reactions. None of those have any place in a simplicity-bound life! Dead skin buildup alone can cause uneven foundation application. It ages you before your time- please, just remove the darn makeup each night!
If your lips are flaky or chapped, apply some unscented lotion to your lips, then take a damp washcloth & scrub the lips lightly in a circular motion until the lotion is removed. Then apply some lip balm to keep them smooth.

I'm always hunting for beauty bargains- but I would advise you not to skimp on your foundation. There are other areas of makeup you can save pennies on, I promise. A big, big advantage to wearing foundation & powder is the sun protection that it offers. I can only speak anecdotally, but I've noticed that the women who consistently wear foundation with SPF keep the brightest, firmest, most beautiful skin the longest (assuming they remove it properly at night & don't have other contributing factors to severe skin aging, like smoking cigarettes). Not wearing sunscreen and/or foundation with SPF 8+ will almost inevitably lead to sun damage in the form of discoloration or brown spots, and is a big factor in whether or not you'll ever develop malignant lesions on the skin due to skin cancer. My Uncle Gene, who served in the Navy during WWII, was forever running off to a dermatologist to get these small brown lesions removed from his forehead & biopsied. Though it wasn't for many years on end like some people, his time on a Naval ship in the harsh sun keeping watch for hours with no sunscreen on came back to haunt him later. And men generally have even thicker skin than women.

I'll be honest...I used to be a makeup snob. I refused to buy drugstore makeup. When you actually study the subject scientifically, though, you realize that a lot of drugstore formulations are no different than the department store ones! The ingredients are often exactly the same upon comparison. The packaging may be different, but the contents are usually just as good. Does it take some hunting? Yes. Thankfully, all of the online reviews throughout the Internet are a godsend & will help you find the very best cosmetics that exist out there. For example, I did not like anything in the Revlon line years ago. However, I gave it another shot about a year ago after reading a lot of positive reviews. I've found their products (which have been reformulated for the better in the last several years) to be pretty good, even above average in some cases. Their brushes have all been excellent- no bristles falling out, they wash & dry well, they look great with their black-and-red theme. I have absolutely no endorsement deals with any company- if I suggest something to your, I promise that it is because I've personally used it & like it.

*A note about the following list- when I say Shade 1, I mean this to be the lightest shade of my eyeshadow quad; Shade 4 is the darkest. An eyeshadow quad is the foolproof way to assure yourself that the eye color design you're applying is in shades which will work together well. Also, I did not build up my brush collection overnight- if you're like me, you'll need to budget it & work your way towards a complete set appropriate for what you apply each day. Don't feel the need to stick to one brand of brushes- some brands simply don't carry the size & shape that you might need. Different nationalities of women may need different-sized or -shaped brushes than what I own, especially when it comes to eye brushes, as eye shape obviously varies drastically from woman to woman.*

My makeup tool & brush essentials, in order of use:
A box of facial tissues (use for wiping off excess makeup from your brushes every single time you use them)
Swisspers Cosmetic Wedges (for applying my foundation)
Revlon Concealer Brush
Revlon Covered Lip Brush
Bare Escentuals Angled Cheek Brush (for applying contour- I use a matte, taupe-brown bronzer)
Revlon Blush Brush
Laura Mercier Brow Grooming Brush
Revlon Double-Sided Eye Brush (one side, which has firm, angled bristles, is what I use for applying potted eyebrow color; the other side is a very small, rounded brush perfect for applying Shade 4 of my eyeshadow quad)
Bare Escentuals Concealer Brush (I use this for applying Shade 1 of my eyeshadow quad, which goes on my browbone & lid)
Revlon Crease Brush (for applying Shade 2 of my eyeshadow quad)
Estee Lauder Eye Brush (for applying Shade 3 of my eyeshadow quad)
Revlon Eyelash Curler

My makeup essentials, in order of use (please adjust what you use to your own skin tone & preference):
Revlon Colorstay for Normal/Dry Skin in "Ivory 110"
Revlon PhotoReady [stick] Concealer in "Fair"
If you like to use a highlighter on your browbone, bridge of the news, around the eyes and/or on the top of your cheekbones (and I do, because I have dark circles around my eyes & cheekbones that aren't prominent): Revlon PhotoReady Eye Primer + Brightener
Revlon Colorstay Translucent Pressed Powder
Revlon Pressed Powder Compact Bronzer in "Sunkissed Bronze" (This is used as my contour, not like a bronzer; when you use a bronzer as contour, make sure you choose a matte formulation! Some people prefer to apply bronzer over areas where the sun naturally hits. I think this is fine, but my skin is so pale that I look a little weird if I apply bronzer like that. It's just a personal choice. In either case, bronzer is completely optional.)
Revlon Powder Blush- Matte in "Blushing Berry 002"
Physicians Formula Mineral Glow (if you like a powder highlighter instead of or to be used on top of a liquid highlighter)
Revlon Colorstay [Lip] Liner in "Blush"
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick- Creme in "Rose Velvet"
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in "Pink Whisper"
Laura Mercier Brow Definer in "Fair" (which is best for medium-to-dark blonde, red or auburn eyebrows) (A good grocery store alternative is Revlon Brow Fantasy Pencil & Gel in "Dark Blonde 104")
For a neutral-to-warm color palette: Physicians Formula Matte Collection Quad Eye Shadow in "Canyon Classics" (the older you get, the more matte shadows look best, as they don't emphasize lines & wrinkles as much)
For a cool eye color palette: L'Oreal Studio Secrets Smokes Quad Eyeshadow
For a neutral-to-warm color palette: Physicians Formula Eye Definer Automatic Eye Pencil in "Taupe" (for my lower lash line)
For a cool eye color palette: Physicians Formula Eye Definer Automatic Eye Pencil in "Charcoal Grey"
For a neutral-to-warm color palette: Physicians Formula Eye Definer Automatic Eye Pencil in "Dark Brown" (for my top lash line)
For a cool eye color palette: Physicians Formula Eye Definer Automatic Eye Pencil in "Ultra Black"
For a neutral-to-warm color palette: Lancome Defincils High Definition Mascara in "Brown" (a good grocery store alternative is CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara in "Brown 815")
For a cool eye color palette: Revlon Lash Fantasy Total Definition Mascara in "Black" (I like this product because it has a lash primer. Lash primers are awesome for making lashes look longer & fuller. A tip: Lancome's Lash Primer is AWESOME. If you can afford it, I highly recommend buying that product. My mom adores it because her lashes have gotten finer, shorter & lighter with age. I have nice lashes naturally [thanks to good genes], but they're light blonde at the tips, so I need lots of color & lengthening in my mascara.)

Here's to being a beautiful organized minimalist,

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