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Friday, November 9, 2012

My Favorite Subject Again-Color

“It is important to be chic.” Roberto Cavalli

I guess that's what I mean when I say you should wear colors and design lines that flatter you, right? Mr. Cavalli says it more eloquently than I do. Anyway, the next logical step after last weeks blog about foundation would be about adding color....

Remember when you determined first shade and then undertone for your foundation color? You may have found that the undertone that works for your foundation is 'warm,' (which also means the colors you'll wear in terms of makeup will be warm) and yet you know you need to wear 'cool' colors in your clothing.  Or vice versa.  No, you've not made a mistake- and this isn't unusual. Yes, this means you won't exactly 'match' your makeup colors with your clothing colors, (as in matching red lipstick with red dress) but it may mean you'll create even more interesting combinations because you may have to get more creative.  Or maybe your makeup and clothing are in the same family- if so, there's still good information here on getting creative. 

I've suggested this before: if you haven't already, then go to your local art supply store and get yourself a color wheel. In my July 20, 'Colorful Perspective' blog I wrote about using your color wheel to choose makeup colors to wear with your clothing, or just how to combine colors for makeup. You can go to look at this blog to review or learn about different, classic color combinations- complimentary, split complimentary, and triad. Don't forget you can always combine one color with neutrals, as well. (But don't forget to pay attention to whether these neutrals are 'warm' or 'cool.') You can stick with different versions of one color…this is one way to deal with wearing opposite 'families' of makeup vs. clothing; a dress in a cool red, and a lipstick in a warm red, for example. I have this green dress I love; I look at the color wheel, and the split complimentary combination for that is green, red-orange and red-violet. I wear a pale, coppery lipstick (red-orange) and coppery-bronzy and brown eyeshadow (still in the red-orange family, the brown is a warm neutral) and often add in a warm, plum purple eyeliner (there's your red-violet.) I may skip the purple- you don't have to use all the colors in the split complimentary or triadic, just use it as a general guide.  Now, remember- with each color there are often very subtle variations that mean the difference between 'cool' and 'warm.' This green dress is a deep, cool forest green. And it's beautiful with the pale, warm copper. But let's say I wear warm clothes and cool makeup; I could make the dress a deep, warm green, and the lipstick a cool red-violet and probably skip the red orange altogether.  Or do a red-orange dress with the cool red-violet lipstick and a deep green and purple (from the red-violet) eye makeup combination…you get the idea. Work that color wheel!  If you do you'll find you come up with combinations you might not have thought of before that are really quite beautiful. One thing I've found is that I find combinations that I stick with- the 'copper' one, for example. I also like red lips and a neutral/pale brown eye makeup. (That's actually a standard classic.) Then there's my (warm) pink lip with gold/copper eye makeup, purple eye makeup with copper lip, and so on…and because I know my best clothing colors, and have chosen a small handful of these colors to stick with within my wardrobe, it's easy to decide which makeup 'palette' to wear with a given outfit. 

Ok, last notations here; you know how I'm always going on about how much contrast and intensity you should be wearing in your clothes? Well, same goes for makeup. Generally speaking, that is. (More on that later.) 

Whether you wear cool or warm clothes and cool or warm makeup- across the board, you have to stick with the contrast and intensity in your coloring or you won't look your very best.  If you have a big difference in how light or dark your hair, eyes and skin are, then you're high contrast. (Platinum hair,  black eyes and skin, or black hair, pale blue eyes and alabaster skin, for example.) If you have very little difference, then you're low contrast. (pale blond with alabaster skin and light eyes, or black hair, dark skin and eyes.) Whatever your contrast is, that's pretty much what your clothing and makeup should also be. Meaning, if you're low contrast, don't wear a dress with a bold, geometric black and white pattern. If you're high contrast, don't wear a pale blue, tiny, calico pattern.  If you are high contrast and wear too little contrast, you make yourself look drab. If you're low contrast and wear too much contrast, your clothes and makeup will wear you.  Now: intensity- however bright your coloring is is also how bright your clothing and makeup should be. No brighter (again, in general) or it'll wear you. Or- too dull and you again make yourself look drab.  When it comes to your makeup, you'll see right away if a color is too 'sharp' for you, or is too 'dull.' If it's too sharp (too intense) it will look harsh on you. If it's dull (too muted) it may almost be invisible on you. 

The preceding are all general rules; now lets get down to breaking those rules. Lets say you have low contrast/low intensity coloring, and yet you love to wear brilliant red lipstick every day. You have to find a lipstick that's firmly in the proper 'family' (warm or cool) for you, and in my experience, it has to be exactly bright enough and no brighter. Keep in mind that what looks bright on someone with muted coloring might be verging on muted for someone with high contrast coloring. And you may find you need to experiment fairly extensively with eye makeup - you may need to stick with pretty neutral, understated eye makeup, or you may have to do a black (or close to) eyeliner and heavier mascara to pull the whole look off. Either way, it's going to be a 'stronger' look in terms of makeup.  But that's the great thing about makeup- you can create illusions and make adjustments to what nature provided you with.  You can express your love of a more glamorous, femme-fatal look, or create an illusory 'no-makeup' makeup look. You can sometimes use your makeup to help you wear a color or look in clothing that you might not be able to without makeup. If you're clever about it you can make yourself look like you have more contrast in your coloring, push the 'intensity' of your natural coloring, and so on. 

That's the beauty of makeup. 

And on that note- I'm going to take a little break from my blog for the next few weeks for the holidays- I'll be back the first week of January….:-)

Happy Dressing!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pretty Is As Pretty Does II

“A girl should be two things, classy and fabulous.” ~ Coco Chanel

So now your face is clean and moisturized, all ready for makeup. You've already determined your skin type, so you know if you want an oil or water based foundation- next you need to determine what type of foundation you'd like to use. The most common are cream, liquid or powder.  Cream foundation is moisturizing- good for normal to dry skin. Liquid is probably the most popular, and is made in a huge variety of formulas- oil or water-based, sheer or heavy. I'd guess there's a formula for every skin type and preference.  There's also pressed powder foundation. Powder foundation by itself is good for normal to oily skin, and also has the advantage of being useful to set your liquid or cream foundation if you'd like a little more coverage.  Your choice will depend on personal preference and how well your makeup wears over the course of the day.  If you like a sheerer look you'll probably go with a liquid foundation or even tinted moisturizer; with a liquid you have the option of sheering it down with moisturizer or primer. This gives you more options- you can choose a slightly heavier liquid foundation and apply it more heavily where you'd like, and sheer it down where you need less coverage.  

If you haven't already or are unsure about this, you need to determine your proper color foundation. Head out to your local mall or beauty supply store (with no makeup on, please) and plan on spending some time on this. You need to get this just right. If you don't, then I promise you nothing else you add will work.  Also, be picky about what you choose- like I said, it seems like there are an infinite number of liquid foundations out there, so if it's liquid you want there's bound to be one that seems to melt into your skin and make it look perfect. It may take time, but it's worth it.  And you'd be surprised how many stores will take returns on makeup- often big name department stores are very obliging about it all. So there's very little risk involved- just the investment of your time. Be sure to ask what their return policy is, and even write it on the receipt if you have a crappy memory like me. :-)

First you'll start with shade- this is how light or dark your foundation should be. Pick ones that you think are close, and put small-ish stripes of each down the side of your cheek crossing the jawline. With a little trial and error you should be able to tell right away which ones are the closest match to your skin.  You can also mix two shades to get a more exact match.  Remember- at this point we're only looking to find the proper shade.

Now we get to undertone- this means 'rosy' (cool or 'blue') or 'olive' (warm or 'yellow') or even neutral (between the other two) coloring to your skin.  Pick 'warm' and 'cool' versions of the shade closest to your skin, and again paint a small stripe of each on your jawline. If all has gone as it should, one of these should seem almost invisible on your skin. That's your color. If you have trouble then you may be more neutral than warm or cool. Most cosmetic lines will have a selection of neutrals as well. As with shade you can always mix colors to get a more exact match. But keep in mind that you may get tired of having to mix foundations every morning….

Application can be done with the same tools you used to apply moisturizer and/or primer- the reason being this makes life easier. Each time you use a brush for anything 'wet'- moisturizer, foundation, concealer- it must be washed to prevent potential bacterial growth, so if you use it first for moisturizer, primer and then foundation, you save yourself washing a second brush every day. (Yes, every day.) If you use disposable sponges obviously you'll use half as many. Some people like to keep things simple and use clean fingers- this is fine too. Whatever works for you.  You start in the middle, on the nose,  and work your way out, up and down. For every day wear all you need to do is just enough coverage. Many people don't need coverage anywhere but in the t-zone.  This might be a good place for the saying 'less is more.'  Unless of course it's more your style to do a more dramatic application…and far be it from me to inhibit anyone's personal style. By all means, do your thing!

On to concealer. Some like to put on concealer before foundation; I think it makes more sense to put it on after. The one you put on first is likely to be disturbed by the one you put on top- and where you put concealer is where you want heavier coverage, so to my way of seeing it you're better off finishing with the heavier coverage.  But ultimately it's up to you. Do what you're comfortable with.

Which brings me to the last, and what I consider a truly key step - setting your foundation and concealer with powder before adding your color. This is important because it means when you go to apply color in the form of powder- eyeshadow, blush, contour, highlighter, whatever- all will go on without 'grabbing' to your foundation. It means you have more control and can blend properly. If you've ever had issues with concealer settling into fine lines around the eyes, then try this- immediately after applying your concealer apply a very fine, translucent powder over it, and on your entire eye area, with a small, fluffy brush. I make sure to tap the brush off after dipping in the powder to avoid applying too much. For setting the foundation you can use the same fine translucent powder you used on your concealer and in the eye area, or a regular, tinted face powder, or a pressed powder foundation. Remember back when I talked about how pressed powder foundation can be used to set your foundation?  Well, here's where you'd do that. One nice thing about using powder foundation to set your liquid (or other 'wet') foundation is that you get extra coverage- meaning you may be able to use a lighter application of the liquid foundation and less of the powder to achieve more coverage yet with a more natural look. (Don't ask me how that works, but it does.) 

And here's a final note- if you haven't noticed, there's a hard and fast rule here- liquids, creams and anything with any moisture goes on first.  Once you add powder you shouldn't add anything else with moisture on top- if you do, you risk winding up with a gooey mess. 

Whew! Another looooooong blog….

Happy Dressing!!