As seen on the streets of Toronto...
I'm no beauty expert by any stretch. Heck, sometimes I shouldn't be allowed to do my own make-up. But there are a few beauty tragedies I've seen (and done myself), and they should be avoided at all costs. Most of the time, it's simply a case of application, which can be eradicated quite easily. Here are some common blunders:
There are no fast and hard rules about make-up, but there are limits to what it can do for you. Remember, start off light and adjust accordingly so any slip-ups can be easily fixed. (This tidbit I had to learn the hard way.) But the best trick is saved for last: just experiment and have fun with it. C.Ho.
Don't overblush! Always apply blush to contour.
- Blush is not literally meant to make you blush. Blush is hard to apply. It just is. I won't lie - I hardly ever wear blush, and it's usually when I'm getting made up by a professional who can expertly wield the puffy brush. (Another off-topic big no-no is not taking care of make-up brushes. You can buy brush-cleaning tonics to de-germ the brushes. Too many germs and caked-on make-up can lead to rashes and breakouts.) I've seen women over-apply the blush or choose a shade that's wrong for their skin tone. Best bet is to go to a make-up counter to get advice on colour; I recommend MAC whenever you're not sure about something. To apply, don't put it on the apple of your cheeks. This gives you a porcelain doll look that is rarely natural. Suck in your cheeks and apply blush underneath the cheekbone. Remember, blush is not only for colour, it's also for contour.
- Eyeliner is for accentuating, not colouring. In high school, I had a friend who wore a thick line of black on her eye. I'd watch her do her make-up in the mornings, and she'd draw in another eye. And just last week, I saw a woman who wore a two-inch thick silver line over her eye. This actually makes your eye look smaller than it actually is. As for the "almond-shaped" look that you might want create with the eyeliner, simply draw a thin line, keeping close to your eyelashes, and flip at the corner of your eye, keeping the line uniform. There is no need to go all out. As well, drawing such thick lines will inevitably lead to the eyeliner smudging over your eye whenever you blink. (To avoid this, which happens to me all the time regardless of how little eyeliner I apply, try using a setting powder to sop up some eyeliner grease.)
- Foundation cakes. And cracks. And leaves horrible lines around the eye and mouth. Use foundation sparingly unless you're going to a photo shoot. Setting powder will make sure that it stays in place. If you're using concealer, dab a tiny bit on the end of a brush and blend, blend, blend. (Choose a concealer with yellow undertones to combat the redness.) Concealer should be used after foundation, not before. Another ghastly misuse of foundation is using it for the face only. Yes, it is a product designed to be used on the face, but because your head is not just floating in space and is, in fact, connected to your neck, you will need to blend it all the way down. If your face is white and your neck is not, then the cat's out of the bag.
- Long nails are better suited for Catwoman. There is nothing inherently wrong with having long nails; long nails can elongate fingers for a more feminine look. But if you're constantly jabbing your eye with them, it's time to give them a trim. Similarly, having a broken nail doesn't necessarily mean that the rest of the long nails will hide it. If you can't live with boyishly short fingernails, try a classic French manicure with short to mid-length nails.
- Mistaking day for night. Daytime light is different from artificial nighttime light, so wear make-up accordingly. I find daytime light unforgiving, so perhaps skipping the full-blown make-up routine is recommended. Go light on the eyes and lips. If you want to switch it up, go for a dramatic look at night. But choose one focal point only. For instance, if you want to wear dark lipstick, go light on the eyes, and if you want to wear dark shadow, choose a pale lipstick and blush. Too much going on the face at once will take away from the overall effect.
If you find yourself sporting this look in the day, and it's not because you forgot to take off last night's make-up, it's time to switch your make-up routine.
- Opening up small eyes does not mean using more make-up. Like blush, the trick is to contour the eye, not hide it under a pile of make-up (trust me, I know from experience). To open up the eye, choose a light base and a complimentary dark shadow for the crease of the eyelid. Layering the two colours will give the effect of depth, and depending on where you want the crease to be shaded in, you'll also make the eyelid appear bigger. Use mascara, but go for a light colour (used sparingly), and always remember to curl those eyelashes accordingly. Also, never use eyeliner on the bottom lashes. You want bigger eyes, not first place at a Tammy Faye look-alike contest.
- Lip liner is figuratively called a "liner." Which means that you should use it to line your lips, not to create a whole new line on your face. When I was a teenager, a new make-up trend was wearing a dark-coloured lip liner, like wine, with a light lipstick, like pink. I still shudder at the thought, and even though this make-up routine is not generally accepted anymore, some women still don't quite match it up. Again, the mismatched effect does nothing but make the lips appear smaller. Always choose a lip liner that blends easily with your lipstick of choice. This doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be the exact colour, but it should stay well within the colour family (for example, a wine-coloured lip liner works well with lipsticks that are reddish-brown in tone). Whether you line your lips before or after applying lipstick, use a brush to make sure that the lipstick and liner become uniform. (Lipstick brushes are also quite handy because they actually make lipstick last longer and less likely to run off on you in the middle of the day.) To lighten a lipstick colour, you can simply use a clear lip-gloss or balm, but be wary because this can make the lipstick gooey. For extra staying power, use lip liner underneath lipstick. Use this trick with caution - I've tried it and it can make your lips more dry and caked than without.
- Lipstick goes on the lips, not the teeth. While I was watching this summer's "Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back" (yes, I watched it, leave me be), I noticed that the poor woman that all the Average Joes were vying for had lipstick on her teeth. Since she was sitting on the beach, having a heart-to-heart with her mom, it was not the crucial point of the scene. Regardless of the show, this was probably a case of too much lipstick that wandered away from the lips. To make sure that the next time you're having a heart-to-heart with your mother your lipstick stays where it should, make sure to blot lipstick once you've put it on. For extra measure, say "oh," take your index finger, and stick it in your mouth. When you pull it out, all the potentially errant lipstick will be gone.
- Getting a tan is not the way to go. Seriously. If you want more colour, try a self-tanner. It's easier on the skin and has a lesser chance of giving you skin cancer, which is to say, no chance at all. Unless you're going to a tanning bed monitored carefully by its attendants, it's probable that the hours in the sun are going to give you weird and uneven tones. Especially if you wear sunglasses - then chances are you'll get the Simon Cowell/raccoon effect, which is a pain to even out without resorting to tons of foundation. To protect yourself from the harsh rays, wear a trendy wire-brimmed hat and some nice aviator sunglasses, and always remember to use facial products that contain SPF - level 15 the least.
- Coloured contacts should "naturally" enhance the eyes, not make you look freaky. Everyone can and should wear coloured contacts because they're kind of fabulous and fun, but not everyone will be able mix-and-match as they please. When choosing contacts, be wary of choosing the right shade to complement your skin tone. Something that doesn't balance will result in a washed out look (again, speaking from experience), an I-just-got-high look, or a crazed killer look. To make sure you're choosing wisely, bring an (honest) friend along, and try not to go one or two hues lighter than your natural eye colour.