I often post about how products perform and what’s in them but I’ve never divulged my top secrets I’ve learned over the years! This post is detailed and picture heavy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Diet and Skincare
I cannot stress it enough, what you put into your body has a direct affect on your appearance. Having a balanced and colorful diet makes all the difference in the world. Also staying hydrated (eyeroll, I know everyone says it) makes a huge difference in your skin – literally making it glow and reducing dark under eye circles!
I never go to bed with makeup on, and I make sure to properly cleanse and moisturize my face every day. Exfoliate gently and regularly without over exfoliating. Once a week is sufficient for me, but depending on your skin you may need more or less. I typically use a wash cloth and gently buff my face, but occasionally I’ll make a sugar scrub with coconut oil if I’ve been particularly dry or rough. Doing these things helps my skin stay in top shape making my makeup application much easier!
Clean your brushes frequently! Dirty brushes transfer bacteria and oil which can cause breakouts, and they have leftover pigment which makes for muddy looking colors. I usually clean all my brushes once per week (any brushes with heavy pigment build up and foundation brushes usually 2x) with castile soap: simply squirt a little into your hand, run your brush under warm water, then scrub into the castile soap. Rinse and repeat until the water runs clear. Lay flat on a towel to dry overnight.
Hydrated skin receives makeup better. I always start by hydrating my skin with something light; typically a hydrating mist and lightweight cream allowing them to sink in before I dive into the rest of my routine. I save my heavy oil moisturizers for night time only so my foundation and skin products don’t separate on my face.
Using a primer prevents my face from getting too shiny throughout the day and locks my makeup in place. I also prep my eyelids with a cream foundation and then powder over top to help my eyeshadows adhere better and to cancel out any purple or bluish veins. Powdering my eyelids before I apply eyeshadow also helps reduce mascara transfer on my brow bone as it absorbs oils.
When choosing product finishes, you always want to take into account your skin type (dry, oily, combination) and desired finish (dewy, semi-matte, matte). Because my skin type is more combination, I find that semi-matte to matte finishes tend to work well for me. Also, if you have the option to try a sample of a foundation before committing to a full size I highly recommend it. Sometimes foundations oxidize over the course of the day and can look like a different shade a few hours later. Other times formulas won’t work with your skin and will make your skin look flaky, accentuate pores, or look greasy.
If you’re on the drier side, dewy and creamy finishes can balance out your skin and keep it hydrated. I use more hydrating formulas in cooler months and climates so my skin doesn’t dry out: think serum foundations, cream foundations, tinted moisturizers.
If you’ve covered acne marks on your cheeks with foundation or concealer, powder blushes/bronzers are less likely to lift off your base the way that creams/liquids can when blending.
Dark eyeshadows can make great (and forgiving) eyeliners. Not to mention, they can be pressed into the lash line so you don’t have a gap between the liner and your lashes! No gap=thicker looking lashes.
I’m going to do a side by side comparison of techniques. The left side will be the way I used to do things vs. the right, the way I do my makeup now!
I will use all the same products on both sides to show how application techniques can change the overall look. I used everything pictured below, sticking with classic neutrals and a little bit of pink on the lips and cheeks. (Full product list at the end).
Using the right tools for the job is so important! Some formulas, whether they are foundations, cheek colors, or eyeshadows perform better with something other than a brush (i.e. clean fingertips to warm the product or a sponge). I often swatch a little bit of whatever I’m working with on the back of my hand and test different tools to see how they apply the product before applying to my face.
When applying foundation, I always work from the center of my face where I typically need more coverage, and sheer out the product towards the edges of my face. This helps avoid any lines of demarcation as well as the dreaded ‘mask look’. I usually have very little product that needs to be blended down my neck when applying this way.
Concealer has a more brightening and natural effect when applied in a triangular shape rather than following the actual shape of undereye circles. I also apply it to my eyelids to eliminate any discoloration, as well as create a canvas that my eyeshadow will stick to.
I always set my t-zone with powder (regardless of the foundation finish) so I don’t look too balmy as the day goes on. Doing this also makes my makeup last longer and not separate where I get oily. I typically leave the edges of my face un-powdered; having a little glow looks more natural.
Concentrate highlighter to the top of cheekbones; if it is too low, it will often accentuate pores on the cheeks making them look larger. You can also fake a more sculpted face by placing your contour shades a little higher than where your natural hollow is. I do this all the time because my face is round; if I blend where my natural hollow is my face look fuller and heavier.
Left: following my natural cheek hollow, vs. right, slightly above.
To show the difference placement makes with contour, blush (which I went heavy handed on the left), and highlight…notice how much heavier my face looks on the left compared to the right!
Like I mentioned, highlighter placed too low will accentuate pores.
When applying eyeshadows, I press them onto my eyelid and then gently buff once I’m happy with the coverage rather than using a wiping motion to apply. Using a side to side wiping motion tends to throw the product rather than concentrating it where you want it. Also, a general rule of thumb is using smaller brushes for darker eyeshadows and pigments so you have more precision. You want to leave room for blending, especially because dark shadows need room to transition and soften out.
I used the exact same colors on both sides, but on the left I used a larger brush for the darker outer corner vs. a smaller, more controlled brush on the right. Notice on the left how the shadow travels down and out as opposed to in an uplifted shape on the right. Because I have a deep set crease, I place my crease color while my eyes are open; if I do it while my eyes are closed and follow the natural crease, the color isn’t as visible when I open my eyes.
For everyday eyeshadow wear, typically I do my face makeup first and then move on to my eyes, using a fluffy blending brush for soft, quick color application. If I’m doing a dark, dramatic eye look, I wait to apply my foundation until after I finish my eyes so I can clean up shadow fallout. There’s nothing sadder than wiping off your base and starting over because you have giant, dark smudges everywhere that can’t be buffed out!
Eyeliner brushes are fantastic for working the liner into the lash line. Sometimes I’ll swipe on a pencil liner and use a brush to push the product down into my lashes. You can even run the brush over the tip of a pencil and apply more product that way.
Notice on the left, the little gap between the liner and my lashes compared to the right where you don’t see skin. I simply used an eyeliner brush to push the product down into my lashes and fill in any gaps!
Now here’s where things get controversial: eyebrows. Everyone has a different preference for their eyebrows, and if we’re being honest, trends change. I once had uber thin brows (we’re talking like 2 hairs thick) and thankfully they grew back! I used to make the corners super boxy with product. I also went through a phase where I used nothing but brow gel.
Now I’m embracing my brows just as they are, shaping as needed with tweezers and filling in sparse areas with product. I typically apply pomade raking it through my brows with a spoolie, and using a small angled brush for a little more definition through the arch and tail end of my brows. I’ve found my natural brow shape to be the most flattering – not to mention the easiest to maintain!
Left: super sculpted vs. Right: natural and fluffy
When it comes to lashes, I am a firm believer in curling them prior to mascara application as well as really getting in there with the wand! I always work from the roots of my lashes, wiggling the brush as I make my way to the tips of my lashes as opposed to just flicking the mascara on.
Left: just brushed on quickly. Right: wiggled from root to tip after curling. Two coats on each eye. Notice how much longer and fuller the lashes on the right are!
And lastly, let’s talk about lips. Overlining has been the hot topic lately, but I often see the opposite as well…underlining! Take full advantage of your lips and don’t skip out on utilizing their full potential.
Left: underlined, thinner looking. Right: covering the entire lip, much fuller looking!
And just to show a final comparison between techniques…
Don’t be afraid to try shades that seem ‘scary’; at the end of the day if you don’t like it, you can always wipe it off. Push yourself to try new things (I recommend doing this on days you aren’t doing anything important) – you might find something you really like! It’s just makeup.
You have to know the rules to break them: sometimes using shades that are opposite of ‘complimentary’ for your skin tone can actually pop and stand out in the best kind of way.
When in doubt, blend it out.
If you like wearing a little makeup, wear just enough. If you love to load it on and are all about glitz and glam, go for it! Do what feels fun to you! Makeup is about feeling more confident in your own skin; don’t use it to impress other people. Let it be art that pleases YOU. If you’re wearing it for you, it will never be too much or too little: it will compliment exactly who you are.
Full product list:
Plume Science Brow Pomade in Autumn Sunset* (code WHOLLY30 will save at checkout)