How to get a perfect complexion

Most of us don’t have perfect skin so makeup is your best ally for cheating your way to a great, natural-looking complexion. This can however be a daunting task for some of us, but don’t worry; follow these steps and you’ll see…you can do it!

Cleansing and moisturizing

You probably think it’s obvious, but in my line of work, I’ve realized that this is not always so for some of my clients. In fact, I’ve noticed that North American women are not as skin-care conscious as their European counterparts. You’ be surprised to hear that I have lots of clients who come to me saying their skin is terrible and they don’t know why. After asking a few questions, I realise that some have never used a moisturizer in their life, while others wash their face with a bar of soap, use body lotion on their face, apply makeup without using moisturizer first and worst of all, go to bed without taking off their makeup! I’ve seen all these examples many times and that’s why I’m insisting on this point.

Even if you use the world’s best foundation, if you haven’t taken the time to follow basic skin-care like cleansing and hydrating, you can’t hope to get a perfect complexion, far from it.

So begin by cleansing your skin with a gentle cleanser, and then apply a moisturizer that suits your skin type.

Exfoliation can be very useful too. On occasions, I’ve been dissatisfied with the results after making up certain clients. The foundation didn’t adhere properly because of flaky skin on the surface. After exfoliating, the foundation looked much better, as if by magic.

Dead skin on the surface and dry patches look even worse with foundation because it colours them (they’re basically transparent). So exfoliate once or twice a week, you’ll see the difference when applying foundation.

Apply a primer

Makeup artists and beauty advisors are always repeating this: a primer is THE secret to obtaining a perfect complexion..But as this concept is not yet widespread, some people don’t see any reason to spend money on an extra product, especially those on a small budget. But now there are primers available in all price ranges, even as low as 5-6$CA. so there’s no reason to do without.

If you’ve never used one, you may be surprised at the effect, especially those of you with large pores, scars, lines and wrinkles etc.
In fact, what it does is to create a base so the foundation will go on smoothly and blend into the skin easier. You won’t get blotches and this natural, uniform aspect will last longer too. So why not try it?

Choosing the right shade of foundation

It’s important to choose the right shade of foundation for your own skin colour to get a natural look and avoid the mask-like effect. To find out how to choose the right colour, click here.

You’ll never get a natural look from a too-dark foundation or powder. You’ll get streaks, especially if you don’t apply it everywhere. This is particularly true for those who use a foundation that’s too dark, too pink or too orange for their complexion. Ask an experienced saleswoman that you trust to help you choose the right shade.

Use a foundation that’s right for your skin type

Those with dry, dehydrated or mature skin should never use a powder foundation because it won’t look natural. The same goes for liquid or mousse foundations with a matte finish. If you have dry, dehydrated or mature skin, opt for a product with a luminous finish.

For oily or combination skin, you can use the finish of your choice but it won’t necessarily last, and automatically the result won’t be so good. A cream or liquid foundation that’s not designed for your skin type will make your face look shinier, which you really don’t want. What’s more, the product will run and get streaky after a few hours and you’ll end up with a blotchy look. And what if your foundation is too dark as well? Disaster! Nobody wants a face covered with dark blotches of makeup here and there! Those with oily or combination skins should choose a long-lasting balancing foundation with a satin or matte finish.

Choosing a foundation with the right level of coverage

Light foundations with modular application are preferable to those with total or thick coverage. The only people who should pick a heavy foundation are those with port wine stains, major scarring, obvious brown spots, birth marks, post-surgical or post-laser scars, broken capillaries or severe rosacea etc.
But for the majority of us, who may have just a little redness or a few imperfections, it’s always preferable to opt for a light to medium formula with modular application.

Modular means that you can add layers in certain specific areas without it showing. These areas will blend in well and you won’t get streaks.
So, ideally, apply a light base coat (as thin as possible) over the whole face and then add layers by patting on extra product only where needed. More often than not, it’s around the nose, the sides of the nose, the cheeks near the nose, and the chin.

And remember that freckles are sexy! If you try to camouflage your freckles, it won’t look natural because you’re going to need a really heavy foundation. Let them show, it’s very pretty!

Make sure you blend the foundation well into the skin.

The secret to a natural look resides in the way you apply and blend your foundation. If you apply it wrongly, you’ll get the opposite effect.

Start with the central area of the face and blend outwards. Don’t apply too much product. Ideally you should start with a thin layer and then pat on extra product where needed. The best tools for the job are a foundation brush or a latex sponge. I recommend the Beauty Blender sponge which gives great results.

Correcting imperfections

Concealer is an essential part of your makeup. Almost everybody has dark under-eye circles. During my career as a makeup artist, I’ve only seen one client who had no hint of dark circles. She was 14 years old and she was Asian. So you can see it’s pretty rare!

So if you want a cover girl look, use a concealer or corrector, call it what you will, but use one if you want to look good!

The best way to apply it is to pat it on. If you rub it in, then you’ll take off the foundation under it and you’ll only spread it out without covering anything. And just as with the foundation, don’t apply a thick coat. This will create false wrinkles and crocodile skin, the opposite of how you want to look! If you think your concealer is too thick, you could mix in a drop of serum or moisturizer.

Use powder sparingly

The loose or compact powder that you use to fix your foundation is often deceptive and can easily spoil the whole look.

If you’ve used a heavy foundation, then powder should only be brushed lightly on the T- zone with a large powder brush, never a sponge or a puff.

Only use a puff if you don’t use a liquid foundation (powder directly on the skin or use a powder foundation) or if you have thick (often dark), young or oily skin.
For those with mature skin, abide by the same principle. Dip your brush in the powder, shake it and apply light strokes on the T-zone, avoiding wrinkled areas.

Always shake the brush to get rid of excess product, too much NEVER looks natural.

And don’t ever use a powder foundation as a loose powder on top of a liquid foundation. Chalky effect guaranteed!

As for dark circles, if you apply powder over thick concealer, you’ll look tired, puffy and wrinkled! I’ve seen clients in their twenties look 40 simply because they used too much powder over their dark circles. As soon as they smiled, it created wrinkle-like folds.

In this case, it’s best to apply the concealer last, when the rest of the makeup is done and to use a product with a luminous finish. Light diminishes the appearance of dark circles.

Others can use powder but with moderation.

Choosing your powder

I’m a fan of mineral powders. Why? Because they don’t contain talc. Talc inevitably gives a chalky finish so if your powder has no talc, it’s an advantage.
Some powders contain light-reflecting particles which help to copy the natural luminous effect of an un-made-up skin. The powder is therefore less apparent. However, oily skins should opt for a matte finish as the skin has a natural sheen and will certainly begin to look shiny after half an hour if the right product is not used.

Adding depth and colour

A face covered with foundation and concealer often looks too pale and uniform. There’s no play of light and shade, it’s too artificial. So you should restructure the face using colour, but in the right places!

To do this, you can use different products separately or together:

-bronzing powder to give a healthy glow to a sallow or too-pale complexion or to give structure to the face (under cheekbones, under the chin or on the sides of the nose etc.). Never apply bronzing powder all over the face. Concentrate on the areas which tan naturally like the nose, cheeks, centre of the forehead and chin. This way, your face won’t look darker than your neck.

-an illuminating powder to light up your face, to re-create the bare skin effect or to structure the face (on cheekbones, centre of the nose and forehead etc).
-a blush to give colour and a healthy glow. Apply it in the centre of the cheekbones and go up towards the temples. But always apply sparingly.

So there we are, if you follow this advice, you’ll look as if you had your makeup done by a professional, with a little practice of course! Don’t forget eye makeup and lipstick too to complete the effect.

Knowing that less is more is the secret to a great makeup look. Don’t try to camouflage everything, you won’t look natural. If the grain of your skin isn’t visible, you’ve got it wrong. Use products that imitate the appearance of your skin; do a test on half your face and compare it with the un-made-up half. If your imperfections are less visible but the effect is similar, then you’ve succeeded!

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