Makeup offers a wide world of beautiful possibilities. Whether you’re just trying to cover your zits or you’re transforming yourself into a goddess, there’s an overwhelming array of makeup products and techniques. Yet makeup artists will tell you that there are rules to abide by. Don’t let the makeup police come after you. Here’s your holy book of makeup advice.
Commandment #1: Thou shalt layer your products
Putting on your products on in the wrong order is no better than simply mixing them all together and slathering them on your face like some sort of wayward witch. A rule of thumb is to put anything with an active ingredient on first. That way, the ingredient (a vitamin, sunscreen, etc) can penetrate your skin. If you’re using multiple skincare products, apply the thinnest one first.
When adding your makeup, you generally apply it in the order you want it to be noticed, from least noticeable to most. That means that your foundation and concealer go first, and colored makeups such as blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow follow. Set it all with translucent powder as the final layer.
Commandment #2: Thou shalt moisturize after washing
No matter what your skin type is, it’s important to moisturize. Most facial cleansers strip natural oils from your skin, which is great if you’re oily but not so great if you have dry or combination skin. Even if you have oily skin, a face wash can remove too much oil, causing your skin to overcompensate when it produces the next batch. Hello, blackheads.
Make no mistake: Everyone should moisturize, even oily folks, after washing your face. The key is to choose a moisturizer that suits your skin type. People with oily skin should choose oil-free moisturizers, such as serums and water-based lotions, and people with dry skin can use heavier creams and face oils.
Commandment #3: Thou shalt use the proper tools
Do you put on your makeup with brushes, sponges, or your fingers? There’s a time and place for each. Using your fingers is great for applying foundation and concealer, because the warmth of your hands helps the makeup spread more easily. (Just wash your hands first, please.) Sponges are better for blending: If you use it for the initial application, you’re soaking up half your pricey foundation in the sponge itself!
Brushes are versatile enough to be used for all types of makeup. Use a foundation brush instead of a sponge for a smoother finish, then a blush brush for a less streaky application than you’d get with your fingers. Whenever you need to concentrate color, such as for eyeshadow and lipstick, use a brush for better coverage. Remember, denser bristles provide a more intense finish.
Quick Tip: For eyeshadow, it’s helpful to apply a thick layer of powder below your eyes to catch any falling powder. (Just brush it away when you’re done).
Commandment #4: Thou shalt follow your natural lines
Unless you’re doing character makeup, don’t try to paint against the natural shape of your face. Apply bronzer, blush, and highlighter along your natural temples and cheekbones. The key is to _extend_ the lines to enhance your features, rather than trying to force a change to your face’s shape. Then, use contouring shadows to complement these highlighted portions.
Also, when shaping your eyebrows, follow the natural arch of your eye socket: The inner corner of your brow should be in line with the inside corner of your eye, and your brow should taper off at a point that’s 45 degrees from your eye’s outer corner.
Commandment #5: Thou shalt know your undertone
There are three basic undertones that your skin can have: warm, cool, and neutral. Knowing this is the first step toward choosing the right makeup shades that won’t clash with your face. In general, a warm undertone means that you want to choose warm hues, a cool undertone means that you want to choose cool hues, and a neutral undertone means lucky you, you can wear pretty much anything.
To know your undertone, look at the inside of your arm in natural light and see if your veins are blue or green. If blue, you have a cool undertone. If green, you have a warm undertone. If you can’t tell, you’re likely neutral.
Another way to tell is to hold a piece of paper next to your (bare) face. If your skin looks yellow in comparison, you have a warm undertone. If your skin looks good, you have a cool undertone. If you see no difference, you have a neutral undertone.
When choosing makeup hues, look at the base color. Some makeup companies will helpfully label some shades as “cool red” or something like that, but if not, follow these guidelines:
Shades for cool undertones: blues, greens, aquas, basic reds, magentas, purples, roses, silvers
Shades for warm undertones: yellows, oranges, crimsons, brick reds, corals, peaches, golds
Commandment #6: Thou shalt use the Color Wheel
The Color Wheel shows the relationships between colors. As a rule of thumb, a color can be canceled out by its opposite on the color wheel. That’s what those color concealers and powders do: They cancel out unwanted colors in your skin. Got dark undereye circles? Use yellow concealer (and top it with flesh-toned concealer). Got ruddy skin? Use a green one. Yellow tones? Use a purple one.
Quick Tip: To cover a hickey or bruise, pat on a yellow concealer, then cover with a layer of foundation. Set with powder, then dust bronzer on top of it all.
Commandment #7: Thou shalt not mix color families
Once you know your undertone, you can stock up on the shades that best suit it. However, there are multiple color families, and mixing them up can cause a haphazard or sloppy look. For example, lipsticks generally come in corals, peaches, reds, mauves, burgundies, and so on. If you choose a peach blush and a deep red lipstick, it won’t look as good as a rose blush with a deep red, or a coral lipstick with the peach blush. That means that if you have a neutral undertone and can wear both cool and warm shades, don’t mix the families.
Commandment #8: Thou shalt keep it balanced
Unless you’re doing performer makeup, focus on either your eyes or your lips. If you’ve made your eyes super-dramatic — we’re talking full-on eyeliner, multiple shades, and falsies — tone down the lips. Similarly, keep your eyeshadow neutral or light if you’re rocking bright or dark lips.
Commandment #9: Thou shalt not sleep in your makeup
Never, ever sleep in your makeup. It can clog your pores, leading to acne and impairing your skin’s ability to regenerate at night. Use micellar water or makeup remover wipes to get it all off — especially mascara — and give your face a wash just in case. (Don’t forget to moisturize!)
Commandment #10: Thou shalt practice basic hygiene
Finally, keep your tools clean. It’s understandable if you can’t wash them every day, but try to do it every 3-4 uses. You can put fabric powder puffs on a delicate wash cycle, and wash your brushes with baby shampoo. Disinfect your tweezers and brow shapers with hydrogen peroxide.
And remember, makeup does go bad. The shelf life of most wand-based makeup is a mere six months; powders and liquids last longer, but anything that comes into contact with a tool that touches your skin increases the chance of bacteria forming (yuck). For that same reason, never share makeup or tools that come into contact with your eyes, nose or mouth!
These are the holy commandments of makeup. There’s one extra rule that’s not on the list: Have fun, and build yourself and others up! Don’t tear people down. Makeup is something that can connect people around the world. Let’s keep it fun and fresh.