I'm not gonna lie, it'd be cool to be like Tonks from Harry Potter and just morph my face into a new look every single day. But while I don't have shape-shifting abilities, I do have easy makeup techniques that make application look like downright wizardry. If you want to brush up on the basics while learning how to conserve your products and save time, read on for my top seven makeup artist tricks. Your friends will be so proud (so will you).
Chances are, no one ever taught you the pillars of putting on face paint (save for perhaps the woman at the Clinique counter). The good news is that, unlike magic or admission into Hogwarts, information about makeup can be easily shared.
First, cut yourself some slack, because it's not genetic. We're not born with the inherent knowledge of how to blend our contour and choose the right brush shape. But, it's also not a cosmic, inexplicable mystery worthy of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, either. Once you learn the primary rules, makeup is actually pretty easy.
So if you're ready to up your makeup game without the use of a wand (mascara notwithstanding), let me break down some of the MVPs of techniques for you. You'll be astonished at how simple it is to slay.
1. Press, Don't Rub, Moisturizer And Primer
Dude, let me tell you. This is the smallest change you can make in your skincare and makeup application that will vastly impact the final result. Instead of just rubbing your primer or moisturizer all over the face all willy-nilly, simply warm up the product between your finger pads and pat it into the skin, starting where you need it the most and working away from that area.
When we just rub the product everywhere, we might not be focusing on the places that truly need the product. Not all areas of our skin are created equal. Some are more dry, while others are oil-slick city. By placing equal amounts of moisturizer in all places, we're not balancing out our skin's hydration level. This means, for my oily gals (like myself), moisturizer might feel to heavy on certain areas of the face. For my dry-skinned friends, your face might eat up your foundation throughout the day, resulting in blotchiness, or it might even show dry patches, aka texture, immediately upon application. By pressing the product into the skin, we can really focus on the areas that need more hydration.
Plus, pressing allows the product to dive deeper into the skin. The warmth from your hands and that patting motion will force all those awesome active ingredients deeper into your skin. When we just rub the product all over the surface, it might just stay on the surface. When you're paying for a product, you definitely want the most bang for your buck. Just switching up your technique will make your product work much more effectively.
If you're prone to redness (like myself), rubbing can also aggravate the skin and cause even more redness to appear. That means, when you go to apply your foundation, you might apply more coverage than you actually need. By pressing the moisturizer or primer into the skin, we're delivering the product without pissing off persnickety skin.
2. Build Coverage
To get the perfect amount of coverage without feeling like you look like a "cake face," build coverage only where you need it. In the age of Instagram and YouTube, it's easy to believe you always need full coverage. But you should feel confident in rocking however much or little makeup as you damn well please.
If you have little to no discoloration on your skin, apply a foundation with a fluffy buffing brush.
Buffing brushes work great for sheering out foundation and laying it flat onto the skin, creating a "second skin" effect. Just use little circular motions starting wherever you experience the most discoloration and work outward. Then, you can just tap concealer onto blemishes or the under eye area to build up the coverage more efficiently. Your skin will look perfectly neutralized as if you were just born that way.
If you have really intense redness or an area of concentrated dark spots or blemishes, you may want to use medium to full coverage foundation. If you have texture (dry patches, peach fuzz, anything that doesn't appear smooth once foundation is applied), you'll probably want to use a flat brush for your application instead. Our skin cells face downward and lay one on top of another, almost like shingles on a roof.
If you're prone to texture, buffing into your skin can lift up the skin cells and create a more uneven surface. By brushing or patting downward, you're insuring that all the would-be texture lays flat and the skin looks perfectly smooth.
Pro tip: Start in the area that needs the most saturation and work toward the area that needs the least. If your skin is perfectly clear in a given area, you do not need foundation in that area! The key to perfect coverage is laying the product only where we need it.
After you apply a sheer layer of foundation all over the face, build the product only in the areas where you still see discoloration popping through.
By stippling or patting the product onto the skin with a brush, you're allowing that product to build up on itself and create more coverage.
Don't forget, fluff to buff to sheer out coverage and flat to pat to build it. FLUFF TO BUFF TO SHEER, FLAT TO PAT TO BUILD. It's like a a fun summer camp chant.
3. Purposeful Placement
With everything in makeup (and life), do things with a purpose. This is why I get the jitters when I watch someone just dot foundation everywhere on their face before blending it out. Think of all the foundation you're wasting! And this goes for everything! Highlight and contour, eyeshadow, brows. Put the product where you need the most saturation and leave everything else alone.
If I were to do a huge stripe of contour on my cheek nowhere near my hairline, I'd need to blend for 10,000 years to get rid of the harsh lines and edges. I might even need to go back in with highlight the get rid of some of the shadow.
But, if I just start with a thin stripe directly in the hollow of my cheek, the blending will be easy as pie.
Or think of bronzer. When we apply it around the perimeter of our face, we can achieve a healthy glow and start to emphasize our bone structure.
When we just brush it everywhere, like setting powder, it can look really muddy and patchy. Place the product only in the areas where you need it.
To cut down on application time and to create a more even look, always apply your product with purpose. It sounds simple, but seriously, a little extra thought can save you a lot of extra time.
4. Directional Blending
Makeup is truly a set of rules that repeats itself over and over, like this one we discussed in relation to foundation: start where you want the most saturation and work toward where you need less.
This rule applies to everything. Take contouring for example. Never just go back and forth over your contour.
That will just reinforce the hard lines and edges without creating a gradient, aka a seamless transition from light to dark.
Instead, start from where you have more product, toward the perimeter of the face, and only work inward and upward. This will blend out the product seamlessly, allowing it to mimic a real shadow, instead of just creating a shapeless blob of mud on your cheek.
Same with eyeshadow. Always start at the outer corner and work toward the inner corner of the eye. If you only work in windshield-wiper motions, you will never create a gradient.
5. Press And Roll
When setting your makeup, make sure to press and roll your setting powder into the skin. This little tip will prevent you from picking up all the beautiful work you just did.
By pressing and rolling the powder onto the skin, you're locking the foundation for all-day wear and making sure the product stays in place. If you just buff in your powder, you run the risk of accidentally dragging your nose contour up to your forehead.
If you're a super grease ball like myself, you can even use a powder puff to pat the powder into the skin for extra long wear and oil absorption.
6. Don't Choke Your Brush
For the love of NARS, please don't choke your brush. Choking your brush means you're holding it too close to the ferrule, that metal part of the brush that holds the bristles onto the handle. It may seem like you have more control, but it actually gives you less control over your pressure. The harder you press, the more you'll pick up the product you've already laid down.
Using little pressure allows you to work quickly and easily, creating seamless finishes and smoother gradients. If you choke your brush, you may end up with muddy eyes and crappy complexion.
7. Work In Sheer Layers
When applying makeup, it's always best to work in sheer layers. It's easy to add more product, but it's much harder to take it away once it's there.
Working in sheer layers also helps to build dimension and to improve longevity. Take my creamsicle-colored smoky eye, for example. By working in sheer layers, I was able to slowly build up the saturation at the outer corner to help lift up my eye a bit. The sheer layers also gave my look a seamless gradient without me having to blend for 525,600 minutes.
By building up product in sheer layers, we're all ensuring that our look will last all day long. Imagine putting on a thick layer of foundation and immediately picking up your phone. Your face would be all over the screen. Gross. But, if you do a sheer layer of foundation, and give it five seconds to set before building coverage, you can talk to your best bb without fear of losing your face.
See friends? No magic necessary, just a good memory and some commitment to breaking bad habits.