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Lip Makeup Series – Balanced Lips

If you are lucky enough to have balanced lips (see illustration), your make-up application on this area will be relatively easy. If your top and bottom lips are in proportion with neither lip thinner than the other, you have balanced lips. Balanced lips will become thinner over time due to the breakdown of collagen, elastin and fat during the ageing process. Due to the initial plumpness of this lip shape, the thinning process will not be as pronounced in comparison to other lip shapes.

Balanced Lips Image

To apply make-up to balanced lips, you will need a lipstick in the colour of your choice, a good quality lip pencil in a matching or slightly darker colour to the lipstick, a crème highlighter in a cream / beige colour or a few shades lighter than the colour of your skin, a lip brush or lipstick applicator, a fine artist’s paintbrush or make-up brush and a mirror. The crème highlighter is optional but will give your lips a youthful appearance if desired. The use of a lip pencil is essential to this technique and provides definition. Lip pencils also contain wax which prevents the lipstick bleeding or smudging onto your facial foundation makeup.

Method (see illustration below):

Balanced Lips Makeup Application Image

1) Draw around the shape of the lips with a freshly sharpened  lip pencil, taking care to stay on the edge of the lips. Using a blunt pencil will result in the line being too thick. It helps if you start from the centre of the bow on the top lip then extend the lines out to each side.  Similarly, start the line at the centre of the lower lip and extend to each side. It is important not to draw the line above or below the edge of the lips as this will distort the balanced shape. Check in the mirror to make sure that you are happy with the pencil line that you have drawn. You can always redraw the pencil line if you feel you need more colour and definition.

2) Fill in the top and bottom lip areas with your lipstick, taking care to work the colour in well with the lip brush or applicator. Place a soft tissue between your lips and close your lips to lightly blot excess lipstick. Depending on the type of lipstick you are using, you may wish to apply a second coat.

3) Taking the fine artist’s paintbrush or make-up brush, coat  the tip of the brush with the crème highlighter in cream / beige colour or a colour a few shades lighter than your skin. Paint a fine, even line around the edge of the lip pencil line you have drawn. The aim here is to avoid painting the highlighter over the lip pencil line. You are simply applying subtle highlighting around the lip line. Finish if desired by placing a dot of highlighter on the area between the centre of your upper lip and your nose. To blend the highlighting, simply pat gently with the pad of your little finger, taking care not to smudge your work. The heat from your finger will help the highlighter to set on your skin.

4) Depending on the type of lipstick you are using, you may wish to set your lip makeup. You can do this with translucent, loose face powder. Dip a powder brush into the face powder , tap the brush then swirl it over the back (not palm) of the opposite hand to that which you are using to apply your make-up This will remove excess powder. Using the back of your hand as an artist’s palette when you are working is a good habit to get into. This will ensure a light touch and professional application. Gently swirl the brush over the surface of your lips. Do not press the brush on the lips as you will disturb your work. Only a tiny amount of powder is needed to set the make-up. Alternatively, there are clear lipstick setting sprays available on the market but remember to patch test on your skin before using any new product.

Correct technique for applying eyebrow pencil

Eyebrow pencil should be applied after you have finished applying your eye make-up. This will avoid the possibility of smudging your work when you are applying eyeshadow and mascara.

Comb your eyebrows neatly into shape using the comb side of your eyebrow tool. Comb up at the start of the eyebrow then across, following the curve. Try to follow the direction in which your eyebrow hair naturally grows. This usually involves combing up then across as you work around the curve.

Starting at the beginning of your eyebrow, apply small strokes of pencil just under the top row of hairs. Find where the topmost hairs join the skin and apply the pencil to the hair at that point. Each stroke of the pencil should be firm but not too heavy. Your aim is to feather the pencil on in small strokes. Do not be concerned if the pencil marks the skin as well as the hair – this is to be expected. Do not attempt to cover every hair. Start with a minimal number of strokes spaced apart as the effect can be built up as desired. On this first application, stop feathering the pencil on at the highest point of the eyebrow curve, leaving one third of the eyebrow (closest to the ear) free of colour. Using the brush side of your eyebrow tool, brush the pencil marks to blend the colour into the eyebrow. Take care not to disturb the eyebrow shape you so neatly combed earlier. Work within the definition of the eyebrow as you do not want to end up with smudges above or below the area.  As you blend you will notice that you are working the colour along the eyebrow – this is why you should leave the final one third free of colour initially. Sit back and check your work in the mirror. If you need more colour apply the pencil in feathered strokes where required and then repeat the blending with the brush. If you have applied the pencil too heavily, simply turn the brush on the eyebrow tool to the other side. Brush through as before with the clean side of the brush to remove excess colour. Remove any smudges with a cotton tip or orange tip (See Preparation and tools post). Blot off any excess oil with a clean tissue. Remember to check your make-up in different lighting and make any adjustments to the colour or your technique.

Correct eyebrow pencil

Preparation and tools for applying eyebrow pencil

To prepare for applying eyebrow pencil you will need a good quality kohl pencil in the colour of choice, an eyebrow tool consisting of a comb and brush combination (see photograph) and a special make-up pencil sharpener suitable for kohl pencils. Normal pencil sharpeners are not suitable as kohl is softer than lead. Sharpen your pencil but not too sharply as the tip may break off. It is fine to have a slightly rounded edge on the tip of the pencil as long as it is not too broad. Always sharpen your pencils slightly before use to prevent any build up of bacteria. Cover the pencil tips with the lids provided for storage. Keep a cotton bud handy for touching up errors – slightly dampened with a couple of drops of make-up removal oil. An orange stick (used for manicures) is also useful for this purpose – lightly wrap in a small amount of slightly dampened cotton wool with a couple of drops of oil.  A make-up mirror with magnification on one side will also be very useful.  Note: the black pencil featured in the photograph is actually a soft dark grey/black combination however any black pencil should be avoided on eyebrows.

Eyebrow tools

Choosing colours for eyebrow pencils

There are a wide range of colours available in kohl pencils. In general, choose a shade that is slightly darker than the natural colour of your eyebrows. The darker shade will show up well in photographs and the effect will be subtle. Avoid black, even if your eyebrows are naturally black in colour. Black looks harsh in any lighting and it is best left for Gothic make-up styles. True black pencils should be buried in the bottom of the make-up case, or better still, thrown away. There are beautiful kohl colours available including brown/black, charcoal grey/black, dark brown, dark brown with red or orange highlights, medium brown and so on. You are only limited by your own imagination! Medium to dark grey or charcoal coloured pencils are an option for older brides. Pencil colours can also be mixed – for example, you could alternate strokes from a dark brown pencil with a red pencil and blend after application. Take the time to experiment with different colours until you are happy with the result.

For further information see previous post on eye and lip pencils.

Eyebrow pencil – how not to apply

Many people apply eyebrow pencil incorrectly. The most common mistake is to draw a hard curved line over the eyebrows (see photograph). This error is often seen on women with thin or light coloured eyebrows. The method of application looks very unnatural, especially in daylight and photographs. The eyebrows dominate the face, rather than enhancing other features, and the person may even look  ‘surprised’ – not a good look!

eyebrows4

Disguising dark circles under eyes

eyes

Dark circles under our eyes may be temporary or permanent. The causes may include feeling tired or stressed, sports injuries, pigmentation, genetics and so on. Whatever the reason for this condition, it can affect our self-confidence as we interact with others around us. If the dark circles are permanent or do not clear up quickly, always consult your doctor for advice. There are also beauty products on the market that claim to minimise the condition, should you wish to experiment with these and test their effectiveness. The other alternative is to camouflage the area with concealer using professional make-up techniques.

Concealer is applied over moisturiser and before applying foundation. In general, concealers designed for the face are not suitable for the delicate area under the eyes as they are heavy in texture or too dry so that the skin can easily be dragged. If a thick texture is applied under the eyes, this can result in a strange raised effect when viewed under lights. The concealer can also build up in fine lines under the eyes with an unflattering, if temporary, ageing effect. The best concealer to use is a light liquid concealer or liquid crème eyeshadow. Another option is to use liquid foundation, which should be a shade or two lighter than the foundation colour you plan to wear. Powder based concealers are definitely not suitable for the under-eye area as these will cake, particularly when foundation is applied over the top. If there is obvious discolouration, such as a purple effect, consider visiting a make-up specialist at your local department store for advice. They may suggest concealers with special tints, such as pink, to tone down the appearance of the discolouration. Only don’t let them talk you into buying any concealer with a heavy texture!

Invest in at least one good quality, general purpose concealer brush or a soft artist’s paintbrush with a curved shape, soft bristles and a pointed tip.  Concealer brushes also come in other shapes such as wedge shapes for other applications. The foam make-up applicators will be too rough for the under-eye area. A fine make-up brush such as an eyeliner brush is also recommended, along with an eyeshadow brush and the wedge shaped sponge described in an earlier article. A mirror is also obviously an essential tool.

Our aim in applying concealer is to introduce light to tone down the shade visible as dark circles. Examine the under-eye area in the mirror to identify where the concealer is needed. Start with a tiny amount of concealer on the end of the brush and gently apply a thin layer to the entire under-eye area without dragging the skin. This will ensure that there are no gaps and variation in the colour. Remember to feather the concealer up and under the lower lashes, trying not to coat the eyelashes while you are doing this. If you do make a mistake and coat any of the lashes, blot gently with a very soft facial tissue. Take the wedge shaped sponge and gently pat the concealer to blend it, encourage absorption into the skin and remove any excess. Carefully add tiny dots of concealer with your brush to the discoloured areas, using the absolute minimum needed to disguise the area. Remember that you will be applying foundation over the concealer so try not to get too carried away. The goal is to achieve translucency as far as possible in this area. Allow a few minutes for the concealer to settle then inspect the results in natural daylight and under lighting. Touch up and blend as necessary.

Many women experience shadowing under their eyes caused by reflection from a prominent eye socket bone. This can become more pronounced with ageing and the under-eye area becomes hollow in appearance. The solution is to take a fine brush such an eyeliner brush and paint a fine line of light liquid concealer just inside (not on) the eye socket bone. When painting the line, follow the half circle from just under the inside corner of the eye to the other side.  Blend the line with the wedge shaped sponge as described above. Blend only as much as you need to so that the line looks natural, but not enough to remove your work. The light colour of the concealer will reflect the shade so that the shadowing is less pronounced or hardly noticeable. This method is more effective when used over foundation.

Another technique disguises shadowing or darkness at the inside corner of the eye. Apply your eyeshadow as required (eyeshadow styles and techniques will be covered in future posts). As a final step, take your eyeshadow brush and lightly coat with white or crème eyeshadow (or a colour a few shades lighter than your foundation), tap off excess then dot in the inside corner between your eye and your nose. Repeat on the other side. Take care not to get the powder in your eyes.  The powder can be gently blended with the brush or a make-up applicator. Yet again, the subtle application of a light colour counteracts the shade.

Blending foundation & TV presenters

You probably already know about the importance of blending foundation into your jawline – but have you ever considered your hairline and even your ears? Take some time to watch television presenters, especially those from news and current affairs programs. When these presenters have hairstyles that leave their foreheads exposed, you will often notice a strange white line above their make-up and below their hairline. This is caused by the make-up artist failing to blend the foundation up and into the hairline. It is even more obvious because the foundation colour chosen is darker than usual to compensate for the lights. Digital technology intensifies the imperfect make-up application. Really, there is no excuse for this unless the make-up artist is inexperienced or lacks training in working with cameras and lighting. You will rarely see this in a movie as only the best make-up artists are used. We will talk more about foundation application later. In the meantime, when you apply your foundation with our favourite wedge-shaped sponge, take care to blend up and into the hairline, over your ears and into the jawline. There is no need to reload the sponge with foundation while you are doing this. Simply use the excess foundation that soaked into the sponge while you were applying the make-up over your face.

Never drag the skin around your eyes – removing eye make-up

Young people often wear heavier makeup styles for evening events and this can be difficult to remove. The skin around your eyes is very delicate and must be treated gently. There is very little padding from underlying skin fat in this area compared to the rest of your face. Dragging the skin can stretch it, resulting in premature wrinkles. Find a good quality eye makeup remover that is compatible with the cosmetics you use. Cheaper eye makeup removers are often little more than detergent. An oil based remover will do a much better job of removing waterproof mascara and heavily pigmented cosmetics. There are makeup removal towels available but many of these are too rough for the delicate eye area. Here is a method for removing eye makeup. Take a round disposable make-up removal pad – these are quite inexpensive, sold in large packs and widely available. The pads are lined with cotton wool under a gauze covering. Dampen the pad slightly under the bathroom tap then place it on top of your hand. Using the palm of your other hand, press down to remove excess water. Add a few drops of eye makeup remover to the pad and carefully remove your makeup. If necessary prepare another damp pad and repeat the process. This method will be very gentle as the water helps to spread the product. It will also be more economical as your remover will last longer. As always, patch test any new products before you use them and take care to keep the remover and makeup out of your eyes.

Product claims – make-up and skincare – natural, organic etc

It is okay to be sceptical when cosmetic and skincare companies make certain claims about their products. These claims are essentially marketing – designed to entice you to buy. Skincare and cosmetics contain fillers and certain chemical ingredients that act as preservatives to maintain the integrity of the products. Without these ingredients the products would have a very short shelf life – similar to fresh fruit and vegetables, which are highly perishable. It would be quite shocking to purchase an expensive cosmetic or skincare product only to find that it was unfit for use a few days later or full of mould, which can be highly toxic. Many years of scientific research is behind the development of the ingredients contained in the products we use on our skin every day. We can be reasonably optimistic that the products are safe and stable if purchased from well known brands. It is unlikely however that claims that such products are natural or organic can be substantiated. Often a product is marketed as natural or organic  because it contains essential oils or natural ingredients such a fruit acids. These natural ingredients are added in minimal amounts compared to the overall size of the product.  It is also important to be aware that natural ingredients such as essential oils can be very irritating to sensitive skin – for instance tea tree oil, lavender oil and peppermint oil. Many companies claim their products are not tested on animals and this is probably true. But can we be certain that the ingredients they are using in their products have never been tested on animals? Possibly not. In our quest to be environmentally and socially responsible,  we can certainly choose brands that ethically source ingredients such as Palm oil and use recyclable packaging. We can also educate ourselves about product ingredients and there is a great deal of information about this on the internet.

Luscious lips – lip enhancement technique

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Young people often have an almost imperceptible white line around their lips. The reason for this is that their lips are at an optimal stage of development – full and plump with naturally occurring collagen and elastin. The blood supply gravitates to the fullness of the  lips and leaves a white line as the blood recedes. This youthful appearance to the lips can be enhanced or replicated with a simple make-up technique. Outline the lips with a lip pencil or liner that matches or coordinates with your lipstick. Draw this line in a fine or medium stroke. Using a lip brush, fine paintbrush or the sponge applicator of a liquid lipstick, work the lipstick colour into your lips inside the outline. Many people do not take the time to work the lipstick into their lips and wonder why their lipstick rubs off so quickly. It is worth the extra effort to achieve a beautiful result that should last for hours.  Place a tissue between your lips and press lips lightly together to blot off any excess. if necessary, touch up and/or apply another coat. Blot and touch up again if a second coat of lipstick is applied. Allow lipstick a minute or two to set. Take a fresh, clean lip brush or fine paintbrush and coat with concealer, crème eyeshadow or foundation. The colour you choose will depend on your complexion. Ivory, cream or light beige will work for those with fair to medium complexions. People with olive or deeper complexions will need to choose a colour that is a few shades lighter than their foundation. It is a matter of experimentation to find which colours will work best for this technique. Carefully paint a fine line outside the lip pencil outline previously applied. Gently pat (blend) into place with a cosmetic sponge, taking care not to remove the highlighting line you have drawn. Fine, loose cosmetic powder can then be used with a powder brush to set the lipstick and highlighting. The correct application of loose setting powder will be covered in a future post. Remember to check your lipstick application in various lighting settings as you may need to slightly change the colour of your highlighter. This subtle technique is perfect for looking your best in photographs.