If you have never worn cosmetics, or want to learn how to master the art of enhancing your best assets, then you will want to read on. Some people may think cosmetics are only for hiding imperfections – while others feel that what you put on your skin can actually cause you to break out. But truly, if you are selective about what products you use, and know how to remove them properly, you will not damage your skin, and may in fact help it maintain its health.
Before you even wear cosmetics of any kind, take a look at your face in the mirror. Do you look fresh or haggard? Do you have problem skin? Is your face dry or flaky? Do you constantly look like you are blushing? Are your eyes puffy and have circles around them?
Even though it may seem tempting to apply cosmetics to your face if it is looking bad, your skin is telling you to take care of it first before doing so! Think of it this way: would you want to paint on an uneven canvas, or one that is smooth and makes it easier for you to work on? Go a step further and imagine what apply paint to a bumpy, cracked canvas would look like. You may hide some of the imperfections, but there is no way to improve them.
Therefore, having a fresh skin that is smooth and clean is a must before you even dabble in cosmetics. This means the skin on your face, your lips, neck, and eye area. It also means pampering your skin when NOT wearing cosmetics, so that whether you wear any or not, your skin can look good on its own. Wearing beauty is not about being covered with a mask, but highlighting what beauty you have within. The best compliment is when only you know whether or not you have cosmetics on and someone compliments you on how beautiful your skin looks, maybe even tells you that you don’t even need to wear any cosmetics because you have a “natural glow”.
- Improve your lifestyle and habits. Your face has the most sensitive skin on your body, and everything that you do to your body reflects on your face. So if you eat poorly, or don’t drink enough water, don’t protect your skin from the Sun, or not get enough sleep, your face will suffer. Combat those problems and avoid using unnecessary cosmetics for “problem areas” by addressing those issues! While you’re at it, wash your linens 2 to 3 times a week, especially your towel and pillowcase, to keep the oil and grime contained there from re-entering your skin. Yuck!
- Clean your face twice a day. Use the right product for your skin type, avoiding bar soaps (unless it is specifically for the face) because you want the right amount of moisture for your skin. Natural, non-scented facial soaps work best, and come as foams, gels, liquids, or essential oils. While you don’t have to spend tons of money on something that works, you do have to be consistent in applying it for the product to be most effective. Apply in circular motions on the skin, rather than rubbing harshly, and rinse off to remove. Avoid the eye area with a face cleanser, unless it is formulated for the eyes. You can opt for using a gentle non-scented soap for them instead.
- Exfoliate your face 3 to 4 times a week. Mild exfoliation from a cleanser or soap that has those properties is fine to use daily, but even so your skin would benefit from having deeper exfoliation to help shed dead skin and regenerate the new, cleaner skin emerging. It will also help smooth your face, which will in turn help your cosmetics glide onto your skin and last longer, while having to use less. While you’re at it, buff your lips with your tooth brush after brushing to slough off dead skin. Follow that up with a lip balm.
- Minimize your pores. Large, open pores are prevalent on acne-prone skin as well as when you wash your face in warm water. When the pores are open, they also let out oils, which makes sense if you suffer from constant break-outs. So after washing your face, rinse in cool water, and/or pat your face dry and apply an astringent or toner with a cotton ball onto your skin to tighten the pores and seal in the cleanness and moisture.
- Moisturize your face twice daily. This means after each cleansing! Even if you have oily skin, you need a moisture boost to compensate where your skin might have dry patches. Although it may seem to make more sense to use a product that will suck up all the oil from your face, doing so will actually make your skin produce MORE oil and continue that cycle. Again, use a moisturizer specifically for your skin type, so that you get the right balance.
Not all cosmetics are created equal. Some are extremely harsh on your skin, clogging up the pores and creating permanent discoloration. Oil-based products are by far the worst for the skin, and should be used sparingly. Cream-based cosmetics are great for spot-treatment, and tend to be gentler on the skin and pores. Mineral powders, either in loose or pressed form, provide the skin with nutrients to keep it glowing and breathable. This is not the same as powder forms of cosmetics, though the latter does not sit on the skin to cause irritation as much as oil or cream-based products do. Most people tend to use a combination of liquids and powders, removing all cosmetics promptly using the same daily facial cleansing ritual, and ending with perhaps a night cream to help rejuvenate the skin while you sleep.
What should you use? That depends on how much you want to highlight your facial features, and how skilled you are at applying the products. For a basic look, invest in a lip gloss or lipstick and a match rouge, an eye shadow shade that compliments your eye color, and a foundation that is closest to your skin tone.
Order of Application
On your moisturized face, apply the foundation along the cheeks, chin, jaw, forehead, and nose, and blend in. Using a brush, cosmetic sponge, or your hands, work your way up and towards the direction of the ears and the sides of your forehead. The focus is to avoid dragging or pulling the skin down. Once it has been evenly distributed and seemingly “disappears” into your skin, you are ready to apply an eye color.
An easy eye shadow that is hard to mess up would be a neutral tone applied to the upper lids, working your way from the inside corner of your eye and sweep across. For a quick pick-me-up look, apply a white or taupe shade just below the brow. As a rule, darker colors should not be used throughout the entire upper lid and brow bone. Instead, use darker shades to accentuate and give depth to your eyes by applying them to the lid creases, along the lash line, or the outer part of the eye lids.
Next comes your cheek color. Rouge does not have to be heavy or dark, but should be just enough to show off your profile. Start out using very little, and blend on the bone by sweeping upward and around to form a “c” along the cheek bones to the ears.
Lastly is the lip color of your choice. Avoid reds if your teeth are yellowy, as such colors will make them more noticeable. Neutral shades, or soft rose colors are complimentary for all skin tones, no matter the occasion.
Once you have mastered the basics, you can start to incorporate more products – such as with eye liners, lip liners, and multiple eye color shades. Just remember, it’s not necessary to be “all dolled up” to be beautiful. If you have to, spot-treatment is most effective, followed by minimal cosmetic use for the eyes, cheeks, and lips. But it’s also important that you alternate your days of using any cosmetics with days of allowing your skin to breathe, heal, and renew. On such days, you can pamper your skin with a facial, mask, or cream designed for giving your skin a boost and bonus treatment so that the next time you use cosmetics, your skin is at its best and you won’t have to use as many products in order to achieve the look you desire.