Avoiding Clown Face: A Handy How-To Makeup Guide

Makeup is a form of art. What do you think is the hardest makeup trick to master?

When your foundation or powder is the wrong color, everyone notices. Except maybe you. To master a natural look, you need the right colors, consistencies, and lighting.

I remember sitting in World Religion class in high school {insert Catholic School girl joke here} and the boy in front of me turned around to ask me something but instead titled his head and with a quizzical look said "Do you know you have orange spots on your face?"

My stomach dropped, and my heart began pounding so forcefully that I thought it was going to explode out of my chest. NO I DID NOT KNOW I HAD ORANGE SPOTS ON MY FACE! I wanted to run. I wanted to hide behind my Bible. I wanted to disappear... not because I'm a particularly vain person but because I was so embarrassed at the thought that I HAD BEEN WALKING AROUND LOOKING LIKE A CLOWN ALL DAY AND NOT ONE OF MY GIRLFRIENDS TOLD ME.

Embarrassment beats vanity any day, though they almost complement each other in a way.

When class was finally over, I grabbed my backpack with my head down and made a beeline to the girl's room to inspect my poor makeup skills. It was then that I realized the spot concealer I was using to "hide" my blemishes was quite obviously the wrong color for my skin and didn't match. So instead of hiding my pimples, the orange spots were now sort of highlighting them. UGH! But when I left the house, I didn't see polka dots when I looked in the mirror... so why now, here?

I quickly discovered how important good lighting is when applying makeup. And not only good lighting but natural light -- daylight for applying daytime makeup.

It has been quite a few years since I graduated from high school, well, more like a few decades, but finding the right concealer and foundation that matches my skin tone has been the hardest makeup trick for me to master. Kate from Fab 50 agrees that proper blending of foundations and reducing blotchiness can be difficult, but it's important to have an even, natural look.

Luckily makeup has come a long way since the early 90s, when I was in high school trying to disguise my pimples. With tinted moisturizers, spray-on foundations, mousses, and mineral powders, if you have enough time, patience, determination and well, cash money, finding one that works with your complexion is indeed possible.

I think it was around 2005 that I started seeing mineral makeup infomercials late at night when I couldn't sleep. I was intrigued. While shopping one day, I saw the mineral makeup on display and asked a makeup technician to demonstrate how it worked. I quickly fell in love with the easy application and coverage and left with my mineral makeup kit for "medium skin" in hand.

The next day was my best friend's baby shower, and I used the mineral powder as foundation. I left the house feeling flawless and radiant. But a few hours later when I looked in the mirror, MY ENTIRE FACE WAS ORANGE. It was my high school nightmare all over again, but instead of orange polka dots, I had a bad case of orange face! But the salesgirl had done such a great job the day before, so what had I done wrong? Apparently "medium" was too dark for my skin at the time and again, I had failed to use natural light when applying.

I continued using lighter shades of the mineral makeup for a few years until I realized that most of the shades were all just too orange for me in general. I also started getting under-the-skin cyst-like breakouts, which after some research I learned was likely caused by a reaction to an ingredient in my makeup. I needed a change. But I REALLY loved the application of mineral powders compared to liquid foundations. It just seems like more bang for your buck as well as an all-over coverage with just one step, assuming you can find the right color.

I researched other mineral powders that didn't contain the problem ingredient and found another brand that was highly rated and recommended, though a bit more expensive than my previous version. I went to my local beauty supply store and found a powder that complemented my skin tone very well. I think what helped was that the beauty supply store had daylight filtering in through the windows and an open door whereas other stores are completely artificially lit. The sales girl told me that applying this new mineral powder was a bit different than the "circle motion" the previous company taught. I learned to sort of "lay it on" with my brush, then swirl out a bit. I also now use a pressed mineral powder over the loose variety because I feel it goes on smoother and more evenly.

My tricks to getting my mineral powder foundation just right begin with, you guessed it, natural daylight! But first, I begin by wetting the corner of a washcloth with cold water, then gently rubbing (in a circular motion) my already-cleansed face to slough off any dead skin. Foundation and concealer seem to migrate to dry spots and give a cakey appearance. A great lotion is your best friend. I first apply a daytime face lotion and let it soak in. Then I apply another layer of a daily moisturizer with SPF 15 and let it dry. Using a smaller brush with a long handle, I lightly lay on my powder, beginning around my nose & T-zone and swirling outward. Occasionally, I use a finishing powder but not often. And voila! I finally have even coverage that looks natural.

No, this isn't a review of mineral powder makeup and foundation, it's just what I have found to work the best for me. Diane from Knitting Zeal also loves mineral powder foundation and says that she had a hard time finding a good foundation base that looked natural, was easy to apply, and lasted through most of the day. Once she switched to mineral powder foundation and applied with different brushes, she was hooked. Using different types and sizes of brushes really is the trick for getting good coverage, and she finds the finished look to be natural-looking and comfortable.

BlogHer Style Editor Maegan Tintari {@loveMaegan} is a Fashion, Home & Lifestyle blogger from Los Angeles. Go to ...love Maegan to find out more!


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