This is the last article in my essential style series, so it is entirely appropriate that it be on the ‘finishing touch’: How to ‘dress’ the part of your body which remains unclothed.
Make-up is an opportunity to be creative and express yourself in a way that compliments and completes the rest of your style. It can provide a huge boost to your confidence, and communicate things like your level of self-care, time management skills, and your ability to adapt to the world around you.
My early education on make-up was that women who wore a lot of make-up were morally suspicious, vain and attention-seeking. Simultaneously, woman who wore none at all were lazy and lacked respect for themselves and other people. Moderation was the order of the day.
My mum would wear make-up occasionally, and each time I would delight in watching her pat on some powder from her ancient compact and swipe on some lipstick and brush her hair, and feel so proud of having such a pretty mummy and excited that something special was going to happen.
When I was a teenager I was swayed by teen magazines and media and didn’t think a pat of powder and slip of lipstick could cut it either. I turned to magazines and beauty books to try to learn how to achieve the desired glamour. Comparing my own face with those of airbrushed models, and grappling with advanced techniques with no prior experience… the short version is that the result was far from pretty, and I was put off the idea of make-up for several years.
The breakthrough came when I reached my mid-20’s and switched from back-room dressmaker to front-of-house shop assistant. Wearing make-up was a necessary side effect. This time, I sought one-on-one help from a professional. I went to a pharmacy and met a really lovely woman who didn’t laugh at me for not knowing anything, and who didn’t bombard me with lots of products and complicated techniques to show how great she was.
It was a very simple ‘natural make-up’ which granted me new confidence and opened the door for me to enjoy a new medium to express my creativity. I’ve even managed to add metaphors to the steps in my ‘worldly and superficial routine’ so it works as a practical exercise to remind myself of more philosophical / spiritual things so by the time my face is beautified, my mind is too.
(NB: before you start with applying colour to your face, it’s a good idea to ensure it’s clean and nourished with a good moisturiser.)
5 steps to enhancing natural beauty with make-up
Step 1: Grace (Foundation)
Grace is an essential quality that protects us and smoothes the way to positive self-esteem and constructive relationships with others. Grace covers inconsistencies and incidences where we’ve not been as virtuous as we might wish and lets us move on. It is not meant to be heavy, or arduous. Everyone is given a measure of Grace sufficient for their needs for each day. Some areas in our lives need a special measure of Grace – Forgiveness.
Choose a foundation that suits your skin type and tone. I recommend something simple like a tinted moisturiser that gives a light coverage that evens out, without blocking out – letting your natural beauty shine through.
Use a tiny amount of to dab on in key places such as your forehead, nose, chin and cheeks (the places which receive the brunt of the sun and therefore have the most damage/discolouration). Blend the cream out from these points (keeping it minimal around the eyes) to provide an even coverage that disappears towards the hair and neck line.
Following this, you may still notice areas that look like the need some extra TLC. For example, around the eyes where lack of water, sleep etc can create a dark shadow.
This is where concealer comes in. Apply in moderation directly to the area and then blend into the foundation.
The result should look like you on a great day, in good lighting.
Step 2: Hope (Blush)
Hope is another essential in life. It gives us motivation, energy and strength to do things we might not have thought possible. We have to make sure though, that we put out hope in the right places. We can get excited about something that sounds like a good idea at the time, only to be disappointed.
Blush gives added vitality to your complexion and can give your whole appearance a lift. However, if you apply too much, the wrong colour, or in the wrong place, all is in vain.
The key is choosing the right colour to start with (peachy or pinky depending on your skin tone, and not too dark), and then applying with a light hand and a big brush.
Dab the brush in the powder and tap off the excess from the brush. Place the tip of the brush on the cheek below the outer corner of your eye, then flick the brush along your cheekbone towards the top of your ear.
Even if you have naturally pink cheeks, this step will make the natural blush look intentional, and help to draw attention up and out, framing your face.
You can then brush your blush brush over your eyelids if you like, to create a simple natural eye-shadow that perfectly co-ordinates with the rest of your make-up.
Step 3: Joy (Eye-shadow)
Different people find joy in different things. The important thing is find what gives you joy and celebrate it.
Colour gives me great joy, and so eye-shadow is the part of my make-up routine I enjoy the most. For some people, their joy is getting through the make-up routine as quickly as possible, and so minimal eye-shadow is preferred.
Select your colour (be it subtle or bold) with an eye-shadow brush, tap off any excess and apply to the outside corner of your eyelid first, then blend over the eyelid towards the centre of the eye.
This will mean most of the colour will be deposited on the outer corner and the inner part will have minimal colour. This helps to keep your eyes looking well-spaced and gives an uplifting effect.
(Some people put a little bit of eye-shadow under the eye, but this is part of a much more complicated eye-shadow technique, where the colour is blended and shaded right around they eye for a ‘smoky-eye’ look. On it’s own it can appear to drag the eye down and makes it look like the person has trouble lifting their arm high enough to reach their eyelid.)
Step 4: Wisdom (Eye-liner/Mascara)
Wisdom is gained from experience, and is a worthy pursuit for young people, though must be sought with patience and perseverance to receive the most benefit. Once mastered, wisdom helps us to focus on the world around us and interpret things correctly. It is better to be modest about your wisdom, and not pretend to know more than you really do.
Eye-liner requires a steady hand and patience. I’ve always struggled with pencils as they tend to grip the lid and leave a staccato pattern rather than a smooth line. Liquid liners are much smoother, but there’s no room for error. (I only use liquid liners when it’s a really special occasion I want to look extra supplicated for, and can afford to take my time preparing for.)
My day-to-day cheat is to dampen a fine flat eye-shadow brush and use with a dark shade of eye-shadow. The water intensifies the colour and the long brush makes precision application easy.
I look down (tilt my head up) so the brush is inline with my eyelashes, this helps me to create a line right at the root of the lashes, and achieves the goal of eye-liner which is really to enhance the natural way your eyelashes frame your eyes.
I use the wand of my mascara at the base of my eyelashes to separate and fan out the lashes, and pulling the colour through helps to take care of any faded tips and adds a bit of emphasis, all helping to make the eyes look lifted and open.
(Experience has taught me not to bother putting mascara on my lower lashes, as at the best of times it just emphasises that they’re few and far between, and on the worst days can highlight the shadows/wrinkles/sagging that can suddenly appear when you pay too much attention to this potential danger zone.)
Step 5: Love (Lipstick)
Love is absolutely wonderful, but it can also be hard. There are many types of love for different people and even different situations. It is very important to know which type of love for which situation, and to have clear boundaries to avoid embarrassment or pain that can come from being overly liberal with outpouring your love. No matter how hard this may be, it’s worth the effort, for love is the greatest and most powerful of all virtues.
Applying lipstick well is much easier when you use a lip liner. This sets the shape and ensures your lipstick doesn’t run, smear or anything else lipsticks can be inclined to do. It also helps the lipstick colour to last much longer.
With a lip-liner, draw around the edge of your lips, starting from the outside corner and working towards the middle. On the top lip, once you get to the top of the cupids bow, simply flick downward to create the ‘string’. You might find it easier to start drawing in the line slightly inside the edge of the lip and work your way to the edge.
Once the lip line is established, simply pat the lipstick onto the lip to transfer the colour. You don’t need to rub it in (or smear it on). This will give you great colour, without the excess that ends up on your teeth, or running down your chin. You can pat your lips with a dry tissue to further prevent the lipstick travelling to foreign territory.
Voilà, a quick comb of the hair and you’re ready to go.
And with that, you have my final piece of the puzzle on creating your own true expression style.
Providing tips and insights via these articles for Kiwi Families has been a fun challenge for me. Working out which ideas to include to give you an overview of the most common conundrums and the easiest solutions. I hope I have given you some laughs, some insights and some inspiration to try something new.
It’s never easy trying to find specific answers to your own needs by reading though – as I found out with my early make-up lessons! If you would like some one-on-one help, you’re most welcome to get in touch. I’m only an email away.
I’ll leave you with my ultimate guide to looking great and living a beautiful life:
“For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.”
― Sam Levenson