It's not all 10-step contours, people.
I know you've written about concealers and covering dark circles before, but I'm looking for suggestions of colours to reach for when you've had pretty much the worst weekend ever... I know what colours go with certain outfits, know when to shimmer and when to blend, but when I wake up on Monday morning looking like death warmed over, do I reach for lighter eyeshadows or dark ones? Pink lipsticks or red? - Mel
First of all: As someone who has had some pretty terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days recently, I am really sorry that you’ve had SO MUCH HAPPEN. (Personal details were redacted for privacy.) Here’s how I handle the days when I look like The Living Worst, and the colours that make me look more alive.
Most importantly, before I get into any makeup, I wash and moisturise the HECK out of my skin, because that is the first thing to get dull and sad-looking. Don’t skip this because you’re not at your best!
Next, I apply something to even out my skin. Some people will tell you to pick a “special” foundation with a more “golden glow” to “fake healthy, radiant skin,” but that is grade-A baloney. Don’t waste your money buying something to paint your skin a slightly different colour than it really is; outside of TV and certain photography situations, that will not work the way you think it will.
Use a lightweight foundation or BB cream IN A SHADE THAT MATCHES YOUR SKIN to even out any red or uneven spots. Right now I’m using Urban Decay’s Naked Skin foundation, and I LOVE it. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a foundation--heavy enough to layer under my eyes and conceals my dark circles, light enough to not hide the freckles on my nose.
If you have spots or stress-induced dark circles, now is the time to cover them up with a light concealer. Look for a lightweight liquid formula with peachy undertones to counter the darkness under your eyes, and a shade that exactly matches your skin for any spots. I am not a fan of messing with hardcore colour-correcting concealers unless you’re on your A-game, and nobody is on their A-game when they’ve had a hellish weekend.
Then I apply some blush to the apples of my cheeks (the chubby parts when you smile) to give my face some colour. I like hot pink, and honestly, really bright pink blush applied with a light hand flatters almost all skin tones. Don’t shy away from that particular shade just because it looks intense in the pan.
I keep my eyes very, very simple when I’ve been having a bad time, always remembering that light colours “open” and dark colours “close.” In beauty terms, dark colours are dramatic but can make your eyes look smaller, whereas light colours will make them look bigger. Check out this liner example to see what I mean:
When you’ve had a hellish weekend, you want to create the illusion that everything is fine! That your eyes are OK, and you are awake and alert! Using what we already know about light versus dark colours, it should come as no surprise that the best colours are usually light and fairly neutral.
I use a shimmery colour one shade lighter than my skin--Stila’s eyeshadow in Kitten is perfect for me--and apply it across my mobile eyelid, blending up towards my crease (or the bone that forms the top of my eye socket under my brow). That’s it. Then I curl my lashes--an important step, this really makes your eyes look more open, awake and alert--and apply mascara to my top and bottom lashes. I use a white pencil liner along my lower waterline, as that stops your eyes from looking super-red (great if you’re tired or have been crying).
If you honestly feel like death and the only thing that will restore you is a bright-coloured eyeshadow, OK! Just keep it light in colour, apply with a brush and a light hand, and stay away from greens if you’ve been crying a lot. Green eyeshadow makes already red eyes look SO RED, I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU.
Finally, you’ve got two lip choices: Go semi-natural and pick a light lipstick or gloss in a similar colour to your lips, or choose a colour that picks you up and makes you happy.
If I’m going for a colour similar to my lips, I’m reaching for Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Luscious Honey for a tiny hint of sheer red. If I want a colour that makes me happy, I’m going for Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Lovesick, which is an intensely bright cool pink.
These colours are both shiny rather than matte, which is essentially what you want. They’re also both pretty low-maintenance. The Clinique one is sheer enough that it doesn’t have to be constantly touched up, which is great when you aren’t at your best. The Revlon one REALLY sticks to your lips without feeling dry, so again, you won’t have to be messing with it all day.
As far as specific colours go, there really aren’t rules. It all depends on what YOU like and what’s appropriate for your day (neon blue lipstick probably wouldn’t work if you’re a judge, for example). Just keep it simple, and you’ll look great. Or at least better than you feel.
I hope this helps! Remember, if you have any questions for me, post them in the comments, hit me up via email or submit them via twitter!