Every so often, somebody will ask me how to become a makeup expert, and I'll get the urge to laugh. I'm not laughing at the question; I'm just remembering the days long before my expertise and all the mistakes I made along the way. If you want to become an expert in anything, making mistakes is the second smartest thing you can do. (I'll tell you about the first smartest in a moment.)
Maybe that sounds strange, because when it comes to your looks, nobody wants to make mistakes. It seems so much safer to seek out the experts who will handle it all for you, so you never have to goof. But when it comes to your own beauty, ignorance is the biggest mistake of all. Too many pageant contestants learn this lesson the hard way, moments before their pageant, when their makeup expert is suddenly unavailable, or they find themselves in the hands of somebody who isn't really an expert after all.
Sure, I understand that nobody wants to look at their own face in the mirror and go into shock. Even I've had makeup jobs where I spent the rest of the day expecting people to call me "Mr. Schwarzenegger." These things are going to happen. The trick is to avoid them right before the pageant or your best friend's wedding and know how to fix things if they go wrong.
You learn how to avoid the problems and make the fixes by making your mistakes early, at times when they don't matter as much. So experiment now. Try new ideas, new techniques, and new colors. Armed with the knowledge of what works for you and what doesn't, you will be ready to dodge the disasters.
Since nobody else has your face, there are mistakes you're just going to have to make on your own. But the good news is that there are a gazillion mistakes other women (myself included) have made before you. And this brings us to the first smartest thing you can do: learn from other people's errors before you make them yourself.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1 Always start with a clean face.
2 Never even consider using anyone else's makeup.
3 Never stand in line for a makeup artist when the brush and makeup has just been used on 30 other people. By the time they get to you, the bacteria in the bristles is a dermatologist's nightmare -- don't let it be yours. If you hear of breakouts and rashes erupting right before the pageant, this is frequently why.
4 Get a makeup kit with everything you'll need for the pageant already in it. Then have someone do your makeup with it if you wish, but be ready to do the work yourself if need be.
5 Get a good pageant foundation. Regular foundation is okay for daily wear, but when the heat is on, you want something with real staying power.
6 Have all facial hair removed and eyebrows neatly done. Hairy faces are fashionable in only one place this year -- and trust me, you're much too pretty to stand a chance in the Miss Transylvania Werewolf competition.
Selecting foundation colors is easy nowadays since modern foundations work with the color of your skin. They don't go on like a mask or theatrical makeup. Just pick the one closest to your natural skin color and it will help smooth out the surface and conceal imperfections.
Pick eye colors that accent your own natural eye color. Don't try to find colors you like -- find colors that like you! I can't tell you emphatically enough not to encircle your eyes with black eyeliner. You want your eyes to look bright, not dark and hidden or like transplants from an old silent movie star. Get good, quick-drying mascara so that it stays on your lashes and doesn't end up on your lids.
If you're going for a certain shade of lipstick, make sure the cheek color you select is in the same range. If not, the makeup will look clownish.
When you're done, ask a trusted friend for an opinion, or take some photos so you can judge for yourself. And expect to give yourself a few yucky treatments. It's worth it to be able to make everything just right when it really counts. As Dolly Parton so aptly put it, "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta' put up with the rain."
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