Ask any makeup artist about concealers and they will agree it’s the one beauty product that has powerful capabilities: from hiding to highlighting or providing opaque coverage for a particular problematic skin area. Concealers have a variety of coverages and textures that can instantly bring alive a tired looking face, visually wash away the effects of too little sleep, stress, or simply refresh the complexion for a cleaner smoother look. There are really serious concealers, also known as paramedical camouflage that can literally lay down a “new skin” by opaquely blocking out discolorations (even tattoo colors) beneath it. Concealers greatly help to bring the skin closer to a more flawless looking appearance that looks healthier and radiant to the eye, whether in camera or everyday ambient light.
Concealer is not an alternative to foundation, but as extra help for more smoother looking skin. Most makeup artists feel it is used most effectively after a foundation is applied; to add that extra spot layer of coverage in certain areas where some discoloration may be still slightly detectable. Applying it before the foundation application, however, is less helpful because its opaque properties are diminished or mostly absorbed into the foundation layer. Lighter textured concealers, such as liquids and tube/wand based, are better suited to use on the thinner skinned/ under-eye areas with minimal discolorations, and work really well on dry or mature skin for buildable, natural looking coverage. Thicker or creamier textured concealers, such as those in sticks and pots, hold the most pigment so they work best for higher opacity needs in dealing with heavier discolorations. Higher pigmented concealers also offer excellent buildable coverage with less texture-looking results.
Many women do confuse concealers with color corrector products, which are designed for a different function. Color correction is a method of using opposite color theory to specifically neutralize or mute down an unwanted visible color on the skin. An example of this would be using a yellow or orange corrector on top of a red or blue discoloration in skin to “cancel” it out. Color correctors are definitely applied first before foundation, and you must be very careful in how you apply them as you can end up exchanging one problem for another. They very rarely look natural in daylight or camera work, and too much or improperly applied correction may cause an unwanted detectable color result, or a visible grayed out area on the skin. Concealers deal with discolorations differently by providing a high degree of opaque coverage through skin toned shades, and the result helps build up a smoother looking density of the natural skin tone. This also helps to correct a discoloration issue simply by the amount of opacity it delivers to create a more even toned complexion.
Keep in mind that concealers cannot hide obvious skin textures or anomalies, such as indentations, deep wrinkles, pock marks, or raised areas of the skin but they are highly effective in hiding discoloration in those areas. This also helps bring forward a smoother looking overall facial appearance, which visually diminishes the look of unwanted skin textures. The one thing you don’t want to do is to use a concealer color that is lighter or darker than your normal skin top tone to correct an issue. In HD cameras and natural daylight, it can be very painfully obvious to the eye, and can actually cause a reversed “racooning” effect in the area. You can probably try to get away with ½ shade lighter or darker than skin, and depending on how you use it, but be very wary of making the situation more noticeable with this method. Concealers can certainly be used as highlighters, when paired with a darker contour or shadowing color, to visually bring forward or recede certain areas of the face to enhance features. Be sure to blend it out very well, so that the result looks like a natural and pleasing “bend” in the overall complexion and not obvious, hard-looking contrived areas. Concealers also work very well with dual-finish or powder based foundations, but be sure to apply them first UNDER this type of foundation product. Applying concealer over a powder foundation can cause streaking, and makes the powder layer roll off skin in that area.
In choosing and applying concealer, the makeup artist’s trick is to pick a neutral undertone shade that is in the same top tone color of your skin. Using a warmer undertone can create a “halo” effect in that area on top of skin, and using a cool tone can gray it out around the edges. This is especially important to keep in mind in dealing with discolorations in the eye area, especially with hyper-circulation (reddish purple) or hyper-pigmentation (darkness or the “raccoon” effect.) You want the color and application to balance out the area and not result in heavy, mask-like coverage. Concealer products are not hard to apply, but choose the method that works best for the end result you are trying to achieve, and with smooth undetectable results. Lighter textured concealers (like liquids) can be applied with a doe foot wand or the pads of your finger tips to smooth out gently with no visible demarcation lines. Creamier concealers are best applied with a #10 Taklon brush, which helps to lay down a smooth and even application and also allows you to do organic looking spot applications. Finish with a super light dusting of neutral powder so that the overall look blends naturally with the foundation layer.
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Without a doubt, concealers are magic wands in the beauty arsenal of makeup artists. We consider them a crucial element of the foundation process in creating the flawless face, especially for digital still photography and HDTV. You can have the best laid base and powder but it is concealer that is the “magician technician” in making just about every skin flaw, such as blemishes, under eye circles, redness and other types of discolorations visually disappear. Concealers make a dynamic impact in helping the complexion look clean, fresh, healthier and more vibrant, which is the ultimate makeup goal. Whether for everyday wear or for camera ready makeup, it’s vital that the concealer application blends out for a natural look on skin and with undetectable results. This depends greatly on the concealer’s performance features chosen for the problems you are trying to disguise, so it’s critical that the color, coverage, texture, and finish is right for the task.
Women are often confused about two main things when choosing concealers: how to select the right formula (color, coverage, and texture) that works for their needs, and how to apply them properly for the most natural looking finished results. It’s time to clear up the mystery around these masters of disguise with some simplified information that will help produce the three important results every woman looks for from a concealing product. First, you want a concealer that gives smooth blending coverage without obvious texture in the finish. Second, you want a formula that stays put with long wear, and doesn’t need touching up. Third, you need virtually crease free wear, especially around the eyes. The main thing to know about concealers is that the initial texture of the product (pots, tubes, sticks, etc), along with the amount of pigmentation it holds, rules the blend and application results.
Concealers come in liquids, thick ointments, semi-solid creams, and solid stick products. Ointments, creams and sticks typically hold the highest concentration of pigment, so you have more opacity and more coverage capability to work with. These concealers can provide the most professional looking results, especially when you need to sheer down the texture without losing pigmentation strength for use in high discoloration/blemished areas. Liquid concealers (including wand style tubes) have less concentration of pigment and are pretty much “as is” from the container. They are great for brightening or creating a softer focus around the eye area, and can help to visually reduce the appearance of minor lines and imperfections for a smoother and more radiant look. Liquid concealers are also great to use when you don’t want to wear full base and powder, but just clean up and smooth out those few areas of darkness, discoloration or minor imperfections for a more even looking complexion.
Stay tuned for Part 2 for more tips and techniques in achieving smooth and natural looking results in working with different types of concealers. Like what you’ve read so far? Please comment and share this article here:
When I originally began experimenting with and developing my own techniques for waterproof makeup applications, I thought back to a famous movie star of the 40’s and 50’s, Esther Williams, who was a competitive swimming champion and national record holder, and starring in the popular “Aquacade” style musicals of that era. Her makeup team at MGM Studios went to great effort in creating waterproof makeup techniques for her lengthy underwater scenes, in which the makeup had to wear and last all day. They came up with a mixture of a very thick and heavily pigmented cream, in which she was slathered head to toe, and then heavily powdered down. They put her in a water shower to “set” the makeup, then blotted it dry, and gave it a final powder coat. To finish it they used a shellac type of sealant over her entire makeup application. This concoction didn’t budge off her skin, and needed little maintenance throughout a day’s filming and in spite of her being in a chlorinated pool for hours on end. I have my doubts about the shellac product they used, as back in those days makeup special effects products weren’t entirely of cosmetic origin or even safe for skin use.
Over the years since then climate and moisture proof makeup techniques have come a long way because of the variety of cosmetic products developed for high performance application and long wear. In part one we talked about keeping the prep layers to a minimum to help control oil residue break-through. Applying the foundation base and powder should also be in thin layers, especially if you are double layering the base. I find that water or silicone base formulations break down and release their pigment fairly quickly for a streaking effect when they come in contact with external moisture, and they become difficult to repair and even harder to maintain. Here you are looking for a base product that has a very high pigment content in a wax hybrid or oil hybrid (such as castor oil) vehicle. Wax based ingredients like ceresin and microcrystalline waxes are insoluble to water, so they are excellent to use for waterproof wear.
When I am doing climate proof beauty/bridal makeup, I use Graftobian’s Hi-Def Glamour Crème Foundation, which is super pigmented in a wax hybrid base. The secret to building it into a waterproof application is to apply this in two very thin layers. Make sure the first layer is completely dried down, and then BLOT it all over with a good quality blotting paper. Next, dust it very sparingly with a loose oil control blotting powder, and I strongly recommend using a fan brush for this. Now apply a second layer of foundation on top the first layer, using a light stippling motion and being careful not to displace the first layer. Make sure this layer is completely dry, and then powder it sparingly with the same powder and fan brush. To “pre-set” this makeup application I take superfine misting bottle of water (or put water in my airbrush) and give it a very light overall misting. Allow to dry completely before moving on to the next step. DON’T use a makeup sealant coat just yet, until the makeup has a chance to really settle and bond into the skin, for about 10 – 15 minutes.
For a beauty makeup that has to actually wear in water for long periods of time I switch to a castor based makeup that is a little heavier pigmented, and known in the industry as Rubber Mask Grease Makeup, or RMG for short. Again, I prefer the Graftobian RMG, because it has the smoothest formula in skin tone colors that can be sheered down nicely for a beauty application. To make this RMG makeup application even more waterproof, I put some of it on a palette and thin it down with a spray of 99% alcohol, which turns it into a wash-like consistency. I apply this wash in the same two layer process as above. I also sometimes apply Graftobian F/X Aire Airbrush Makeup in a matching color as a very light concealing overlay to this RMG application, as it adds an even more durable wear layer to this makeup. I will also let this makeup settle on skin for the same amount of time before I add a final sealant coat
Later in this series I will share with you some of my favorite sealers I use for these makeups that give the longest lasting results. Stay tuned to Part 3 as we move on to the color palette applications. In the mean time I welcome your questions and comments to this edition of Climate Controlled Makeup Application!
Picture this: you have a work of art to do on an actress’s face that will be shot in 5K format HD with some very tight close-ups. The makeup requirements are that it must have high performance continuity in a very long day’s shoot under very humid conditions, including heat and staging lights. Count on minimal “last looks” (touch ups) with a packed shot sheet schedule, regardless of whether the scene calls for her to get rained on, cry, swim, or just sweat. You’ve been given a very slim budget, along with a super early call time (and of course not enough chair time with your talent) on the day of the shoot. Oh, and you just found out the makeup has to be completely waterproof in wear. Did I also mention that the actress has extremely oily skin to work with? So you are asking yourself: can I perform supernatural makeup magic wonders that saves time and money yet looks picture flawless from wet to dry, never looking oily in camera all day long…. regardless of these extreme makeup conditions?
It sounds like a tall tale makeup fable for sure, but this is an absolute true case scenario that many makeup artists have had to work with, including myself. It may seem intimidating and discouraging at first, but embrace it as one of the best test and trial experiences that a makeup artist can work through successfully, along with a positive outcome and stronger skill expertise. Trust yourself to do this and “adventure” through it with newfound proficiency. The key to elevating your skills under greater challenges like this has always been to lean on and utilizing your strength of knowledge in the performance mechanics of your makeup products along with refined application techniques. In this case, it’s just moving it up a notch a bit, with some cleverness in product usage and methodology mixed in. This will test your talents for sure, but you will come out of this with a higher level of competency AND confidence, that will advance your reputation as the go-to artist for makeup hostile filming environments.
So what is the best way to tackle this monumental task for a successful outcome? Decide what the operative words are in this situation, from the skin to the makeup finish, which ultimately drives the end result. As I see it, “oily skin” and “waterproof” are the opposing forces here, so that means the makeup must be built (from bare skin up) with minimal layering that will stand up to wear and maintenance. Your choice of products and application techniques will also affect how the color, coverage, texture and finish will last under these extreme conditions. So, it all starts with skin preparation techniques that will give you the best, longer-lasting makeup performance edge under heat, humidity, moisture, and oily skin issues. This is where your cosmetic chemistry and ingredient knowledge is far more important than the name brand, because understanding how cosmetic ingredients applied to a specific skin type will perform in extreme makeup conditions can make or break your success in this situation.
In my view this means avoiding gel, oil, or silicone based skin preps, and even moisturizers, because these kinds of products contribute to faster makeup break down on oily skin, especially under heat conditions. All moisturizers have slip agents that can actually inhibit the foundation from good initial bonding on oily skin, and can be the main culprit in makeup disintegration under adverse conditions. Use a skin prep product that gently clears out surface oils without stripping the skin’s protective lipid layer, and increases bonding with a priming product. I love Natural Born Cosmetics Radiance Boost Freshener which is a mild, fast acting liquid that doesn’t leave any dry down residue. Next, I apply only one skin priming product in a very thin layer, and I prefer it to be a mattifying/anti-shine product, such as Natural Born Cosmetics Liquid Powder Shine Eliminator. This keeps the skin clean, smooth, and sealed for a perfect lock-on to the foundation base, virtually eliminating the foundation base from migrating or breaking apart. In part two of this series we will continue on with foundation and concealing products that work the best for climate controlled makeup, along with powdering and sealing techniques.
Summer time means pretty sun dresses, sandals and shorts outfits, so we want our fingers and toes to bring a “polished” finish to our looks! The warm weather always inspires us to more serious attention to nail maintenance and color selection, along with an array of those cute nail art designs. The growing popularity of stick-on manicures and custom designed acrylic nail art has increased as a forward fashion trend among the old and young alike, and its here to stay.
To make manicures and pedicures longer lasting and durable in wear between nail salon visits, more women are opting to go with semi-permanent gel and acrylic finishes. You can achieve beautiful chip-free looking results, but realize that long term wear of these nail products comes at a price to the health of nails. So how do you balance healthy nail care with continued wear of these kinds of applications?
One of the best things you can do is to take periodic breaks from wearing artificial nail bonding products to allow your nails to breathe properly and grow back into their natural condition. Once these are removed you will notice the natural nail will be very soft, almost paper thin, and fragile. They most likely will be ridged, and highly prone to breakage and peeling as they recover their natural thickness and strength. The key to quicker recovery is to always keep a reasonably high moisture balance overall with hair, skin, and nails.
Here are some easy steps you can take, and used consistently will help fortify nails (and your hands) against brittleness and a weakened texture as they grow out. It is important to keep them short during this time because they are still fragile and prone to breakage. File in one direction only to help keep natural nail layers from lifting and peeling. If there are ridges left from the manicure, you can buff them lightly and gently using a high quality buffer. Don’t overdo the buffing or you will further thin out the nail bed.
Soaking hands in a bath of warm milk and olive oil a couple of times a week does wonders to strengthen and moisturize nails. Avoid trimming cuticles during this grow out phase, as that will further weaken the quality of the recovery process. Just push them back gently with a cuticle stick after a shower or bath, and use a good cream frequently to keep the moisture level up. Work a bit extra into the cuticles, and using a good oil at night on them will really help speed their return to a normal state.
You may want to avoid getting a regular manicure during this healing time, but a good clear nail hardener or strengthener applied is actually good thing to help protect them, and provide extra strength to your nails as they recover. Nails grow faster in summer than any other time of the year, so optimal nail growth and recovery depends on a good diet that is abundant in protein and calcium rich foods. The vitamin, Biotin has been shown to have a very good effect on nail growth and their overall strength, so you might want to look into this supplement.
Following a good program of regular nail care consistently when you are using artificial nail product applications and during down time will definitely go a long way to keeping your natural nails in a more healthy and recoverable state.