Whenever I sort through my inbox, I notice certain patterns emerging. Cluelessness about what to say or wear and complaints about the seeming popularity of expensive or unflattering styles frequently top the list. Coming in a close second are personal brand questions, followed by advice requests for specific occasions or events.
As seasons change, there’s also usually an influx of help requests from people who find themselves happy with, or at least used to, previous seasons’ styles and uninterested in updating their look. Although, recently, I noticed a fun trend — a number of men and women asking the exact same questions but phrased very differently.
As usual with Q&A columns, the question being asked is actually a composite of similarly themed questions. In this case, it was even more fun to see how the different sexes either phrased their question directly, or completely danced around the issue.
Dear MintStyle: I am not a fan of makeup. It’s not that I think that I’m naturally perfect, far from it, I just hate the idea of spackling my face with chemicals or colors and textures not found in nature.
That said, lately I’ve noticed that I’m looking more tired than usual. I don’t know if it’s the lighting in my office or the fact that I’m about to hit a milestone birthday, but I wish I could look fresher without looking like I’m wearing a mask, or as though I’m actually wearing makeup. I want product advice that makes me look slightly better without having to resort to the knife or needle.
Signed, No Show Glow
Dear No Show Glow: Back in the days when I worked as a celebrity makeup artist, I’d frequently have to hide my shock when encountering famous bare (and sometimes significantly surgically enhanced) faces for the first time (sorry, I never kiss and tell). Many of them were all but unrecognizable without their painted-on features, hair extensions or airbrushing. That said, for most people, even just a puff of powder or a swipe of color helps add some definition and glow to their features.
There are some easy-to-work-with and generally barely there products that can enhance your looks without overpowering them. Please note that many of these products can be used by both men and women and the key to making them look natural is in the application and blending.
If you’re uncomfortable and unsure about how the product might appear, try applying it in the harshest natural light available, blending well (then blending some more), while checking throughout the day to see how the product appears — or disappears, depending on the light you’re in.
In no particular order, these are some product suggestions that work well for creating a nude look. Since there are so many variations in skin tone and coloring, I tried to limit suggestions to the most basic, in the hopes that people would consult with an expert for advice on choosing the perfect shade for their own skin tone.
About a decade ago, YSL Cosmetics launched Touche Eclat, a revolutionary product that brightens the shadowy parts of your face. In the last year or so, there have been a flurry of of more affordable releases that have a nearly identical effect.
Maybelline DreamLumi Touche and L’Oreal MagicLumi are both brightening concealers that are widely available in drugstores and cost between $8.00-$12.00. Dot this product around the eyes for a brightening effect, dab over dark spots to conceal sun damage or blend anywhere on your face that needs camouflaging or enhancing.
Allergies, smoking, aging and lack of sleep can make your eyelids appear dark or discolored. Even if you’re not a fan of eyeshadow, you might want to consider an eyeshadow base and very neutral powder or shadow on top to even things out.
Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer ($20) and Simply Vera by Vera Wang Eye Illuminating Primer ($19.50) are both fairly dummy-proof. Apply, blend well and follow with a neutral eyeshadow or powder to set — used alone, these products tend to settle in creases. Urban Decay eyeshadow in Virgin ($18.00) is a light, neutral flesh tone that works well with very fair skin.
Anastasia of Beverly Hills is known as both an eyebrow guru (Oprah is just one name on her long list of celebrity clients) and for the products that she creates to enhance brows, which, in turn, better frame your eyes.
One of my current obsessions is the Brow Duality pencil highlighting duo ($23.00). Use the matte side over or under brows to create the illusion of a more perfectly defined brow (assuming that you fill in sparse sections or even out the shape with a pencil or powder matching your brow shade). Use the shimmer highlighter just under the arch of your brows, or in the inner corner of your eyes to make you look more wide awake. Anastasia also makes a clear eyebrow gel, which can tame unruly eyebrows on even the manliest of man-brows.
Matte Down, Pat Down
I suppose if I had one desert island beauty product, it would be pressed powder. Without it, my nose shines like a beacon on an isolated lighthouse (resisting adding the part about a dark and stormy night). During summer months though, I always advise people to lighten up with their powder application. Mineral cosmetics are expensive but incredibly popular because they cover flaws without clogging pores.
Colorscience Sunforgettable SPF 30 ($50) comes with a self-dispensing powder brush and combines sun protection with a lightweight mineral face powder, so it not only protects your skin but makes you look great in the process. Therapy Systems Loose Mineral Foundation ($34) is triple milled and also includes ingredients like silk and boron nitride for an incredibly light feel.
Whatever you do, make sure to choose colors that are closest to your skin tone and pay attention to the way that the products wear or fade. And blend, blend, blend — and then blend again.
Rachel Weingarten is a fan of the artfully applied natural look. She is style expert, marketing strategist & personal branding consultant for CEOs, politicians and celebrities and the creator of MintStyle. Rachel is the award-winning author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Rachel writes for top media outlets including CNN, Fortune, Forbes Life, MSN, USA Today, Yahoo Finance and many others. She is a regularly featured expert on TV shows including Good Morning America and The Today Show. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw Write to her with your burning style questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.