When I put on makeup, I always feel like it’s “too much” and end up being either uncomfortable or take it off. When I see my pictures later on, the makeup was barely noticeable. So, when is “too much” makeup actually too much?
This is SUCH a great question, and it’s one that I have had many clients and friends ask me over the years. It’s also something I sometimes find myself struggling with! I created a podcast episode in case you’d rather listen to my response. Just click on the player below!
First, I think we need to break down what “too much” actually means. “Too much” is such a personal preference! For you, it might be too much when the makeup feels heavy on your skin or like your skin can’t breathe (even if it looks really good).
If someone is not used to wearing makeup, they could put on a light tinted moisturizer and it might feel like too much. It’s such a personal experience and it’s one of those “you know it when you feel it” things. Remember: the only person you should be wearing makeup for is you, so don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re wearing too much makeup.
The first thing I want to note is that you may be reacting to a color mismatch rather than the application itself. If a foundation doesn’t match, for example, it might make you feel like you look different and you may think it’s that you’re wearing too much makeup. I did a blog post all about finding your perfect foundation color match, which you can read here.
I start with this because it can be easy to confuse “not the right makeup” with “too much makeup” so first, make sure you feel confident that you’re using makeup that compliments your skin tone. It may just be time to switch up your products and try something that feels and looks better on your skin!
Speaking of skin, taking care of your skin should always be #1! You may not think this has anything to do with how your makeup looks, but trust me… if you are applying foundation on top of dirty, dry, oily, or un-moisturized skin, it will not feel right!
I have an amazing free skin type guide co-authored by my friend Liz @surfacebyliz. It breaks down each skin type and goes over how to best care for your skin so you can get the best looking makeup application! You can grab your copy on my website right here.
If your makeup feels or looks unnatural to you, there’s a good chance it’s your foundation. Even if you’re using the right color for their skin tone, you may be using the “wrong” kind of foundation for your skin or applying it in a way that’s unflattering for your skin type.
Because we have access to so many beauty YouTubers and Instagrammers, we sometimes copy how they apply their makeup, which is SO totally different than how you would apply an everyday makeup look. One full pump of a liquid foundation is normally enough to cover your entire face. Cream foundation can get cakey fast because it’s generally highly pigmented. It really needs to be thinned out for a lighter, more natural coverage.
Powder foundation can also get cakey fast. Try applying it with a dense — but not too dense — brush; applying with a clean velour puff is also a great way to do it. Want to know my favorite “grandma trick” for powder foundation? Take a soft, clean cloth (not a washcloth) or a clean velour puff and wipe off any excess after you’ve applied your makeup.
If you feel like you look washed out, you may actually need MORE makeup. Yep. Blush and bronzer can be your bffs when you want a more natural makeup application. Foundation makes our skin essentially one color, which isn’t natural at all. Wearing foundation without blush and bronzer is like wearing black underwear with white linen pants. You’ve got the foundation on but … it’s not going to look nice.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is blush and bronzer are extremely important, but often times these two products are skipped, not applied correctly, or the colors are not complementary to the skin. If you know you are going to be photographed, make sure to apply blush and bronzer (and highlighter if you are savvy). Add that dimension back into your face!
As we get older, just like our skin can get a little dull and less elastic, our lips can get a little dull and they’re just not as plump as they once were. This is why many of us get a little more adventurous with our lip color. If you’re not ready to go there, that’s okay, just get a nice lip gloss to add some shine and dimension back into your lips.
Just like a clear nail polish can make naked nails look a lot more put together, a little bit of gloss on the lips can work wonders. You can also get a nice tinted balm; I like the ones from Burt’s Bees. They’re super wearable and come in a nice range of colors.
Flash photography can bring out the best or worst in our makeup! Professional photographers know how to use flash, control it, and subdue it so that the shadows created on our face are balanced. When we see the picture, it matches how we actually see ourselves IRL.
When we are looking at pictures of ourselves from amateur photographers (like you and me), it’s often a completely different story. It’s hard to take a nice photo that requires no editing! We are taking pictures with smartphones and point-and-shoots and the lighting is not controlled or predictable.
Under-eyes always look darker in pictures than in real life (except with professional flash photography). If you know you’re having photos taken, be sure to add concealer (just a little bit — less concealer is ALWAYS better than too much) and set it with a transparent or no color powder complimentary to your skin tone.
This brings me to my biggest belief about makeup. I believe everyone DESERVES to know how to wear makeup. Period. That’s why I created the Be Your Own Makeup Artist book. This book contains everything you need to know to become your own makeup artist.
All of the information in it is 100% unbiased and unsponsored and it is based on my years of professional experience. I’ve noticed lots of trends… lots of self-doubt… lots of confusion… lots of misinformation about makeup that is really making something that should be so easy, way harder than it needs to be!
Did this solve your “too much makeup” makeup question, Petra? Please write back to me and let me know! As always, I take questions just like this one via the Ask Setareh form on my website. You never know, your question could end up as a future blog post!
I’m Natalie, an American born makeup artist & makeup educator based in Wiesbaden, Germany. I truly believe that makeup, when applied well, can transform us in so many ways. My page is a space for inspiration, education, and advice. Thanks for being here & I’d love to connect with you!
Makeup education a great passion of mine. I have personally witnessed how makeup education has positively changed lives time and time again.
Throughout the years, I kept noticing the lack of real-life, practical, and easy to understand makeup education.
After developing PDF guides for my private lesson clients, then workbooks for my makeup workshops, enough people told me I should write a book. So in 2019, personally funded and self-published my first book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist.