As you may or may not know, I am happy to answer your makeup and beauty questions anytime. Sometimes, the questions are too good or too common for me not to share. This is a question from Petra, who asked about “too much” makeup.
Because this is SUCH a great question and one that I have had many clients and friends ask me over the years, I thought it’d be perfect to answer not only here on the blog but also the Be Your Own Makeup Artist podcast. “Too much” makeup is, to be really honest, is something even I find myself struggling with at times!
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If you’d like me to answer your question, I’d be honored. Head over to Ask Setareh and happy asking!
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?
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’ve also interviewed one of the world’s leading experts and makeup artists on color theory and we discuss foundation in this episode.
I start with color because it can be easy to confuse “not the right makeup colors” with “too much makeup” so first, make sure you feel confident that you’re using makeup colors and pigments 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! Remember, there’s a difference between skincare and skin prep. I guarantee if both your skin care and skin prep game are strong, you’ll 100% feel whether you are wearing “too much” makeup.
If you do not know your skin type, don’t worry! I have created a free digital download for you to reference — knowledge is power!
If your makeup feels or looks unnatural to you or feels heavy AND you’d made sure you are using the right formulation of foundation for your skin type, then there’s a good chance your foundation is the culprit.
I only ask because we have access to so many beauty influencers that some of us copy or imitate how they apply their makeup. 99% of the time, this results in applying way too much makeup.
For example, one to two full pumps of a liquid foundation is normally enough to cover your entire face. Cream foundation may one need two to three “dips” with your foundation brush before getting too cakey. Powder foundation should really be applied with a brush or soft velour pad, other ways you’ll look (and probably feel) like a clown pretty quick like. For a comprehensive dive into the different types of makeup and which ones are best for you and how to apply them, I’d encourage you to grab a copy of my book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist. It’s the perfect book for makeup beginners and will really give you the foundation (no pun intended) on having a strong and confident relationship with makeup and how to apply and use makeup in ways that works for you and your unique needs.
P.S. Don’t even get me started on the excessive use of concealers in makeup marketing — please know, less is more when it comes to concealer, the concentrated version of foundation!
One of my favorite makeup hacks that I do almost every time I wear foundation or apply foundation to my clients is to take a clean, velour puff or soft cotton tissue and lightly wipe off any excess makeup that doesn’t really belong there. This is a game changer!
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 in the right places, 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).
Bottom Line: Add dimension back into your face with blush and bronzer — use creams if possible!
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.
Here’s a great post on how to DIY your makeup for your headshots!
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!
I sincerely hope this helped you work through your “too much makeup” makeup question, Petra. 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!
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P.S. If you asked me a beauty question, if I don't immediately know the answer, I must thoroughly research every question I receive, and sometimes do not have an immediate answer or I need clarity on unlisted ingredients in certain beauty products, sometimes getting a clear answer takes up to 3 weeks... have patience, it'll be worth it!
Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.