I know a bit about makeup, having graduated from a makeup course at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ont. Although I enjoy making other women feel better with makeup, I shy away from applying "face paint" to myself. My makeup routine is a snap -- lip gloss and blush. I prefer the natural look. When I told this to Kevin-James Bennett, two-time winner of the Emmy Award for makeup design, while I was at The Makeup Show, he shook his head and told me that was my first mistake.
"Women over the age of 16 can never achieve a natural look," he says. "You'll never go back to when your skin was that perfect. Women of a certain age need to realize the look they are after is not natural, it's neutral. At a certain age, women can look fantastic going for a neutral look that focuses on evening out the skin tone, filling in some lines and playing up their best features."
Just what is this neutral look? And can I achieve it in 15 minutes? I decided to sit down for a lesson from one of the best. Bennett has designed faces for Law & Order and As the World Turns. Using products from up-and-coming Canadian company Face Atelier, Bennett proceeded to transform my uneven, moisture-starved facial canvas from drab to fab.
Want to try to achieve this neutral beauty look yourself? Here are a few tips I picked up while in the makeup chair:
• Study your face. Decide what feature you want to highlight. Your smile? Eyes? Cheekbones? Skin? Focus on what you like about your face and build your makeup plan around bringing out that great feature.
• Make sure you have the right tools. Foundation, blush and lip brushes, as well as eye-shadow flat and angle brushes are classics. Add makeup sponges, Q-Tips, tissues and maybe an eyelash curler to the kit and you've got all of the basics needed to help create a beautiful look. (Read about the essential makeup brushes.)
• Schedule a makeup lesson. Debbie Bondar, President and CEO of Calgary-based Face Atelier, recommends going to someone who doesn't just want to sell you products. Shop around and gather ideas from makeup professionals, then purchase a few products you know you'll use. Don't forget to occasionally clean out your makeup bag to make a fresh start.
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• Make sure to moisturize. Bennett recommends that women include a moisture lotion in their routine. It stretches the amount of liquid foundation needed, and he suggests that if you mix some liquid foundation with moisturizer, you can create a personally tinted foundation for days when light coverage is needed. Make sure the moisturizer has a 15 or higher SPF factor.
• Build an even foundation. As when building a house, when doing your makeup, Bennett believes that foundation is the most important step in evening out the complexion, reducing under-eye circles and creating a neutral face. He finds the right shade by test-blending on the jawline. You shouldn't see foundation on the face, so it may take mixing two foundations together in order to get the right colour for your skin. Take your time on this step, because foundation can brighten and unify the skin. On my face, Bennett applied a liquid foundation -- his favourite form of foundation -- with a brush, then blended it with a cosmetic sponge.
• Got to have glow. Kevin applies an ultrasheer glow product over the foundation. This product captures light and adds glow -- not shine -- to the face.
• Blushing and beautiful. Next, apply powder blush in a colour that complements the warm or cool colours you feel good wearing.
• All eyes on the eyes. Draw attention to the eyes by applying a base colour shadow from lid to brow, followed by a slightly darker shade above the eye crease. For an evening look, add a darker shade with a flat-topped brush and press in along the lash line (instant eyeliner!).
• Add drama with mascara. Brush brows and apply a coat of brown mascara to your eyelashes.
• Bennett's final finishing touch. Bennett's favourite product, which he feels every woman should own and use even if she doesn't wear any makeup, is a lip glaze. He applies it after he lines the lips with a lip pencil.
I've left Manhattan behind and have now settled back in to my Northern Ontario home office. I have a photo of my neutral look, created by Kevin-James Bennett, on my desk. My eyes did stand out after he worked his magic, but the lesson I learned was more than just how to apply makeup. He taught me that women can purchase all the makeup products and tools they want, but nothing makes a woman more beautiful than a smile and a story. Kevin's advice is to enjoy every stage of your life, with or without your "face" on!
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