Why I Dislike Make-Up Rules

I’m sure you have read tons of articles in magazines or on websites that tell you the dos and don’ts on how to apply your make-up.  Some of these may be peer reviews, others may be from make-up artists. Here’s my take on them.

I recently read a post  on Prime Beauty called “12 Common Makeup Mistakes”.  It was supposed to give advice on what NOT to do when applying make-up.  The 12 steps were coming from a pro make-up artist named Susmta Patel. She goes into detail about what people do wrong and tells them to never do these things again. I highly dislike these types of posts.  As a make-up artist, I feel it is incorrect to tell people that they can’t wear this or should never pair these colors together.  You have to remember that make-up is art.  People are going to express themselves as they see fit.  Make-up will come down to personal preference, comfort level, and technique.  The only “rules” I live by would be to always take your make-up off before going to sleep and never sleep with your make-up on.  Other than that, it’s fair game.

I’m going to highlight some of  her “Common Make-up Mistakes” that I feel were really inappropriate and explain why this is irresponsible, insulting and just wrong to do.  I feel that it’s one thing to offer suggestions on how to incorporate colors to compliment your eyes, or hair, or outfit.  It’s another to tell someone to never wear this or you can’t do that because it’s not for your skin type or age group. That is damaging to the growth and creative process of the art.  Keep in mind, it’s just make-up.  You can play with it and have fun, when you’re tired just wipe it off.  At the top of the post there is a picture of 2 ladies in very dramatic make-up.  The picture is supposed to support the points that she makes because they’re not typical everyday looks.  I actually found the two ladies to be very pretty.  The work on them was theatrical and very colorful but not mistakes at all. They were looks that are out of a lot of people’s comfort zone, it doesn’t make them wrong.  As a matter of fact, the more I looked at the two pictured women and their make-up, it became very clear that it took an extremely talented make-up artist to create those looks.

  1. Saying Blue eyeshadow is only for little girls in dance recitals, people attending ’70s parties, and models is flat out ridiculous.  There are so many different shades of blue.  EVERYONE can wear blue eyeshadow just as EVERYONE can wear red lipstick.  It’s all about the technique of applying them.  I question Susmta’s level of expertise if she will never use blue eyeshadow on any of her clients.  To me, that says a lot and leads me to think she’s very limited in skill.
  2. Wearing a Rainbow of Eyeshadow shades at once is another mistake she has listed.  She recommends that you use no more than 3 eyeshadows at a time. WTH?? Are you kidding? You should have the freedom to wear any color combo you chose. How you blend those colors is going to be key, not how many shadows you used.  If I’m doing a look, I often use 4 or 5 colors.  They may not look like an actual rainbow, but it was still more than 3 shadows.  You could do a soft natural and neutral look using a coral, 2 shades of brown, a purple and a champagne/beige color.  It won’t look over the top at all as long as it’s blended.
  3. Attempting to create a contour that doesn’t exist.  She states that contouring rarely works in real world and should be left to photo shoots because their too obvious when seen in person. Again this is inaccurate.  I highlight and contour my face everyday. I have yet to be accused of looking unnatural.  If you don’t blend the darker blush/powder then yeah, but to totally disregard it is wrong.
  4. Penciled Brows is listed as a mistake because she says pencils make the brow look painted and weird. *sigh* Seriously, if brow pencils were a true make-up mistake, would so many brands make them? She suggests you use eyeshadows instead. Can you use eyeshadows? Of course, does the use of eye shadows negate the use of pencils? Not at all.  Can you use both? Absolutely! Technique is key here.  What about Brow Gels? She doesn’t even mention them.  Again, it seems as though there are serious limits with her creativity and expertise.
  5. Using the wrong foundation hue was the last mistake I wanted to focus on that I disagreed with.  I know that might sound strange but let me explain.  On average, most people want their foundation to exactly match their skin.  The keywords being “on average”. This is not always the case.  Working at make-up counters, I’ve learned that there are many women and men who deliberately want foundations and powders that are either lighter than their natural skin or darker.  For this reason, when I’m at work and someone comes to me to get foundation or powder, the first thing I ask is “do you want your make-up to match you exactly or did you want it to look lighter or darker than your skin?”.  I follow this question with “what effect are you going for?”.  There are specific cultures I’ve come in contact with over the years who absolutely refused to wear make-up that was their skin color.  Darker skin is looked down upon within their group so they want lighter foundation and powder.  No matter how obvious it is that the make-up is way too light, they are happy with it.  At that point, who am I to tell them that what they are doing is wrong?
I won’t go through each one. I just wanted to point out the ones that bothered me the most.  It’s “pro make-up artists” like these who continue to have people placed in a narrow box.  It leads to people believing that they can’t wear this or they are not supposed to do that.  The way that the article was written makes the reader feel insulted. When she talked about the blue eyeshadow, she ended her point with “enough said”.  Clearly a lot of people do these so-called “mistakes”.  If they are comfortable with this look, why would I shoot them down.
As a professional make-up artist, my job is to enhance what you already have.  I’m not here to change your thought process or convert you in any way.  I can offer suggestions, tips, and tricks but when it comes down to it, the client has to be comfortable.  After reading this article, I can see why so many people are afraid of make-up and feel uncomfortable with consulting with make-up artists. That’s so unfortunate and does nothing to help our cause.  Individuality and creativity is important.  What works for one person is not going to work for another.  As make-up artists and make-up lovers, we need to embrace an eclectic point of view. Sure you can listen to tips from this person and read something from that magazine,  but come back and merge what works best for you, not neccesarily exactly what some “expert” said you could or couldn’t do.
Make-up should be fun and artistic.  Go out there and explore and create several looks for yourselves based on your comfort level, your personal preference, and your techniques/skills.

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3 comments

I have read that article too and I totally agree with you! Esp about foundation hue. I work as a freelance makeup artist and I often use a foundation which is darker then client's skin because here where I live people apply sunscreen only to their faces and necks so when they get tanned, skin on their faces are lighter then skin on their chest and entire body, and if I use a foundation which absolutely matches skin tone it looks ridiculous. So I go for a darker foundation. The main thing here is to determine undertones. And I often use 5-6 eyeshadows at a time. I don't think it's a crime.

On the other hand, these tips would be useful for those who don't have enough skills in makeup and aren't going to improve it. But again, you can not forbid people to grow!

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@Elena

Exactly. I get people all of the time who want to look either lighter or darker than their natural skin for various reasons. If the post wouldn't have been written in a way that didn't seem so absolute, I don't think it would've been so inappropriate. Pointers, tips, & suggestions…yes. You are wrong if you do this and right if you do that…no.

Telling people not to use more than 3 eyeshadows is so off base. As a matter of fact, my post using the UD 15 Anniversary Eyeshadows is a rainbow of colors. I don't think I looked strange at all.

Thanks for stopping by & commenting!

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