Seeing in Color: Foundation Match Like an Artist

Every day, millions of women around the world suffer from a condition known as Ghost Face Syndrome (GFS). Anyone, even celebrities, can suffer from this syndrome which is caused by mismatched foundation, unblended contour and/or lack of appropriate lighting during the makeup application process. As a beauty professional, every day I work to heal individuals of this syndrome. There is enough information and resources out there to help eradicate this epidemic one face at a time. Like any other illness, there is a sad pathology behind it. Most of the time, the victim is suffering due to lack of self awareness. He or she is not willing to see themselves as they really are, but instead choose to see themselves as another shade (usually lighter).

All jokes aside, I wanted to write this piece because I deal with many people who are so enamoured with the concept of lightness/whiteness, that they would rather walk around with an ashy face than perfectly matched foundation. On the other end of the spectrum, we have people who genuinely don’t understand the depth of color in their skin and get intimidated by the process of selecting makeup. To overcome these things, you must first understand the concept of color. As human beings, we are not simply one shade, we are composed of layers of colors which include undertones. For example, you may find that your under eye area or the middle of your face is a bit lighter than the rest of your face. There are so many charts on the internet with confusing ways to figure out your perfect undertones. I won’t clutter your life with those.

Instead, I’m going to show you some art. Meet Toyin Ojih Odutola; an African artist who is transforming the way people of color are seen in art. In her latest exhibition at the Whitney Museum she uses oil pastels, charcoal and graphite to give texture and nuance to strong faces with traditional African features. I stood in awe of her uses of light and attention to detail. I think that taking a look at Odutola’s work could help get a better understanding of what to look for in your own face just to simplify the color selection process. If you look closely at the skin tones of the portraits, you will see undertones of yellows, reds and neutrals.

This portrait of a husband (yellow undertones) and wife (neutral undertones). Imagine when the artist worked on the piece, that the first layer of paint for the husband was yellow while the first layer of the wife’s skin was brown. 
This is a close up shot of my favorite piece in the exhibition called The Wall of Ambassadors and featured this striking woman with red undertones. 

Now imagine that you were asked to paint a self portrait. Consider what color you would use as a base.

Are you rosey in the cheek area? Then it is likely you have pink undertones.

Do you have a deep earthy tone to your skin? Then you, my dear, have red undertones.

Do you find your skin is sallow and looks better under natural lighting? Then like me, you have yellow undertones.

Do you feel as if you don’t fit into any particular category and having a pretty reasonable, even skin tone? Welcome to the neutral club.

Figuring out your undertone is half the battle when it comes to finding the correct foundation. For brown and black skin tones, it is important to pick foundation lines that have a wider selection of brown tones. I’ve heard great things about Fenty, Black Opal and NARS when it comes to darker skin tone selections. For lighter shades, it is typically more important that the formulas look natural on the skin and not drying. This can mean going for more hydrating serum or liquid foundation formulas. A common mistake for lighter shades is choosing yellow undertones instead of pink or neutral so try to avoid that! Also, keep in mind that makeup formulas do oxidize on the skin and that may cause them to change color throughout the day. It is best to go in person, with a clean face and try out your prospective foundation to see how it will react with your skin.

 

What’s your favorite foundation brand? Why?

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Big Lip Bih

I have big lips. I have a big mouth. I have big teeth. I love them.

Like most things that people consider flaws, I was not aware that the nether regions of my face were larger than normal until people ridiculed me for it. There was always a joke being told about how my lips poked out or how my two front teeth made me resemble Bugs Bunny. Older women would always tell me that I would have no need for lipstick (or high heels because I’m tall) when I grew up. As a kid, things like that weigh on you. You somehow become convinced that looking different and being different is synonymous with being wrong in some way. For a long time, I believed there was something wrong with me. I shied away from makeup and anything that I thought would make my lips more noticeable. 

In 2011, I saw a Youtube video by a young black girl who, like myself, had huge lips. They were round and seemed to have a personality of their own. They added character to her face. They seemed to be in perfect coordination with the sound of her accent. Although we looked nothing alike, I saw myself in her. The title of the video was Are Your Lips TOO BIG!?. Her name is Jaleesa Jaikaran and til this day it is the best lipstick tutorial for ladies with lucious lips that I have ever seen! In it she makes fun of the things that women with plump pallets often say about why they stay away from bright colors or lipstick in general. She also has a point in which she says “this is the way you were made”. That was enough to inspire me!

Afterwards, I tried my very hardest to recreate her effortless and flawless lipstick application.  I worked to find neutral colors that made me feel comfortable but the only ones I was really drawn to were always bold and shiny. I simply couldn’t deny myself! LOL! Its been years of practing, purchasing and a few (hundred) pep talks to leave the house with a wild color that I know people will stare at all day long. I am grateful to Ms. Jaleesa and her wisdom.My lips are usually the focal point of my face. They pull together my makeup and make me feel extraordinarily beautiful. I love when they shine. I love when people take a second look at me because my new color caught their attention. It’s my own little way of playing dressup every day!

Me, November 2016