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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SAY NO! Protect Your Glow

If you’ve followed me for a while, you are absolutely aware that my approach to skin care (and overall wellness) is being gentle with the skin. This means not doing anything that would disrupt the acid mantle of my skin. The acid mantle is the outermost layer of the skin that protects it from any bacterias and potential invaders. Moral of the mantle is, it keeps the dirties out. Being that it is so important to skin health, I want to do everything within my power to keep it intact. So here’s a list of things to avoid that could disrupt and/or destroy your acid mantle.

  • Drying Alcohols– drying alcohols wear away at the acid mantle and make the skin vulnerable to infection and overproduction of oil
  • Peel-off masks– masks that dry hard and peel from the face not only hurt like hell to take off but they can make the pores appear larger
  • Nair– it falls under the category of chemical depilatory which means which means it is highly alkaline (unlike the natural state of the skin) so… NOPE!
  • Shaving– call it dermaplaning or whatever you want… it is shaving. Those little vellus hairs (yes, they have a name) are the equivalent of a wire fence for your acid mantle
  • Microneedling- poking holes in my face with needles? Blood? Need I saw more?
  • Mineral Oil– check all your products and if they have mineral oil in them, burn them. Or just throw them in the garbage. Although it softens the skin, it does clog the pores and increase water loss in the skin. Water loss speeds up aging
  • Face Scrubs– anything with granules on the skin that is meant to exfoliate usually does not. Instead, it scratches at the acid mantle and makes the skin raw. Step away from the St.Ives ladies!
  • Lemon Instagram hobbyists will lead you to believe that lemon juice on the face is a great lightener and exfoliator. It is actually too acidic for the face.
  • Vaseline– Its derived from petroleum… like the stuff we put in cars. Also, uses paraffin wax which is bad for your skin in the exact same way as mineral oil. It is also horrible for the environment
  • Facial Brushes Similar to face scrubs, they can wear away at the acid mantle. Aside from that, they hold bacteria and makeup.