LIKE IT or not, FaceTiming with family and friends and Zooming with your book club, colleagues or eHarmony dates have become the norm. In our new world, we’re looking at more and more of our faces on small screens.
If you’re thinking the camera on your laptop, desktop or smart phone makes you look kind of washed out, we hear you. The Touch Up My Appearance option under Zoom’s video setting retouches your display with a soft-focus feature that smoothes out lines. That helps, but there’s much more you can do for a polished appearance.
Just ask Shauné Hayes, a DC-based professional makeup artist, who calls both Tom Hanks and Nancy Pelosi clients, as well as a bevy of blushing brides. We recently chatted about her tips for looking your best on camera.
Before we even talk makeup, consider the lighting situation. If you’re not in a well-lit area, you look one-dimensional—not very flattering, says Hayes. If you can, do your Zoom call by a window with a covering so it’s not overly bright. If it’s after dark, a ring light that clips to your phone helps. Or take the shade off of a lamp for more light. In any case, make sure the light is in front of you, not behind. Your eyes should be level with the camera on the computer—you might need some books under your laptop. What you want to see is the upper chest and above.
A Zoom session is not the occasion to pile on the cosmetics. “Keep it simple; less is more in virtual appearances,” says Hayes. Don’t forget your brows. “For the most natural effect, only fill them in where they’re sparse.”
For healthy-looking skin, apply a tinted moisturizer or cc cream. And then use a concealer under the eyes or on any dark area—even on the eyelids. Avoid shiny eyeshadows, which can look brash on screen. Say yes to dewy, no to sparkly. Emphasize your eyes with mascara, but not black eyeliner. “Darker colors can come across too harsh in a virtual setting,” says Hayes.
As an alternative to blush, which “can stand out in the wrong way when not well blended,” Hayes prefers bronzer to give the face some definition and add warmth to the skin.
Finally, if you want to check the way you look the way before your video chat goes live, do as Hayes does and do a trial run on Zoom, hosting a meeting yourself.
Below, a dozen products to bring out the most presentable you:
LEFT: Boy Brow ($16, Glossier) gets a lotta love online for its brush-on creamy wax that thickens, shapes and grooms. CENTER: Full and fluffy brows look good to us, on or off camera. RIGHT: The über-fine, retractable tip on Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Wiz (available in 10 shades, $23, Sephora), makes it easier to fill in spaces where brow hairs are scarce—on arches or elsewhere, with tiny strokes.
LEFT: Hayes likes Ulta house brand’s Full Coverage Liquid Concealer ($9). The price is right, too. Creamy, light and blendable, the formula includes aloe vera, tea tree oil and green tea that reduce redness. RIGHT: The Vanish Airbrush Concealer ($34, Hourglass Cosmetics) does a good job camouflaging the dark circles around my eyes and elsewhere. Using about three dots—more is too much—under each eye and blending does the trick to blur my squinty lines and brighten up the area.
LEFT: Some of us, notes Hayes, have our own natural shine, but she cautions that it doesn’t come across well on a video chat. Her go-to product for absorbing oil is translucent face powder. Ultra HD Loose Powder ($36) from Make Up For Ever is a silica-and silicon-based formula that gives a matte finish. Using too much can make you look dull and lifeless. RIGHT: Hayes keeps this RCMA No Color Powder ($12, the Research Council of Makeup Artists) in her makeup artist’s kit. Apply with a fluffy brush to blur imperfections.
LEFT: Lancôme’s Skin Feels Good Hydrating Tinted Moisturizer (available in 11 shades, $35, Ulta), with moringa oil and hyaluronic acid, gives skin a dewy finish. RIGHT: A tinted moisturizer like Laura Mercier’s Natural Skin Perfector ($47, Ulta) is a go-to for someone who likes just a sheer hint of coverage for that no-makeup-makeup look. Macadamia and other oils help to get that coveted dewy look, reducing the signs of dry skin. Both these products contain a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 23 and 30, respectively.
LEFT: I recently got a sample of Milk Makeup’s Lip + Cheek Color, which I’m loving for how easy it is to blend on my face and swipe on my lips. I’m tempted to try to warm up my complexion with the label’s Matte Bronzer ($28, Sephora). Frankly, I don’t know how to contour my face, but maybe Shauné would give me some pointers. You can also use the bronzer on your body, building coverage as you apply. ABOVE RIGHT: Back in the day when “Gossip Girl” was on TV, Serena van der Woodsen’s (aka Blake Lively) eye makeup intrigued me. It looked as if she had put white eyeshadow or something in the corners of her eyes. At the time I purchased Tata Harper’s Very Highlighting ($42) cream to try to get the same effect. I just retrieved it from my cosmetics stash because of Hayes’ pro tip: Instead of putting highlighter on your cheek area, apply it in the corners of your eyes—it opens them up and makes you look more awake. BELOW RIGHT: Hayes relies on LimeLife by Alcone’s Perfect Bronzer ($24) for a warm but not glittery look that resembles a real tan.
ABOVE: For my Zoom sessions, I wear Kosas’ Weightless Lip Color ($28, Violet Grey) in rosewater, which is a neutral color very close to my own lip shade. It’s scented with sweet orange oil, reportedly a collagen booster. It’s hydrating but not shiny. So just right for my Zoom session this Thursday.
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