How to Choose Appropriate Makeup

How to Choose Appropriate Makeup
Appropriate Makeup
WWI postcard c. 1917 roughly (and poorly) translated as Clear red furrows, calm and sweet will follow (as soon as someone corrects me I’ll change this) via State Library Victoria

So. I mentioned last time I’d intended to talk about appropriate makeup. And this is the post I’m going to do it in. It’s a clown free zone, so don’t be afraid to scroll down.

While clothes and makeup seem very different, appropriate has a similar place when it comes to choosing what you wear. You can see my clothing explanation using cardigans for more.

The Place of Style

I believe your style makes an important contribution to appropriateness. Not just your body shape and proportions, but your favourite colours, personality, courage and any signature elements you already incorporate into your look.

If we look to the Golden Age of Hollywood for inspiration, we can see how style affects makeup choices by comparing June Allyson on the left (“Girl Next Door”) with Marlene Dietrich on the right (“Femme Fatale”).

June Allyson High Barbaree Trailer screenshot / Public domain
Marlene Dietrich High Morocco publicity still Paramount Pictures, Josef von Sternberg / Public domain

You can see that June is wearing lighter colours, applied with a lighter hand. We’d probably call this the “no makeup” look these days. Marlene, on the other hand, is wearing darker colours, applied more strongly. It’s not as vampish as the modern “Femme Fatale” look, but it’s still more striking than the natural look.

In terms of your style, you probably use keywords to guide your clothing choices, and you can use these for your makeup too. Perhaps “modern mod” would be a pale face with dark, heavy eye makeup. Maybe “modest retro” would be icy pink lipstick with pastel eye shadows. Or “opulently chic” dark red lipstick with a beauty mark.

It’s up to you to decide what makeup fits your image, so when you’re searching your style icons and keywords for clothes, take notice of the makeup looks as well, and consider how they fit your style.

What Makes Appropriate Makeup?

Appropriateness is the qualities that make it the right makeup at the right time for the right place. And just like your choice of clothes, it’s as personal to you as your style is. When you’re deciding your appropriate, some elements you might like to consider are:

Skin Care: You probably already know you need different kinds of care for oily and dry skin, older and younger, acne and other skin conditions. In just the same way, your skin may do better with liquid or powder foundations, blushes and eyeshadows.

Climate: And just as you may need to change your skin care around the seasons, you might also need to change your makeup. Here in Melbourne, we have warm to hot and dry summers and mild to cool wet winters. I have to factor in makeup’s tendency to slide off my face in the Summer heat and get too cluggy in the Winter. There’s also the tendency for changing skin colour as the seasons progress.

Region: It might be that social expectations where you live are for more or less coverage. You might also want to change your skin colour as well as the shape of your features, e.g., eyes and lips.

Health/Age/Pregnancy: Similar to skincare, you need to consider your particular needs in terms of allergies, the impact of any medications you’re taking, and your capacity to apply some kinds of products such as false eyelashes.

Faintheartedness: Are you worried about what other people might think, or are you happy to go it alone regardless?

Activities: What you’re doing – you’re probably not going to want full-on formal makeup while you’re playing tennis. But you might be okay with just mascara and lipgloss for the early morning Farmer’s Market run.

Time: How much time and effort you’re willing to put into your makeup routine. This will often depend on all of the above elements. If you feel you have problem skin, you’ll probably be willing to spend more time concealing it. Conversely, if you don’t have a public-facing role, you may not.

My Appropriate Makeup

I work from home, just as my outfit needs to:

So does my makeup.

Essentially I sit at my desk all day, but I still need to feel like I bring a little professionalism to what I do (after all I did write a book about it).

And just as I am an 80/20 dresser, so I am an 80/20 makeup wearer. Only in this case, I don’t buy the 80% anymore.

Usually just a tinted SPF moisturiser, and lightly tinted lip gloss. Depending on how I feel on any given day (tired, sick, etc.), I might add concealer, blush, or mascara. And if I’m leaving the house, more eye makeup, but generally only to the extent that I can do hair and face within five minutes (short hair is very useful for that).

I prefer that my face balances, so if I do more eye, I will wear a darker lip. And of course, I love red the best, though you also need more time and a lip liner to do it well as you get older.

How do you do yous?

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