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  • One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
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Take a Makeup Lesson

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Spend some bucks on your tools

At Napoleon Perdis' Makeup Academy in Hollywood, Rebecca Prior, NP's National Educator, begins the first lesson by introducing us to our tools. "To me, tools and products are equally as important as the makeup skills that you have," she says. For example, let's say you were using mediocre brushes, mediocre products, and had average skill. Just by improving the quality of your brushes and using richer pigmented products, the application would immediately be better, even without improving your technique. So if you really want to apply your makeup like a pro, Los Angeles-based educator Felicia Alva says, "Do what the professionals do: Use the proper brushes for application."

Here are the eight basic brushes you need:

  • Foundation brush
  • Concealer brush
  • Fluffy powder brush
  • Blush brush
  • Small blending brush
  • Flat eyeshadow brush
  • Precision angle brush
  • Lip brush

Once you have your tools, you need to know how to hold them. Make Up For Ever educator Lijha Stewart says, "Where you hold a brush on the handle affects your control. The closer your fingers are to the barrel (the silver section beneath the brush head), the more pressure you put on the brush head and vice versa." In general, if you want to apply color evenly, place your fingers on the center of the brush handle. Another tip: You can easily turn a fluffy brush into a flat, angled brush by wrapping your hand around the bristles and flattening them.

Mix primer with your foundation

I'm sitting in Make-up Designory's Beauty 101 classroom and I'm anticipating today's lesson to be quite the bore-fest. I'm barely paying attention as Lead Instructor Gil Romero goes through the three different types of foundation: liquid, powder, and cream. Yawn. Wake me up when I'm going to learn something new.

It seems like Romero read my mind, because he immediately hit me with this tip: "You can wear cream foundation as is for opaque, full coverage, or you can break it down to be more translucent by mixing it with some primer," he says. What? Isn't primer only supposed to go on before foundation? But Romero says this is a surefire way to retain the foundation's coverage without looking caked on. Plus, you get to reap the long-lasting durability that cream foundation has over liquids and powders. Prior says this also helps the makeup blend seamlessly with the first layer of primer on your skin.

I raise my hand at this point and ask if cream foundation is OK for oily skin. This is a selfish question, because I struggle with a mid-day oily t-zone. Make-up Designory Creative Director, Yvonne Hawker (who also wrote the school's textbook) says everyone can use cream foundation, but those with oily skin should use a damp sponge to apply it. Most foundations have oil in its formula to give the coverage blend-ability. Using the sponge will "pick up the pigment, but not the oil in the foundation." You'll still get great coverage, but not the shine.

For dry or combination skin types, "use your foundation brush and buff the foundation onto the skin, concentrating on the center of your face, which is typically where your skin has the most discoloration," says Hawker. "The further you get from the center, the less coverage you want."

Love your flaws -- then conceal them

It's Day 3 at makeup school and there's a color wheel on the whiteboard. "The key to being a successful makeup artist is being able to identify someone's undertones and know how to manipulate the color wheel to get rid of unwanted color," says instructor Gina Sandler.

And when Sandler says "unwanted color," I immediately tune in because I want to learn how to cover up my zits, the stubborn redness around my nose, and the bluish hues under my eyes. She says opposite colors cancel each other out, so green-pigmented concealer covers redness, and orangey concealer removes blue. "If you use your beige concealer, it'll only make those areas look muddy," says Prior.

Once Sandler shows us how she gets rid of zits, redness around the nose, and under-eye bags on one of the students, she then pairs us off and has us practice on each other's makeup-free faces. Immediately, all of my insecurities start bubbling up. My bags, my zits, my dark spots ... is someone seriously going to be inches away from them? Then one of the students says, "Ugh, I'm so ugly." Sandler responds, "No, you're so cute! You all are!" It's makeup school, but it starts to feel more like we're in a group therapy session. Sandler says practicing on each other is key because you quickly learn how to deal with all types of skin tones and facial features, which you will have to become comfortable with if you want to be a professional.

 

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