I have a confession for you: when it comes to makeup, I am not the natural artist I pretend to be. I've been working on improving my skills lately, but the fact is, I can really only do 4 or 5 looks. I've been working on a perfecting a cat-eye for about 6 years now. My favorite application method for makeup is smearing it on with my fingers. I like this look, and I think it works for me, but lately, I've been feeling like I'm settling for something easy. I'm in awe of make-up artists who can create illusions on their face, and make it looks seamless. Have you ever seen the Pixiwoo sisters? They are, of course, naturally gorgeous, but I've seen them transform into Marlene Dietrich. It's astounding.
The list of make-up things I can do well basically boils down to techniques that you would use in actual painting. I'm an art student, so when it comes to color theory, shading, and smearing stuff around, I'm your girl. I like to call my make-up style 'impressionism'. Fake it 'till you make it.
When I saw a tube of white lipstick in Italy for 2 euro, I immediately thought I could use it to blend new shades of my old lipsticks with, and snagged it. I am so incredibly happy I did. White lipstick is the ultimate shortcut to every beauty technique you've been too intimidated to try. It is the ultimate tool for contouring your lips and even your cheeks. If you haven't heard of contouring, it's artistic shading for your face. First used by drag queens and trans women to highlight cheekbones, distinguish noses and jawlines, and disguise Adam's apples, it's always been incredibly glamorous, and incredibly intimidating to late-blooming makeup wearers like me.
The basic principle of contouring is to lighten/highlight the things you want to stand out, and shade the things you don't to give your face definition and symmetry. Faces are defined by where the light hits them, right? So if you have large cheekbones, the tops will stand out, and there will be a shadow underneath them. Following that principle, to give yourself the appearance of bigger cheekbones, you can highlight the top of your cheek and shade the bottom. Voilà! Insta-cheekbone. If you're still confused, take a look at this excellent article from OMG Fashion. Contouring is magic, you guys. It is also really hard to do right, because if you don't blend your colors and match the shades to your skin tone perfectly, it can just look like you've got dirt on the side of your face (sorry, Lindsay), or a lot of shiny stuff on your cheeks.
Instead of learning how to blend to contour, we have the super-easy intro product to contouring: white lipstick. White is a really sharp shade, and while white lipstick on its own can be a good look, I don't think it's for me, as you can see. So I've started using it in other ways, and I'm going to give you a quick tutorial on how to use white lipstick to make two easy looks that will get you introduced to the world of contouring.
Tip #1 - Cheekbones/General face highlighter:
Step 1: Prep your face as you normally would. I tend to not wear any foundation, just a bit of this sheer BB cream by Maybelline.
Step 2: Swipe white lipstick along the tops of your cheekbones. I like to use the outside corner of my eye as a starting point, and then draw it out in a straight line towards my temple, and then down a bit as I get closer to my nose. Everyone's face is different though. If you're not sure where the tops of your cheekbones are, you can either shine a bright light down from above on you to see your natural highlights, or you can just poke around a bit at your cheek until you can actually feel your cheekbones, then locate the top.
Congrats. You now look like a lifeguard. As a side note, if you have darker skin than me (pretty much everyone does), you can lighten the amount of product you're putting down. You want to highlight, not paint your face. If you have darker skin, I would recommend just dotting the lipstick along your cheekbones instead of smearing it. Since I'm a lot paler, I use more white to get the same effect.
Step 3: Blend! You can use clean fingers, a makeup sponge, a brush, a cotton-ball, whatever. Just start at the edges and start buffing the lipstick in until you can't see the original dots/lines anymore, just a soft, lighter glow. If it's too extreme for you, wipe your cheeks off with a tissue and start again with less product. It's up to you, dude!
Step 4: Aren't your cheeks looking great? As a last step, if you like, you can enhance the highlight by putting on some blush or bronzer just below the highlight. I like to make mine really soft and blended, so I overlap the two lines a little bit.
Step 5: Make a duck face and appreciate your natural AND unnatural bone structure.
Tip #2 - Natural ombre lips in four steps:
I discovered this style as a total mistake when I was playing around with my white lipstick in Paris, trying to get the right shade of bubblegum pink. Instead of mixing my lipstick separately and then applying it, I tried to blend the two colors right on my lips, and was pleasantly surprised by the result.
You can do this ombre with either the outside edges of your mouth lighter than the inside, or with the outside edges of your mouth the darkest and the highlight in the center of your lip. I like both. Regardless of which you prefer, you'll start by picking a color to blend with your white lipstick. In this demo, I used MAC Cosmo as my color choice. Remember that when mixing a lipstick color with white, the original shade will become creamier and a bit more subtle.
Step 1: Apply your white lipstick base. Whether you're using white or another color, you'll want to go a bit outside your natural lipline. I like to trace just outside of it. If you're starting with white, you can afford to be a bit more sloppy, since you'll blend it out into a highlight just like you did on your cheeks.
Step 2: Smear your second color around the inside of your mouth. I know. It doesn't look great. We're not done yet.
Step 3: Blend! Unlike on your cheeks, you'll want to steer clear of the outside line of your base coat. It's there to act as a defining line to all of the soft ombre that will be happening in the rest of your mouth. To blend the lipstick out, just take a brush, a q-tip, or your finger, and gently pull the second layer away from the middle in little pats.
Step 4: Blot your lips, and start looking up makeup tutorial videos on Youtube. There's so much more to learn.
I purchased my white lipstick from Shaka Cosmetics, an Italian brand with a number of crazy colors. Unfortunately, the shade has been discontinued by the brand, so I recommend Ka'or cosmetics, or OCC lip tar for a truly painterly effect, or LiSi Cosmetics lipstick in Damsel in Distress- even though it's not white, it's pale enough that it blends well with other lip colors to do the same job. There are so many extra things you can do with the white lipstick, including highlighting under your eyebrow. Try it out!
Do you see now why you need white lipstick in your life? Even if you don't want to try my contouring for dummies tutorial, it's a really easy way to double the number of colors in your lipstick collection. Any purple can become a lighter violet. Any red can become a pink. A black lipstick can become grey! Mixing lipsticks is wonderful, and addictive. Would you wear white lipstick on its own? Are you a contouring expert already, or do you want to give it a go? Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.