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Dec 14, 2003
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The Art of Camouflage - by Cara Birnbaum for Vogue

Make-up artist Virginia Young has witnessed more than her share of beauty blunders, but one encounter 20 years ago on a train still haunts her. “It was the first time those green foundations were widely available,†she recalls of the make-up designed to counteract redness. “I remember seeing this pretty girl on the train with this Incredible Hulk-like make-up.†For every perceived flaw, there are thousands of unsuccessful attempts to hide it – from “masking†freckles with a freakish shade of concealer to piling crusty orange spackle over an angry pimple. They end up being like those fake nose-and-glasses – a disguise that fools no-one. New York City make-up artist Charlie Green – who touches up every square inch of skin for the Victoria’s Secret runway show – always considers the texture, size, and colour of a mark before choosing a concealer. Unlike make-up designed to exaggerate lashes or plump lips, she says, cover-up is most successful when it’s completely invisible. “Making a blemish totally disappear isn’t always realistic,†Green says. “The goal is to draw as little attention to it as possible.â€

Dark circles

Tools A rich, creamy concealer, such as Revlon ColorStay Natural Concealer; sheer foundation such as Napoleon Minimal Makeup; translucent loose powder.

Technique If circles are particularly dark, precede concealer with a light coat of foundation applied with a damp sponge. With a small, flat brush, press concealer on just the dark areas, blending it to the lash line. Smooth any unevenness with a fingertip. Most women need cover-up from the inner corners to the middle of the eyes – not at the outer corners. Set it with a few pats using a clean, damp sponge, then lightly press a powdered puff over the concealer, keeping it well below the lashes to avoid magnifying lines and creases.


Tools Cotton bud; Visine (or other anti-redness eye drops); cakey compact concealer such as Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (“It should feel almost like paste,†says Mercier); translucent loose powder.

Technique Soak a cotton bud in Visine and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Hold it gently on the blemish for a minute to reduce redness and swelling, then fan the area dry. With a small, flat brush, dab a light layer of the pasty concealer on top of the pimple, then blend slightly around the edges. Let dry, and add one more thin layer if needed. Pat loose powder over the concealer to keep it from budging.

Acne Scars

Tools Cakey concealer such as Stephane Marais Perfect Concealer from Mecca Cosmetica (one shade lighter than your complexion if the scar is depressed or pitted, or a shade that matches the skin if the scar is raised); translucent loose powder.

Technique Use a pointed brush to fill in the centre of the scar with concealer without going beyond its edges – or, if the scar is raised, pat it on top with a finger. Allow the concealer to set for a few minutes, then gently press loose powder over the scar a few times with a powder puff.


Tools Foundation, such as Revlon ColorStay Natural Makeup; creamy concealer, like Clinique Line Smoothing Concealer or Shiseido The Makeup Corrective Concealers; I.D. Bare Minerals powder in Bisque; translucent loose powder.

Technique Apply foundation as usual. Using your ring finger, pat a thin layer of skin-matching concealer onto the areas that are still red. Let dry, then add a bit more until the redness disappears, says Mercier, who sets this with a light dusting of loose powder.

Great tips, Tinydancer! I'm not a fan of the color-correcting products. They never seem to look realistic enough in natural lighting and you can get a more "invisible" coverage when using shades that reflect your natural skintone.


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