Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pro Makeup Artist Guest Blog: Bronzer Techniques

This weekend, I introduced you to Alyson O'Brien, shown in the photo at left. I mentioned that Alyson is the Fresh Account Executive for the Mid-Atlantic region. What I didn't tell you was that she's also a celebrity makeup artist! Did I mention darling too?

While we chatted at the Fresh event, I learned that Alyson has many passions, including writing. She was interested in writing beauty features. As you might imagine, I jumped at the chance to offer her a guest post - or as many as she wants to write. She's talented and fun, and I knew she would be able to share with you her "tricks of the trade." First, though, the budding makeup artist's history. She's a hoot!

In her own words...
Ever since I can remember, I drew faces. It was always a face, with detailed separation of eyes, lips, and cheeks. I noticed this type of thing as a small child and found deep pleasure in drawing “portraits” of people. I normally drew females. I can remember drawing long eyelashes on people who had close-set eyes, adding fullness to lips when they needed symmetry, and contouring cheeks to different levels, depending on the face shape. This may be why people loved the pictures that I drew of them…because I made them look, well, better.

Cutting and styling hair at the age of nine for my extended family was also commonplace in my young life, and I loved doing it. I knew where the hair needed to fall after it was cut - and how the hair needed to look to accentuate a person’s face.

“Hey Alyson, how does this look?” was a common question in my home before my family members departed for fancy events. Fashion was also a huge passion of mine - mixing and matching color and putting cloth and color where they were needed to accentuate features.

When I got my first cosmetics job at the Clinique Counter at Macy’s almost 15 years ago, as soon as I saw a client, I would know immediately what I wanted to use on her, even as I analyzed her face and sized up her personality. The rest is history, and I continue my beauty journey, making people shine from within because they feel better about the way they look.

That’s what it’s all about, right? That’s why you’re reading this, and I’m writing this. We all want to feel better. Usually when you look good, you feel good.

My approach to beauty is very rudimentary, probably because I learned it prior to kindergarten. If you need color, add it. If you need moisture, add it. If a feature looks big, make something else look even bigger. My job is to educate people so they know what to do about their personal beauty concerns. This will not be done in one general blog feature, but I can help with “tips and tricks” as I write about what comes naturally to me. Ninety percent of the time, when I meet someone, I see something that I can improve with beauty products. It’s an automatic response. "Mom, that lady’s pants are too tight," Good thing I’ve always been soft spoken.

I interrupt Alyson to show you the photo at right of Kelly Monaco, after Alyson prepared her for the red carpet in New York City. That day, Kelly was a modern-day interpretation of Disney's Cinderella, re-released on DVD. Alyson used a lot of bronzer on Kelly - even on her neck, chest, and arms - but you can't see the bronzer, unless you look very carefully, because of Alyson's techniques. What you see is a gorgeous woman! The event was outdoors, which made it even more challenging to make Kelly look natural!

Here's more from Alyson...
My first tip, which is a general rule, not only for makeup, but for any form of art is to apply light color when you want to feature something and make it prominent, and apply dark color when you want a feature to recede. Let's focus on this tip, while I will tell you about using bronzer. Bronzer and the technique with which it’s applied can make an immediate, positive difference to someone’s beauty. Bronzer isn't just for Jersey girls - and I'm a Jersey girl! Take a close look at the men on the evening news. They are all wearing bronzer. Sometimes the makeup artists miss the ears, which is the telltale sign that the men are wearing it.

The following techniques can be used for applying bronzer by incorporating a light/dark art theory. Use bronzer all over the face evenly and don’t forget your neck and ears if you want to give your face a smaller look or reduce fullness. Since you are making the face darker, it will appear smaller, just the same as wearing black pants. This is one of the main reasons why some people feel and look better with tan skin.

Use extra or a darker bronzer when...
  • You have a weak chin or double chin, and you want your neck or double chin to recede. Apply the bronzer below the area of the chin you want to emphasize.
  • You have a large forehead and you want to minimize it. Use bronzer along your hair line. This is especially effective if there is a large contrast between the color of your skin and your hair.
  • You have full cheeks. Use bronzer directly under your cheekbones. Darker color creates definition under the cheekbones by creating a shadow effect to make them more prominent. Use a highlighter at the top of your cheekbones.
  • You have a wide nose. Use bronzer on the sides of your nose. This creates a slimming effect. Use a highlighter on bridge of your nose to enhance this trick.
Use less bronzer when...
  • You have deep-set eyes. You don’t want to make them appear more shadowed. By keeping them light, they will appear to be more prominent.
  • You have dark shadows or circles under your eyes or a prominent bridge of the nose.
  • You want your nose to look smaller. The crease on the sides of the nose where it meets the cheeks is a small area that generally should remain light-colored.
  • You have to stretch your bottom lip up to cover your bottom teeth to get to an area on your chin. If that's the case, chances are good that you should not be applying bronzer there - a crease that does not need to be accentuated by a deepening of color.
Fresh's Here Comes the Sun Face Palette ($45) is a fabulous choice for trying out these techniques. The formula is made with crushed pearls, so it reflects light, eliminating a "powdery" look and imparting a slight dewiness. You can layer it and never look like you dipped your face into a bowl of flour! The palette has three bronzers with which you can experiment: one darker and one lighter, along with a natural blush or highlighting shade. Remember you can swipe your brush across more than one to create your perfect shade.

I'll be thrilled if just one of these tips for using bronzer to lightening or darkening areas has helped you. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Stay tuned for my next feature on highlighting - more on the light/dark theories. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or want to share your own techniques for applying bronzer. I love to talk beauty!

Blurry photo of Alyson by BTiB; photo of Kelly provided by Alyson; palette photo courtesy of Fresh

16 comments:

Jessica said...

Wow, these are great tips!!! It sounds so simple and easy to do. Thank you alyson for teaching me how to contour my face!!!

Jersey Girl said...

Hi Alyson, I am also a Jersey girl...but I don't want to look perma-tan all year round! Do you recommend using bronzer even in the middle of winter? How would you apply it?

alyson said...

Jessica, I'm so glad that you found this helpful! You're welcome, and thank you for your comment!

alyson said...

Hi Jersey Girl!! I totally understand not wanting to look too "bronzed" during the winter! Just apply the bronzer or a darker then normal powder to the areas listed above, and blend. If you have a perfectly shaped face (oval), then just go along hairline, into the hollows of the cheeks, and around chin and neck, and blend. I think it's good to use a little bronzer to add warmth to the skin in the winter months. Sometimes, this is when you need it the most! Thanks for the comment, and great question!!

Natalie said...

This sounds great, but every bronzer I use makes me look orange, because I'm so pale. Also, my skin is oily, and I'm afraid I might break out. Any recommendations?

Soni said...

Awesome post!! I found myself nodding the whole time I was reading it. Makes soooo much sense! I'm going to try this tomorrow morning.
Alyson, please keep us posted if you travel to So. Cal for any Fresh events. I would LOVE to get my makeup done by you.

Alyson said...

Hi Natalie! The Here Comes the Sun bronzer from Fresh is great for people that have fair skin or darker skin that do not want to look orange! Great question! It has 3 colors in it. For average skin tones, you swipe brush across all 3. For light tones, you swipe across the lightest color and middle. For darker tones, you swipe across the darkest color and middle. The middle is a pale pink that takes out some of the warmth, which is great for your concern of looking orange. Since you have fair skin, you could use the darker shade to contour or recede areas. Any form of powder will absorb excess oil, so this would be great for this concern, too. This powder does reflect light, so it will not look powdery. Thanks for asking!

Ouidad Blog said...

Great interview, I love Alyson's tips! I never knew much about bronzer and how to use it, so thank you so much!

Katie for Ouidad

Charlestongirl said...

Hey there, Katie! Nice to hear from you. Hope you have a Happy Holiday!

Isn't Alyson fabulous?

Anna said...

Great overview of the bronzer application.How about using bronzer and blush at the same time? I was never sure if that is too much makeup or whether the shades of my bronzer would compliment shade of the blush...

alyson said...

Hi Soni!! I'm so glad that this was clear and made sense to you! Yes, please try tomorrow morning, and let me know how it goes! I will let you know if I go to So. Cal! I will do your makeup for you. The last time I was there was to do makeup for models at LA Fashion Week, which was so fun! Thank you so much for posting this!

alyson said...

Thanks Ouidad Blog!! I'm so glad this was helpful to you. I have long, curly hair. It seemed like I was one of the first people to try your hair stuff in NJ years ago. My hairdresser told me to try it. Come to think of it, I may need to try it again. The picture of me is looking a little frizzy! Thank you for posting!

alyson said...

Hi Anna!! That is an excellent question! Thank you so much! I have always used bronzer on everyone, even if it's just used around hairline and into the hollows of cheeks and under chin and neck. I think it adds dimension. You can really apply any blush with it, to answer your question. The blush will not usually clash with the bronzer, but you should be more concerned with eye and lip colors clashing with the blush for a natural look. Sometimes this is ok, because makeup should be fun and experimental. Although, if you want to take the guesswork out of it you could try the Here Comes the Sun bronzer from Fresh. It has a blush built into it :)

Anna said...

thank you Alyson! I will just have to check out the palette :)

Ouidad Blog said...

@CharlestonGirl Alyson IS fabulous!

Hope you have a great holiday as well. Any special plans?

Katie for Ouidad

mineral foundation said...

I think bronzer has much replaced the use of blusher specially for the dark skin toned people.Love the subtle look of the bronzer...thanks for the guidance.