Make It Up

By Isabelle Lipkin

March 6, 2009 5 min read


Shine through your formal wear by perfecting your makeup

Isabelle Lipkin

Creators News Service

You want to stand out, but you also want to be comfortable. You want to look great, but also look like yourself. How do you do it all while showing your best face at the prom?

Start by thinking about your overall look. What will best compliment your dress? Flirty, cat's eyes go with a retro look, while smoldering eye liner accent a body-skimming sheath.

After you've picked out your dress, begin playing with a makeup palette. Consider a consultation with a makeup artist or with a stylist at a department store counter. Remember, you don't have to buy what they recommend -- you can always go to a nearby drugstore for equivalent shades.

Sally Van Swearingen of Studio Essentials in Santa Clarita, Calif., said that she tells girls to start working on their skin a few months in advance of the big night.

"Skin is in," she said. "Everybody wants to have great skin." She recommends using an exfoliating product for a glowing complexion. If you are struggling with acne, using salicylic products and a milder exfoliant is a good idea so that the skin doesn't become irritated.

Taryn Hart, a freelance makeup artist in Tacoma, Wash., also recommends focusing on skin first. If a last-minute zit does pop up, a quick cure-all is a dab of creamy toothpaste (not gel). You can even make your own astringent to get your face ready for your makeup from mixing witch hazel with rose water, which can be found at health food stores or even some ethnic markets.

When it comes time to get started, remember to stick with natural color. "Start with clean skin, and then layer moisturizer, primer and then apply foundation in layers," Hart said. A primer will set your makeup to last the night. Last comes powder and concealer, if needed.

If you are looking for the latest trends in prom makeup, you may want to bat your eyes.

"Lashes are really big," said Van Swearingen. However, she suggested that if you are going to use false eyelashes, use individual ones rather than a strip.

Color is back for eyes with purples and greens, and she has seen more depth with lip color this year and fewer glosses. Dewy cheeks are always a good idea. A bit of glimmer helps reflect light. "That will really bring out cheeks for the camera," said Van Swearingen.

Hart said highlighting liquids and powders, such as Benefit's Moonbeam or Dior's Diamond Powder, are very popular right. Highly pigmented eye shadows are also really in with "girls wearing green and blue and light pink," said Hart.

Longer-lasting cheek and lip stains are also a good idea. And don't forget waterproof mascara along with liquid eyeliner -- a good line will photograph well and it stays on all night.

When it comes to photographs, make sure you brighten up. "You want plenty of color on your face for photos so you don't look opaque or pale," she added. "Use bronzer or blush and put it on the tip of your nose or jaw line so that it doesn't look fake by just putting it on your cheeks. Make sure your lip liner matches your lip color, otherwise it will show up in photos."

When it comes to picking products, remember to use makeup that doesn't have sunscreen in it, or it will reflect light and show up in photos.

Van Swearingen said one thing that really makes eyes pop is using a white pencil or soft cream color to rim under the eyes. "It really opens them up for pictures," she said. Add a dab of the color in the eye's inner corner for extra pop.

When you get ready to go, Van Swearingen suggested stashing gloss and lip liner or lip pencil in your purse. "Go with a peachy brown or neutral color and line lips all over and then put some color on top," she said. Taking a compact along is also a good idea for touch-ups.

"Girls are not going to have time for more," she added. "They'll be too busy having a great time."

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