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Putting your best face forward in an HD world

Airbrush set up for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Sydney, AUS
Photo by Stephane L'hostis/Getty Images

As cameras, from grandma's digital model to your basic cell phone, go HD, more and more people recognize the importance of a flawless face. With higher resolution comes hyper-realistic detail in the image, and every imperfection becomes magnified. Cosmetic companies have rushed to deliver HD makeups to retailers to meet the demand for lightweight, full-coverage foundations and soft-as-silk color products.

How does HD makeup work?
HD liquids are often silicone based, allowing the color particles to be suspended above the surface of the skin, effectively softening fine lines and large pores. HD powders are super fine and featherweight, settling on the surface of the skin without sliding into lines and wrinkles. Some makeup artists and consumers opt for airbrush applied cosmetics, which allows highly pigmented liquids to 'ride' on the surface of the skin, setting before they can move into fine lines or pores.

Tips for applying HD Makeup.
HD cosmetics can still show imperfections and be applied improperly. Too much of anything is usually a bad thing, so using products sparingly is the best rule. Liquids and powders alike can be applied too heavily, in which case the surface of the skin begins to look muddy and caked on.

Even the lightest HD setting powders require a light hand. Photographs of celebrities with white powder smudges on their faces are a perfect case in point. A quick 'powdering of the nose' can leave too much product on the skin which then reflects the light of the flash bulbs, making even the most beautiful celebrity look like she went face first onto a coke mirror.

The softest application of foundation is achieved with an airbrush, followed by application with a natural bristle foundation brush. Large natural bristle powder brushes should be used for light, even dusting of HD powders. The best application of color products (eye shadows and blushes) comes with brushes, and the key is to blend, blend, and blend some more.

HD cameras capture and magnify any and all lines of demarcation. Blush that has been shoddily applied and not blended into the foundation can appear as warpaint on camera. The same goes for application of shadows. Unless it is the look for which the artist was going, a slow approach and a soft hand works best.

Also, approach shimmer, gloss and dewy finishes with caution. Some glitter and shine can appear as blinding highlights in photos and on HD video feeds. Soft satin finishes look most natural.

Water-based vs. Silicone.
There are differences between water-based formulas and silicone based products. Water is absorbed by the skin and/or evaporates, leaving the pigment on the surface of the skin. While this may feel lighter, it also provides very little bond between pigment and skin. Cosmetic silicones, which are usually derived from botanical oils, do not evaporate and are not absorbed by the skin. Silicone moves with the skin, providing a flexible base for the pigment for a longer wear, requiring less touch up and repeat application throughout the day.

For clients with drier skin types, water-based products have the shortest wear, while those clients with oily skin will see some movement with silicone-based products. The application method of the product also affects the longevity of the wear; a brush deposits more product to the skin than an airbrush. Products applied with a brush may move on the skin due to the excess pigment.

What about the sponge?
A cosmetic sponge is not recommended for HD liquid foundations due to the sponge absorbing more product than it deposits. Again, powders must be dusted over the skin, not left in a heavy layer on the skin, so sponges and HD powders are bad bed fellows. However, sponges are best for applying HD cream foundations and concealers, which are too heavy to airbrush onto the skin and tend to streak with brushes.

The key to presenting the best face in our modern HD world really comes down to product knowledge. Understanding the product and how it works, and how it needs to be applied, is of the utmost importance. Become comfortable with brushes; invest in natural bristles. Research personal airbrush systems. There are various makes and models available to use with a variety of products and cosmetic bases. From professional shoots to selfies, 'giving good face' means learning to do good makeup.

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