Friday, December 8, 2017

FOTDs: Balance

Kevyn Aucoin's books were the catalyst for my makeup obsession, no doubt about it. I loved flipping through the incredible before-and-afters and gazing at the total transformations. But to be honest, I didn't actively try to implement most of his tips. I read them, definitely, and there were some that absolutely resonated with me, like "I don't use specific product names because that doesn't matter." Telling myself I was going to do A, B, and C from now on? Nah.

That said, I've realized that some of his recommendations have become internalized. This includes several pages of Face Forward that deal with balance. Aucoin recommends dividing the face in to two halves--eyes and lips--and deciding whether they're dark or light. He then uses these terms throughout the rest of the book, ie, "This is a dark eyes, light mouth look." As was his wont, Aucoin made it clear that there was no right or wrong way to balance a face; rather, understanding balance helps us figure out what we're drawing attention to and what "mood" we're creating.

Personally, I've become quite accustomed to making half of my face dark and the other half light. Both sections being light generally makes me look washed out, while both sections being dark is...just a lot of look. That's not to say I've never done it: this FOTD with Besame Merlot is an all dark look, and I'd argue that a lot of my barely-there makeup reads light-eyes-light-mouth. Overall, though, I do strive for 50/50.

 As always, click the picture to enlarge. It was a bit of a gloomy day for the photo on the right, hence the slightly different lighting.

I really wanted to see how this balance would play out in a comparative FOTD post. Hence, I used as many similar products and prep steps as I could for these two looks:


PREP: Belif True Cream Moisturizing Bomb all over face; lips exfoliated with Paula's Choice lip scrub [D/C] and hydrated with Aquaphor ointment; lashes curled with Shu Uemura curlers


BASE: MAC Face & Body foundation in C1 + White--mixed with Tarte Shape Tape in Fair where more coverage is needed; Maybelline Dream Lumi Pen in Ivory; Clinique Moisture Surge Spray


CHEEKS: Glossier Cloud Paints in Dusk + Beam; MAC Strobe Cream; Glossier Haloscope in Quartz


EYES: Lancome Monsieur Big mascara; Milk Makeup Gel Brow in Pilsner; Glossier Boy Brow in Clear


The only differences are in the eyeshadows and lip products. On the left, the light-eyes-dark-lips look features Colourpop powder shadows in Hear Me Out and Bel Air over a base of Too Faced Shadow Insurance; the lips are MAC Scarlet Ibis lipstick [L/E], outlined with MAC Basic Red pencil and with a bit of Glossier's clear gloss on top. On the right, the dark-eyes-light-lips look involves a mess of Butter London Glazen Eye Gloss in Oil Slick smeared in to some Milani Liquid Eyes eyeliner in Black [D/C]. The lips are NARS Raquel.

Personally, I'm more drawn to the dark lips than the dark eyes. My eyes are rather deep set and I have dark circles, so while a smoked out eye can look more dramatic, I think it also tends to make me look rather tired. Bright lips, however, draw attention to my large teeth (which I actually like) and don't seem to detract as much from my skin, which has been very well behaved lately. Both looks have their place, of course, but I definitely prefer the balance shown on the left.

How do you feel about makeup balance? Is it actually useful when you're creating a look, or do you find it overly restricting? What about blush and highlighter, which can be quite dramatic these days--should we actually separate the face in to three sections?


  1. I don't think about balance at all really - I wear a lot of bright, out-there lip colours and eyeshadows, and more think about the distribution of colour so that I don't end up looking too monochromatic. Green eyeshadow and green lipstick just doesn't look good in my mind, but purple eyeshadow with green lipstick looks really nice. I probably end up looking way too overdone most of the time because I do think balance makes a person look nice, but I'm just too fond of bright colours to restrict myself to only eyes or lips.

  2. I prefer the dark lip on you as well. Perhaps it is simply what I’m used to seeing you wear but it just wears so naturally on you. Not everybody can pull pff a minimalist glam look with a bold red lip but you manage to every single time.
    The dark eye, light lip looks like what most people either strive for or have to do because they feel their eyes are all they have going for them. Really though I just get the vibe that it hides peoples eyes. That and it takes me back to the nude lip days of the late 90s with Pamela Anderson (gag).
    I like the idea of balance: too many people have been learning from YouTube and just going ham on makeup making them look like cabaret extras and it’s off putting (a mix of Wendy Williams or Liza Minnelli for older examples).

  3. I lean toward dark lip, light eye as well, and for similar reasons. I have large, deep-set eyes AND very dark circles AND high-contrast coloring, so my face looks unbalanced if I play up my eyes at the expense of my lips. Also, the dark eye + nude lip combo reads as ~sexy~ to me (not sure why...), so I'm more comfortable with a dark lip and light eye for everyday occasions. I agree that the look on the left suits your features more! It feels sort of '50s to me, but in a fresh, modern way.