Makeup Tips From Bobbi Brown
Bobbi to the rescue
Bobbi Brown—celebrity makeup artist, beauty guru, and Health magazine columnist—knows her way around a cosmetics counter. Here, she answers readers' questions and shares her secrets for looking your best is every situation.
How can I make my foundation last longer?
— Phyllis Katz, Newton, MA
Bobbi: I really believe using the right moisturizer for your skin type makes all the difference. Of course, there isn't one moisturizer that work for everyone, but if your skin is dry, a hydrating balm is the perfect base. And if you're oily, a gel moisturizer is all you need.
You can also opt for a long-lasting foundation (usually a liquid or or compact formula, or one labeled "long wear"). Or top your regular foundation with loose powder that matches your skin tone to set the look in place. The trick is to blend well, so the powder melts into your skin.
What's the secret to not looking washed-out in photos?
— Jessica Weaver, Geneva, IL
Bobbi: Since flash photography picks up the difference in color between your face and your neck and decolletage, the first thing you should do is get rid of any facial redness. Starting around your nose and mouth (the most common red-prone zones), apply foundation or tinted moisturizer, blending outward.
Once your skin tone is evened out, it's all about adding definition: Dust bronzer over your cheeks, forehead, and chin for natural warmth; sweep on mascara to draw out your eyes; and go for a brighter lip color than usual to bring extra glow to your face.
How do you stop lipstick from bleeding?
— Elyse Silver, Boca Raton, FL
Bobbi: Lipstick migrates the most on dry lips, so during the winter months it's especially important to apply a rich balm at bedtime. By day, go for a moisturizing lip color (look for conditioning vitamin E or shea butter on labels); reserving long-lasting lipstick for special occasions, as they tend to be more drying.
Keep in mind that a topping of slippery gloss can make lipstick bleed. A fix: Hold color in place by lining your lips with a nude pencil that matches your lips, then fill in with your shade. Any color, including bolder reds and plums, will work with that pencil.
How do I touch up my makeup without using a lot of products?
— Hilary Cavanaugh, Clearwater, FL
Bobbi: When I go minimalist, I find I can add a pretty pop of color to my cheeks and lips with a bronze-colored cream blush. (I swear by my Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks in Uber Beige). I also multitask with a brown eye pencil to fill in brows and touch up roots. And a clear gloss or balm adds a nice sheen to lips (or eyes!), nourishes cuticles, and tames flyaways. Simple, right?
What's the best way to apply foundation?
— Lisa Stein, Geneva, IL
Bobbi: It depends how much coverage you want. A foundation brush or sponge gives a heavier application than your fingers, but the sponge lets you go more sheer. When I'm at a shoot, I'll use a brush first, then go back with a sponge to blend (I like the soft triangular ones). As for my own everyday application, I use my fingers because I don't carry a lot of tools with me. Whatever method you like, always finish by patting in foundation with your fingertips. When it interacts with the natural oils from your hands, it starts looking more like your own skin.
How should I apply makeup over sunscreen?
— Lisa Wyatt, San Francisco
Bobbi: Dust bronzer over your cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin, then sweep on a blush that's the color your cheeks turn after exercising (it's your most flattering shade). If your skin is already rosy from the sun, skip blush and add a bit of shimmer to your cheeks in a pale pink (if you're fair) or peach (if you're darker) to enhance your natural flush. Apply it on your cheekbones, moving up toward the hairline in short, downward strokes. That's all you need to play up your glow.
What makeup brushes do I really need?
— Jessica Bagdy, Pittsburgh
Bobbi: It's important to invest in a few key brushes. I keep these in my bag:
• Eye shadow brush You want natural, rounded bristles that cover your lid in one swoop.
• Blush brush Look for one big enough to cover the apple of your cheek in a single swirl.
• Eyeliner brush It should be a flat, firm brush with curved synthetic bristles—they hold their shape longer.
• Eyebrow brush Buy one that has short bristles cut on an angle. Yourbest bet is a blend of synthetic and natural bristles (all synthetic is too stiff and won't deposit color evenly).
How can I avoid streaks when I use bronzer?
— Lexie O'Connor, Boston
Bobbi: There's a good chance you're putting on bronzer too soon after applying your moisturizer, which will result in streaks and blotches. Keep in mind that bronzing powders are easier to blend than liquids or gels, but you need to make sure you're skin is perfectly dry, because powders can stick to damp skin. Use a large, fluffy brush, tap off any excess powder, and apply in a circular motion to areas the sun hits first—cheeks, nose, and forehead.
How do I make lip gloss last longer?
— Maribeth Leonard, Cranford, NJ
Bobbi: Begin by gently brushing your lips with a wet toothbrush to remove any flakes. Next, apply a lip pencil all over your lips, or swipe on a lipstick or stain to create a base before applying your gloss. (Bonus: As the gloss eventually wears off, you'll still have color showing through.) When shopping, keep in mind that thicker textures tend to stay
Should I apply concealer over or under my foundation?
— Stacy Sullivan, Wycoff, NJ
Bobbi: Neither! You should never layer concealer and foundation over or under each other. Apply concealer under the eye and your foundation on the rest of your face to even out skin tone, camouflage wrinkles, and cover blemishes. And don’t forget—concealer should always be one to two shades lighter than your foundation.
My mascara always clumps. What am I doing wrong?
— Danielle Hudson, Atlanta
Bobbi: Nothing at all. Sometimes too much mascara just gets on the wand. To avoid this, roll your wand against a clean paper towel before applying (avoid tissues, which have fibers that can make their way onto your eyes). Also, be sure to remove that extra glob of mascara at the end of the wand; it can cause clumping.
Put on your mascara by rolling your hand up and away from your eye to help separate lashes as you go. Finish by combing a clean mascara wand through lashes.
How do I stop concealer from fading or caking?
— Andrea Wagenaar, Edina, MN
Bobbi: Check the consistency of your cover-up. You want one that is creamy enough to provide coverage and not flake, but not so creamy that it sinks into your skin and disappears. Start testing to find one that looks—and feels—natural.
You may also have to adjust your moisturizer. Too much prevents concealer from absorbing into your skin, while too little can make it cakey. Remember that your skin changes from day to day, so check it out in the morning (is it dry? oily?) to decide how much hydration you need.
Is it OK to wear bronzer in the winter, or does it look fake?
— Andrea Goetz, Weston, CT
Bobbi: There’s nothing wrong with wearing bronzer this time of year; you just have to use the right product. Choose a shade that mirrors your natural base (look at your skin—does it have yellow, pink, or red undertones?).
Then, after prepping with moisturizer and foundation, apply to areas where the sun naturally hits, such as your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin.
What are some of your favorite beauty products for travel?
— Brittney Shook, Carlsbad, CA
Bobbi: I like to travel light, so here’s what I pack: a beige/brown eye palette (to be used as my shadow, liner, and brow filler), a pink lip gloss, ponytail holders, makeup remover wipes, and a comb.
Before you go, visit cosmetic counters to get free samples, which won’t take up a lot of room. I’ve become a big fan of putting everything in small Ziploc bags—makes getting through security a lot easier too.
How do I prevent cream eye shadow from creasing?
— Kai Lee, Tacoma, WA
Bobbi: Makeup artists love using cream shadows because they last a long time, but they also have a tendency to settle into fine lines if not used properly. Darker pigments are less forgiving, so start by picking a light neutral shade.
Choose a non-greasy, long-wear product—I prefer shadows that start out as a cream and turn to a powder—then apply with a light hand using your fingers. That should do the trick!
Which false eyelashes are easiest to apply?
— Julie Raber, Colorado Springs, CO
Bobbi: I strongly recommend using individual lashes, which are the most natural-looking and rather simple to use. Drugstore brands are fine, but it’s important to buy an easy-to-conceal black adhesive (most glues are sold separately). Line your lashes in black, then apply mascara so you can see where you need to build up your lashes. Grasp a single false lash with a pair of tweezers and gently dip the end into the glue. Apply four lashes to the outer corner of your upper lid; you shouldn’t need more than that. A waterproof eye makeup remover will dissolve any glue at the end of the evening.
Should I match my eyeshadow to my eyes?
— Olivia Neir, Minneapolis, MN
Bobbi: No. Shadow should enhance your eyes—not blend in with them. A tawny hue, for example, can create definition and emphasize deep-set eyes. A shimmery shadow makes small eyes look bigger and brighter, while highlighting with a pale shade opens up hooded ones. In a rush? I’m actually a big believer in just using liner and mascara.
Estee Lauder Pure Color EyeShadow in Twinkle Pink ($20; esteelauder.com)
How can I prevent under-eye concealer from settling in fine lines?
— Amy Bryson, Kitty Hawk, NC
Bobbi: There are several secrets to disguising under-eye wrinkles. First, treat the area with a moisture-rich eye cream so concealer doesn’t get trapped in any lines. Next, reach for a cream-based concealer in a shade that’s one or two tones lighter than your foundation: Apply it close to your lash line with a small brush, hitting the inner corners of your eyes; blend with fingertips, then set with a yellow-toned powder.
We suggest: Korres Quercetin & Oak Antiageing & Antiwrinkle Concealer ($22 each; korresusa.com)
What's the best way to cover up a sunburn?
— Paula Norman, Austin, Texas
Bobbi: I deal with this a lot on photo shoots when the models have been exposed to too much sun. First, hydrate with a rich face oil or moisturizer (like Aquaphor) to keep your skin from peeling. It’s natural to want to apply a foundation over a sunburned face, but you’re better off keeping your makeup to a minimum. Instead, reach for a hypoallergenic mineral powder—it won’t irritate sensitive skin—then top it with a bronzing powder to tone down the red.
Try Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Sea Star Bronzing Blush ($34; esteelauder.com)
Which lipstick shade is best in the summer?
— Pamela D'Arcy, Galloway, New Jersey
Bobbi: Lipsticks that are dark and opaque can look too severe in bright sunlight, while glosses can be tough to wear because the heat can make them feel gooey and sticky. In summer, I replace both with SPF-packed tinted balms—they’re easy to apply, offer just a hint of color, and leave my lips really moist. If I want to go a bit deeper at night, I fill in my lips with a favorite lip pencil and top them off with clear balm.
Subtle and smooth: M.A.C Suntint SPF 20 Liquid Lip Balm in Lilt of Lily ($16; maccosmetics.com)
What's the fastest way to remove mascara?
— Kate Wechsler, Drexel Hill, PA
Bobbi: All you need are two removers: a water-based liquid that takes off your basic, or non-waterproof, mascara; and an oil-based remover that will lift your heavier product. Moisten a 100% cotton pad, hold it up to your lashes for a few seconds, and wipe gently.If you have some residue under your eyes—better to have a little leftover product than to overscrub the delicate skin in that area.
Gentle on the eyes: Neutrogena Hydrating Eye Makeup Remover Lotion ($7; drugstores)
How can I wear bronzer so it looks natural?
— Lisa Shinkarow, Rivderale, NY
Bobbi: Choose a brown-toned powder that’s just a little darker than your natural skin, and steer clear of anything that’s too orange or shimmery. To avoid streaks, apply your bronzer by a window, where you have plenty of natural daylight. Hit your cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin. And, most important, be sure to put some farther down your neck and chest, so it blends in with the rest of your skin.
Instant glow: M.A.C Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Give Me Sun! ($27; maccosmetics.com)
I put on blush, and it's gone by noon. What gives?
— Kristi McIntyre, Durham, NC
Bobbi: Try this trick: Start with a cream blush, then top it off with a powder blush in a slightly brighter hue. You could also be wearing a too-light shade—always apply a brighter blush with a lighter hand rather than a lighter blush with a heavier hand.
Burberry Beauty Light Glow in Rose Blush No. 3 ($42; nordstrom.com)
Allergies make the skin around my eyes red. Help!
— Kimberly Negron, Ronkonkoma, NY
Bobbi: For redness under your eyes, use a small brush to apply concealer as close to lash lines as possible. On lids, avoid shadows with red undertones and apply a shade slightly lighter than your skin tone. Depending on your complexion, an eye shadow ($6, drugstore.com) in beige, ivory, or toast will work.
How do I make my eyeliner look more natural?
— Rupa Reddy, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Bobbi: Stay away from harsh black and go for dark brown, which looks pretty on everyone. I also suggest lining with an eye shadow because it creates a softer look than a gel liner or pencil. MAC Satin Eye Shadow in Mystery and Angled Brush #266 ($15 and $20; maccosmetics.com) would work. Dampen a small liner brush with water, dip it in a dark-brown shadow and use it to trace along your top and bottom lash lines, as close to the lashes as possible. If it’s still too much for you, just do the top lash line.
What can I do for really dry lips? Lip balm doesn't work!
— Lara Mitchell, Philadelphia, PA
Bobbi: It doesn’t help me either, but I’ve found tricks that do. First, drink more water—chapped lips are usually a sign of dehydration. Second, put some of your eye cream on your lips, as well (one without any irritating anti-aging ingredients). The eye cream’s moisturizers help to heal the dryness. Test out Lancôme Progrès Contour Des Yeux Eye Cream ($55; lancome-usa.com).
Finally, in the morning, apply a balm without camphor or menthol (I’ve found that they can be drying); then dab on clear gloss for extra protection.
What's best for thinning brows: pencil, powder, or gel?
— Marisa Nalevanko, Washington, DC
Bobbi: The simplest, most natural-looking fix is a matte powder eye shadow in a shade that matches your brow hair—not the hair on your head. Once you’ve found that, dip a stiff, angled eyeliner brush in the powder, tap off the excess and use it to sketch over areas that look thin. Then use a clear mascara or brow gel (like Maybelline Great Lash Clear Mascara; $6; drugstore.com) to brush the hairs up and out. That neatens the brow and seals in the powder.
How do I prevent my lipstick from coming off?
— Kym Taylor, Chazy, NY
Bobbi: To this day, I’ve never found a super-long-lasting lip color that doesn’t feel dry. I suggest applying your favorite lipstick this way: Use your finger to press the color onto your lips until it has a stain-like finish, applying several times to build up color. Then take a matching lip pencil and apply it over the lip color for a great, long-lasting look.
My face gets red when I drink wine. Help!
— Tracey Gallagher, Jacksonville, FL
Bobbi: I actually think it's pretty when you get that natural flush. But if you want to make it less noticeable, I suggest applying a stick foundation ($26; pixibeauty.com) (which has a little more coverage than most liquids) on your nose and cheeks before you go out.
I've been wearing pink-brown lipstick for years. Any tips for a fresh color?
—Helena Schwarz, New York City
Baby step: Take it up a notch with a rose hue, which looks pretty on every skin tone (and is huge this spring). Feeling more daring? Go for a brighter pink—great on pale and medium complexions—or try a more purply pink if you have darker lips. And remember, if you think a new shade is too strong, you can always sheer it out by tapping it onto your lips instead of swiping it on directly from the tube.
What's the best way to use Q-tips to apply makeup?
—Jen Goldstein, Somerville, Mass.
I think they're better for cleaning up cosmetics than putting them on. But I first got the idea for my gel liner when I lined my eyes with a Q-tip dipped in mascara! While I don't suggest doing that at home, I still love using cotton swabs for blending eye makeup. If you put too much shadow in the crease of your lid, run a Q-tip over it to smudge it out. And when mascara gets on your face, just roll the soft tip over the mark to take it off.
I'm tempted by colorful eye shadow but not sure how to apply it. Any tips for a subtle effect?
—Esha Dev, San Francisco
Less is more with whichever shade you choose. To me, purple is the most wearable of the brights. If the shadow is highly pigmented, just smudge a little along your upper lash line (or do this with a colored pencil). If it's sheerer, try it over the whole lid. I'd avoid any neon makeup; I do love shocking pink, but I'll get my dose of it with a cool pair of sneakers or a fun top. You just have to know yourself and what makes you comfortable.