Make-up: Confidence or Insecurity?

Betsy Leimbigler
Make-up Fun in the Photobooth

The Guide to Natural Make-Up

Make-up and confidence have a reinforcing relationship. I can tell when a professional woman is not wearing make-up, which to me demonstrates practicality and confidence. On the other hand, I see how so many women can also gain confidence from using make-up to accentuate their features.

Ever since I began my quest of uncovering secrets to applying make-up, I have cycled between experimentation with beauty products to phases of complete rejection of any trace of make-up coming close to my face, citing everything from laziness to changing personal ideals of beauty. Working in the fashion industry has exposed me to many a tip, trick, and opinion regarding the methods and the act of wearing make-up. Here I share the tips from renowned professional make-up artist Ariana Assadi on how a professional woman can achieve a “day-time” or natural make-up look, and discuss my own experiences with wearing make-up.

Make-up: Barefaced Versus Done-up

Barefaced Versus Done-up with Make-up.
Disclaimer: Not a duckface. That is the pout you have to pull when applying bronzer to the inner countour of the cheeks.

It’s no surprise that my strongest pro-barefaced moods come after every season of Fashion Week, when my skin rejoices in not being creatively layered in foundation and heavy runway make-up. However, it feels so good to go around without anything on your skin and to be able to rub your eyes. Yet, wearing the right kind of make-up can make you feel professional. The act of wearing or not wearing make-up depends on the individual and the profession in which they are.

Make-up, confidence, and looking professional are all tied together. Make-up can put you in the mindset to get to work. Personally, as a student, this has not always been my method – stressed about exams, my intensive-work style is more oriented toward the sloppy, messy, unshowered and not-caring look when I am working hard, but I do wear make-up when I want to present myself as more professional. Make-up is a great tool for accentuating features. Wearing a small amount can make tired eyes appear more awake, and can make a woman look well “put-together” and proper. A natural look is achieved when a face has some make-up on it, but with hardly noticeable amounts.

Professional Make-Up Advice from Ariana Assadi

Top professional Ottawa make-up artist Ariana Assadi is in high demand for bridal make-up and has worked on countless editorials for fashion magazines and Ottawa Fashion Week. She has coached many women on applying make-up. Her passion is in transforming faces into works of art as she works with precision on every detail, from crazy, high fashion concepts to subtle make-up for the professional woman.

She has seen first-hand the effect of the transformation on many of her brides and professional women’s faces, noting that once they see themselves with their flawless make-up, they stand up more straight and have much more confidence in themselves.

Make-Up Advice: Foundation

Ariana uses the airbrush method which gives skin a flawless look. For professionals such as Ariana whose livelihood is closely linked with looking flawless, make-up is important. For those who work in offices or from home, the act of wearing it is, of course, less important. However, keep in mind that the right sort of light foundation does not damage the skin. I personally like to skip this part, and some women also aren’t big fans of the feeling of having their face completely covered, but it can really make a difference in giving the skin a flawless look. Starting with foundation, which Ariana applies using the airbrush technique, blush and bronzer are also applied to the face to accentuate cheekbones and bring out colour on the cheeks. One can also achieve an even skin tone look with liquid foundation applied with a sponge or clean fingers. Remember: moderation.

Make-Up Advice: Eyes

A light-coloured eye-shadow is applied to the inside half of the eyelid, with a slightly darker tone on the outside corner. If you draw a vague “>” sign on your eye-lid in a darker colour with the “lesser than” pointing outwards, the eyes seem to pop and are thus properly contoured.

Exotic Make-up

Betsy Leimbigler Modeling in Henna.
The Amazing Photographer: Barbara Ann Studios.

Okay, I suppose you could skip the henna for the daily office work, but you see what I mean by the < > blended on either eyelid in darker colour. A small amount of eyeliner on the top lid accentuates the eyes, while curling the lashes and adding mascara finishes the eye look by emphasizing the eyelashes. Again: moderation, especially for the eyeshadow.

Make-Up Advice: Lips

Finally, powder is applied to the face to set the make-up, and then a colour is applied to the lips – a lipstick for a base, with gloss overtop. Generally, the rule is that if you’re wearing colour on your lips, you can go easy on the eyes, and vice-versa. Try to avoid garish pink or black lipstick unless you are really trying to make a statement. All of these products thus can yield a natural look which showcase almost unnoticeable make-up, but transforms a woman’s appearance from the barefaced to the more done-up look.

While some women gain confidence from wearing make-up, others may take an no make-up stance as an exhibition of their confidence. Make-up and no make-up work to achieve the same goal of confidence. What is interesting is that the natural look is definitely not the same as actually going natural. This is what a bare face looks like. This other half is heavy make-up. For a natural look, you might want something in between – lighter eyeshadow, and not necessarily any eyeliner on the bottom lids. (I hope I’m not confusing any readers who aren’t familiar with make-up.)

Consider TLC’s long-running show, What Not to Wear, where unsuspecting women are ambushed by stylists and have a wardrobe, hair, and make-up completely changed. After their transformations, they claim to be more aware of the fact that the way in which they present themselves does impact their personal as well as professional lives. However, the type of make-up each woman uses differs according to her comfort level and features. How one presents oneself to the world often impacts one’s sense of professionalism.

Ariana Assadi Make-up

Is Make-Up the Foundation of Your Confidence?

I am amused by the various interpretations that I receive from friends and the general public based off of my decision to wear or not to wear make-up. I respect any woman’s decision to wear make-up daily or to shun it. For me, make-up comes and goes with the seasons. There are times – days, weeks – when I have no patience or time to apply it. Other times, I feel like getting my professional on and grooming my face.

When I was 18 I stopped wearing foundation on a daily basis, because I didn’t want to depend on it. Also, my skin had broken out in some sort of allergic reaction. Resisting the urge to slop on more of the cover-up, I bared my face. At first I felt insecure that I had changed my routine. Later, I phased out other parts of my make-up routine. Then I eased out the lip colour, which was not difficult, as I have no patience for lipstick. Finally, I used less and less eye make-up. My end result was being comfortable going around without a trace of make-up, and it felt good to know that I knew how to equip myself and control the exterior presentation of my face and could decide upon wearing it or not.

Does Make-Up Define You?

Make-up rituals vary from person to person; depending on skin tone and many other factors such as eye or lip shape, make-up may or may not make a big impact. Eye make-up can even make a big difference on how people perceive someone’s ethnic background. Depending on the style and amount of eyeliner, I can look “more Asian” or “more white” sometimes “more Indian”, sometimes “vaguely Spanish” or “half Mexican!” One can see, then, how strongly make-up can impact one’s identity and how one is presented to the world.

Breaking a make-up habit can be very difficult. When something like applying mascara becomes as routine as brushing your teeth every morning, it can feel wrong to skip out on the eyelash-jabbing ritual and it can throw you off for the whole day as you worry about having a different look. Concerned and well-meaning, and otherwise clueless friends and coworkers may ask you whether you are feeling sick, or exhausted – a frustrating question that may tempt you to reinforce your make-up ritual – “they think I look sick and/or tired without it!”

If you’re going to use make-up, you can never go wrong with the natural look. Consulting a professional for first-hand tips or a quick workshop can go a long way in learning how to look your best. Always remember the most important tip: less is more.