Learn the art of makeup: 'It's a form of expression'

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On a Saturday afternoon in January, if you were to travel the windy hallways of the Williams College '62 Center for Theatre and Dance in Williamstown, Mass., you might find a group of students standing close to a mirror in a dressing room practicing their makeup skills and listening to the latest pop music hits.

"You're Beaut-eph-ul! Enhancing Your Natural Beauty," a Free University course that senior Ava Atri instructed, taught students how to apply makeup and new tricks, such as contouring or how to properly apply liquid eyeliner.

While some might scoff at makeup as a form of art, over time the act has become so much more than masking a woman's natural beauty. Instead, according to Atri, it's about enhancing what you've already got.

"Basically, we want to work with what we have and what we love about our faces and enhance what we want," said Atri, who learned makeup techniques by watching YouTube tutorials and lots of practice. "We can also use makeup to change something that we might not like the most about ourselves, or to express ourselves in a different way. Like if you wear a fun red shirt, it's like wearing a fun red lipstick — its a form of expression."

Get the look

To make your cheekbones really pop, try Atri's contouring technique: Gently brush a glitter-based bronzer along your cheekbone ridge — short, light upright strokes. The key is for it to glisten when the light hits it right, according to Atri.

If you want to tackle liquid eyeliner, Atri suggests drawing short, thin strokes on the top eyelid. She said you can always make the line thicker, but its hard to take it away. She also suggests applying eyeshadow first so that it doesn't cover the eyeliner. However, this could be troublesome if you mess up the eyeliner and have to remove all the eye makeup.

Skin first

Applying makeup can be fun, but remember, it must be completely removed to protect your skin.

Dr. Lixia Ellis, dermatologist with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Dermatology in Bennington, Vt., strongly recommends that everyone wash and moisturize their face at night before bed.

"If you use makeup, you should clean your face well at night, and apply a night moisturizer to allow your skin to rest / breathe overnight," she said. "If one has a medical condition (for example acne or rosacea) that needs to be treated with a topical medication, the medication should go on your face before any makeup."

Atri said she prefers a moisturizing makeup remover cream versus makeup wipes or a liquid because it's gentler on the skin.

"I think wipes are a little bit harsh and can pull the skin," she said. "But they're good if you're sleepy. I just think it's really important to take your makeup off."

Be sensitive

However, makeup isn't for every skin type. Atri said most companies adhere to sensitive skin, but that might not always be the case. That's also why she makes sure some products aren't shared in her class.

"I got some eyeshadows for the class and eyeliner and mascara," Atri said. "For hygienic purposes, you don't want to share eyeliner or mascara. Eyeshadow is OK to share — but use your own applicator."

Take care

Applying makeup too roughly can also irritate existing acne.

"People can develop either allergic or irritant contact dermatitis to the makeup they use," Ellis said. "Also, some makeup products can clog pores and make acne worse. Acne patients should choose makeup products that are non-comedogenic. In patients with rosacea, some makeup can trigger rosacea to flare up. Rosacea patients have very sensitive skin and should choose products cautiously."

Dermatitis — inflammation of the skin in many forms — is also known as eczema.

Protect yourself

Not only can makeup improve one's confidence, but it can positively impact your skin quality.

"Lots of makeup products contain sunscreens, which can block the detrimental effects of UV radiation and protect people from developing skin cancers and photodermatoses," Ellis said. "Also, even if the products do not contain any sunscreen, if one applies the makeup thick enough, they can block some UV radiation. Also, if the makeup products contain retinol, vitamin C or other beneficial ingredients, they can provide photoaging protection."

Reach staff writer Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471 or @MC_McGeeney.


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