Corrective Makeup Tips & Techniques

What is corrective makeup?

Corrective makeup is a technique that makes use of light and dark shades and colors to highlight and contour our features, creating the illusion of better balance and proportion. For instance, you can use corrective techniques to make a narrow top lip appear to be fuller, and to work with unequal eyebrows to give them a more symmetrical appearance.

The term corrective makeup is sometimes confused with the term camouflage makeup, which is applied to conceal scars, hyperpigmented (darker) areas and other features that a person wishes to hide.

When working with corrective makeup, keep a few basic tips in mind:

  • Highlighting emphasizes a feature
  • Shadowing minimizes a feature, making it less noticeable
  • Blend, blend, blend your makeup to create a seamless transformation between corrected areas

Corrective Makeup Supplies

Depending on the areas you plan to work with, you may need wider selections of makeup and supplies. A few include:

  • Lip lining pencils in dark, medium, light
  • A variety of foundation colors and shades
  • Concealers in light and darker shades
  • Light to dark eye shadows and eyeliner pencils, including browns and grays
  • Translucent powder
  • Makeup sponges; brushes and applicators
  • Tweezers

Professionals use disposable mascara wands and other throw-away applicators when working with makeup. You might not choose to use them with your personal supplies, but they do help keep your makeup collection more sanitary.

Corrective Makeup Techniques for the Eyes

  • Lengthen round eyes by extending shadow beyond the outer corners
  • Make close-set eyes appear farther apart by placing light shadow in the lids near the nose, and darker shadow on the outer edges of the lids
  • Use light, reflective colors in the crease to make deep-set eyes emerge; use darker colors sparingly
  • Extend shadow ever so slightly beyond the side of each eye to make small eyes look larger
  • Make prominent eyes less noticeable by blending a medium to dark shadow over the most prominent part of the eyelid, and blending it upward towards the brow

Corrective Makeup Techniques for the Face

Round or Square Face: Blend a darker foundation on the outer edges of temples, then along the cheekbones and jawline. Use a lighter foundation along the center of the face, from the forehead to the tip of your chin.

Narrow Face: Use a light foundation on the outer edges of your cheekbones.

Wide Jaw: Use a darker foundation below the cheekbones and alongside the jawline.

Receding Chin: Use a lighter foundation to highlight the chin.

Double Chin: Use a darker foundation to shade under the jawline and over the double chin.

To Get the “Ideal” Brow

Draw three imaginary lines:

  1. A vertical line alongside the inner corner of the eye and side of the nose (this is where the inner brow should end)
  2. A vertical line on the outside edge of the iris (this is where the highest point of the arch should be)
  3. A diagonal line starting at one corner of the nose and crossing the outer corner of the eye on the same side (the line will extend past the brow to indicate where the brow should end)

Corrective Makeup Tips for Eyebrows

  • High arches make your face appear more narrow, which could be a good thing for a round face, but not as desirable for a face that’s already very narrow. To adjust a high arch, remove extra hair from its top and fill-in under the eyebrow with pencil or shadow.
  • Add visual height to a low forehead by decreasing the arch.
  • Make your eyes appear farther apart by widening the distance between the brows and extending the brows slightly outward.

Corrective Makeup Techniques for Lips

  • Make a thin upper lip appear fuller by lining it with a lip lining pencil (stay on the outermost area of the lip — extending too far looks artificial) and then filling in with lip color; reverse the procedure for a thin lower lip
  • When both lips are thin, line both with a pencil (do not go far past the natural lip line) and fill in with light lipstick to make lips appear larger
  • Too-full lips: use a lip liner to draw a line just inside the natural lip line; fill in with soft colors, avoiding frosty or glossy lipsticks that attract attention
  • Drooping corners: line the lips, focusing on building up the corners; fill in with a soft color.

Makeup Tips from the Experts

Makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin recommends using concealer over the edges of lips before enhancing their shape.

From Bobbi Brown, about the disappearing lips older women must sometimes contend with: “Stick to light-to-medium shades of lipstick and gloss, which will make your lips stand out. Choose creamy, shiny formulas; they reflect light, creating the illusion of fullness. Finally, strengthen your lip line by tracing the outer edge of your natural border using a liner that’s one shade deeper than your lip color. Don’t go crazy for fuller lips: Drawing outside your mouth will only make you look like you’re auditioning for Broadway.”

From Cover Girl: “The softer the brow, the bigger your eyes will appear. Choose a soft shade of pencil and smudge a deeper shadow along the top lash line. Then finish with black/brown mascara.”

Before and After Images
Some of the beauty makeovers on the Internet are more the work of Photoshop software than makeup artists, but before and after photos on the following sites appear to be genuine:

Redbook’s Before and After Beauty Makeover Images and Tips

Real Simple’s Real Women Beauty Makeovers