www.whyville.net Oct 30, 2011 Weekly Issue

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The Science of Makeup

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There are the makeup artists that get paid thousands of dollars to paint their clients' faces. There are tutorials on YouTube that gain thousands of views. And of course you all know that girl who can somehow manage to transform her face into something completely different - and beautiful.

Why can't you do that too?

I didn't start wearing makeup beyond mascara until I was eighteen, but well before that I was interested in how and why people applied their makeup. Why do certain shades make people look beautiful? What illusions give an eye the illusion of perfection?

I studied hard, and realized there was a great deal more science to the matter than I thought.

Now, it is a well-documented phenomenon that, if you merge a hundred womens' faces together, the average of all of these will rate higher in attractiveness than any single one of those women taken from the group.

This is due to a few things - one is that by merging the photos, any blemishes, wrinkles, or imperfections get faded out, and the resultant skin looks baby smooth.

Another theory is that perhaps, on an evolutionary level, the less 'average' you look, the more likely you are to have birth defects or faulty genes - so the most default look became the most desirable.

Now, while there are women in the world you could say are more 'beautiful' than that above picture, you can also say that, scientifically speaking, and in general, that 'average' is what you want to look like.

With this realization also came the awareness that, in order to make someone look beautiful with makeup, you must apply it in such a way to make their face look, as much as possible, like the 'average.'

Of course, I do not mean to say you can't put your own personality into the equation. My point is simply to find a science-based method of applying makeup, and there is no 'rule' stating that to deviate from this means ugly.

In any case, I studied the 'average' woman, and realized that, in comparison, my eyes were droopier, the bridge of my nose larger, my cheeks fuller and my brows lower and wider. So I created a makeup routine that lifted my eyes, darkened the sides of my nose, narrowed my brows, etc.

I do this with women I consider beautiful. One of my favorite makeup styles is modeled after Jeri Ryan, the gorgeous woman who played Seven of Nine on "Star Trek Voyger". This involves careful shading under the eye to make the eyes stand out in relation to the cheeks, and darkening on both bottom sides of the lower lip to make it appear to be rounder.

You can do this with any picture. If need be, take a picture of your face, then find a face you love, overlay the two (be it in photoshop or simply different windows), and then switch back and forth quickly. Study the differences. Note where the faces are different, where the other face has shading that yours doesn't.

Then apply the shading to yours. It's that simple.

Note that statistically desirable traits in a female face are:

Childish appearance - wide eyes, tall forehead, small nose, soft skin, etc. This is because, in evolutionary terms, young women were more fertile and healthy.
Paler skin - at least paler than the men you're attracted to. I suspect this is attractive because it suggests softer skin and youth.
Narrow head - while not attainable for all of us, haircuts help in this regard. A narrower head means a narrower jaw, which is a trait that practically screams "FEMALE", and femininity suggests, again, fertility. Yes, pretty much everything that makes you look beautiful is related to old signs of fertility.

The key to beautiful makeup techniques is not smearing on eyeliner like a goth kid in a fire pit. You can look like you're wearing no makeup and yet still greatly improve your looks if you put shading in exactly the right places.

Random Tricks Which May Or May Not Work Depending On Your Face:

Put the lightest concealer/foundation you have in a thin line around the outside rim of your lips. It will define your lips and make them look larger.

Darken slightly between a quarter-inch to a half-inch below your lower eyelid, where the roundness of your eyeball goes in. It's difficult to pull off, but if you can manage, it will give you a lovely doe-eyed look.

When smiling, try to smile upwards instead of outwards - meaning open your jaw wider and squeeze your eyes, as opposed to cheshire-cat style smiling. This is generally a more photogenic way to smile.

Putting makeup inside the lash line makes your eyes look smaller, and is usually only used to good effect with seriously heavy smoky-eye.

Links for further study:

* http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_II/Psychologie/Psy_II/beautycheck/english/index.htm
* http://www.facialbeauty.org/divineproportion.html
* en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averageness
* http://books.google.com/books?id=qcOvIc-LP_IC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false

Off to hypocritically ignore my makeup bag for the third week in a row,


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