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The Ultimate Guide To Complexion Make Up

model applying concealer under her eye

Uncovering everything from the best face make up to discovering how to know what make up suits your face, our ultimate complexion guide allows you to ace your base. Read on to discover all the tips and tricks needed to create the ideal canvas for all your signature looks… we’re thinking strawberry make up today, how about you? 

FIRST THING’S FIRST: GET TO KNOW YOUR FACE MAKE UP 

We all know by now that an artist is only as good as their tools. So, with that in mind, get to know your complexion cosmetics up close and personal with our 101 make up guide 

HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR UNDERTONE  

Now you’re familiar with all the products needed to create your ideal base, it’s time to understand how to determine your undertone.  Unlike your skin tone which is determined by the levels of melanin in your epidermis (and can change with sun exposure), your undertone is the subtle cool, warm or neutral colour beneath your skin’s surface – which will always stay the same.  

 YOU HAVE A COOL UNDERTONE IF: 

  • Your skin has a slight pink or blue tint 
  • Your veins look blue in natural light 
  • Silver jewellery tends to look best on you 

YOU HAVE A WARM UNDERTONE IF: 

  • Your skin has a slight yellow tint, which could be described as peachy, golden or olive 
  • Your veins look green in natural light 
  • Gold jewellery tends to look best on you 

YOU HAVE A NEUTRAL UNDERTONE IF: 

  • Your skin has an equal balance of pink/blue and yellow 
  • Your veins look a combination of blue and green in natural light 
  • Both silver and gold jewellery looks good on you (you lucky thing) 

HOW TO KNOW WHAT MAKE UP SUITS YOUR FACE 

Face make up should be fun and experimental, but the key is to always feel comfortable with your complexion. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there when you discover a new TikTok trend that you can’t wait to try, but when you wear it, you’re somewhat disappointed with your look. This could be for many reasons, but it normally comes down to knowing what make up suits your face shape. While there are no rules when it comes to applying your base, there are some tips and tricks that can help compliment your complexion. Read on to discover how to apply make up for your face shape. 

dark skinned model with oval face shape

OVAL FACE SHAPE 

How to determine an oval face shape: An oval face shape is the most balanced. The width of your forehead is smaller than the width of your cheekbones. Those with oval shaped faces will typically have a taller forehead, and their cheekbones are the widest part of their face. 

How to apply make up to an oval face shape: Using a tapered make up brush, apply your bronzer at the temple, working your way down to the centre of your face. Then with the same brush, sweep on your blusher with a light touch, blending from the temples down to the apple of your cheeks. Lastly, to highlight, simply grab your fan brush and apply the pigment to the highest points of your face (we’re talking temples, brow bone, bridge of your nose, Cupid’s bow and chin).  

Brunette Model with oblong face shape

OBLONG FACE SHAPE 

How to determine an oblong face shape: Oblong faces are longer than they are wider – usually having twice as much height as they do width. However, the forehead, cheeks and jaw all share similar widths. An easy way to distinguish an oblong silhouette is through its strong jawline and subtly curved chin.  

How to apply make up to an oblong face shape: Once your base is complete, start by applying blusher to the apples of your cheeks, blending back and out to add width. As for your bronzer, this should be applied at the top of your forehead, along the bottom of your cheekbones, blending it up towards the temple, under your chin and beneath your brown bone. Finish off by applying highlight to the tops of your cheekbones, on the brown bone and to the tip of your nose. Avoid highlighting the forehead and chin as this will add more height. 

Blonde model with round face shape

ROUND FACE SHAPE 

How to determine a round face shape: If you have a round face shape, you’ll notice your forehead and jawline are both rounded with the same width. Your jawline will have subtle angels and the width and length of your face will be similar.  

How to apply make up to a round face shape: Apply bronzer or contour the entire outer parameter of your face and under your cheekbones to add some definition to your complexion. Then, blend your highlighter on the highest points of your cheeks and on the bridge of your nose to accentuate your cheekbones. Finally, buff your blusher one to two fingers away from your nose by sweeping it across the apple of your cheeks and towards your ears.  

Brunette Model with heart shaped face

HEART FACE SHAPE  

How to determine a heart face shape: Renowned for its prominent silhouette, a heart shaped face is when your cheekbone’s share the same width as your forehead– with both being wider than your jawline. Common facial features include prominent cheekbones and a widow’s peak. 

How to apply make up to a heart face shape: To accentuate your cheeks, begin with blending your blush from the apples of your cheeks towards your ears. Or for even more emphasis, add your bronzer beneath your cheekbone and under your chin to contour your face make up. Lastly, apply your signature shimmering highlight to the high points of your cheekbone, where the light naturally hits. For a sparkling sign off, experiment with blending highlighter to the bridge of your nose, underneath your brow bone and onto your jawline, too!

medium skinned model with square face shape

SQUARE FACE SHAPE 

How to determine asquare face shape:Square faces characteristically have an angular jaw and prominent chin. Your cheekbones will be about the same width as your forehead and jaw, while your hair line follows a straight line across your forehead. 

How to apply make up to a square face shape: Firstly, add to your base by applying contour to your temples and jaw line. To do this, use a fluffy brush and blend upwards for a natural finish. Next, using a soft bristled brush, buff your blusher and bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks to soften the edges of your face’s silhouette. Complete your complexion by adding your highlighter in a “c” formation around the highest points of your cheeks and temples - blending upwards.  

dark skinned model with diamond face shape

DIAMOND FACE SHAPE 

How to determine a diamond face shape: While your cheeks are typically wider than your forehead and chin, the difference between the two can be subtle or dramatic. A diamond shaped face can typically be recognised by the defined point at the chin.  

How to apply make up to a diamond face shape: For those who prefer a more balanced look, it’s best to contour with two shades of foundation. Use the darker hue on the tip of your chin to soften the edges and give the illusion of a wider jaw line. After that, take the lighter foundation and apply it along your jaw line before blending it in – so you’re unable to see where the foundations meet. When it comes to blush, you only need to apply the pigment to the apples of your cheeks, while the highlighter can be placed on the high points of your cheekbones.  

BEST FACE MAKE UP…RIGHT NOW 

Blurring the line between make up and skin care, IT Cosmetics’ CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40 delivers a buildable, medium coverage while revealing a radiant glow. Working hard to brighten your skin over time, this hybrid blends niacinamide and green tea extract to visibly balance your complexion’s texture and tone. Now, who said one product couldn’t do it all? 

How to use:Apply one to two pumps on clean skin, as the last step of your morning skin care routine. Use your make up brush to buff and blend foundation onto your face, neck and décolleté. Apply more product as needed to build your desired level of coverage. 

SHOP ALL IT COSMETICS >>>

Bestowing a glow-giving finish, Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Bronzer boosts the same soft-focus effect as the brand’s bestselling finishing powder. Renowned for its fine-as-air pigment, it blurs the look of pores to provide a sun-soaked veil over your skin. Available in a spectrum of four holiday hues, it enhances a just-stepped-off-the-plane glow, without having to spend your airmiles… 

How to use: Apply to your face, where the sun naturally tans your cheekbones and jawline. Buff onto the skin and blend with a bronzer brush for a sunkissed, natural-looking finish. 

SHOP ALL CHARLOTTE TILBURY >>>

1167 reviews

22.60€

Buildable and buttery, Saie’s Dew Blush seamlessly melts into skin, giving you a lit-from-within flush that doesn't look streaky or patchy. Powered by a cocktail of mulberry extract, elderberry and evening primrose, the tint brightens, moisturises and refines your complexion while boosting your look with a juicy finish that you won’t be able to resist.  

How to use: Warm a little dab between your fingertips or on the back of your hand. Use the chubby doe foot wand to dab one to two dots onto each cheek. For deeper colour add more as desired. Then simply, blend out with fingertips onto apples of cheeks, cheekbones, or anywhere else you want a flush of colour. 

SHOP ALL SAIE >>>

Capturing, diffusing and softening harsh light while concealing the visibility of pores, Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Palette Volume II, is more than just a highlighter. Delivering multi-dimensional, soft-focus luminosity, the trio of bronzed hues lend radiance while blurring blemishes. Paying homage to some of the most forgiving light sources (we’re talking sunsets and moonlight), the palette features 'Soft Light', 'Radiant Light' and 'Golden Bronze Light’ shades.  

How to use:Apply each shade separately or layer up for a multidimensional glow. Apply with a powder brush all over the face or use to accentuate your face’s highest points. 

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Sculpt, define and highlight with PATRICK TA’s Major Sculpt Crème Contour Powder Bronzer Duo. Marrying a dewy cream with a finely milled powder, this couple chisels cheekbones while amplifying depth with subtle shadows. Completely customisable, the textures are readily layered making it easy to dial up the drama or enhance a golden glow.  

How to use: Use the contour shade to add natural shadows and depth to your face. Dust the powder for added warmth all over the face, focusing on the areas where sun would naturally strike. 

SHOP ALL PATRICK TA >>>

Now you have everything you need to know to carry out your best face make up, you can finally bid farewell to your complexion woes. All that’s left to do is pick up your make up brushes and experiment with your buildable base. 

SHOP ALL COMPLEXION MAKE UP >>> 
Trifonia Asmar
Trifonia Asmar Writer and expert
Cult Beauty’s Senior SEO Copywriter, Trifonia started out in the industry when bold brows were just becoming a ‘thing’, and shares a passion for all things fashion and beauty. Currently embracing her curly girl journey (after endless years of straightening her strands), she is finally reverting to her natural ways! When Triffy isn’t busy testing out the latest curl-saving solutions, you’ll find her binging the latest reality TV show or on a long walk listening to her ever-evolving country music playlist.

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