Since Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing platforms have taken over our daily lives, we’ve been comfortably prancing around in our activewear sans makeup. Every now and again, however, we turn our webcams on and our faces are hit by a ghastly, bluish cast – a rude awakening that can make us feel a tad self-conscious.
If you’ve been shocked a time or two at your not-so-hot Zoom call appearance, trust us when we say you’re not the only one who has experienced the unflattering “blue face”. Our webcams will capture us and any other subject in a cool-toned lighting, adding more blue and grey to what is actually there.
Don’t fret. There are a few ways to counter that and prevent your face from looking washed out on screen. We turned to three professional makeup artists for their top tips, so we can look our best for all those long-distance meetings and friend dates.
1. Prep your skin
It was makeup mogul Napoleon Perdis who popularised the catchy saying “not to prime is a crime”. And it’s true, skincare and makeup shouldn’t be treated as two entirely separate entities, because when they meet each other halfway, you can achieve the base of your dreams.
“Always remember to moisturise for plump, supple skin,” veteran makeup artist Cheryl Ow shares. Award-winning makeup artist Larry Yeo agrees and recommends taking an extra five minutes out of your morning to prep your skin. “Your skin [will look] better with a fresh glow without overcompensating for makeup,” he says.
After you’ve cleansed your skin, Larry suggests misting your face with the Freeplus Mild Shower (left), a lotion mist that soothes and hydrates. While your skin is damp, dispense some of Jurlique’s Activating Water Essence (centre) on your palms and massage it on your face and neck. Next, apply two pumps of AHC’s 365 Red Serum (right) and massage it all over your face and under your eyes.
Lock in the moisture with a pea-sized amount of Clinique’s Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator (left). Start applying it on drier areas of your face and work your way to the oilier areas, such as your T-zone. “To finish up, apply Gucci Beauty’s Silk Priming Serum (centre) on areas where your skin has more texture,” Larry says.
If you’re really pressed for time, apply a hydrating, nourishing serum on your skin before moisturiser. “My current favourite one is Clarins’ Double Serum (right). A tiny pump goes a long way and my dry skin just drinks it up,” Cheryl touts.
2. Make sure your foundation and/or concealer matches your skin tone
When it comes to foundation and concealer, we often make the mistake of going a shade or two lighter than our natural skin tone to achieve a brighter complexion. However, Larry warns that the camera can pick up this lighter shade and “create an even more obvious mask-like effect” on screen.
Instead, select a foundation and concealer shade that matches your skin. If you’re looking for lighter coverage, you can sheer it out by mixing your foundation with a primer like the Gucci Beauty’s Silk Priming Serum. A tinted moisturiser will work just as well for a light, luminous base.
3. Warm up your complexion with blush and bronzer
The best way to counteract the look of a bluish tinge on your complexion is to add some warmth with makeup. Makeup artist Clarence Lee, who has international stars like Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, and Liu Wen among his clients, likes to use warm shades of blush and even a bronzing cream or powder to do so.
“My go-to cheat for a healthy flush is the Cheek Gelée from Chantecaille in Vibrant (left),” Cheryl shares. “Just a couple of dabs and it instantly brightens up the face. Another favourite is Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Sensual (centre) – a coral tone that brings warmth to the face and looks fresh too.”
“I love the Gucci Bronzing Powder (right). It gives a natural warm glow without looking dirty and it is so easy to use as it just glides on the skin,” she continues. If you’re new to bronzer, however, make sure you don’t go in too heavy-handedly. “It can look like you were trying to apply foundation that is too dark,” Larry warns.
4. Enhance your eyes
Before you work on your eye makeup, you’ll want to conceal any dark circles. Larry is currently loving the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer Duo Stick (coming soon to Singapore). One end has a light-reflecting formula, so it works well for hollow under-eyes, while the other end is a tackier concealer that hides discolouration and blemishes.
For eyeshadow, Cheryl usually opts for “a matte eggshell or cream type of shade”. “It brightens up the eyes without telling the whole world you have eyeshadow on,” she says. “The Dior Backstage Eye Palette in 001 Warm Neutrals has a shade like that and [it’s] also easy to use brown tones that define the eyes very naturally.”
Or, you can go with an eyeshadow stick, the easiest way to apply eyeshadow quickly according to Larry. “My favourites are Make Up For Ever Aqua Resist Smoky Shadow, Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, and By Terry Ombre Blackstar Cream Eyeshadow Pen,” he shares. These have a creamy consistency that sets beautifully.
His top tip? Pick natural shades with a soft sheen to create dimension, such as peach, beige, bronze, and pink.
If you haven’t got time for eyeshadow, focus on your eyeliner and lashes. Clarence says those two things alone will help make your eyes look more “alive”. You can use a waterproof pencil eyeliner to draw along your lash line and use your fingers to blend it out. “This will quickly define your eyes without [having to overthink its shape],” Larry says.
5. Natural light is your best friend
Front-facing natural light is best. It evenly accentuates and brightens your skin and features, giving you a clear, flattering look that’s presentable on camera.
Set up your computer or laptop in front of a window and make sure that light is hitting your face straight-on. Having that light come from behind you can end up drowning you out entirely, reducing you to an inscrutable silhouette. Since light will be shone on your face, Clarence reminds us not to forget our sunscreen, even when we’re indoors.
For those who are concerned about blue light emitted from your devices, Larry says you shouldn’t worry about it too much. “The amount of radiation we get from devices in a year is less than 15 minutes of sun exposure,” he explains.
If you’re on the market for a good, all-rounder sunscreen, Cheryl recommends Supergoop!’s Glowscreen. “It’s a sunscreen with SPF 40 PA +++ and can be used as a primer too,” she notes.
- 22 sunscreens that you can comfortably wear indoors without feeling yucky
- 19 sunscreens for darker skin tones that won’t leave a ghostly white cast on your complexion
6. Invest in a ring light
You want to light your face but not too harshly, which can make you look like you’re telling a ghost story around a campfire. Your best bet? A ring light. “That is 70% of the game won, especially if you settle it in neutral lighting,” Larry states.
Your ring light doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but make sure that it has adjustable settings (i.e. cool, neutral, and warm). When you have a video call, avoid the ‘cool’ setting and choose somewhere between neutral and warm instead.
If you don’t wish to get a new ring light, Clarence says that decent lighting from a desk lamp should do. Try to position it above your eye line and angled down 45 degrees. This is the most flattering angle for light.
Larry has a couple more tips to share to enhance your overall appearance. “Make sure your camera is at eye level (the centre of the focus should be on your nose), so stack [your laptop] up on books or a table,” he says. A tidy background will also help to minimise distractions, and a clean, white backdrop can make your face stand out better.