Makeup Tutorial: Sculpting a Masculine Face
By makeup artist Meg Hall
The art of makeup goes beyond fluttering eyelashes and perfectly glossed lips. It is also a tool to enhance the kind of shape and feel you want for your face. As a professional makeup artist with a feminine to more masculine fluidity, I’ve experimented and adapted makeup to suit my personal needs as well as the needs of those with masculine-of-center or genderqueer identities.
As with clothes, it all comes down to shape. When sculpting and shaping a “feminine” face you are striving to create the illusion of the perfect oval face shape; applying your blush, lipstick, and even eyebrow products in a way that accentuates curves and soft round shapes. To sculpt a more “masculine” face, you are striving for strong, chiseled features, and looking to create a more square shape. This is absolutely possible when you know which products and techniques to use when applying makeup.
STEP 1: COMPLEXION PERFECTION
You will need:
Recommended: MAC Cosmetics Prep+Prime Natural Radiance (all skin types) or
Too Faced Primed & Poreless (combination-oily skin)
Recommended: Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer
Sheer Water Based Foundation
Recommended: MAC Cosmetics Face & Body Foundation
You want to begin by creating a good canvas to work on. Following your usual skincare routine, apply a primer. Once primed, you want to apply your foundation or tinted moisturizer. I recommend going for something lightweight, like a tinted moisturizer or sheer water based foundation. Tinted moisturizer or foundation should be applied before concealer to save you from over concealing.
STEP 2: CONCEAL & BRIGHTEN
You will need:
Recommended: MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Concealer, or
Recommended: MAC Cosmetics Prep+Prime Highlighter
If you see any areas or spots that your foundation didn’t cover, now is the time to conceal. I recommend using a lightweight and/or liquid concealer to help maintain a “no makeup” look.
Following concealer, use an eye brightener to make yourself appear naturally awake and refreshed. Apply a small amount under the eyes and blend in with a brush using circular motions, going around the outside of the eye and over the brow bone.
STEP 3: SHAPE AND SCULPT
You will need:
Angled or Contour Brush
Recommended: MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush
Recommended: MAC Sculpting Creams 2-3 shades darker than your skin
Recommended: ULTA’s Extreme Wear Matte Finish Mousse Blush,
Lightweight concealer or liquid foundation
Recommended: MAC Cosmetics pigment in the shade Naked (all skin tones)
Sheer finishing powder
Recommended: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural
Assess your face shape, keeping in mind that you want to achieve a more square shape with stronger features. You may want to use your hands to determine which areas you want to recede or sculpt to give you a face shape that is closer to a square. If you are struggling, compare your face shape to a picture of a more masculine face shape that you like. What would you have to hide and what would you have to define to create that shape?
I always begin with my cheeks; contouring a straight line underneath my cheekbone and blending it towards my jawline, keeping the shape of the color straight and avoiding any curves. You want to use an angled or contour brush to apply the color and begin blending. If you are having trouble blending with the brush, use clean fingertips to blend towards the jawline. The color should appear a bit dark for now, so don’t panic if you feel like it looks unnatural or harsh. After shaping your cheeks, begin contouring any other areas that need shaping. Depending on your face shape, this may mean you need to contour near your hairline or at your temples. I also like to contour around my nose to give a stronger shape and help offset its crookedness. You want to make sure that the product you use has no shimmer.
After contouring, you want to apply a natural, neutral blush that is lighter than your contour color. I recommend a cream; it will look more natural on your skin than a powder. To determine where to apply your blush, smile at yourself in the mirror. Apply the blush to the apples of your cheeks, which should be the area that flushes when you naturally blush. Blend the blush color into the contour color.
Next, you will want to highlight the high points of your face and the areas you want to draw attention to. I recommend using a concealer or foundation that is 1-3 shades lighter than your natural skin tone, depending on how light you want it to be. You can also use a loose powder that is lighter, which is what I chose to do since I tend to fall towards the lightest shades in most foundations and concealers. You want to highlight the areas where light naturally hits, so the tops of your cheekbones and your nose. I also like to add a little bit of highlight directly on my jawline to make it appear stronger. Make sure your highlight is blended in with the rest of your complexion.
To finish, you want to take a sheer finishing powder and dust it over your face. This is going to help truly blend everything, making all you just did look completely natural. Powder is also going to help set everything so you don’t smear your makeup throughout the day. Be careful with your pressure, making sure you don’t apply too much pressure with the brush. I also only recommend using a brush for this step- a sponge or powder puff will apply too much product and make you look powdered, which we want to avoid. You want your skin to look natural.
STEP 4: PERFECTING EYES & EYEBROWS
You will need:
You can pick these up for super cheap at any beauty supply store or you can stop by a local cosmetics counter and ask for one theirs; they are usually more than willing to give you one or two!
Brow Pencil (If you want to change the shape of your brow)
Liquid Eye Liner (For Lashes, instead of Mascara)
If you didn’t conceal or apply your foundation to your eyelids, make sure you do! You want your eyelids to look smooth and bright. You don’t have to apply eyeshadow unless you prefer a little bit of shadow on the eyes; just make sure you keep it neutral and natural.
I like to do my eyebrows before I do anything else, because grooming and shaping your eyebrows is the most important part of your eye makeup. You are framing your eyes in a lovely custom picture frame! Begin by taking a clean mascara wand/spoolie and combing through your brows, assessing your shape. Experiment with grooming the hairs up and redirecting them if you need to. When it comes to more masculine or boyish brows, you want to try to achieve a straight shape with minimal arch. For most people, just simply using a brow gel to shape and hold the hairs in place is enough. Brow gels come in clear as well as different shades if you need some color in your brows. I typically recommended tinted brow gels to people with sparse brows or people who color their hair.
Brush the brow product through the brows, taking the time to shape the hairs and direct them where you want them to go. Create a little bit of a tousled brow just at the very beginning, pushing the hairs forward and towards the opposite brow. Don’t go too crazy, though! Do just enough to create a rough boyish edge.
If you have your brows shaped or if your brows naturally have more of an arch, you may have to use a brow pencil to help create the shape you desire. When selecting a brow pencil, match it to your brow hair or a shade or two lighter. You want to avoid any brow pencil that is too dark; it will look harsh and unnatural. You want to avoid going crazy with the brow pencil, beginning with small strokes and filling in any gaps where hair doesn’t grow. Continue to use small, hairlike strokes to create faux hairs, making sure you avoid going too far out of your natural brow shape. Add just enough to give you a straighter brow.
Next you want to line the inner rim/waterline with a brightening eyeliner. Avoid using a white eyeliner or any color that is more than about 3 shades lighter than your skin tone.
As a final step to the eyes, you want to enhance your lashes. Unless you like wearing mascara or like the look of wearing mascara, I say skip it and instead coat your lashes with a liquid eyeliner just to give them a little bit of tint. I just wiggle the felt tip of a liquid eyeliner pen through the lashes. I use black because i have darker hair naturally, but if you are blonde or have lighter hair, you can also use brown.
STEP 5: SHAPING LIPS
You will need:
Some people are lucky and have naturally nicely shaped, gender neutral lips. For the rest of us, it takes just a little bit more effort. Whether or not you’re going to be reshaping your lips, now is the time to apply a lip conditioner (read: chapstick)! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just your current favorite that you keep in your pocket. Healthy lips are sexy lips. They also create a nice base for us to apply lip products over.
Lips tend to be something that are more about personal preference than anything else. Of course, for the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to talk about getting a generally more masculine lip shape. The biggest secret is creating a straighter and less emphasized cupid’s bow (the double curve of the upper lip). Also keep in mind that the bottom lip should always be a little bigger than the top. Begin by lining your natural lip using a lip pencil that is close to your natural lip color. Gradually reshape your lips, using small strokes until you have your desired lip shape, taking care to not over emphasize your cupid’s bow or create a lip shape that is too round.
You may want to use your fingertips to blend the lip pencil in, or you can use a neutral lipstick that has little to no shimmer or shine. Make sure you select a lipstick that is close to your natural lip color, taking care to not select a color that completely mutes your lips down.
Here are the results!