#TuesdaysWithLarry: The Right Match

Quit being in denial about your real skin tone


Besides his amazing makeup skills and depth of knowledge on everything beauty, another reason why we love working with celebrity makeup artist Larry Yeo is his (often brutal) honesty. When you need someone to tell you your foundation colour is wrong, or your K-pop inspired brows are ridiculous, he’s your guy. So buckle up for #TuesdaysWithLarry, where the makeup maestro dishes out beauty tips, tricks and advice with a big spoonful of sass and spice.

It’s funny how the definition of “natural” looking foundation varies with different people.

Some think “natural” means applying foundation so thick that it looks like they have a new face poured on and set overnight; while others prefer foundations that are so light compared to their actual skin colour that they end up looking like what the Hungry Ghost Festival's underworld guardsmen forgot to collect last year.  Let’s not forget people who think “natural” makeup means having nothing on their face. #HaHaHaWTF And then there are those who think “natural” makeup means they should look more tan and orange than Donald’s Trump fake-a** face.

In Asia, we have some women (and men) who insist on achieving a fairer face tone because they wanted something “brighter”: “Oh we are Asians, our face tend to be more yellow, so we need a pink base or lilac glow to make it more vibrant.”

Sweetie, you ain’t a round-shaped cut diamond. You’re just round and flat-faced with that lustreless, wrong-coloured foundation that you beat your face with (when Rihanna sang that song, she was not referring to a washed-out face). 

Some even claim that because their foundation “oxidises”, they need a lighter colour to keep the makeup looking fresh after lunch. I cannot comprehend how that “fresh after embalming look” can be seen as natural; nor how a pale face with tan neck can look great.

It’s pointless to blend all the way to the neck because I can still see the foundation stain on your neckline. #YesIAmLookingAtYou 

In the west, there is also a mental salah-ness with the reversal of skin tone: Faces are significantly darker and more bronzed than their bodies, which is a result from regular sun exposure for tanning (obviously leading to the risk of skin cancer in the future).

I see colour according to what’s really on our skin; from the pale-as-snow to beautiful, ebony tones. Women with more tanned skin can argue all they want about not having enough foundation products that cater to their skin tone, but sales figures across many brands show that the darker colours do not sell well here as local customers tend to get foundation that is one to three shades lighter than their actual skin tone.

There have been many occasions (from back in the day when I was working on the retail floor to now, when I’m doing brand presentations for events) where I have to constantly wrangle with customers over the correct foundation for them. Most of them automatically reach for a colour that’s too light for their skin tone. Even though I know it’s eventually their choice on which shade to pick, I do have to get my stand across.


Here is a list of things that people are doing with their foundation that annoy me:

Fairer foundation for a brighter face

It is 2016 (and not the ‘80s), and most of us in Singapore are fortunate to have a proper education and lead a modern life. The misconception that tanned skin = “hardship” should no longer exist.

Pick the foundation colour that matches your face and body. Basically, when foundation is applied, your face should look like a part of your body and not a floating entity. If your face is fairer, match the foundation to your neck. 

Do note that the more pigmented your skin tone is, the more your skin colour varies across the whole face. You might have to use two to three different shades, applied at different parts of your face, to create a consistent look.

For fairer-skinned people who want to look “brighter”, use lilac and light pink bases as a highlighter before applying your liquid foundation. Make sure the highlighting takes place on the higher planes of the face: The T-zone, higher parts of the cheek bone, the part of your temple that meets the arch of your brow, your brow bone, and upper and lower lips for the pout.

For medium-olive skin, apply a light yellow or beige highlighter (two to three tones lighter than your skin upon on the higher planes of the face before your liquid foundation. This gives a pop to your facial structure, which helps your skin appear brighter. You might also want to try using two different liquid foundations to create a better canvas.

For skin that’s more tanned, you might have to use two to three different coloured hues of liquid foundation to even out your skin tone. Do NOT mix all together and use on your face. The trick is to give your skin a more dimensional finish by using the different shades on different parts of your face to enhance it NATURALLY with basic highlighting and contouring (stay away from the extreme, harsh examples seen on Instagram!).

Finish with a yellow-based highlighter on the higher planes of the face, which will create a touch of “pop” on your skin. If you use only one colour solely for the face, the eventual makeup might end up looking ashy and patchy due to the myriad of skin hues.

Choose brands that offer a wider range of foundation to find one that suits your skin colour. MAC, Urban Decay, NARS, Makeup Forever, Marc Jacobs and Stila are great brands to try. Those with olive skin can check out Shu Uemura, Shiseido, Laura Mercier, YSL Beauty, Chanel, Tarte and Sephora Collections, which offer a wider range of mid-toned shades in Singapore.

More coverage is better because my makeup has to last the whole day

“More coverage” doesn’t mean longevity in makeup. By piling on more foundation to gain “more coverage”, you may end up with patchy makeup as the day progresses, or that “pasty face” effect when flash photography is involved. The wearing power of foundation is strengthened through skincare and primers that are used on your skin before applying makeup. Learn the proper steps for prepping your skin here

Also, too much foundation on the face will make you look like you fell into a concrete mixer and continued with life. Use long-wearing liquid foundations instead, and if your foundation fades during the day… TOUCH UP with a pressed powder!

Concealer should be lighter to hide skin blemishes

No, No, No, No, No......

Concealers should match your skin tone to tackle blemishes and redness. Choose a slightly peachy variation to reduce the greyness of under eye circles. 

A concealer that is too light will tend to create a "highlight" effect on the targeted area. Imagine yourself with various spots covered with that too-light concealer, wouldn’t you look like a watermelon with white seeds? 

Now go take a look at your face, does your foundation match the rest of your skin tone?

Photo: ImaxTree

For more from Larry Yeo, check out #TuesdaysWithLarry: Beauty Myths, Busted and #TuesdaysWithLarry: The Kylie Lip Kit. For more stories on Beauty, head here.

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