Looking Your Best Afterwards; Post-Surgical Makeup Techniques
You've decided to take the plunge and undergo plastic surgery. You'e talked with your doctor, and seen pictures of previous patients at various stages of recovery. Which means you may be more than a little concerned about what you'll look like while you're still healing. One facelift patient put it well when she said, "I knew I was going to look like I had gone through the windshield of a car." Bruising, swelling, pigment abnormalities, and visible incisions are common after many plastic surgery procedures. If hiding out for the two weeks -- or possibly the two months -- it takes for these after-effects to fade away doesn't appeal to you, read on. The following steps can help camouflage many of these telltale signs of surgical recovery.
Start by consulting your doctor. She/he can best advise you when it's advisable to start applying make-up. You may only have to wait a few days, or possibly, as in the case laser resurfacing, two weeks or more. Of course, applying make-up to actual incision lines is always prohibited until stitches are removed and the wound has entirely closed.
Your doctor may also be able to suggest some cosmetics that have worked well for other patients. Most of the cosmetics you'll need can be found in department stores, drugstores, or online.
After you have your doctor's permission, you'll need to learn what type of make-up and application technique is best for you. The two basic cosmetic camouflage techniques are concealing, which hides bruises or scars and neutralizes red or yellow tinted skin, and contouring, which helps hide swelling while enhancing your best features.
Concealing those marks and color inconsistencies can be done with two products: foundation and concealer. For your foundation, choose a thicker, heavier product for those areas that are discolored, and perhaps another, lighter foundation for other areas of the face. (It's often difficult to find a color that looks good on the entire face anyway.)
The best concealers are pigment-rich producs that are thick and dry to the touch. (One good choice is MAC's little tubs. And Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage is terrific too!) These are a little more difficult to apply than concealers that are waxy or creamy, but they have the advantage of staying put – and that's what you need most from a concealer.
To get the best color match, you may want to buy a two-toned concealer set, with one concealer that closely matches your skin tone and a second concealer that has a slightly more yellow tone. The yellow tint will help to cancel out any red or blue tones you want to minimize. But don't go overboard! Really yellow or green shades will just look like yellow or green marks on your skin!
Under all makeup, use a light moisturizer that contains an appropriate level sunscreen. Sunscreen is essential, especially, after procedures like dermabrasion, which uncover new layers of skin. Apply the screen first, foundation second, and concealer third.
Apply small amounts of make-up at a time, you can always add more. Adding more make-up is much easier than rubbing off excess, especially if the area is still sensitive to touch.
Contouring, the second camouflage technique uses different shades of make-up to create illusions of highlights and shadows. Manipulating these illusions can enhance certain features while disguising swelling. You'll need three or four different shades of foundation. Stick, powder or cream foundations work best. Simply apply lighter colors wherever you want an area to stand out, and darker shades where you want the area to seem to recede. If your shades are too light or too dark, blend one or more colors with your fingers before applying.
The key to successful contouring is blending. If you apply too much dark make-up, it is very difficult to blend it fully so that it looks like a natural shadow instead of a smudge of make-up.
To enhance your cheekbones you want to put the darker make-up in the hollow of the cheek (Suck in your lips, making a "fish face" to see where the hollow is compared to the cheekbone). Then add a lighter color the actual cheekbone.
To make a swollen nose appear narrower use a small brush to draw a thin line of the dark make-up down both sides of the nose, starting at the eye socket. Then, using make-up sponge, blend the color down the sides of your nose. Be sure to fully blend, there should be no lines of make-up showing. You may add a narrow, lighter shade down the center if you want.
For swollen eyes, use contouring make-up to give them the appearance of greater depth. Apply shadow on your eyelid from just above the iris straight out; do not follow the downward curve of the eyebrow bone. Just underneath the arch of the eyebrow apply a lighter shade of make-up. And don't forget to blend.
If you're still anxious about how you'll look after surgery, practice your concealing and camouflage techniques. Once you've got it down, you'll be able to face the surgery with even greater confidence.