High-Definition Makeup: Get a Flawless Finish

HD Makeup is no longer the secret weapon of TV stars alone.

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 09, 2012

High-definition TV sets can project larger images with 2 to 5 times the resolution of analog sets. So everything from wardrobe malfunctions to a host’s outfit show in much more vivid detail.

That was the inspiration for high-definition makeup. Even if you never get your 15 minutes of fame, high-definition makeup may deserve a supporting, if not starring, role in your makeup routine.

What is HD makeup?

High-def cameras expose any crease, wrinkle, or blemish. But thick, unnatural pancake makeup is also obvious through an HD lens.

To avoid the cakey texture of standard TV makeup, high-definition makeups are sheerer while still hiding uneven skin texture and other un-telegenic flaws, says makeup artist Joanna Schlipp. She has applied HD-friendly makeup for the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys. “You can see the skin through the makeup, but the makeup creates a softer focus,” she says.

In other words, these cosmetics simultaneously camouflage imperfections, cover blemishes, and still manage to appear invisible. The pigments and formulas are designed to blend seamlessly with the skin.

What’s in HD makeup?

The main difference is light-scattering ingredients, makeup artist Tina Turnbow, says. “The reflective particles are what make the foundation really flattering,” she says.

Diffusing light creates an illusion of an even finish so you can’t detect the flaws underneath -- like airbrushing for your skin. Cosmetics with an HD label will likely contain one of the following: mica, silicone, crystals, or quartz. These particles sit on top of the skin and help to scatter light in subtle ways.

The powders are often milled to a fine consistency to help avoid detection by the cameras. Mineral pigments in a micronized texture are often present as well because they don’t settle into pores.

Some formulas may contain mattifying agents to prevent shine in oilier complexions and avoid glare. So foundations are usually oil-free.

HD makeup is often made to moisturize because makeup can settle into cracks and creases of dry skin. The hydration also plumps up dry skin to make wrinkles and lines less noticeable.

Does HD makeup need to be applied differently?

In most cases, no. You should always brush or sponge on your foundation in a downward motion to avoid highlighting the fine hairs on your face.

It's also essential to blend down to the neck so you don’t end up with a telltale stripe along your jaw. "For the best blending,” Schlipp says, “any makeup should be body temperature when you apply it."

Do I need to switch to HD makeup?

Upgrading to HD formulas isn’t necessary if you aren't on camera.

“Much of the HD makeup trend is all about clever marketing,” cosmetics chemist Jim Hammer says. “But it does make sense that these formulas can soften skin imperfections and make it appear more uniform and smooth without visible residue.”

That doesn’t mean you won’t see similar results from other cosmetics. “Many of the ingredients in HD makeup are present in wrinkle-concealing and matte foundations that have been on the market,” Hammer says.

Cosmetics with light-reflecting ingredients will have the same benefits as many high-definition makeup options. Popular airbrush foundations also get your complexion camera ready.

Which HD makeup products are worth the investment?

If you’re in the market, consider a foundation or concealer designed for HD filming. This is often where you see the most impact, Turnbow says. HD foundations are a good choice if you’re worried about how your skin will look in pictures -- a great tip for wedding photos.

Camouflaging imperfections to create a smooth canvas will make any other cosmetic you apply look even better. Plus, focusing on your skin tone means you can also get away with wearing less makeup.

Show Sources


My Free HDTV.

HDTVorg: "HD Focus."

MSNBC: "HD is unforgiving to actors, and makeup artists."

Joanna Schlipp, makeup artist.

Tina Turnbow, makeup artist,

Jim Hammer, cosmetics chemist, Mix Solutions.

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