The unofficial but definitive makeup guide to get your face ready for Zoom in 3 minutes flat. Written by a former makeup artist AND a techie.
If there had to be a person to write a short, concise and effective makeup tutorial on how to get your face ready with the least amount of product and maximum results for web conferencing, I honestly can’t think of a better person other than myself. I use to be a makeup artist, and I work in tech – so I know a thing or two about hardware and software technical limitations and makeup application. In this tutorial, I am going to provide you a list of makeup product that you can keep in ziplock sandwich size bag next to your desk as your emergency Zoom makeup kit.
Before I started writing this, I did a quick search on the internet, and most of the stuff I found were WAY abstract and they all used unrealistic examples. Especially the youtube videos. I don’t really want to sit there and watch a 20 min tutorial on how to do something that I should be done with in 3 mins. Honestly, there’s a lot we can hide behind our computer cameras. Before we start – we need to determine a few things:
- What platform are you conferencing on? Is it Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangout, Slack, or another form of proprietary software?
- What device are you using for the conference?
- What is your internet connection?
- And lastly… how much time do you have to spend in this conference?
Why does any of that matter? Depending on these variables, we will determine how hard you’ll have to beat your face to get it webcam ready. The silver-lining in having slower internet speed and mediocre webcams/older equipments is that you have to work less for your face to look presentable. If you have top notch fiber for internet and you have a baller webcam, well, 3 mins to do your makeup might just have to stretch to 5 mins because you’ll need just a bit more time to flush out the details.
- The Platform: These different platforms all have different codec – and it greatly depends on the connection you have in conjunction with how many people are conferencing. Zoom and Google Hangout tends to have the better video codec (meaning better picture), while Microsoft Teams and Slack tend to greatly dependent upon the connection you have. While Hangout and Slack tend to hog up more bandwidth to produce better image, it greatly declines in quality as soon as your connection quality deteriorates. Zoom has a better codec that can spit out better image with less bandwidth, but it also has its limitations. Therefore, what platform you’re using to do your web conferencing is an important factor to consider.
- The Equipment: If you’re running a Macbook Air from 2012, your camera is probably going to be fuzzy with some details at best in comparison to someone who is running a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K that can stream in full 4K over fiber. The level of effort we are talking about here greatly depends on how well your own camera resolution can display the details of your face. Do a quick selfie with whatever software/software you are using, and take a screenshot. That will be the “best” condition since you’re not streaming over a connection, and whatever you can see and don’t see in that image, will be the most detail you’ll have to achieve/maintain with your makeup. This along with your connection speed will be your greatest determining factor in how much time and detail you’ll need to spend on beating your face to get it camera ready.*
- The Connection: Are you running 1Gbps fiber for yourself or are you stealing your neighbor’s 200Mbp wifi from Comcast that he also happens to share with his 3 kids that are also doing remote learning? This makes a huge difference – again, the better the internet connection, the better the picture quality. If you’re sharing with other people over wifi and you don’t pay more than $50/a month for your internet, chances are, you have ok wifi, but not good enough to stream in really high bitrate, and that’s actually beneficial to you because you’ll have to work less. This along with hardware equipment, will determine how much work you’ll have to spend on your face.
- The Time: Are you conferencing for 30mins or you’re doing a marathon working session that could potentially go into 3 hours? With the 3 min limit I set on the makeup, I aim for one thing and one thing only – speed. When it comes to speed though however, we lose one thing that normally application tends to come with, which is the ability to makeup last longer. If you have to do a longer session, I highly recommend keeping a mirror nearby for quick touchup just incase something runs. But honestly, I think you’ll be ok. This will be least important factor.
*One thing I highly recommend against is using your phone as the video conferencing camera of choice. Reason being is that you’ll not only need to find a stationary place for your phone, otherwise it’ll make it difficult for others to view you with all the jostling and movement, it also tends to be the least professional. You have less control over angle, lighting, and connection, making this the least predictable and hard to troubleshoot to get your routine down.
Now let’s get down to products. Keep in mind, we’re not here to get you ready for the red carpet, so we’re talking about efficiency and speed.
- A high-coverage compact powder or liquid foundation – depending on your skin type, with an easy to apply brush.
- An eyebrow pencil with brush attachment
- Two neutral eyeshadows of your choice, one accent color, one transitional, OR an eyeliner. Pick one or the other, you don’t need both.
- A lipstick color you’re comfortable wearing for an interview.
- A bronzer and a bronzer brush.
BUT WAIT! What about mascara, highlighters and shit? It won’t matter, because it won’t show up on the image. Unless you want to put on a set of dense falsies in under a minute, chances are whatever you put on your lids other than an accent color and eyeliner, it won’t show up, and it won’t make a difference other than take up more of your time.
Best type of powder/foundation for intense quick coverage
Two things that will show up in zoom no matter how crappy your connection is and how shitty your equipment will be: blemish and shine. That’s why we need products that have high coverage, and extremely easy to blend with to get the job done in 3 minutes flat. With a quick one layer coverage of your face with these high-coverage, high pigmented formulas, and it’ll eliminate most of your blemishes and skin imperfections from the camera. Best of all, you can keep it around for when you need to go outside to brave people again after quarantine ends.
Best Powder Foundation
MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation: This is the gold standard for medium to high coverage. I can literally cover my whole face, breakouts and pimples included with 3-4 swipes of the pan in 30 seconds flat. This stuff covers well, and stays on relatively long without any makeup setting sprays or primers.
Best Liquid Foundation
If you’re a fan of liquid foundation, look no further than this bad boy, Laura Mercier Silk Creme Oil-Free Photo Edition Foundation. This foundation has the best finish, super high pigment, and has concealer like coverage that is easy to apply, and has a gorgeous oil-free silk like finish. This is a personal favorite of mine.
Best Foundation Brush
I do not recommend using a beauty blender or any type of sponge for the purpose of this tutorial. While I personally love the beauty sponge and it’s a wonderful tool, it requires way too long of dab time, and because we’re trying to get this under 3 mins, aint no body got time fo dat. What you will need instead is a non-flat top, medium size soft rounded kabuki brush that is easy to hold, picks up a lot of product, and doesn’t take up a whole lot of real estate on your desk, and it works for both liquid and powder foundation. This Docolor Kabuki Brush will do the trick. Best of all, it’s only $7.
Best Eyebrow Pencil
I lowkey horde this pencil on my spare time whenever I see it go on sale. Yes it is that good, and I am obsessed with it: Lancome le Crayon Poudre Powder Pencil in either Dark Blonde or Taupe. It is the most forgiving and easiest to apply eyebrow pencil I have ever come across. The finish is absolutely phenomenal so you really can’t make mistakes with this guy. And the best of all, it comes with a little brush that can help you shape and groom your brow.
Here are two more affordable versions that’s also very good that I would use in a pinch if I didn’t have the le Crayon: L’Oreal Paris Makeup Brow Stylist Designer Eyebrow Pencil. Now if you’re a stickler for mechanical eyebrow pencils and you hate anything that requires a pencil sharpener, Nature’s Republic Auto Eyebrow Pencil is also excellent. A little less forgiving than the le Crayon, but still an excellent product overall. All of three products I recommended comes with a nice little grooming brush on the opposite end.
Best Neutral Compact Eyeshadows
So why do we need a transitional color and an accent color you might ask? The accent color is nice and all, but terrible blending does show up on screen, no matter how shitty your camera or connections are. Therefore, you will need that transitional color to soften up the blow.
If you are looking to add a little dimension to your 2D face, a few quick swipe of the eyeshadow will not hurt and it will be noticeable. Honestly, any shade of eyeshadow that’s a shade or two deeper than your skin color will work perfect as a transitional color. You can decide whatever accent color you like, but I tend to prefer browns because it’s just so universality flattering and easy to use.
If you got a little extra blunt to put up, get the NARs Duo in Key Largo. It’s got exactly what we need to get the job done, and it’s a quality product so a little will go a long way
If you’re looking to go with the budget route, Maybelline New York Expert Wear Eyeshadow Quads in Natural Smokes will do just nicely. With this however, I would only probably use the “base” and “lid” colors. If the lid color isn’t dark enough, I’d dip a little into the other two darker colors to get a little bit more color out of it. Eitherway, you can’t go wrong with this guy and price.
Pencil/mechanical eyeliner: I’ve used this drugstore brand eyeliner for years and it lasts forever. The automatic pencil makes my life easy and it lasts forever on my lids. For the price point and performance, you cannot beat this guy: The Maybelline Unstoppable Eyeliner. Eyeliners will show up on screen, granted if you’re doing it more than just the tiniest and thinnest of a line. Adding a quick eyeliner around your eyes will help brighten up your eyes and give it a more alert look. Combined with a little bit of bronzer, you’re golden.
Liquid eyeliner: I recently discovered this UZU Eye Opening Liner during a trip to Tokyo where it was recommended to me by one of the nice Japanese lady that worked at the counter in one of the shopping malls right by the Shinjuku station. Thanks to a globalized market, we can easily buy it pretty much anywhere in the world. It completely changed the felt tip liquid eyeliner game for me. The problem I’ve always struggled with liquid eyeliners that came in a pen form is that they always had trouble with pigment output and the flow was inconsistent. Sometimes when you have a lot of product already on your lid and you try to use a liquid eyeliner, it’s pretty much useless. This product however, is amazing. It comes out very consistently, and the tip is super easy to control, and it stays on forever. Did I mention the pigment is super dense? However, if I am doing an underwater shoot or doing bridal makeup for an outdoor wedding at 115ºF, the MAC Chromaline in BlackBlack (discontinued/out of stock) is what I would use. But the problem with gel eyeliner is that you need a really solid liner brush that has an extra step of maintenance attached to it (which is another story for another time). We’re avoiding that.
Again, we’re going for easy and forgiving coverage, something that if we mess up on the corner in the rush of application, it won’t leave a stain or ruin the effect. Before Kylie Jenner’s lipstick kits and every other social media influencer has their own lipstick/makeup line of their own to make tutorials over on Youtube, I was already obsessed with this NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream. It’s super easy to apply, has a very forgiving and creamy (but not heavy) silky texture, and perfectly sized for this occasion. I personally own a Budapest, Milan, Leon, Zurich, and San Paulo – I recommend any one of those colors. You can layer it on for more color or blot it with a tissue for a barely there look.
Now if you’re looking to be a little bit more bougie and want to buy something really fancy, I have recently become obsessed with the Guerlain Rouge G Sheer Shine Lipstick Shade in 688 Raspberry. It such a beautiful color and finish, and best of all, you get to pick your own decked out lipstick case. It literally feels like you’re swiping the most luxurious product on your lips. The sheer finish is extremely flattering, and will give you that pinch of healthy lovely color without looking like you just slapped on some heavy color lipstick right before the meeting.
Not only will a good bronzer be able to add a bit of liveliness and color to your face, it can also help create contours and dimension over the screen when applied correctly (although in great haste). If you’re really looking to do a shortcut and skipping the eyeshadow step all together, your bronzer can also double as an eyeshadow if you’re in a real pinch for time. Again, we are looking for high blendability, consistency, and ease of use while picking a universally flattering colors.
I tend to favor MAC Powder Blush in Blunt, in their Sheertone finish. Unlike most blushes in the market, which doesn’t really describe how heavy/light the application can be, this one is very specific in its finish, hence the Sheertone name. With most other blushes in the market, sometimes it can be like drawing your face with a sharpie, while other times it feels like you’re applying nothing to the face. This particular finish (keep in mind MAC has 5+ finishes in their powder blush line) is a winner for what we need it for, and it’s extremely flattering. That’s why I am not even recommending any other products for this category. Not only can you use it as a blush, you can also use it to contour your cheekbones, nose and chin. Even if you are super pale, this product is super easy to glide on and provides just the sheerest layer of much needed color.
I am not recommending any liquid or cream bronzer because of two very important reasons: blending tends to take longer with cream or liquid formulas, and if you’re using your finger, the product will end up on your keyboard and mouse, and no one wants that.
How long you should spend on your face:
Eyebrows: 30 seconds to 1 minute. Don’t try to get it perfect. As long as you have the shape and color, no one is going to notice the faded edges or the accented arches. Shape is everything. Once you have the shape down, don’t worry about the blending. That’s why it’s important to go for a lighter color instead of a darker one. The lighter color pencils tend to be more forgiving and gives you a lot more control in a pinch of time.
Eyeliner or shadow: 30 seconds to 1 minutes. After applying transitional color first to your lid and crease, apply the lid colors. Start from outside of your eyes and work towards the inner corner of your eyes. Less is more – all we’re trying to do here is give your eyes a little bit of color.
Lips: 30 seconds max.
Cheeks, (and contouring): 15 seconds to 1 minute. If you got time to burn, then contour away my friend! If you don’t, a few swipe at the cheeks and along your jaw line and under chin to create that slimmed down look is all you need. The camera will pick up the subtle changes in color, but not enough to notice that it was painted on.
Face: 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on equipment and connection. Your whole face shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds to cover with a few quick swipe of the product. What about product lines, ears, and neck?? Don’t worry about it. If you got blemish or problem area, focus on that a little bit more by doing circular dabbing motion with the brush to get it really covered. While you might still notice in your mirror, chances are it won’t show up unless you are using a really high resolution camera and have really good connection. If that’s the case, then you should probably spend another minute or so to blend everything in.
I hope you have enjoyed this post, and let me know if you have any tips or trick of your own in the comments section, thanks!