you're doing it wrong

Why Red-Carpet Makeup Looks Bad in Real Life

Photo: Said Elatab / Splash News/Corbis

Today’s beauty industry thrives with tips on how to look as celebrity-perfect as possible, but to makeup artist Nick Barose, it’s all just a little bit ridiculous. Although he’s the makeup artist to an actress lauded for her red-carpet beauty looks, Barose thinks that some of the emulation has gotten out of hand. A few months ago, he took a stand by creating spoof makeup tutorials on his Instagram account, a tongue-in-cheek way (with only a slight bite) of pointing out the over-the-top ways that people try to make red-carpet makeup everyday through hashtags like “WhenContouringGoneWrong” and “ULookLikeHisMom.”

“I spoof those tutorials because I feel like we live a world now where people tell women to do ridiculous things, beauty-wise, and, to me, real-life makeup and photo-shoot makeup are two totally different things,” he told the Cut. He then went on to explain the distinction between red-carpet and everyday makeup, which, it turns out, is all about what light source you spend most of your time under.

We’ll let him tell you in his own words:

Makeup works with light. For me, I can contour in a photo shoot, because I know the light is going to be controlled. Contouring for every day just isn’t realistic unless you are Kim Kardashian and can hire people to follow you around, like a camera crew with a light. But light conditions change throughout the day. I was at the doctor’s office the other day, and the nurse knows what I do for work. She was asking me, “What contouring palette should I get?” And I was like, “Are you going to do it here in the fluorescent light or at night?” That’s the craze right now. You see contour on the subway or at McDonald’s. It just doesn’t work. Just as you’re not going to wear stilettos to the beach (unless maybe you are on a TV show), it’s the same with makeup. In real life, if you walk around with too much contour, it will cast a shadow under your eyes. Too much white concealer under the eyes is too bright, although it’s meant to be correcting. You can’t just give yourself a new face. People start to expect too much of makeup.

We live in a world now where more and more people don’t want to be different, they want a uniform. They think, If you have a face like this, you have to correct it and contour and make your eyebrows like this. For me, I just feel like makeup should be fun. When you approach it from the point of view of “My nose is too big; my face is too round,” it seems less fun. You can’t leave the house unless you contour your cheek? That’s not fun.

It’s also 2014. If you are doing a ‘90s look based on Janet Jackson, then, okay, contour could work. But there are people just walking around in Lululemon and contour. It’s not natural. Contour is meant to be dramatic and for a very specific thing. It shouldn’t look like you contour. The contour should look like your shadow. If you’re going to do it, buy a contour palette. Don’t just use your blush.

You can wear no makeup at all, but if you have good light, you look really good. You need to moisturize, obviously, and use lip balm. But, you know, the key is the light. Under fluorescent light, it is going to look bad. For example, my dentist looks amazing because he has really good lighting at his office. Daylight coming through the window is the most flattering lighting. You just look like a baby under that. That’s why the right makeup works with the right lighting. That’s really the key.

I’m lucky I work with actors. They understand that looking good on the red carpet is part of their job, but that’s not how they look every day. They understand what makeup can do and what it can’t do. People do contour and filters and put it on Instagram, but in real life, you don’t have a filter.

Why Red-Carpet Makeup Looks Bad in Real Life