Close Encounters!

High Definition, High Def, HD, what ever you call it, the denotation of these words or initials means only one thing: close encounters!  In the professional makeup industry, shooting in HD has become standard.  Every production company, television and photography studio or film sound stage is able to shoot in high definition and makeup artists have spent many hours perfecting their craft in order to answer this call.

What does High Definition really mean?  In television terms, high definition means that a television sees more lines per picture than standard.  525 lines per image was the average for American television until recently when high definition became the norm, bumping the number of lines up to 1000 per image.  Talk about a moment of clarity!  Literally!

Initially, professional MUAs panicked when forced to work on high definition and celebrities reacted in the same manner.  Airbrushing, which was originally used for body painting, tanning, special effects or tattoo cover, started to become a popular tool for face application when working in this medium.  However, our industry has learned that it is truly the artist’s technique whether utilizing an airbrush or traditional applicators and the use of exceptional skin prepping products that enhance the look of an actor, actress or model and not necessarily if the makeup brand is made for HD use.

It is also important to understand that a makeup artist works closely with the DP (lighting director), as well as with other key crewmembers and conducts several camera tests prior to shooting, which makes for a successful high definition production. 

We have also learned that because high def is really an intense sharpness of an image, a makeup artist’s traditional bag of tricks needs to be “tweaked” slightly.  Cosmetics need to be more translucent and have a modest reflective quality.  An extremely heavy product will show on the surface of the skin in HD unless blended properly or made more opaque and “built” onto the skin with a light hand in order to cover discoloration.

So, how does wearing high definition makeup benefit the consumer?  First, I think it is important to remind the shopper that the majority of cosmetic companies are under pressure when it comes to innovation.  The beauty industry is saturated with products and a cosmetic line must find a niche that can be filled and set them apart from the others.

Naturally, with all the hoopla about HD, major cosmetic brands jumped on the bandwagon and now offer an alternative to standard cream, liquid or powder foundations, concealers and face powders, which they claim will mimic the effect of a professional makeup artist’s technique.

When you hear the term HD what do you think?  This Pro thinks “perfect skin!”   But, because I am a Pro, I know that no one has perfect skin!  My job is to create that illusion and I have several tricks up my sleeve that I use in order to achieve this goal.  

Several cosmetic brands on the current market offer their version of HD products and here is a list of this Pro’s favorites:

Make Up Forever: Danny Sanz is the brain behind this brand and it’s HD product line.  She is a professional makeup artist with a resume and portfolio that screams “A-Lister!”  This line was originally created for actors and actresses to keep their complexion flawless in 6X magnification and it comes in a three-part series: Primer (which are colored for correction purposes), Foundation (for improving the skin texture) and Powder (with Silica which is more translucent than talc).  This product is also packed with nourishing ingredients that help to minimize pores, which improves the overall appearance of the skin and will correct issues effectively.

Dior: Capture Totale is a foundation that is manufactured differently than standard liquid foundation and the pigments used in creating the color of this product are unique, in that they are more genuine to natural skin tone.  Have you ever noticed that certain foundations seem to have a “grey” hue to them?  That is because of a mixture of pigment and the manufacture’s formulation called for “black” – too much black pigment = a grey undertone.  Do you know anyone who is of good health that walks around on this earth with a grey undertone?  Neither do I.   Dior’s Capture Totale Foundation while expensive is worth the money.  It is also a treatment (hence the price tag) and helps reverse the signs of aging skin.

Smashbox: High Definition Healthy FX Foundation is a product that this Pro has found to be great alternative to the higher priced cosmetic lines.  It offers wonderful antiaging ingredients, is oil-free and feels weightless on the skin, plus it contains a built in SPF 15, which provides extra sun protection.  This product is offered in a variety of skin tones so finding your perfect match should be easy.

The benefits to using one of the above lines is that you are ensuring that your skin is receiving proper nutrients and protectants while your imperfections are being covered.  Thus, giving you the vehicle to produce perfect skin like a Pro MUA, but you must make sure you apply the product correctly.  Bad application of a good product will make you look horrible and feel as if you have wasted your money.

Here is the how-to for HD makeup application:

1.              Prep with skin care accoutrement (serum, moisturizer, eye cream, primer, sunscreen, etc.) and let absorb into the skin.  Remember: primer is what erases lines and pores on the skin so apply last and prior to makeup.

2.              Apply foundation and blend into the skin (make sure that your foundation is an exact match to your neck color).

3.              Apply concealer if needed and blend.  Remember: concealer is used on extreme discolored areas of the face and only if the foundation did not cover up the imperfection.  You don’t always need it!

4.              Apply setting powder with a light hand to absorb excess oil by buffing the product gently into the skin using a circular motion and powder brush.

5.              Blend, blend, blend – everything!! All makeup must be blended so as to create the illusion of perfect skin and to erase any heavy lines of demarcation!  This applies to foundation, concealer and all powder products (eye shadow, blush, etc.).

You will want to invest in a great brush line.  It will benefit your application technique and cut blending time in half.  Please see archive post entitled Brush Off for this Pro’s recommendations.

If you are attempting the use of a Make Up Forever color primer/corrector here are the rules:

Neutral – adds luminosity to the complexion

Green – minimizes redness (rosacea)

Mauve – cuts sallow undertones

Caramel – combats ashiness in dark skin tones with golden undertones

Blue – adds radiance to fair skin

Yellowlightens dark complexions

Pinkbrightens complexion and counteracts sallow undertones

It is strongly suggested by this Pro that you seek the advice of a trained Make Up Forever sales professional prior to purchasing this product for proper matching and application technique.

Good High Definition Cosmetic products offer amazing skin care, coverage, luminosity and protection from the elements in one bottle!

So…I guess the real question is, “do you need HD makeup?”  I don’t know…do you?  Do you feel that you are living your life in HD?  Obviously!  We all are…everyday! Our eyes see the world in HD!  Every wrinkle, line and imperfection!  Is that such a bad thing?  The answer lies within you!


When working in high definition there is one more rule that a skilled MUA will never forget - NO GLITTER!  HD picks up every sparkle, twinkle and dazzle so we leave the glitter for more special-effect type of photo shoots.  Instead, this Pro will opt for a slight shimmer in a product and will place that shimmer in areas of the face that light would naturally "bounce" off of, such as the highlight of the cheek or brow bone.


Up next on IMPO:  Baby it's hot ouside!  With summer closing in learn how make your cosmetics last all day!  It's no sweat!


  1. awesome info :)
    Love your blog thanks for being out there


  2. Hi Liz!! Thanks for reading and we are happy to hear that our blog is helping to make a difference!

  3. Great post. Looking forward to finding out how to prevent makeup from sliding down your face. I am going to a wedding in Jamaica and don't want to find makeup on my feet by the end of the day.

  4. Hi Charlene! Thanks so much for reading and you will have to stay tuned because we will answer your question in our next post!