Ask Black Mariah — June 2009

Dear Pin Curl,
Many of my pictures that have been taken onstage or out with fans, my face appears to be lighter than my neck or the rest of my body. I have changes make up and nothing helps. I don’t look that way in the mirror after I apply my make-up. Please help.

Ah yes. “Ghost face” as many refer to it, is a phenomenon that occurs when the flash from a camera reflects off of your face, creating the illusion that the skin on your face is significantly paler than the rest of the neck and body. Pale or fair skinned lovelies tend to never have this issue, but those of us with freckles, color variations, or any skin type darker than pale or fair, can definitely relate to this problem. Translucent powder is also a catalyst in “ghosting”, but can be easily remedied by switching your powder to an actual shade close to the color of your skin.

The culprit, in most cases, is SPF in foundation. Yeah yeah, I know, don’t leave home without it, right? This is true unless you plan to perform on stage and be photographed in the low light or mood light of clubs or the stage. Foundation often includes some sort of SPF to protect your skin. This is a great revolution in makeup as some SPFs can sweat off or even refuse to mix with foundation. Make-up manufacturers have made it easy for us by including it in their products and giving us the benefit of a protection from skin cancer. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the most commonly used SPF ingredient. At their basic pure state, they are no more than thick bright white powder. Titanium Dioxide is also found in artist’s paint, the purest white an artist can purchase. Zinc Oxide has been used in SPF since Moses was a baby. Some lifeguards at pools still used it on their noses as one can always see when it has rubbed or worn off, from the bright white streak.

For stage or performance, you will need to select a completely different type of makeup, one that does not include an SPF. You should only wear this makeup indoors or in the evening, and keep using your regular foundation with an SPF during the day. Your local department or pharmacy will also carry brands that do not have an SPF included in the mixture. The makeup to stay away from for your performance should say on the container SPFxxxx. When you find makeup that does not state an SPF on its label, turn the product over and read the ingredient’s list. If the first 5 ingredients are “Titanium Dioxide” or “Zinc Oxide”, then do not buy it for this application, continue looking for another product.

Large department stores have a Make-up peddling area you can visit, try products, and learn more about the product from representatives. The employees are often make-up artists by trade and know more about the product than the manufacturer. A good make-up artist will be able to tell you, without hesitation, which make-up will work best for you in a photography environment. Be sure that you explain exactly what you are looking for and why you need the SPF free make up.

There are brands of makeup specifically designed for photography like Smashbox, MAC, and Too-Faced. Sometimes these brands come with a larger price tag than you may be used to, but offer professional discounts incentives for artists and performers. As a performer, your beauty products are investment, just like the quality of your costumes, the care of your hair and your choreography. Spending a little more on your make-up now will give you better results in your live photos, which you will want to use for promotional purposes later.
Other things that can cause undesirable reflection or glimmering are products that contain glitter, or “frost” as well as products that promise a “glow”. All will have some sort of glitter or reflective ingredient and can produce unnatural brightness or hot spots on your face in photography. Good Luck!

-Black Mariah

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