Q: What Should I Do When My Face is Lighter Than My Neck?

Welcome to a little problem known as "The Eagle".
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Michelle Villett
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Welcome to a little problem known as "The Eagle".
Emily-Blunt-Golden-Globe-Awards-2010

My goodness, it's been a while since we did a reader question around here. But after this week's Golden Globes coverage—and seeing how y'all were so delighted to engage in a bit of celebrity beauty schadenfreude (Stars! They're just like us!)—I thought it would be a perfect time to highlight a question from reader Kara.

It involves a little problem I like to call "the Eagle." And the best (meaning worst) example in recent memory was on the mug of the otherwise gorgeous Miss Emily Bluntat last year's Globes ceremonies.

Do you see it? We've talked about this issue before, but let's just do a quick refresher. You know what eagles look like, right?

bald_eagle

Okay, now let's proceed. Kara writes:

Recently I've been all about the daily sunscreen and I worry that this has caused my face to be a slightly lighter shade than the rest of me.  I realize it would be best to also use it on my neck and chest, but honestly, I can't be bothered to spend that much time putting on sunscreen everyday.  It's winter so I shouldn't really have a tan anyway, but in recent pictures, my face does seem a bit lighter... I don't like this.

My foundation is a perfect match for my skin, so I don't know what the solution is!  Any advice?  I don't want to go darker and have an off shade (I've had slightly darker shades in the past and I prefer the perfect match I've now found), especially since I've never been one to paint my entire face with foundation.

I hear you, Kara—and you're definitely not alone with your mismatched face and neck, girl.

But I would be amiss here—not to mention highly irresponsible—if I did not insert a brief public service announcement to say that extending your sunscreen (and actually ALL of your skincare) down to your neck and also chest is a very, very good idea. Year round. Because if anything gives away your age, it's a wrinkly neck.

Check out Lisa Kudrow:

Lisa-Kudrow-wrinkly-neck

You can fix a lot of problems on your face with Botox and fillers, etc., but there ain't a whole heck of a lot you can do for your neck once the sun damage takes hold.

Okay! Now, on to the issue at hand: colour.

You've basically got two choices when your face is lighter than your neck:

OPTION #1: GO SLIGHTLY DARKER, AND WARMER, WITH YOUR FOUNDATION

This one takes a bit of explaining, because the standard (and usually correct) advice is that you should strive to find a foundation that is an exact match to your skin tone. (Make sure to watch this vid if you need help with that, by the way.)

cover-girl-olay-foundation

HOWEVER. When you're got the Eagle goin' on, things need a bit of adjusting—even if, like Kara, you believe you've already found your "perfect" foundation match.

Pretty much every makeup artist will tell you that if in doubt, it's better to err on the side of one shade darker, not lighter, with your foundation. And this is especially true if you need to somehow tone down the whiteness of your face so that it's less Eagle-like.

Seriously, don't be scared. Nobody's face is all one tone anyway, so you don't need to be QUITE so Type A about finding the exact match. Particularly if you're very fair-skinned, because according to CoverGirl makeup pro Greg Wencel, who I interviewed not too long ago, pale foundations "can start to look a bit strange and also make you look older... they tend to heighten imperfections."

My advice: Aim for a shade that's somewhere in between what your face is and your neck is, and you should be golden. Literally: Greg says a slightly darker colour "will brighten you up, add dimension and make your skin look more even and flawless." SOLD.

The other issue is warmth. See how Emily's skin is sort of pinkish, while her neck and chest are tan? A foundation in a darker AND warmer colour would've given her a more seamless look.

OPTION #2: BECOME BFFs WITH BRONZER

I'm not suggesting you go all early 2000s on me, but a touch of bronzer—either on its own or combined with your new darker and warmer foundation—can also help to tie things together. (For example, Kara doesn't want to change foundations, so I suggested adding bronzer to her routine in order to kill that Eagle.)

Physicians-Formula-bronzer

There are a few caveats, however:

First, you need to use a matte (not sparkly) bronzer that isn't too dark—again, you only want to go a fraction darker than your skin tone.

And second, you need to apply it right. Powder bronzer gives you the most control, and what I find the easiest is to draw a "3" on either side of my face. (Well, on one side it would be a reverse "3.")

How it's done: Using a big, fluffy brush, you want to start at the middle of your hairline, and then follow that line all the way to one side. Now go down, still following the hairline, until you get to the cheeks. Here you want to go into the centre, so you're adding colour underneath the cheekbones as you draw the middle line in the "3." Then go back out to the hairline again, and now down to the  jaw, where you'll come back into the centre again underneath the jaw line. Repeat on the other side.

Easy peasy! And that, my friends, should make you matchy-matchy in a GOOD way.

Do you have The Eagle?
Do you think your foundation might be too pale, maybe?
Are you diligent about showing your neck some love with the sunscreen? (Confession: I'm not. Bad beauty editor!)