Reader question: How do I camo my Eagle? (In other words: my face is lighter than my neck—help!)

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 Blunt at 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 Reader question: How do I camo my Eagle? (In other words: my face is lighter than my neck—help!)

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 Reader question: How do I camo my Eagle? (In other words: my face is lighter than my neck—help!)

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:


cover girl olay foundation Reader question: How do I camo my Eagle? (In other words: my face is lighter than my neck—help!)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.)

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.


Physicians Formula bronzer Reader question: How do I camo my Eagle? (In other words: my face is lighter than my neck—help!)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.)

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!)


Friday, January 21/2011 at 5:03 pm

I have quite the reverse problem- my neck is QUITE a bit lighter than my face. Face is fair; neck is uber fair! Finding the correct foundation has been very challenging…to say the least.


Saturday, January 22/2011 at 8:55 pm

I’ve got the same problem as Katie – there are no foundations that match my neck (think: white) and my face, at any rate, has quite a bit of pink, and it’s darker than my neck.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 23/2011 at 11:20 am

Hi Katie – this is actually my problem too, since I always wear my hair down and it never gets much sunlight. I’ve had makeup artists dust bronzer on my neck & chest to give it some colour – have you ever tried that?


Monday, January 24/2011 at 2:35 pm

I will try that – thanks. Even though I’m quite fair I hardly ever use bronzer…but on my ghostly neck, its worth a try!


Friday, January 21/2011 at 5:45 pm

LOL! Michelle you kill me. Did you make that up or is that a commonly used term? Either way I love it. I usually see the reverse mistake: face too dark, neck too light. I’m guilty of that one myself. Is there a similar name for that one?



Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 23/2011 at 11:24 am

The “reverse Eagle”? As per above, that’s my issue too so perhaps a follow-up post is required! I would do bronzer on the neck to tie things together as opposed to trying to match your foundation to your neck colour (as Greg says in the post, going lighter on the face is usually unflattering).


Makeup Morsels
Friday, January 21/2011 at 7:24 pm

loll sunscreen all over is definitely a good idea, and so is bronzer.


Saturday, January 22/2011 at 11:21 am

I call the bronzer tip an E3, instead of a reverse 3 :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 23/2011 at 11:24 am

Oh nice! I will use that term from now on :-)


Saturday, January 22/2011 at 4:19 pm

Agree with your recs. I always go tad darker on my tinted moisturizer (Dermalogica makes me look glowy and gently tan) and with my powder. And I do bust out the self tanner for my face from time to time. The key with self tanner is to exfoliate mercilessly, watch the hairline (includes eyebrows) and do not overdo. We often go too light with our concealers as well. I always prefer one the same shade or even a smidge darker than my skin. The key words here “slightly darker” not orange. Keep it light, keep it sheer. Sounds scary but trust me it can take you from pasty/sick looking to healthy in seconds.


Saturday, January 22/2011 at 10:02 pm

Emily Blunt’s eye makeup is perfect here, woah!


Saturday, January 22/2011 at 11:23 pm

The Eagle! Hilarious, Michelle — I love it!

Testing foundation swatches on one’s neck instead of one’s jawline should help camo the eagle, yes? (Still chuckling…)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 23/2011 at 11:27 am

Yes, exactly! Or at least something in between neck + face, if neck is very dark.

I just wouldn’t do that for a reverse Eagle, as then face will be too light…


Sunday, January 23/2011 at 2:20 am

is powder foundation better in the winter or liquid? my skin is really dry this winter but even after heavy creams the liquid foundation looks flaky, any suggestions? and does it look tacky if i wear bronzer in the winter? cause im noticing more pinks on the cheek this winter to match the cold weather.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 23/2011 at 11:33 am

Powder will make it look even flakier, unfortunately. Cream or liquid foundations are definitely the way to go. What are you using to exfoliate? Could be you need something a bit stronger. Either that or your moisturizer might not be rich enough?

Not tacky at all to do bronzer in the winter – I would suggest a flat, not sparkly one, so that it looks more like your natural colour (winter light can be very harsh!). I would apply it in the “3s” (or “E3″) and then do the pink blush on the apples of the cheeks… pretty!


Sunday, January 23/2011 at 5:49 am

Isn’t it also true that if you apply sunscreen, in pictures you’ll look lighter because of the SPF? So she might not even have a whiter face, only in pictures.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 26/2011 at 5:27 pm

YES! Thank you Silva. I totally forgot about this but 100% true. It’s the natural sunscreens that are the culprit (titanium dioxide is the ingredient) – so mineral makeup that has it will do this too, it’s because they reflect the light. I’ve never experienced this personally since I’m naturally Casper white, but darker skin types for sure might have an issue. Shame because I heart mineral sunscreens!


La La
Sunday, January 23/2011 at 9:50 pm

if you have darker skin (african for example) should you be going lighter with your foundation and concealer or trying to find a perfect match to your skin? i’ve heard make up artists say a shade lighter but you’re advice is to perhaps consider going a tad darker, is that only applicable to paler skinned individuals?


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 26/2011 at 5:33 pm

No, I don’t think so… I just finished a few foundation-related magazine stories and not one makeup artist advised going lighter even for darker skin tones. I know there is not a huge shade selection the darker you go, but yeah – I’d still err on the side of darker, not lighter if you can’t get an exact perfect match. (I think going lighter is less problematic for dark skin than it is on a fair-skinned person, but still not really ideal.)

This MUA has some great tips re: how/where to test the colours, he’s actually doing it on a model with a darker skin tone: And also see this post:


Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromatherapy Essential Oils)
Monday, January 24/2011 at 2:48 pm

I agree with you. The best solution is simply to make sure you wear sunscreen on your neck and shoulders, not just your face. It not only saves you the trouble of having to compensate through the use of make-up, it’s better for you too. We all know that one of the main benefits of wearing a sunscreen is to block cancer-causing rays. Why wouldn’t you want to extend that down to your neck and shoulders?


Monday, January 24/2011 at 5:45 pm

FYI, a good matte bronzer is Benefit’s Hoola. Not an ounce of shimmer in it. It kinda looks like dirt in the box, but it goes on nicely. I struggle with applying bronzer — I’m super pale so it’s hard to find the right amount — so I tend to stay away. But whenever I’ve had the Benefit gals use this on me I look great!!

Check out the Benefit website for great reviews and tips for how to apply.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 26/2011 at 5:23 pm

Thx Gimped! A non shimmery bronzer is hard to find!


Comment Avatar huweyuk
Wednesday, August 7/2013 at 4:56 am

Shortest ever post – love your number 2. And lets not forget the far far worse crime of face much darker than arms and legs. Take a stroll around Edinburgh until your pointing, peals of laughter and photo-taking draw the attention of the friendly Scottish lovelies


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