The difference between makeup for social media and makeup for real life: Singaporean makeup artists tell all

The difference between makeup for social media and makeup for real life: Singaporean makeup artists tell all

Lights, camera...

Text: Emily Heng

Let's be honest: a significant deterrent to our selfie inclinations is the unforgiving nature of the phone's front-facing camera. A too far tilt of the neck reveals multiple double chins, a smile betrays the cluster of hormonal acne residing on cheeks, and a cock of the head divulges the (dismal) state of designer eye bags. Sometimes, there's just no winning.

The difference between makeup for social media and makeup for real life: Singaporean makeup artists tell all (фото 1)

Short of praying for a face transplant courtesy of a Hadid sister, there appears to be a far simpler solution on hand: the makeup kit of an Instagram star — a.k.a. the model-types on our feed with a billion likes per selfie and impossibly on-fleek brows. 


It is a look that works wonders for the camera, though we can't help but wonder if translates as well in real life. We hear from prominent makeup artists in Singapore and find out the truth about the true makeup life behind the lens — tips on how to ace that selfie and the possibility of a happy middle between Instagram and lens-free lewks. And hey, if all else fails, that's what filters are for, right?

Is there a difference between the makeup often seen on social media and makeup for real life?
Cheryl Ow: Absolutely. This can be attributed to amount of light used in photos. In studio situations, for instance, the glaring lights used can take away a lot of colour from the face, hence making the person look washed out. Even the ring light that many of the popular Instagrammers use is strong enough to make you look like you've not applied enough make up in photographs — hence the need for stronger makeup that is often seen on social media.


Larry Yeo: Of course. People apply makeup to the circumstances that they are in, whether it is on stage hosting a show or just going out and about town with friends. This will naturally affect the style of makeup worn.
Ginger: Yup. Lights tend to appear harsher when filtered through the lens of a camera, and so the makeup applied has to be stronger so it won't appear "drowned out" in photos and or videos.

Do you have makeup application tips for social media?
Cheryl Ow: Highlighting and contouring is super important, because it helps bring your features out for photographs. Everything else you apply should be done with a heavier hand too.


For example, this is the time to use your full-coverage foundation. For glow, load up on moisturiser and opt out of setting foundation with too much powder. Blush application needs to be stronger for it to be able to show up. Both liner and brows can be bolder and 'pulled' longer. False lashes make your eyes pop and lips can be drawn bigger as well. So, in real life you might feel it is all a bit too much and look like a hot mess — but take that shot, and suddenly everything looks natural in the photograph. It's those crazy lights, I tell you.

Larry Yeo: If you're going to a flashy event with a lot of photography involved, I do recommend working with three different foundations. One to sculpt, one to unify and one to bring out your facial features. But make sure not to go overboard — nothing that will make you look like you have leftover baking ingredients left on your face, or a triple-layered dark lip stain that will look as if you're in the running for a new HantuTekTek movie. Use makeup that still suits your personality rather than anything that overpowers it.


Ginger: Face sculpting and contouring should be significantly stronger, as well as in other areas, such as the nose and along the brow bone. Eye makeup has to be more defined than usual, too.

Is there a happy middle where makeup can be applied to suit both the camera and for real life situations?
Cheryl Ow: Sure! A sheer- to medium-coverage foundation is great for a natural look and concealers can be applied on areas that need extra help instead. A glow can also be achieved with powder/compact highlighters instead of slathering moisturiser and mixing liquid highlighters with foundation — these tricks will eventually melt off your face in a matter of minutes in a real life sunny Singapore situation.


Eyebrows should be groomed and defined to frame your face, always. I like adding some brown eyeshadow very close to the bottom eyelashes to define the eyes if I don't feel like eyeliner — and it helps bring the eyes out in photographs too. Lastly, a brighter lipstick shade always helps you look good whether in real life or in photographs.

Larry Yeo: The trick is to basically correct where you need, to give an even-ed out yet polished finish. Remember: if you coat your face with foundation and beat your face with more foundation than MBS, your makeup will always look third tier in real life. Real life skin needs texture, and concrete isn't texture. Concrete belongs to buildings, honey.


Ginger: Hmm, it's possible but it can be a rather difficult balance to strike. I'd say just make sure to always keep in the mind the lighting situation of wherever you're going. Any activities that involve harsher lighting involves stronger makeup, basically. Tailor your makeup for the occasion at hand no matter what.