Appearance That Leaves an Impression

Appearance isn't about looking good; it’s about making a good impression. When you take the time to apply your makeup well, you show others that you care enough about the position or the opportunity to present yourself well. This is true in an interview with judges or a potential employer, sponsors, media, and future rodeo fans. When you know your appearance says that you’re confident and put together, you can focus on what matters most: showing off your hard-earned skills.

As a public figure, putting your first foot forward in your appearance ensures that you can focus on important work. Photo courtesy of Curtis Yanskey.

As a public figure, putting your first foot forward in your appearance ensures that you can focus on important work. Photo courtesy of Curtis Yanskey.

Certain trends come and go, but there are several tried-and-true makeup application methods that help every girl look her best. Learn makeup tips from face to brows from a professional, and find out how to avoid common makeup mishaps.

First, Find the Right Color

Foundation is used to create an even overall face color. Countering has become popular to create dimension in the face with highlighters, but you can’t go wrong with a simple foundation. It starts with choosing the right color and the right product for your skin.

Color. You don’t want to choose a color that makes you look too pale, too dark, or too orange. Most people think the orange color comes from self-tanner when what really happens is a process called oxidation. When a color, and a particular product, doesn’t work well with your skin, it changes colors when it’s exposed to air. It reacts to the new environment and turns orange, even if it was a perfect match to begin with.  This happens about an hour after application, so try a new foundation before competition or interview day to make sure the color stays.

Find a match. To find your true color, or best match, test the color on your neck rather than the inside of your wrist or arm. Your face sees a different amount of sun than other areas of your body so the shade you match to your wrist can be more than a couple colors off. Also, because you blend into your neck, you want to make sure the transition is natural and unnoticeable.

Blend Every Step of the Way

It’s important to blend well and not just put color on your face or eyes and leave it. In order to blend well it’s best to know your skin. Choose a product type and application method that works well with your skin type.


Skin type. For those with dry skin, a sponge and liquid foundation are easy to incorporate into your skin for an all-over cover whereas a brush and powder may just sit on top. Oily skin may prefer a brush or a sponge. Try a few methods to learn what you like best and what seems to produce the best overall blend.

Product consistency. The product consistency affects the applicator you choose to use. A thick liquid foundation will be spread best with a brush or a sponge. Use a sponge to dab your neck and blend the foundation initially. Then, when you go back through with a powder, use a lighter brush to blend down the neck.

To apply powder foundation, use a dense brush to pack the product and apply coverage. Finish with a loose powder and an overall face-powder brush. Again, remember to blend foundation down your neck. Blend in good light so you can see whether or not you’ve blended well. We’ve all made the mistake to not blend well and consequently or face doesn’t match the rest of our body.

Eye and Cheek Color

With shadows and blush, blending brushes are key and can save you from mishaps. Invest in a collection of brushes that are easy to travel with. And, most importantly, keep them clean! Purchase a brush cleaner and maintain them regularly. Create depth with eye shadow by layering product and then blending them. Use light-pressured strokes and continue to blend until there aren’t visible lines where you applied the product. Again, practice and find video tutorials online.

The Beauty of Brows

There are many different products you can use to fill in your eyebrows: gels, pomades, and pencils. Try various types and brands to figure out what works best for you.

Grooming. Before you apply a filler of any type, groom your brows. A brush is truly more important than the product itself. A spoolie, or clean mascara applicator is used to groom before you apply product. Brush hairs upward, and if necessary, gently run the spoolie or your finger against the top of your brow to make sure you don’t have hairs that stick straight up.

Product application. It’s not necessary to over-draw your eyebrows or darken them if you already have great eyebrows. If you have light or sparse eyebrows and want to better define them to bring attention to your eyes, use product to do so. Pomades and gels will you give a more dramatic effect and are used to outline brows. If you’re unsure where to start, brow stencils are helpful for beginners, or if you’re a pro, you can try a little different look.

For those who seek to enhance their natural brow, or people who just need a little extra can opt for pencils or powders. These products are best to fill-in sparse areas or create shape. After you’ve applied product, use the spoolie again to tame stray hairs and better incorporate product.

While statement brows are trendy right now, they can look out of place if you don’t feel confident. So, it’s always better to highlight your natural beauty. Most importantly, practice before the big competition or interview so you know you can nail it on the big day!

Choose a Highlight Feature

Choose one feature to highlight so your face isn’t too busy or ‘made-up’ looking. Your makeup should add to, not distract from, your overall appearance. It’s like an outfit. You choose one item to build your outfit around whether it is a pair of stylish pants, a bright shirt, or statement piece of jewelry. Make the same decisions when you apply makeup and choose one area of your face to draw attention to.

Adventurous eyes. If you choose a fun eye look with several different colors, bright colors, or statement eyeliner applications, such as wings or a colored liner, opt for a neutral lip. It doesn’t have to be nude, but a lip-color red or pink (depending on your lips) will only enhance your eyes, not compete with them.

Bold lips. If you want to do a bold lip color, go for it! It’s adventurous and fun. But, then you’ll want to tone down your eyes and choose colors that complement your eyes in the color wheel, or a neutral, natural eye look. For example, I wouldn’t suggest bright blue shadow, while it may look great with your eyes, if you’ve chosen a red lip color. It might be a little too much. Again, it’s about highlighting your natural beauty and not distracting from it.

Put Your Lips On

The best part of a face is the smile! Remember to put on your lips before any major event, even if it’s just a quick gloss. To help make your lips smooth, and your gloss or color easier to apply, use lip liner. Similar to foundation, eye, brow, or any other type of primer it creates a sooth surface and keeps the color from bleeding.

When you’re on the road and don’t want to carry multiple lip liners, use a clear liner all over the lips or to line your lips so your color stays put. Red is an especially dangerous color, and makes many people nervous enough not to wear it even though it’s bold and makes a statement. Use a red liner all over the lips and especially to line the lips and that red will stay put. It’s a perfect color for arena events, fashion shows, galas, and any other time you want to be adventurous.

Again, enhance your natural beauty. Rather than draw far outside your lips, work with what you have and just slightly exaggerate the outline to create a fuller look. And, don’t forget to practice!


Mikayla Ballard is an assistant manager at DSW. She’s a long-time cosmetic enthusiast who shares her knowledge from professional experience hands-on as a floor associate and as a co-manager of Ulta Beauty. As a NCAA cheerleader, University of Oregon Pi Beta Phi alumna, and now as a member of the chapter’s alumnae advisory committee, she’s come to understand the importance of a positive first impression.

When not coaching young ladies in appearance, she enjoys spending time with her two rescue dogs, playing auntie to her niece and nephew, and watching her hometown rodeo in Canby, Oregon.