It's a fact of life: Our bodies aren't perfect. We're not talking about muffin tops and love handles, but those other annoying body blemishes that make us want to run for cover -- bruises, spider veins, stretch marks and scars. You don't have to give up showing a little skin just because you have a regrettable tattoo or unplanned tan lines on your body. Just take a tip from the flawless-seeming Victoria's Secret models: When they strut down the runway, those amazing bodies are thanks, in part, to layers and layers of body makeup. We're not suggesting you spend all day contouring a six-pack that isn't there, but there are a few tricks you can steal to hide a tattoo from your in-laws or cover up bruises for a big event. Ready for a flawless finish? We've got you covered.
Prep & Prime
Just as you would prepare your face for makeup, prep the rest of the skin on your body. "Always begin with properly cleansed, exfoliated, toned and hydrated skin," says makeup artist Diane Koury. This will get rid of pesky flakes so your foundation goes on smoothly. After you've prepped your skin, apply a primer (your face primer will do) around the area that you want to cover.
Find Your Match
To cover up an imperfection -- say, a spider vein or tattoo -- you obviously want to match the shade of foundation to the skin tone of your body. Don't think you can just slap your everyday foundation over a bruise and call it a day. "If you wear a high SPF on your face daily, your neck and body may be darker, so a foundation that matches your face may not match your body's skin tone," says Sephora Pro Artist Helen Phillips.
Another reason your everyday foundation won't work? The formula is probably too lightweight to give you the coverage you need. And it won't have the staying power that body makeup has -- meaning it could end up all over your clothes.
Koury advises gently dabbing foundation directly over an imperfection and feathering outwards to blend into surrounding skin. You can use your fingers, but since you are working with heavy-duty formulas, it is best to use a brush. (I learned this the hard way and spent the night scrubbing foundation from my nail beds.) Look for a synthetic foundation or concealer brush to avoid obvious foundation lines, says Koury. If one layer doesn't cover it up entirely, let the foundation dry for three to four minutes, dust a setting powder over it and apply another layer. For the record, Victoria's Secret model Selita Ebanks once told the New York Daily News that, prior to going down the runway, her butt receives no fewer than 20 coats of makeup. Makes you feel a little differently about those perfectly shaped cheeks, now doesn't it?
When you reach your desired coverage, says Koury, finish with a generous amount of setting powder and wait two minutes before brushing off the excess. This gives the powder enough time to set on the skin and will help your makeup last longer. This is probably the most important step because that setting powder is the only thing standing between you and brown smudges all over your party dress.
If you follow these steps religiously, the makeup will last for days -- literally. On a recent weekend trip to Vegas, I applied makeup to cover up some particularly unflattering bruises on my legs and it lasted for two days (and yes, I showered). I even wore a beige skirt and it made it through the night mess-free.