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Aren’t graduations the best? They’re one of my favorite milestone events, because not only do they commemorate a major life success, but they also herald the start of a new adventure.
I dunno… I just love that feeling of endless possibilities. It’s like, “the future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades.” (Extra big ups if you actually get that reference.)
If you’re graduating this year, first, congrats, babe! Second, when you get to the end of the ceremony and everybody is throwing their caps up into the air, please throw yours as high as you can! — because I never got to do it at my graduation ceremonies (don’t know why, but it wasn’t allowed). And this way I can live vicariously through you.
Third, we gotta talk pre-grad hair, makeup and nails (of course), because graduation days, in my experience, tend to be looong.
There are the pre-parties (more on these in a sec), then the actual ceremony, then the post-ceremony celebrations, and then, if you’re a champ, the post-post-celebration parties at night.
That all adds up to a long day and a long night, and seeing as how everyone’s a photographer these days (hello, camera phones!), it doesn’t hurt to be camera ready for all of it.
First, let’s start with your makeup. 🙂
One word: primer. Before you paint that face, prime that skin.
Makeup primers work a little like paint primer…except they’re for your skin and not the walls. They fill in uneven areas so that any products you apply on top of them — like your concealer, your foundation, etc. — look smoother and last longer.
I’ve taken roughly 10 gajillion pictures for le blog (give or take), and I think primer makes a HUGE difference, especially when it comes to face products like foundation and concealer.
Primers also help your makeup apply more evenly, so you don’t get any of those funky patches where your blush or your eyeshadow look darker in some spots than others.
But the main reason I suggest wearing primer on graduation day is longevity. That’s primer’s superhero power — the ability to grab makeup and not let go — so if you’re having a long day, which then goes into a long night, your makeup stays intact longer and doesn’t fade as quickly.
I’d do a face primer, and then also an additional eye primer for your lids. For face primers, I love the , because a little goes a long way, so I don’t have to use very much (which means that it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing an extra layer of spackle), and they help my makeup last a good 12-14 hours.
I use the Smoothing Primer For Large Pores & Fine Lines on my combination skin, but if you have oily skin, try their Mattifying Primer.
For eye primer, NARS Pro-Prime Smudge-Proof ($26) is the best one out there in my opinion. It will hold onto your eye makeup like Tabs clutches his Chanel purse filled with cat treats! — and it won’t let go until you wash it off.
Here are a few more grad day makeup tips…
- Wear waterproof mascara. Since graduation can be pretty emotional, you’ll want to be prepared for any potential tears, so wear waterproof mascara. My short, sparse, straight lashes love because it lengthens, separates and handles the waterworks like a champ.
- Or, alternately, wear false lashes. Falsies look fab in pics, and you won’t have to worry about crying and ruining your mascara. Granted, I wouldn’t go for the cray-cray ones with over-the-top Kim K length and fullness (those, IMHO, are better suited for clubbing…or man hunting, LOL!). I’d go for a natural style instead, like the . And if you have a hard time putting on false lashes, cut each lash band in half, then apply each of the halves one at a time. It’s waaaay easier than applying a full lash strip and much more comfortable to wear.
- Reduce the shine. Generally, matte finishes tend to photograph better than anything shimmery or shiny, so I’d go with a blush and bronzer (if you wear it) with a matte, or a low-level sheen, finish. Oh, and matte eyeshadow, too! One of my current favorite matte palettes is the . All of the shades are neutral mattes (perfect for pics), and they blend so easily!
- Bring on the blot. Blotting papers, that is. For help keeping the shine away, pack some blotting papers into your purse to blot down any oily patches on your skin throughout the day. I like these because they’re very absorbent, and they don’t leave behind a powdery residue.
My last graduation, which was my college graduation from Davis, was epic, and by “epic,” I mean that I was up almost the entire night before the ceremony with my friend Eleanor. (We dropped in on a random house party with the intention of staying “just a half an hour…” YEAH, RIGHT!)
And then during the actual graduation ceremony the next day, I spent the entire time sitting with half a butt cheek on one chair and half a butt cheek on another, because there weren’t enough chairs! — so I was sandwiched between two people.
For four hours.
Under most any other circumstances, I would’ve found this mildly annoying, but I was so happy at the time that I really didn’t care. That was such a long day, but it went by in a blur.
After the ceremony, my family and I went to lunch at a fancy restaurant in downtown Sacramento with white tablecloths and fine china. Then we walked around old town, and I remember my heels getting stuck in the cobblestone sidewalks…
Le sigh… I wish I had more pics from that day.
At the risk of #datingmyself (LOL!), we didn’t have smartphones or social media, so there was no selfie taking during the ceremony. You got your snapshot taken by the official photographer right when you walked across the stage and grabbed your diploma.
Crazy stuff, I know!
With my nails and big events, despite always, ALWAYS planning to have my paws painted well in advance, I always end up doing them at the last minute.
I dunno why!
Save yourself the stress with an imPress Gel Manicure ($6.99 each and available at CVS, Walgreens, Target and Walmart; learn more at ).
They’re pre-painted stick-on nails that you press onto your clean, bare nails, and they come in a HUGE array of colors and designs ranging from conservative to flashy.
These manis — which look like fancy nail art and would seriously take me forever and a day (ok, forever and five days!) to do myself — took me less than five minutes from start to finish. You just peel off the sticker on the underside, and press them onto your bare nails.
Another thing I love about these is that once they’re on, they’re ON, so I don’t have to worry about them popping off when I’m washing my hands (they’re waterproof) or otherwise going about my day.
To remove them, gently peel them off from the sides. Sometimes I’ll run a little bit of polish remover along the edges and wait a minute before lifting them off my nails.
I always try to remember to smooth down the fly-aways before taking any pics, especially the fly-aways near the front of my face, because when those stray hairs get up in the mix, they feel so distracting.
Seriously, I feel like I’m always dealing with fly-aways on my forehead and around my ears (wrangling them into place is a part-time job). Use a serum or a de-frizzing product, and maybe also heat styling, to smooth them down.
Oh, and if you color your hair like I do, make sure that your color has been freshly done, since flash photography can make different colored roots extra obvious, eek!
Congratulations, graduate! Best of luck in your future endeavors. 🙂
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,