ATB Learning Curve: What do I really look like?

As a beauty blogger, one of the things you have to do is develop a positive relationship with your face. You have to understand how your eyes are (mines are almond shaped & deep set, btw), your skin undertones, your mouth shape, your cheekbones and then through trial & error figure out what colors & placements suit you best.

In certain ways I feel that beauty blogging is a very therapeutic way to learn, accept & love the face you are born with. You have to confront it, with all it's pros & cons, and then emphasize the best bits (that is what I do).

But it takes a while to understand what you really look like. Further compounding the issue are mirrors & cameras. They can be your best friends or your worst foes.

Let's talk about mirrors first.

I have 3 full length mirrors at my home (yes, vanity is my middle name), but one of them is my favorite. When I use it, I look absolutely fab with perfect skin that I barely need any makeup. I first thought that is how I looked, but then after a few days I figured it was because of the lighting. This particular mirror faces a big window & when I use it I have light streaming in and what I get on my face is reflected light - which serves as a perfect soft focus lens - no wonder I look all well rested, and perfect :-)

Have any of you encountered "Skinny Mirrors"? I have begun to notice that a number of retail stores have started to incorporate such mirrors in their stores. Basically these mirrors make you look slimmer instantly, and are a major trap at clothing stores. At the store you'll look all slim, tall & awesome. Back home the same outfit doesn't look so great.

Some stores even have slightly color tinted mirrors that make the clothing seem brighter and your skin looks perfect - it could also be all the soft lighting some changing rooms have.

Next is cameras.

These days with a million settings and photoshop, it should be easy to look good & exactly like yourself in pictures. But it is not.

I'm possibly the world's most unphotogenic person and I have known about this since I was a teenager. I have had people double take when looking at my photograph, right from office colleagues to my hubby to even a professional photographer. I have had people come and tell me that I look much better in person that I do in my pictures.

I really don't know what I'm doing wrong, but over the years I have developed a bit of phobia about being photgraphed. And that is one of the reasons why I don't do any FOTDs or OOTDs. I did try it in the middle simply to understand my features, but then I gave up after a couple of shots.

I have been told that one of the reasons is that I don't have much contrast in my face - it is all pale eyes, pale skin, pale hair and that is why I look a bit dimensionless & flat in pictures, also that I slouch, but I feel over time it has become a mental block as well. As soon as I see a camera whipped out, I think I go into a bit of panic attack mode and that shows on my face.

But both cameras & mirrors are invaluable in making shopping choices as well as when you are doing your face, so...

These are my learnings that helped me identify what I actually look like, and more importantly that help me make the correct choices in a store: 

1. Always take someone with you when shopping for clothes or makeup, as it is not always easy to identify "skinny or tinted mirrors" Most Indian stores have crappy return policies so better safe than sorry.

2. If you want a skinny mirror of your own at home - just tilt it a few inches from the top. :-)

3. When getting ready for day events - always do your face in the mirror that makes you look your worst. Sunlight makes makeup very obvious - especially if it is shimmery and if you look good in your bad mirror you will look good in sunlight. For night time events that you know will have that pretty, soft focused, yellow light - do your makeup in your best mirror and its okay to be a bit louder than normal. Yellow lights tend to tone down things.

4. This is the most imp tip according to me: To identify your features correctly - take opinions from 2-3 makeup artists as well as fellow bloggers if they are willing. But do this in person and not via pictures. Most MUAs at MAC are quite helpful and will readily provide feedback on how you can best showcase your features and what you need to do. Taking another person's opinion on what might look good on me has resulted in some of my biggest learning. Also be willing to experiment and try out new colors.

5. If you are trying out makeup, always look at it in day light too. Store light is generally very strong and washes you out so the color seems subtle, in day light it may be a lot brighter than normal. I generally do this for my MAC purchases.

6. So photographs really are a no-go for me, but if you do photograph well, it might be a good idea to take some pictures of yourself barefaced & compare them to celebrities to see similarities in face structure. The idea is to take makeup tips from someone whose face cut is like you.

7. You can also take pictures of your makeup to figure out your application techniques. However do bear in mind that camera - friendly makeup is a bit different & heavier than makeup we would normally wear in daily life.

How have you understood the unique contours of your face for makeup? Any tips that you used?
Did you know about skinny mirrors?
Any tips for me to photograph well? 


  1. awesome post, Tanveer!!! and, I really didn't know about skinny or tinted mirrors!!! will have to be extra careful from now on :)

    1. Thanks Swati! I'm happy you liked it :D.. I almost didn't post this one tbh, I thght ppl wldn't find it useful.

      Just FYI, I feel the Pantaloon's stores have skinny mirrors. Not sure tho, but I have a feeling from my experience :D

    2. I am glad you posted it!!! thank god...I shopped from chemistry & shopper's stop this time :D :D

  2. Loved the post Tanveer and I agree with you on "Evolving" of a girl to a beauty blogger .. its a transition .. I too don't look good in photographs and don't like to click myself in "Soft Mode" to look flawless, its something I cant stand :) its making a fool of myself ? But yes I too have learned to love myself through blogging, learned what would look good what wouldn't..

    I didn't know about Skinny mirrors !!!! OMG its such a trick ... I generally shop with my hubby and let me tell you he is the worst critic in the world I have ever come across :(

    1. A good critic is needed sometimes, at least you don't have buyer's remorse. :)

      I think all girls who feel that their face is not good enough should be gifted some makeup, a good mirror & a link to all our blogs. I think within 6 mnths she wld be very happy with her face :)

  3. So true about store mirrors and though I know it I always fall for it :D...and I don't photograph well too...I have a round face which looks like a moon in pictures unless I do some heavy contouring to give it some dimension. And yes I have learnt a lot about my face shape and what suits me through beauty blogging. I also always try doing my makeup in the worst mirror and then compare it to the good mirror. Thanks so much for the tips. its good to know I'm not alone :) xo

    1. Thanks for the re-affirmation LipJunkie101! I now know that my tips actually work :)

  4. Very informative post Tanveer. I have never heard about those mirrors. Each and every thing you mentioned about light settings while doing makeup are absolutely true and useful! I am going to use my worst mirror in the mornings hereafter :)

    1. Thanks Lancy, I'm glad you found it useful :)

  5. I have tonnes of tips for photographing well.
    I don't photograph well at all, I know it may sound like a lie, but its not!!

    1) Stand under flattering lights.
    2) Photograph your best angle (for me its my left profile).
    Also if you feel your face lacks dimensions, you may contour and since your are pale, you should use a really soft bronzer to do so..?
    Oh, and always wear flattering shades.

    1. Shivani, it is hard to believe that you don't photograph well - I really like your pix & you look really adorable in them :)

      Thanks for all the tips, I'm planning to learn some contouring now & take some pictures myself :)

  6. Great Post..Tanveer. I really enjoyed reading it. I have learnt so much about my looks ever since I started blogging but most importantly I have become much more comfortable with the way I look. I used to be really insecure about my looks before. All that has vanished now. I feel much more confident.

    All credit to blogger friends like you. I have been a silent reader of ATB for ages. Love all your posts and this one is the best.

    1. Thanks Prachi! I'm so glad that you feel more confident about your looks - It is amazing how something as simple as blogging can help you feel better about yourself :)

  7. Another great honest and real piece of writing! You really know how to relate to us women in a way that I would never be able to express! I have such an unhealthy relationship with cameras and my face lol! I really hate having my photo taken, I've got such a chubby face and just hate it..something that I need to work on really cos I so wish I could reach a point where I was happy with my looks. It has such a huge impact on your overall confidence and life.

    1. Thanks so much Cherry Lane :D

      I totally get it when you say you hate having your photo taken! :)

  8. You posts are always so helpful !
    Even I dont photograph well ..I don't have dimensions in my face .. Like I have a round face and soft features and How I hate my nose !!
    But since I started blogging and taking my pictures I came in terms with my dusky complexion and round face :D
    What I do is tilt my face a bit so that my face looks slimmer.. and I emphasize on other part of my face so that my nose looks less noticeable.
    Awesome post, once again !

  9. amazing post tanveer . . . good to see such innovative and informative post :)

  10. I loved this post Tanz! Yes these trick mirrors are everywhere,in fact in Retailing and store design these mirrors and lighting tricks are critical. There is an interesting book by Paco underhill 'why we buy' which is a great read on these insights and how they effect sales in retail stores.
    Looking good in person and photographing well are two different stories. Few tricks that usually work well while photography, get one of those cameras where you can flip the display and see yourself while clicking pics,it's invaluable if you are into clicking self portraits.facial symmetry and lighting is critical,for getting right pics
    Watch and learn from celeb red carpet photoshoots,Most try and give a side profile or looking over their shoulders, best trick I've learned is to straighten up ur neck tilt your chin down and smile, tilting ur chin hides minor double chin.
    Another trick u see used on Kim Kardashian is using a lighter under eye concealer and contouring the face heavily,idea is to create dimension and bring out the Center of the face while receding the edges with darker shades. I guess Ill do a post and discuss this at length. This comment is become ridiculously long :P

  11. oh... an eye opener.. never thought of this.. but now thinking ya... it has to be an inbuilt part of retail business.. and lightening and mirrors and ambiance makes us BUY stuff...nice post...

  12. Interesting post. While its true light skinned people tend to look puffed up and wider by dimension compared to others light and contouring can play a vital role is minimizing one's facial structure. Notwithstanding the fact that people with good bones feature fairly sharper in pictures than most normal people.

    Like you I hate going to public events for feat of looking fat and rotund in pictures than in real life, good eye-opener this article re: mirrors.

  13. earlier whenever i looked at my photographs all i would first jump at were flaws... ... then when i 'grew up' i stopped seeing what's wrong with my or anyone's photos [ except the weird ones]..all i see is the context and smiles. who is smiling artificially,twinkle in eyes, the clothes ..Now i am not so bothered of how i look in photos so much relaxed when i am photographed !

  14. Oh my God,I LOVE this blog and I`m so following *_*
    Great post,and I suddenly want to see you right now after reading it,dunno why,teehee :D
    I`d really like to know more about my features,i know I have an oval face and really thin petal lips (that`s what everyone keeps telling me) and I`ll appreciate it if you post about something that could help me recognize the kind of features I possess.
    P.S: Mirrors are my best friends and I`m totally photogenic. In fact,I think i look a lot better in my pics than I do in person (what,did I just confess that out loud? :P )
    Nice dropping by,say hi to a new follower! :)

  15. Awesome read T. Oh I have seen those skinny mirrors hahaha...I used to look like a bamboo...and taller! :D

    Photographs are tricky, I tell you. Many photos of mine are horrible too! And yes, heavier makeup looks better in pictures- even brows have to be filled in more. The trick is to find your flattering angle and facial expression. But most importantly, the camera settings & lighting. Sigh...this could go on and on... :D


  16. nice post Tanveer. me too had no idea bout skinny

  17. awesome post Tanveer and the ATB learning curve is one of the best things happened to all of us I tell you :)
    i myself hate my pictures , although am big and bulky and apart from that my face has this weird flatness from side so even am so scared if somebody takes my pic ... will try and incorporate tips you mentioned :D :D


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