Most people are eager to return to work and social activities after plastic surgery. How quickly you do so depends on two factors: how you feel and how you look. Your surgeon will let you know when it’s physically safe to resume your normal activities. But only you can decide how comfortable you feel with the way you look.
Almost everyone has some temporary cosmetic side effects from plastic surgery, such as swelling, bruising, or visible incision marks. It may be days, weeks, or even months before these signs disappear and you can fully appreciate the results of your surgery. But there’s no need to sit at home and wait. There are a variety of makeup products and techniques that can be used by men, women, and teens to camouflage the temporary side effects of surgery and help you face the world with confidence and ease.
Here we will introduce you to the kinds of products available and show you how to use them to your best advantage. It may take some practice. But the skills you learn now will serve you well right after surgery and in the long term, helping you to enhance the permanent effects of your cosmetic surgery.
When to Start
It’s best to ask you surgeon’s advice before you start using camouflage cosmetics. Most people can begin applying makeup to cover bruising or disguise swelling as early as a day or two after surgery. If you want to hide incision lines, you’ll need to wait until the stitches have been removed and the incision is completely closed.
After nose surgery, you can normally use makeup as soon as the cast is removed. With a chemical peel or dermabrasion, if a crust has formed you’ll need to wait until it’s completely gone.
What to Look For
You may use special camouflage products recommended by your plastic surgeon, commercial camouflage products available in many large department stores, or even a standard makeup that you already use.
The important thing is to look for products that are hypoallergenic and fragrance free. If you’re happy with the products you currently use, you can continue using them after surgery–but buy fresh ones with new applicators so they’ll be as clean as possible.
There are three basic approaches to camouflage cosmetics: concealing–hiding incision lines and bruises; color correcting–neutralizing color in reddened or yellowish skin; and contouring–disguising swelling and creating the illusion of highlights and shadows.
Concealers are thicker and more opaque than regular foundation makeup. They can cover healed incision lines as well as scars or bruises on your face or body.
Choose a concealer that’s opaque and waterproof, but creamy enough that it doesn’t pull on your skin when you apply it. If you can find a concealer that closely matches your skin tone, you may not have to use a foundation on top of it.
It’s not a good idea to use concealer on the thin, delicate skin around your eyes, since concealer is thick and will collect in the creases. Instead, try using a normal fluid foundation, color corrector, or eye makeup alone.
Color correctors are used to disguise the yellowish shade of a bruise or the overall redness that follows chemical peel and dermabrasion. They come in tints: lavender corrector neutralizes yellow tones, while green corrector removes red.
Less opaque than concealers, color correctors have the same consistency and sheerness as foundation. They’re generally used under your foundation.
Contouring can be applied anywhere on the face, but it’s most often used to disguise the swelling that accompanies nose surgery and facial implants. Contouring creates dimension using light and shadow: lighter areas appear to come forward, while darker areas recede.
You’ll need two separate products for contouring: a highlighter, which is about two shades lighter than your normal foundation; and a contour shadow, about two shades darker than your foundation. (You probably won’t find products labeled highlighter and contour shadow. Just look for the appropriate shades of foundation makeup or pressed power.)
Blending is the key to successful contouring: you want to create the illusion of angles without seeing stripes of makeup. The techniques of contouring are subtle and take some practice. Once you’re adept, however, you can use contouring to create “higher” cheekbones, narrow your nose, or minimize a swollen chin.
Removing Camouflage Cosmetics
Camouflage cosmetics tend to be thicker and more adherent than everyday makeup, so it’s important to remove them every night. First, use a cleansing cream that removes all of your makeup. Then use a gentle, alcohol-free toner applied with a cotton ball to remove any cleanser residue. Follow this with a moisturizer formulated for your skin type: oily, dry, or combination.