For a “Purr-fect” Nude Look…..
“If you were me, would you go with the nude look?” she asked and I replied “oh honey, I go nude every single day”. Now if your overactive imagination is picturing me going about in a, well, in a state of undress, perish the thought. Cease, desist, and don’t think like that for a minute- for the nude we were talking about here refers to the face- a nude look sans any make-up for the face. Now if you are wondering what I have to do with makeup and such things, let me start the story from the beginning.
As part of a team of surgeons who do extreme make-over’s, I happened to treat an interesting patient recently. This particular patient was a 22 year old female and what’s more important, unmarried and looking to get married pretty soon. In quest of which marriage she had tried to look prettier by becoming thinner, even though she wasn’t very heavy looking to start with. But as they say, is there anything like being too thin or too wealthy?
This patient’s chosen method of rapid weight loss involved starvation, as she was hell bent on achieving a zero-size figure in time for her wedding. Unfortunately for her, she failed to realize that being thin does not necessarily translate into beautiful. There are lots of thin, ugly women walking around if you look, which is incredibly sexist and might bring me brickbats from the feminist brigades, but, hey it’s the truth, so sue me.
Anyway to get back to our patient this girl by binge dieting and extreme starvation became as thin as a stick and then having achieved her life’s goal assumed that she had become beautiful. Imagine then the shock to her system when she realized that despite the weight loss she was basically what she always was, albeit a thinner version with a constantly hungry look in her eyes. And then when she realized her folly she did what she should have done in the beginning -approached the professionals.
Let me digress here a bit and offer some general advice- losing weight and becoming thin if done the proper way with exercise retains the muscle tone but losing weight with starvation makes you lose all fat beneath the skin- which pads out and fills up the skin and consequently the skins sags and hangs – giving you an aged appearance – unless you get a skin tuck done by a cosmetic surgeon (if you don’t believe me – check out any liposuction patient after all the fat’s been sucked out- they look like the pug dog from the Hutch mobile advertisement- with loose rolls of skin hanging down). So, take my advice- walk, run or dance- but don’t starve.
And also, there is a general rule in plastic surgery that says “Soft tissue follows Hard Tissue” which translated from medical jargon means that the flesh follows the shape of the bone. So anything you do to the muscle and skin will not last long if it’s not in conformity with the bone beneath. If your jaw bones are long and protruding, however much you reshape your lip muscles, you will never have a pout till the bone beneath is also re-shaped and then the flesh above the bone will automatically adapt to the bone below and achieve the perfect shape we want.
So, after doing the very best we could to give her face an all-natural look- a few nips and tucks here and there, some bone grafts and some collagen/fibrin to bring the shape back to her face- we let her go home to heal. And she returned to us after the usual six weeks of healing to check up on her final results. As part of the hospital protocol- especially for extreme makeovers- and to guard against future litigation by disgruntled patients who are unable to bridge the gap between fantasy and the reality of their looks- the hospital has mandatory post- operative photographs for documentation (and as evidence for the legal team).
In any hospital which does cosmetic surgeries, there are specialists appointed for the purpose of getting patient photographs- photographers and make-up specialists. One of the tricks the photographer employs is to undershoot the pre-operative photos to highlight the post surgical effect- which is unnecessary in my opinion. And vice versa they go all out – overboard sometimes- in getting the post surgical photos- with heavy make-up and lighting effects- which is where the creative difference arose as I mentioned in my first para above.
As an end user and as someone from the team responsible for the actual result- I like to be involved in these photo shoots despite murmurings that I am a know-it-all poking my nose everywhere. I discount the murmurs as I feel that it’s only my insatiable curiosity to learn something new which drives me to hang about the patient photo shoots. Anyway, I always feel that the stark look which the photographers shoot for the pre- surgical pictures are way better than the heavily made up faces they shoot for the post-surgical photos. And hence I decided to get hands-on this time.
As I had been the one from the team who had coordinated the entire makeover for this particular patient and she trusted my judgment, I had to put my foot down for the look I wanted for this patient- a nude look. Now a nude look for those who don’t know much about make-up (which is me -before wikipedia) is a minimal make-up look- as far as possible approaching the natural face. Which is the very point of doing a cosmetic surgery- to make someone look beautiful even in the morning when they wake up sleepy faced.
The make-up team had an ingrained habit of applying make-up liberally but I convinced the patient that a nude look would show her the real results achieved and I sat down with the make-up team and was constantly giving them advice to restrict the amount they usually dab- something which almost drove them nuts, I think.
And the conversation during the photo-shoot went something like this:
Please put just a hint of concealer around the shadow areas of the nose and eyes. Now use that foundation sparingly and blend it in please. Yes, use that marble tone- that would suit this skin tone better. No, no blush please, please don’t, not over the cheek bones- we have accentuated it naturally with bone grafts- we don’t want to highlight it further. Ok, just a little hint of powder. Do you really want to make it soo glossy? Or do you think we can pat it down for a matte finish? What does the photographer feels- shall we ask him? Oh, ok, you would adjust the effect with the lights then?
Now for my signature look- add on the lipstick….MAC raspberry? No I prefer the Estee Lauder one- Coralline Red- here, this is the shade I was telling you about- apply it to her lips and see how the peachy shade makes the lips more inviting and perfectly complements the nude look of the face rather than the bright red raspberry you advice. Yeah, it’s not my province, I know, but hey, who better to admire a lipsticks effects than a man? We look at it from the consumer point of view, so trust me go with the coralline red- it will make your lips all peachy and delectable. What, you want me to apply it and show you the effect? Oh, just kidding me, were you?
OK time to pose- be natural, don’t use all those patented poses like the photographer showed you pictures of- be free to give us your own poses- we can always delete later on if we don’t like it. So mr.photographer, are we ready with the soft focus lights? And after you finish shooting the regular ones, I want a few grayscales for my own patient records- no I prefer grayscale without any hint of touch up- for my surgical notes. OK. Thank you all. Nice shoot. And I expect to see you again- next month- for your final check up. Bye.
And you walk away with the sense of a job well done having captured the prefect image you wanted, but then you are in for a surprise -for whatever effects you tried to achieve on the floor of the studio- the photographer who does the final post-processing uses his photoshop software to give the pictures a uniform bland look like all those models with plastic faces you see on magazines- any sign of individuality in your shot composing is all lost by the time the picture is printed out and you grin and bear it and just add it the patient records and close the file.
Disclaimer : I am not recommending the nude look for everyone- every look should be decided by the individual’s skin tone and more importantly- by the occasion. I am also not recommending you go for a matt finish over a glossy finish or you apply highlights over the cheeks. I am also not recommending you try out coralline red lipstick. I am especially not endorsing any of the products named above. To each their own.
P.S. I would have loved to show you the pictures of the patient we shot as examples for what I am talking about -but medical ethics and doctor patient confidentiality forbids me from using them on social media. Only the hospital has the right to use those photos as part of their promotional campaigns and advertisements.