Makeup for HD – Pretty From Afar, But Far From Pretty

Makeup by Roque Cozzette

Back in the late ’90s, Roque Cozzette was among the first in the cosmetics world to encounter a major opportunity in makeup artistry: the rise of high-definition (HD) video resolution. Where older analog technology uses 525 vertical and 500 horizontal lines of resolution per inch of screen, HD resolution more than doubles that capacity, showing viewers 1080 vertical and 2000 horizontal lines of resolution per inch. The increase in clarity between the two is monumental; details that are invisible with analog technology become glaringly obvious in HD. Tech giant Sony was holding a training session to introduce its producers, directors, and cameramen to the company’s new HD equipment, and they asked Cozzette to serve as the session’s key makeup artist.

Cozzette quickly discovered his industry’s new reality: what looks beautiful to the naked eye can crumble completely under the amplified resolution of an HD lens. Because HD magnifies visual detail to a degree that neither the naked eye nor analog technology can, the slightest imperfections in a model’s makeup become obvious on camera.  From fine lines and wrinkles to heavy makeup or dry skin, flaws are never forgiven when the medium is HD.


But while HD cameras demand an unprecedented degree of precision from makeup artists, they also present an opportunity for increased artistry and, ultimately, visual perfection.  Cozzette sees HD as an incentive for makeup artists everywhere to sharpen their creative skills and think strategically, and in the years since that Sony training session, he has developed a series of best practices for working in HD.


HD’s main challenges come down to two elements: color and texture. Color appears more vivid in HD than in analog, which means that makeup artists need a solid grounding in color theory to manage the intensity of different shades. Many are familiar with the process of maximizing intensity by placing complementary colors side by side, but mixing those colors in order to mute them is an even more important rule for working in HD. Generally, combination with a complementary color will work to neutralize any color that appears too intense. If skin is flushed (red/violet), for example, and appears too vivid in HD, then application of the correct shade of olive (yellow/green) neutralizes the skin’s tint and creates a natural look onscreen. The same principle applies in working with colored photographers’ lighting gels: if lighting alters the onscreen color of a model’s skin, makeup in a complementary color will provide a neutralizing effect overall. Because variations in color appear more vividly in HD than ever before, knowing how to control those variations is increasingly essential.


Texture is also much more magnified in HD, and as a result, products often become too dramatic. For example, if makeup looks to matte on the face, chances are it’ll appear dry on camera; if it’s shiny, then it’s in danger of looking wet or greasy through the lens. Additionally, heavy makeup created with highly emollient ingredients like silicone clearly look oily or artificial in HD. Where makeup artists could once use as much spackle as necessary to cover redness associated with blemishes,  foundation/concealer must be refined and used strategically to neutralize unwanted color to work in tandem with HD formats.

HD Ready

Melody Gardot - La Vie En Rose


Infinite Makeup is an exquisite foundation and concealer in one, Infinite Makeup combines waterproof, high-definition technology with botanical, skin-enhancing ingredients. The richly pigmented formula delivers sheer to maximum coverage and revolutionary texture, while shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E, pomegranate, tea tree, arnica, calendula, acai, green tea and licorice root extracts protect and pamper the skin as they beautify. An all-inclusive color range, developed using the principles of color theory, means there’s a shade to suit every skin tone. Recommended for all skin types.


Il Makiage Pressed Powder was formulated to reduce shine and absorb excess oils but producing a matte effect that is free of reflective qualities. This tested and proven powder is a legendary item that has out performed the current mica loaded HD powders that look great to the naked eye, but appear as ashy or like the model has burst into a sweat.  Don’t be fooled by cosmetic ingredient marketing of reflective makeup that is a mess in front of the camera.



Unwilling to compromise his standards, Cozzette set out to find ways for makeup artists to maintain artistic excellence while working in HD. Through a series of tests and focus groups in the studio after the Sony event, he discovered that silicone (an emollient or dry particle) and mica (a mineral often ground down to work as an absorbent, or used in bigger pieces for a shimmer effect) were the two worst culprits of unappealing HD texture. Glamorous mica glitter seems too sparkly; smoothly powdered skin catches light and turns shiny if minerals like mica are in the mix.  HENCE THE RECENT MISHAP ON ANGELINA JOLIE ON THE RED CARPET.


Cozzette’s work in fashion means that his models are shot in HD every day—including close-up, unforgiving paparazzi shots—and he is constantly engaged in creating new ways to keep their skin looking perfect. Cozzette is currently at work on a foundation that he knows will stand up to the challenge of HD, but in the meantime, he has several general guidelines for translating beautiful makeup into flawless HD:


  1. Always test powders containing mica for a flashback in photography prior to using on a clients special day. The slippery bits are impossible to manipulate carefully, and end up highlighting even the smallest of flaws.
  2. Always prep skin before applying any makeup. Exfoliation does away with many of the miniscule bumps and flakes that can stand out in HD. Cozzette relies on Kiko exfoliating wipes and sometimes even tweezers to remove any tiny flakes of skin that might remain after exfoliation.
  3. Moisturize skin thoroughly; Cozzette recommends Lait-Créme from Embryolisse.
  4. Most importantly: know your craft. In addition to understanding, which products read well in HD, it’s essential that makeup artists draw on a solid grounding in color theory to present their subjects as beautifully as possible. The best way to neutralize an unwanted color is the application of its complementary shade. Practically and carefully applied, the principles of color theory can more than compensate for the products that HD rules out. Example: Redness on the face can be neutralised by Infinite Makeup – Cool shades


Working in HD is certainly a test of any makeup artist’s basic skills and knowledge, but it’s also an exciting avenue for innovation and creativity, and Cozzette appreciates that this challenge will inspire those in his field to new levels of artistry.


Getting ingredient savvy and knowing what you’re applying to your clients face is essential to your livelihood as a makeup artist or face the pretty from afar, but far from pretty equations! Pressed-Powders

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