1. FLOURESCENTS This lighting dramatizes makeup: Let your mantra be “less is more.”
Fluorescents exaggerate bumps and creases, so smooth things out with a face primer, like Mally Beauty Perfect Prep Poreless Primer ($35, mallybeauty.com), which fills in lines and helps foundation blend naturally.
Use warm tones like golden bases, blushes and eyeshadows, which counteract the severe light. Mineral powders, like BareMinerals Original SPF 15 Foundation ($25, bareescentuals.com), look luminous and natural. (Oh, and don't use too much pink: It has the weird effect of making you look orange.)
Avoid applying matte colors on lips and eyes -- you need a little shine to keep your face looking fresh. On lips, try peachy colors that are sheer or shimmery. And make eyes sparkle by using a high-gloss brown or brownish-black mascara.
2. CANDLES Candlelight evens skin tone and helps hide flaws. Nudge the effect along with illuminating products.
Subtly highlight skin with a tinted moisturizer, like Benefit You Rebel ($30, benefitcosmetics.com), which reflects light evenly and won't look muddy. Skip bronzers altogether, since the dim lighting will already make skin appear darker. Just sweep a peachy blush over the cheekbones and you'll be set.
Skip liners and lipsticks: They'll appear more dramatic in this light, so a dark red pout may be too much. Instead, try a tinted lipgloss or sheer stain for a soft, natural smile.
Play up the point of impact -- usually the tops of your eyes, since candles will be shining up from a table -- by lining the top lid with a smoky gray, silver or plum shade. (Don't line the bottom eyelids: It'll make your eyes look smaller.) Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Grifter ($16, urbandecay.com) is a sparkling, pale purple that flatters almost any complexion.
3. DAYLIGHT Natural light can work magic on the skin if you refine your routine.
Get a sun-kissed look by using a bronzer or lightly tinted moisturizer (avoid shimmer, which is noticeably unnatural in daylight) that's close to your skin tone. Top it with a cream blush, like Mally Beauty Get Cheeky Dewy Blush ($25, mallybeauty.com).
Blend your makeup well to keep from looking too made-up at daytime events. Brush a medium-tone base color (like brown or light gray) all over the eyelid and anchor it by rubbing a slightly darker shade into the creases. Then finish by applying the lightest color along the brow line. Almay Intense i-Color Shadows ($7, at drugstores) come in complementary trios based on your eye color.
Keep your eyebrows looking perfect even if they're not. (Every little hair is visible in natural light.) Use clear brow gel to help them keep their shape, or fill in splotchy areas with a brow pencil.
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*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in December 2009.