Your face is the first thing people notice about you. Whatever fashions you choose to wear, whatever position in life you happen to be in, it’s your face that is the center of all human interaction and communication.

Women have always been experts at creating a presentable public face. For millennia, we’ve used various techniques to camouflage our least-favorite features and accentuate our natural beauty. Sometimes, the desire to look perfect can get a bit overwhelming.

In 1935, makeup mogul Max Factor introduced the Beauty Micrometer, a scary-looking contraption that appeared to fit better in a mad scientist’s laboratory than it would in a beauty salon. The Micrometer was designed to measure and evaluate a face for the slightest flaws, which could then be remedied with makeup. It was, of course, a way for Mr. Factor to get some press in a time when the public would line up for the unveiling of any novel futuristic invention.

Judging by the meteoric rise of Factor’s empire, his business strategy was a good one. While the micrometer itself didn’t last long enough to become a household name, the idea behind it is alive and well. The beauty and entertainment industry together have made us all more aware of our perceived flaws, and have helped instil in each of us our own internal beauty micrometers.

It’s true that we’re our own worst critics. It’s hard to find a woman who can get through life without encountering something she doesn’t like about herself. Body flaws can be hidden with clothing, but facial imperfections can be a bit more tricky, and lead to undue stress.

While it doesn’t pay to obsess over your faults, it does make a lot of sense to put your best face forward. Fortunately, there are ways to cover facial flaws while still looking natural and beautiful. The key is making your camouflage efforts part of your daily routine and part of your own personal style.

Acne and Acne Scars
The first goal when covering up acne breakouts is to avoid further irritation of the skin. Some cosmetic products can be heavy and oily, leading to further breakouts, which is the last thing you want. Your best bet is to use a coverage product formulated specifically for oily or acne-prone skin. Many of these can be found at your local pharmacy.

It can take some trial and error to get the hang of applying coverage cosmetics so that they look just right. First, you’ll want to use a concealer stick that’s the same shade as your skin or a bit lighter. Dab it on with your finger and be sure it blends into your skin. Next apply your foundation. It’s a good idea to use a nice soft sponge and a gentle touch when applying foundation over concealer; this way the concealer does not get rubbed off. Finally, you can finish with a powder. Powder will help set your make-up, keep it from melting off throughout the day, and help control oil that can cause breakouts.

If acne scars are a major concern, you should consider investing in products from a company that specializes in corrective cosmetics. The makeup from these companies provides serious, non-irritating coverage that won’t make you look overdone.

Dark Circles and Discolorations
To handle dark under-eye circles and discolorations, you should use the same steps as those described above, however, you’ll have better luck if you choose coverage cosmetics specifically designed to camouflage your particular flaw. For example, dark under-eye circles are better hidden with a yellow-based cover stick, while red, blotchy skin can greatly benefit from a concealer with a green tint.

Under-Eye Puffiness
Under-eye puffiness is a problem for a lot of women, especially as we age. There are plenty of creams that promise to magically get rid of them, but unfortunately, there isn’t any evidence that these miracle formulas actually work. Surgery is an expensive and extreme option many gals just can’t do. So should you just live with the bags? No way! You can conceal them using products you probably already have.

Gently dab a concealer that is one or two shades lighter than your skin onto the “shadow” portion of the eye bag and blend carefully. The trick is to apply the concealer only to the place where the bag casts a shadow; loading the concealer on the entire bag will only accentuate the problem. You might want to use a small makeup brush, as a fingertip may not be precise enough for this job.

Lines and Wrinkles
Many of us find that the same makeup routine that made us look cute at 25 is no longer working 10 or 15 years down the road. As we age, our skin changes, and so should our makeup. If you notice that your makeup draws attention to the signs of aging on your face, it’s time to overhaul your regimen.

It can’t hurt to purchase a foundation that is formulated for more mature skin. Many of these foundations can help fill in tiny lines and include added moisture or other ingredients that can nourish skin as it subtly conceals flaws. You’ll also want to choose more creamy products, like cream blush, because they look less harsh than powders and enhance the skin’s smoothness and glow. Aging skin around the eyes can be a big challenge when applying makeup. First, avoid eyeliner on your lower lids, as it will give them a tired, drawn-down appearance. When using eye shadow, start with a primer to help eliminate the creased look. Don’t apply wrinkle creams to eyes right before applying makeup. This can cause the eye area to be greasy and unable to hold concealers and other cosmetic treatments.

A Word About Hairstyles
No matter the facial flaw, the right hair-do can work wonders to draw attention from it. For example, bangs can be a great camouflage for acne scars on the forehead or for a forehead that is especially high. Soft, face-framing layers can take the edge off of wrinkles and aging features. Even the right part can go a long way to balance and beautify your face.