Here's What HD Makeup Is, According to a Cosmetic Chemist

gif of 3 different hd makeup products

Graphic by Cristina Cianci

Ever since the trend of high definition makeup began, we've been endlessly intrigued. While light and smooth in it's application, these products are full coverage and bounce light, resulting in an Instagram filter-like effect that looks even (and not overdone) on camera. Hey, if we can look as in-focus and defined as the actors on our television screens, we're on board (as long as our breakouts aren't featured). But what makes HD makeup different from the average bottle of foundation, powder, or blush? To get the lowdown on this seemingly magical technology, we turned to some experts for their favorite products and why.

To read their take on high-definition makeup, keep scrolling!

Meet the Expert

  • Sarah Barr Battle is currently the AVP for L'Oréal's professional products division. Prior to L'Oréal, she spent over 10 years working at Make Up For Ever in trade and product marketing.
  • Don Frey is the CIO at The Honest Company. He has previously worked as a cosmetic chemist and consultant for both Fortune 500 companies and small start-ups.

When it comes to foundation, HD makeup is working double time, so your skin looks flawless IRL and on-screen. "Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation ($43) takes the original beloved HD formula to the next level to meet the demands of 4K technology that's on the rise. With 4K technology, digital devices display images with unbelievable detail, stunning clarity, and heightened color than existing HD technology," says Sarah Barr Battle. "The product is meant to mimic a 'second-skin effect' both on camera and in person, looking natural and nearly invisible both on advanced 4K cameras and to the naked eye."

So how does Make Up For Ever's beloved HD foundation achieve such a flawless look on and off camera? According to Battle, it's all in the formula: "The Ultra HD formula is a little lighter in texture, goes on smoother, and has a more skin-like finish. It's neither matte nor dewy, but it truly mimics the skin texture and, therefore, is invisible to the eyes. Ultra HD was formulated to give the ideal coverage, comfort, and finish while maintaining the natural look of the skin." Ah, hiding in plain sight!

To learn a little bit more about how HD technology works across the board, we turned to Don Frey: "The pigments are coated with light-diffusing coatings, which help blur the light when it reflects back. There has been advancement in coating pigments in the last few years to provide different visual effects, and these foundations and powders make use of that. By softening the way the light bounces back, it helps soften the focus at an imperceptible level so that your eye (and the camera) get to see some of what is underneath, but mixed in with the pigment to present a more even yet translucent look," says Frey. 

While this makeup may seem too good to be true, it has to be applied correctly to enjoy it's picture-perfect benefits. "You will notice that the conversation around how to apply [HD makeup] focuses on a brush or makeup sponge to get the proper effect. If you pile on HD makeup and apply incorrectly, you are not going to have a transparent look," explains Frey. Noted, which is why we love (and recommend) following pro tips for flawless makeup application.

To see some of our favorite HD products, keep reading! 

LA Girl Concealer
LA Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer $5
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e.l.f. High Definition Powder
e.l.f. High Definition Powder $6
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Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation $43
Shop
Make Up For Ever Pressed Powder
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Pressed Powder $23
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Smashbox Studio Skin Hydrating Foundation
Smashbox Studio Skin 15 Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation $36
Shop

Ed. note: Quotes have been edited and shortened for content.

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