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Visual Weight: What It Means and How To Determine Yours

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In the age of TikTok, videos on our “For You” pages can have us questioning literally everything; Should I be sleeping with my mouth taped shut? Will “sleepy girl” mocktails cure my insomnia? Should I be dermaplaning my face regularly? Whether you’re on #beautytok or not, you’ve inevitably seen a video or two that has you questioning some (or many) parts of your self-care routine.

Now introducing something that, for many of us—myself included—has become the latest trend in the TikTok reign of “things I didn’t know existed but suddenly care way too much about:” visual weight.

Creators across the platform have started posting tutorials on how to do hair and makeup suited to their high or low “visual weight,” and before I had a spiral about whether or not my several-hundred dollar haircut and finely curated makeup routine was complimentary of my visual weight, I decided to consult the experts. Ahead, hear what hair and makeup experts have to say about the visual weight phenomena.

What Is Visual Weight?

“The visual weight of your face is basically the features that one’s eye is drawn to first,” begins makeup artist and aesthetician D’Andre Michael. “There are both high and low visual weights. If you have a high visual weight, you have prominent features that draw the eye, such as bigger eyes, high cheek bones, full lips or a more prominent nose, and your overall face shape tends to be more angular. On the other hand, if you have a low visual weight, you have softer, less prominent features, and your face is more on the round side.”

If you need a visual—no pun intended—D’Andre says that celebs like Angelina Jolie, Tracee Ellis Ross and Dua Lipa are good examples of high visual weight while stars like Selena Gomez, Halle Berry and Hailey Bieber demonstrate low visual weight.

Adding on to Michael’s sentiments, creative director, master stylist and colorist Paul Labrecque of Paul Labrecque Salon and Skin Care Spa explains that “high visual weight is what draws and directs the eye. Let’s say a face has a large nose—our eyes will then naturally be drawn there, whereas someone with very small features and is more petite in nature will have more of a natural effect on someone’s eyes, in that they will not when immediately zone in on one specific feature when looking at them.”

How to Determine Your Visual Weight

You may have seen videos of TikTok users comparing bold and soft glam filters on their faces to “determine” their visual weight, and if your brain works like mine, you’ve probably questioned how looking at these filters is providing anything more than a subjective opinion on which looks better. If you’re looking for a more concrete approach to determining your visual weight, Michael has you covered.

“The easiest way to determine your own visual weight is to take a picture of yourself, go to the settings of the photo and then go to the ‘contrast’ setting and slide it all the way to the left to envision and determine your low visual weight, then take a screenshot and save before taking the same photo and adjusting the contrast and all the way to the right to determine your high visual weight,” Michael explains. “Once you have these pictures saved, put them side-by-side to compare your low and high visual weights and determine how you want to do your makeup to bring out the features you want to accentuate and minimize those you want to make less prominent.”

Styling Your Hair and Makeup

And now, the most pressing question in the visual weight debate: How do I do my hair and makeup based on my visual weight? As with all trends, there’s no need to abandon your makeup and hair-styling practices to account for your visual weight, but if it’s something your interested in experimenting with, there are subtle changes you can make to enhance your high or low visual weight.

“Hairstyles can detract from areas of high visual weight,” begins Labrecque. “For example, the movement of hair with some curl and volume to it will detract our eyes from the high visual weight of a larger nose, and ultimately direct the gaze elsewhere.” So, if you’re looking to enhance your visual weight and accentuate your prominent features like a gorgeous, big nose or large, enchanting eyes, maybe try your hand at a slicked-back bun or sleek pony.

When it comes to makeup, Michale explains that “if you have a high visual weight and want to bring out these features, you can use lean in to darker eyeshadows to bring out your eyes, winged eyeliner, thicker and darker brows and deeper lip tones. If you have a low visual weight, try using lighter makeup tones (pinks, mauves, etc.) for a soft, clean, airy and more minimized look. Colorwash eyelids with lighter eyeshadows, dewy skin, pinkish blush and use lighter lip colors and gloss.”

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