Makeup is not rocket science. It also does not require the precision of Monet’s brush work. And this is something the top makeup artists have figured out long back… because when you are dressing up 40 models back-to-back for a fashion show or doing 30-second changes between shots on a beauty spread, you’ve got to fall back on simple, functional and yet super-cool-looking techniques that are less Kim Kardashian glamming up for the Met Gala and more Kate Middleton doing her own makeup for basically everything she attends. (Though even Kim K has been known to pump for some of these quick fix makeup hacks – like #2!).
So, unless you’re looking for some vamped up 30-step contouring, you really don’t need a retinue of personal makeup artists or robotic hands for perking up your face, all the way from daytime chic to all-out evening glam. Here is a cheat sheet of the top makeup hacks I’ve picked up over the years, from experts like Pat McGrath, Bobbi Brown and Charlotte Tilbury. You can thank me later.
1. Models rush from one fitting to another and are often stuck with late nights. Cue: puffy, lacklustre skin. Makeup pros sort this out instantly by placing stack of aluminium foil in the freezer. Just take a chilly sheet and put it on your face for 15 minutes. It will immediately de-puff the skin, tighten pores and boost circulation for a healthy glow.
2. This one’s my personal favourite: For the smoothest, most glow-y, most natural looking base, mix one drop of facial oil (most makeup people are partial towards Rodin Olio Lusso) into your foundation before applying.
3. Similarly, if your concealer tends to sit on your skin and highlights imperfections rather than actually hiding them, mix it with a bit of eye cream before dabbing on. This will make it super-creamy and super-blendable, and it won’t sink into those annoying little lines.
Secret makeup files: Blush off!
4. How do you apply blush? Most of us do a back-and-forth sweep from our cheeks to the temples. Makeup pros swirl the blush brush in the loops of an imaginary infinity sign (or a sideways figure eight) from the temples to the cheeks and back again. This gives the most seamless finish.
5. And what if you’ve gone overboard with the blush? Don’t try and take off the excess – this will just make it streaky and uneven. Instead, layer on some foundation on top. Not only will this tone down the blush, it will also create a more natural, lit-from-within rosiness.
6. When you can’t find a highlighter that’s just the right shade and shimmer, try an eye shadow instead. They come in a far larger range and hence you’re more likely to find something that’s just right!
Secret makeup files: Eye openers
7. A smoky eye need not be complicated. For the fastest track, simply draw a slanted hashtag at the outermost corner of your eyelid; blend towards the inner corners and you are done!
8. Who needs expensive and complicated eyebrow products when your regular moisturiser will do the job just as well? Simply dab some on a mascara wand and brush upwards through the brows.
9. If you are constantly battling puffy eyes, store some eye lotion in the icebox. Massage the ice-y potion over the lids before putting on the makeup.
10. Eyelashes never seem to retain their curl? Switch to a waterproof mascara: It will hold up the lashes and keep them turned upwards much better.11. Audrey Hepburn used the pointy end of a safety pin to separate her lashes and create that wide eyed ingenue look. All you need is a clean spooley brush (I repurpose mine from old mascaras): Sweep through lashes while mascara is still wet to banish all clumps.
12. Another easy way to get feathery, non-clumpy lashes: lightly dust powder over them before applying the mascara.
13. The #IWokeUpLikeThis look becomes much easier when you hack this backstage makeup secret: Line your eyes with a dark liner, then smudge it with a face serum-soaked Q-tip. It will look totally, naturally, glamorously slept in.
14. Layering a white eyeliner under any eyeshadow will make it instantly look brighter and more intense. Try this when you are bored of your sheer palettes and want to make them pop instead. Pro favourite: Make Up For Ever Kohl Eye Pencil in White.
15. Something most of us get wrong: We swept eyeshadow from one end to the other. Makeup pros dab eyeshadow onto the middle of your eyelid and work outwards on each side. Try this for effortless blending.
Secret makeup files: Lips
16. For a crisp cupid’s bow, first draw an “X” on your upper lip with a matching lip pencil. Then use this as a guide to apply lipstick. Voila!
17. Not too fond of lip liner? Opt instead for a concealer pen around the lips. Not only will this create the perfect drawing guide for colouring between the lines with lipstick, it will also prevent bleeding and smudging, while making your lip colour stand out more.
Secret makeup files: Nails
19. Out of quick drying nail drops? Dunk freshly painted nails in a bowl of ice cold water. It will seriously speed up the drying time.
20. Rub some olive oil on the skin near your nails before applying polish (I do it with a Q-tip to avoid getting any on the actual nails). This will stop the nail polish from sticking to skin and make clean-up a lot easier.
21. Chips are inevitable. And ugly. But if you can’t swipe them off immediately, camouflage with textured or glittery nail polish. It does the job perfectly!