To me, tools and products are equally as important as the makeup skills that you have,” she says. For example, let’s say you were using mediocre brushes, mediocre products, and had average skill. Just by improving the quality of your brushes and using richer pigmented products, the application would immediately be better, even without improving your technique. So if you really want to apply your makeup like a pro, Damselita says, “Do what the professionals do: Use the proper brushes for application.”
Here are the eight basic brushes you need:
1. Foundation brush
2. Concealer brush
3. Fluffy powder brush
4. Blush brush
5. Small blending brush
6. Flat eyeshadow brush
7. Precision angle brush
8. Lip brush
Once you have your tools, you need to know how to hold them. “Where you hold a brush on the handle affects your control. The closer your fingers are to the barrel (the silver section beneath the brush head), the more pressure you put on the brush head and vice versa.” In general, if you want to apply color evenly, place your fingers on the center of the brush handle. Another tip: You can easily turn a fluffy brush into a flat, angled brush by wrapping your hand around the bristles and flattening them.
Lesson No. 2: Mix primer with your foundationI’m sitting in Make-up Designory’s Beauty 101 classroom and I’m anticipating today’s lesson to be quite the bore-fest. I’m barely paying attention as Lead Instructor Gil Romero goes through the three different types of foundation: liquid, powder, and cream. Yawn. Wake me up when I’m going to learn something new.
It seems like Romero read my mind, because he immediately hit me with this tip: “You can wear cream foundation as is for opaque, full coverage, or you can break it down to be more translucent by mixing it with some primer,” he says. What? Isn’t primer only supposed to go on before foundation? But Romero says this is a surefire way to retain the foundation’s coverage without looking caked on. Plus, you get to reap the long-lasting durability that cream foundation has over liquids and powders. Prior says this also helps the makeup blend seamlessly with the first layer of primer on your skin.
I raise my hand at this point and ask if cream foundation is OK for oily skin. This is a selfish question, because I struggle with a mid-day oily t-zone. Make-up Designory Creative Director, Yvonne Hawker (who also wrote the school’s textbook) says everyone can use cream foundation, but those with oily skin should use a damp sponge to apply it. Most foundations have oil in its formula to give the coverage blend-ability. Using the sponge will “pick up the pigment, but not the oil in the foundation.” You’ll still get great coverage, but not the shine.
For dry or combination skin types, “use your foundation brush and buff the foundation onto the skin, concentrating on the center of your face, which is typically where your skin has the most discoloration,” says Hawker. “The further you get from the center, the less coverage you want.”
Lesson No. 3: Love your flaws — then conceal themIt’s Day 3 at makeup school and there’s a color wheel on the whiteboard. “The key to being a successful makeup artist is being able to identify someone’s undertones and know how to manipulate the color wheel to get rid of unwanted color,” says instructor Gina Sandler.
And when Sandler says “unwanted color,” I immediately tune in because I want to learn how to cover up my zits, the stubborn redness around my nose, and the bluish hues under my eyes. She says opposite colors cancel each other out, so green-pigmented concealer covers redness, and orangey concealer removes blue. “If you use your beige concealer, it’ll only make those areas look muddy,” says Prior.
Once Sandler shows us how she gets rid of zits, redness around the nose, and under-eye bags on one of the students, she then pairs us off and has us practice on each other’s makeup-free faces. Immediately, all of my insecurities start bubbling up. My bags, my zits, my dark spots … is someone seriously going to be inches away from them? Then one of the students says, “Ugh, I’m so ugly.” Sandler responds, “No, you’re so cute! You all are!” It’s makeup school, but it starts to feel more like we’re in a group therapy session. Sandler says practicing on each other is key because you quickly learn how to deal with all types of skin tones and facial features, which you will have to become comfortable with if you want to be a professional.
Lesson No. 4: Fix your face shapeSo here’s a not-so-secret confession: I hate my face. It’s rounder than a Cabbage Patch Kid’s and I can’t stand my button nose. So when Prior says today’s lesson is learning how to contour properly so you can alter your face shape and features, I’m so eager to learn I actually volunteer to be her model at the front of the class. “Contouring is the art of highlighting and shading,” says Prior. “Anything that is lighter than the skin tone will make an area more prominent, anything darker will make that area recede.” Here’s how you can easily alter your face:
If you have a round face and want to make it look more oval: Apply a bronzer a shade or two darker than your skin tone in a “3” shape alongside your face: on your temples, the hollow of your cheeks, and your chin.
If you have a prominent forehead: Shade around the outer edge of your forehead along your hairline to minimize the area with bronzer.
If you have a flat or wide nose: Shade alongside your bridge starting from your inner brows. Then highlight right on the center of your nose.
If gravity is taking a toll and your cheeks are sagging: Apply a highlighter just above your cheekbone all the way to your temple. Use a blush directly on the cheekbone, then use a bronzer in the hollow of the cheek, underneath your bone.
And if you really want to make your contouring stand out, use a sparkly highlighter, which will reflect the most light. Then for your bronzer, go for a matte finish, which will absorb light and create a stark contrast.
Lesson No. 5: Make your eyes pop by changing their shapeJust like how I learned to use highlights and shadows to contour my face, I found out that I can use the same info to alter my eye shape, too. Whether you have drooping lids, narrow-set eyes, or they’re simply too small, you can use your knowledge of light and shadow to change them.
If you want to add definition: Sweep a light bronzer through the crease of the eye, which is halfway between the lashline and the eyebrow. “As you age, the eye area loses elasticity, and things aren’t as shapely as they used to be,” says Prior. “This technique is great for mature skin, to give the face more definition.” A tip for you blue-eyed girls: An orange-y bronzer in your crease will make your eyes even bluer.
If you have narrow-set eyes: To elongate your eye width, apply a black liner to the outer half of both your upper and lower lashlines, connecting at the outer corner.
If you have drooping, heavy lids: Use what you just learned about highlights and shadows to lift your eye. Apply highlighter above your crease, from the inner to outer lid. Then blend a shadow to the area that you want to push back, which would be the heavy fold. Make sure to blend the edges from the shadow to the highlight.
If you have small eyes: Apply a beige-colored eyeliner to your lower inner rim, which will help make eyes look more open. Then use a black pencil liner along your entire upper and lower lashlines, connecting the lines at the outer corner. The key is to blend the liner with shadow, going outwards. Wherever you place the darkness is where your eye will go, so by smudging the lines, it gives the allusion that your eyes are taking up more real estate on your face.
And the tip I love most for natural definition: Apply a black pencil to your upper inner rim. “It lengthens the eye and it also sharpens the appearance of the eye, giving more fullness to the natural lashline without seeing the hard edge of a liner,” says Prior.
Lesson No. 6: Think opposites when it comes to colorRemember how I learned that opposite colors on top of each other cancel each other out? OK, well today I learned if you place them side by side, they help each other stand out. Simple, but super important when you’re trying to pick the most flattering eyeshadow colors. Here’s a cheat sheet:
For blue eyes: Since orange is the opposite color of blue, anything with orange in it will make blue eyes stand out more. “It doesn’t have to be a blazing sun color — it just has to have orangey undertones like gold, apricot, or peach,” says Prior.
For green eyes: Red is the opposite color of green, which isn’t to say you should apply a cherry red-colored eyeshadow to your lids. But you’ll help your green eyes pop if you use colors that have red undertones, like deep plums and wine.
For brown eyes: Brown is a neutral color, so any color will work well, says Prior. “But the most standout colors are blue and purple.”
Lesson No. 7: Stop applying eyeliner the wrong wayFinally, we’re onto the technique that landed me in makeup school in the first place. Eyeliner has always been hit or miss for me and now I know why.
I’ve been doing it all wrong.
In Chapter 7 of the Make-up Designory textbook, I learned that you’re actually not supposed to draw your liner all the way across your lashline in one motion. “You’ll get bumps in your line with your brush catching on loose skin,” says Prior. Instead, you’re supposed to go from the inner corner to the center of your lid, then reload the brush (if you’re using one) and start from the outside corner until you meet the existing liner.
And as for my wonky winged tips? Prior gave me a smart tip to make sure a wing is always in the right place. “Napoleon Perdis always starts with eyeliner on the lower lashline, because it goes up at the outer corner, which gives you the angle that you should follow on your top lashline,” says Prior. “Usually when you do your top liner first you end up in no-man’s-land, because you don’t know how far to take the line or how curved it should be.”
Lesson No. 8: Get Angelina Jolie’s lips without injectionsBefore makeup school, I had no idea there was an ideal lip shape. Apparently, your lips are most balanced when the upper and lower lips are equal in size, or thickness, says Prior. If they’re not, you can use your knowledge of highlights and shadows to re-contour them.
Step 1: Apply foundation to your entire lip, says Napoleon Perdis. Not only does this help remove the natural pigments of your lips for truer lipstick colors, but it can also help you realize where your liplines actually are.
Step 2: Using a white eyeliner pencil, very softly feather the pencil over the natural contour of the lip. Or use the pencil to make lips fuller or thinner by drawing it past your natural lipline or within it.
Step 3: Redo the line with a lip pencil in the color of your lipstick.
Step 4: Apply lipstick with a lip brush in a downward motion. So, from your cupid’s bow to each outer corner, then from your outer corner to the center of your lower lip. This ensures an even application of the product, says Hawker.
Step 5: Apply a light shade of base foundation around the new lip line, blending to a soft edge with a lip brush.
Remember, light colors reflect light, so using lighter lip colors will give a fuller appearance. Dark colors absorb light, so they will make lips look smaller/thinner. Finally, try this popular trick used on Victoria’s Secret Angels to give the illusion of a fuller pout: Apply a dab of gloss to the top part of your Cupid’s bow and to the center of the bottom of your lip.
Lesson No. 9: Make fake brow hairs look realI’ve heard this a million times: Your inner brow should line up with your eye’s inner corner, your brow’s arch should be above the outer edge of your iris, yadda yadda yadda. I honestly zoned out during most of the brow lesson, but then we got to the good stuff:
Stewart says the biggest mistake women make with brows is choosing a color that’s too dark. Dark brows can make you look older, she says, so pick a color that’s a couple shades lighter than your hair.
If you’re using a pencil: For a realistic look, apply more pressure at the bottom of the stroke where the root would be. Ease off on the pressure as you flick your stroke upward, using small strokes to make it most look like hair, says Hawker.
If you’re using a powder: Brush the powder starting from the outer corner of your brow and work against the direction of your hair growth. This ensures a more natural finish by allowing the brow hair to sit over the powder, so that your brows don’t look drawn in, says Prior. Make sure to emphasize the arch with your color, and taper off at the inner corners so you don’t look angry.
Lesson No. 10: Know how to conceal those under-eye circlesSince dark circles are such a sore spot for most of us, we took a lot of time mixing just the right blend of orange-tinted concealer with a beige-colored concealer that matched our skin tones. The Napoleon Perdis Paparazzi Makeup To-Go class teaches how to remove under-eye circles with the “Hollywood V.” With your concealer brush, swipe the color-correcting concealer under your eye in a “V” shape from your outer to inner corner. Then, buff the concealer into your skin, until you get to the center of your lower lid, where you’ll want to feather the concealer for a lighter application.
While it seems like a lot of work, customizing a color-correcting mixture made especially for your skin tone can actually erase stubborn bags instead of highlighting them.