This article is broken down into six segments for mastering makeup artistry. These segments are not trends, but rather tricks of the trade that will stand the test of time. They are the most important areas to get professionals started on their way to becoming a professional makeup artist or, for seasoned makeup artists, re-inventing some of their techniques.
#1 THE PERFECT SMOKY EYE
There is no sign that the smoky eye trend is dying anytime soon.
The key is perfect blending and the right color selection. Professionals also want to be sure that the colors they use are blended together flawlessly; it is important to pair light base colors with rich, dark colors. Some nice combinations include champagne base with bright blue on top, delicate gold base with deep purple on top, peach base with deep green on top, and soft pink base with warm golden brown on top. Professionals can, of course, create their own color combinations.
Professionals have many choices, so they should feel free and unafraid to experiment with a variety of hues. Deeper colors in a matte shade will work best to draw attention to the client’s eyes.
Like any other makeup application, practice makes perfect and consists of trial and error. During the execution, professionals should keep their application neat and clean. Start with the eye makeup application first, followed by the remainder of the application. In this order, professionals can feel free to create without worrying about drizzles and spills on the foundation or concealer. Wink away any unwanted spills with a powder brush that contains a small amount of powder. If any residue is remaining, use a makeup wipe to remove it.
Smoky Eye Step-by-Step
This segment will give professionals step-by-step instructions on how to give clients the perfect smoky eye and avoid the raccoon look! The average time frame to create a smoky eye look is about 10 minutes. Professionals should use this protocol as a basic guide, be creative with color, and experiment by modifying the following suggestions.
1. Start with a greaseless, oil-free eyeshadow base to keep the eyeshadow from melting into the eyelid crease. Apply the base and lightly powder the eye after the base has dried.
2. Apply eyeliner in the typical black, brown, or gray shade. Apply the eyeliner above the upper eyelash lid, drawing the line thicker in the middle of the eyelid. Feel free to add a creative edge by using jewel-toned shades, such as violet, blue, or hunter green. The best eyeliner applicator is be a pencil as it is easier to smudge, creating more of a smoky look.
3. Blend the eye pencil on the bottom eyelashes. This application helps to balance the entire eye makeup – clients do not want to end up with a top-heavy smoky eye. Use either a finger or a small sponge tip eye shadow brush.
4. Apply a bit of the dark color choice on top of the pencil shade of choice. This shadow does not have to match the pencil shade. Remember, to be a true makeup artist, possessing creativity is important. Simply copying a YouTube video or step-by-step photographs will not make professionals their own unique artist. Experiment and add a signature touch.
5. Apply the light base eyeshadow color by sweeping either a matte or light-frosted shade of the lighter eyeshadow color over the eyelids up to the eyebrows. The key to a perfect smoky eye is the pairing of the light and dark hues.
6. Blend the darker shade below the crease. This step will give clients the icing on the cake – the key to the smoky look. During this step, professionals can use a Chinese medium eyeshadow brush for better control. Better control means that the color applied does not drizzle as much. It is best not touse an open, fluffy eyeshadow brush that would allow spills to happen. Better control means an easier and neater application over both the eyelids and eyelash lines. Continue blending the eyeshadow with a tapered fluff brush until the liner disappears. The key to this step is to blend, blend, and blend again to create that seamless look.
7. Stop and double check to be sure the eyes match. Correct them if necessary and move on to the next step.
8. Finish with copious amounts of mascara. Be sure the eyelashes are well-curled and apply several coats of mascara, letting each coat dry for a few minutes prior to applying the next coat. Black or black-brown mascara works best.
Keep the focus on the eyes only, avoiding these heavy combinations: heavy eyes and lips or heavy eyes and cheeks. Professionals should certainly not have all three zones heavy! They should, however, feel free to add a pop of color on the center eyelid. Remember to keep it fun and interesting and create a unique style and personality!
#2 CONTOURING AND HIGHLIGHTING
Contouring literally means to outline a figure or body – to mold or shape. In the makeup world, it means to create shadows. These shadows help to define certain areas, enhance shapes, and, along with highlighters, allow a more sculpted look. Contour the areas that clients wish to downplay or push back. Soft, dark matte shades work best for contouring.
Highlighting, or the lighter shade, adds light to the face. There are several ways for professionals to add this illusion. A quick and easy way to create a larger appearance or grab attention is to add highlighter to the center regions of the face or any other area. Highlighting does not have to occur with a white or cream color. Professionals can also use pink, soft golds, or champagne hues. They can also elect to use a tinted moisturizer to achieve a soft, sheen glow.
Contour and Highlight Step-by-Step
The following steps will help professionals create sculpted, model-like facial features. The key to contouring and highlighting is to not make it obvious. The most flattering contouring and highlighting accentuates the bone structure, not the makeup.
1. Start with foundation dots, using a liquid foundation. Place the lighter tone, which should be one shade lighter than the client’s skin tone, in the center of the face. Add another set of dots that are a shade darker than the client's complexion.
2. Blend the two shades to create a subtle illusion of depth and dimension. Use a medium-size blending brush with both natural and synthetic bristles.
3. Contour with the darker shade under the cheekbone and temples, along the hairline and jawline, and on both sides and the tip of the nose. Highlight with the lighter shade on top of the cheekbones, the center of the forehead, the bridge of the nose, the center of the chin, and on the Cupid's bow.
4. Blend out the two shades to perfection by lightly patting or stippling over the dark and light hues with a matching skin tone foundation. Be sure the color is the shade in-between the light and the dark shade for a more natural look. Keep a light touch on all the above steps, for soft day look and use a little more emphasis for an evening look.
5. When creating more of a glam look, add a touch of light and dark powder on top. Pressed powders are the best for this step. Deep eyeshadows, blushes, or bronzes are usually more intense; if the professional is not careful to blend and select the correct shade, the whole look could be ruined.
#3 FULLER LIPS
Many women wish to have lips that look bigger and sexier like Angelina Jolie or Kylie Jenner. If a client wants to add sensuality to the look, create the illusion of a fuller lip. Any effort, however, should look natural and effortless. It would be better to leave the lips small rather than having a fake, overdrawn appearance.
Trick Number One
Prepare the lips using a cinnamon scrub; it is an easy method to achieving that perfect pout. Start with bare lips that are free of any conditioners or colors. Make a paste by mixing one teaspoon of granulated sugar, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and one teaspoon of coconut oil. Gently rub the lips with the scrub to remove any dry, chapped skin. Let the scrub sit on the lips for up to two minutes before removing it with warm water. The cinnamon mixture will create a warm, tingling sensation that increases the blood flow to the lips, giving them a temporary fuller look.
Trick Number Two
Using a lip gloss or one of the classic lip-plumping products will reflect light and create the illusion of fullness.
Trick Number Three
A popular look is to simply use a lip liner. The first step is to blend a concealer matching the client’s skin tone onto their lips. Select a lip liner pencil that matches the lips’ natural tone and fill in the rest of the lip with the same lip pencil shade. Finish by filling in the clients’ new “lips” with a lipstick that matches.
Trick Number Four
Select a light, nude makeup pencil or concealer pencil; a nude/blush lip pencil that is just a bit darker than the client’s natural lip color; and a sheer lipstick or nude-colored gloss. Apply the nude makeup pencil to the center of the lips and keep the color between the Cupid's bow. Be sure to extend the nude pencil to the edge of the Cupid's bow, as well as the lowest part of the bottom lip. Be careful not to draw outside of the actual lip line. This makeup trick, like most others, is designed to create an illusion that is not seen or figured out at a glance.
Take the darker pencil and fill in the lips at the outer corners, blending inward just slightly. Use fingers or a small concealer brush to eliminate any harsh lines that may have been created. Finish this look off by applying a very sheer lipstick or a nude lip gloss. The more sheer the lipstick, the better as it will have the hues of the light versus dark coming through.
#4 SELECTING THE RIGHT MAKEUP COLORS
Whether the client wears a little makeup or a lot, it is still fun to experiment with colors, so as not to fall into a time trap or wearing the same colors year after year. Focus on colors that work with the client’s hair, eyes, and skin tone and their unique personality. There is no denying that makeup should be fun and uplifting. The professional’s duty as a makeup artist is to give practical advice on color, but, at the same time, do not sacrifice the fun of using something new. A new color added to the client’s makeup keeps them current and trendy. The most important color selections are for the lips and eyes.
To figure out the best shade for the client, remove all lip colors to see the natural lip coloring. The perfect shades are beige-pink, pink, pink-brown, nude, chocolate, and blackberry. The matching lip color will be the one that looks the best. Remember, these are basic rules that should be used only as a guideline; feel free to spice it up. Professionals will know if they have the perfect color because it will enhance the skin tone: the eyes will be brighter and the whole face will light up.
If the natural color of the client’s lips is pale, the lipstick shades should be beige, pale-pink, bright red, or light coral. If their lip color is medium, the lipstick shades should be pink, rose, brown, or warm red. If the client’s natural lip color is dark, the lipstick shades should be deep red, plum, warm red, or deep chocolate. If their natural lip color is two-toned, their lipstick shades should be chocolate, blackberry, deep raisin, or deep red.
Professionals can also play up the lips based on the client’s hair color. If their hair is blond, pick colors in the pink family. If the client’s hair is brunette, choose shades that are wine-colored. If their hair is red, they should choose shades that are in the apricot family.
If the eyes are the window of the soul, eyeshadow is its curtain. The color professionals choose for their clients will convey the clients’ final look and personality. Most women can wear most neutral shades; more intense colors can work with caution. In other words, blue eyeshadow is always an option, regardless of the skin’s tone or eye color. For some, navy blue or gray blue may be a more appropriate option than electric blue.
Professionals can arrange their palettes accordingly to make it easier and faster on their time. Professionals can purchase the eyeshadows separate in pan form; they can use magnetic palettes and arrange them according to eye color. They should also have a nice balance between light and dark hues and a balance between frost and matte colors.
For clients with brown eyes, professionals can use eyeshadow shades that are purple, gray, gold, pink, deep blues, greens, brown, peach, taupe, champagne, and smoky colors. These colors should be paired with black or gray eyeliners and black or brown mascara. For clients with blue eyes, professionals should use copper, peach, coral, bronze, rust, pale pink, violet, purple, teal, browns, and deep blue eyeshadow colors. These colors should be paired with brown and navy eyeliners and mascara. For clients with green eyes, professionals should use brown, lavender, purple, apricot, mocha, medium pinks, taupe chocolate brown, mauve, gold, copper, blue, or silver eyeshadow colors. These colors should be paired with brown or burgundy eyeliners and mascaras.
#5 MAKEUP FOR AN OLDER LOOK
The better condition the skin is in, the less makeup professionals will need to apply. Skin needs hydration and exfoliation to be able to get away with little more than mascara, lip balm, and concealer. Moisturizer helps the makeup go on smoother. Flakey skin is not pretty, especially with foundation on top. Suggest to clients that they use a good exfoliant and moisturizer. Suggest the items that are necessary for proper skin care, especially sun care suggestions. Let clients know how important it is to wear sunglasses and sunscreen to prevent wrinkles.
The secret to any flawless makeup lies in using a makeup primer. Applying a layer of primer between the client’s skin and makeup will help improve the overall final result. The makeup will glide on flawlessly and, most importantly, stay put. Professionals can layer a primer between the moisturizer and the foundation for extra benefits.
Many mature women wear the same foundation they have used for 10 or more years. Because time changes, so should the foundation and the client’s makeup in general. Women need a new foundation as the skin adjusts to the skin changes through menopause. Foundation should also be adjusted seasonally as the skin adjusts to changing weather patterns. The perfect foundation will even out skin tones while disguising fine lines. As the skin ages, the pores tend to get bigger and the skin drier, so it would be a good idea to switch from a heavy foundation to one that is lighter and more moisturizing. Be sure to use a foundation that will blend seamlessly into the skin. Apply a test by swiping along the jawline – it should disappear.
As women get older, their lips seem to get thinner. To plump them up, lip gloss and/or a slightly brighter color will create the illusion for fuller lips. Add a little color by filling in the lips with a soft-shade lip pencil that is two shades darker than the natural lip color. Draw slightly outside the natural lip line and add a dab of lip gloss on top. Unless the client has dark skin and lips that are too full, stay away from super dark lipsticks, which can definitely age the face.
Use eye pencils instead of liquid or cream eyeliners, which can be very harsh on aging eyes. Be sure not to just draw a line, but to follow through by smudging out the line with a small synthetic brush. Do not line the inside of the eye if the client has small eyes – they will appear even smaller.
Make the eyes the center of attention. The eyes are the focal point of the face. Professionals should do what they can with makeup to flatter the client’s face. Flattering the face does not mean bright colors or a dark, smoky eye. Instead, professionals should use shades that enhance the client's own eye color and shape and fill-in the eyebrows properly. Professionals should keep the eyes soft, yet complimentary to the client's own unique eyes. This look will draw the eyes away from any fine lines or loose skin.
The best way to open up the eyes and make them pop is to curl the eyelashes. After curling the eyelashes, apply a couple coats of mascara to intensify and open the eyes more. If the client’s eyelashes are not as thick and lush, another option is to offer eyelash extensions at the spa. This service will give professionals an added advantage over their competitors and more revenue.
Highlighters will add a subtle glow to the face, creating the illusion of youth. Keep it subtle as to not have the appearance of aluminum foil.
Add a pop of blush to the apples of the cheeks. It is important to use blush correctly or not at all. Blush used correctly can brighten a dull complexion, but, yet again, the trick is to blend well and not use shades that are too bright or obvious.
Any makeup that a professional applies needs to be blended well. The secret to a great makeup application is to have clients look as if they are not wearing makeup at all. Less is more, especially when working on a mature face. Makeup should always enhance positive features while playing down negative ones, yet stay in the background at the same time. No lines, color bleeding, or intense colors that take over the face.
A big problem with older women tends to be the shadows that are present under the eyes. These shadows tend to get worse as women age. The best way to cover these is to suggest a good eye cream and a color corrector in either a pink, peach, or other warm tones to cover the dark circles. Over this application, apply a yellow-based concealer and foundation. Do not forget to gently blend with a tapping motion for a soft finish.
#6 MAKEUP FOR A YOUNGER LOOK
Avoid Clumpy Mascara
Be sure to apply mascara in several light layers instead of one thick layer. Coat the eyelashes, wait a few moments, and then apply another coat. If professionals build up the layers this way, clients will end up with natural-looking, thick, long eyelashes.
Avoid Too Much Shimmer
Shimmer is fun and beautiful in small doses and dangerous if professionals add too much. Skin care professionals should be sure that they are not using all shimmery, frosted products. A kit full of shimmer is not good for a more youthful, understated look. The key is to pick one feature to highlight, like the lips or the eyes. Use matte products everywhere else. When in doubt, choose matte.
Match the Foundation
Be sure to correctly match the foundation to the neck to test the color. This process should be done in natural light to ensure it matches. Professionals should avoid creating the mask look.
Apply foundation with a damp sponge. The sponge absorbs some of the foundation and the water thins out the rest for optimal sheer coverage. Professionals should also use a yellow-based foundation. The warmer the skin tone, the younger it looks.
Michelle Richardson is a licensed aesthetician and professional makeup artist with over 25 years of experience. She has worked for numerous retail cosmetic lines, including Estée Lauder, Lancôme, and Christian Dior. Richardson is the co-owner of the California Makeup Academy - Training Center for professional makeup artists and the co-owner of Your Makeup Line, a private label branding company.