So, last week was a skincare post…and this week it’s all about the makeup! Last Saturday I attended a makeup masterclass with the fabulously talented, professional makeup artist, Hayley McGowan at The K Club in Straffan, Co. Kildare. I’ve known Hayley for years, we studied together at Ballyfermot College of Further Education for our portfolio course in Art, Design & Mixed Media and I’m pretty sure I’m her biggest fan. I’m like those annoying stalker fans that is constantly pestering her with questions about makeup, brushes, tips and techniques etc. This girl has insane skills with a brush in her hand and a face/body to paint! Hayley worked internationally with MAC for over 10 years before going freelance in 2012 and is highly sought after for bridal, editorial, high fashion and body painting. If you haven’t checked her out yet, or more importantly if you haven’t booked your makeup artist for your wedding yet……have a look at her Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as her website; she has just been nominated as one of the top 10 Irish artists to follow on Instagram. Hayley was sought after by one of the founders of One Fab Day for their own wedding day, which pretty much says it all really; she books up fast, I often joke that I will plan my wedding around what dates Hayley is free first, then Cathal Farrelly Cinematographer…then the venue and priest…as both Hayley and Cathal are highly sought after in the wedding industry.
Let’s crack on with the class itself, hats off to Hayley, the location at The K Club was stunning, a beautiful, sunny day overlooking the golf course, complete with tea, coffee, croissants and biscuits! Then came the goodie bags…..inside among other treats were a couple of Nima Brushes from The Artistic Collection – I was soooooo excited to try these out as I’ve heard a lot about Nima Brushes and wowsers, they did not disappoint! The value and the quality is off the scale, and the fact that Nima is an Irish company, designed by a makeup artist…even better!
Here are the top tips from the day, and a few of my own, along with steps below for perfecting your brow and this contouring, highlighting, sculpting, defining craze that can either look beautiful…or result in a horrendous-looking stripey face.
First top tip when applying makeup, is not the makeup at all, but the skincare that goes before hand. Hayley’s approach to makeup and skincare was so refreshing; she believes that any issues should be corrected by your skincare regime and products, and makeup should only be used to enhance and correct any flaws that are still apparent after all skincare efforts. Throughout the class, Hayley constantly reminded us to be gentle with our skin, and that years of daily tugging and pulling at the skin and delicate eye areas to achieve makeup looks is going to damage the skin’s elacticity and youthful appearance; you may achieve the desired look in your 20’s but what will you look like in your 60’s as a result??! Hayley demonstrated foundation and contouring on me for the class and she was SO delicate with the brush and her technique, I swear it was like she was using a feather!
Next tip, which I suppose makes so much sense when you actually think about it…is to keep your eyes open when applying your eyeshadow, and especially when trying to achieve the smokey eye look. There was an audible “oh” that went around the room when Hayley explained and demonstrated the how and the why of this top tip. You don’t want to be doing all that blending and laying down of colours only to open your eyes and find that it’s all hidden in a crease, or under the lid. This also goes for achieving that perfect eyeliner wing…..guys, if we’re late for a date….a winged eyeliner is usually why!
Sticking with the eyes…I’ll do a separate, more in-depth blog on this another time, but knowing how to apply eye shadow and liner to suit your eye shape is just as important as finding the most flattering and complimentary shade for your eye colour. #revelation!
Now, the face….different makeup artists have different techniques and steps, but for me, the face and the brows are the most important and what I always start with. If you can get these two things right, then you can pretty much wack on a bit of mascara and lip balm/gloss and you’re good to go. Other people like to do the eye makeup first, reasons being you don’t have to go back and clean up any shadow fall out or mistakes, or because you tend to be less heavy-handed with the foundation once the eyes are already done; but if you follow Hayley’s advice and go light, soft and gentle, the brush should be able to be easily knocked out of your hand with the lightest of touches….not gripped to within an inch of the bristles and carved into your face, so a light hand should be used before or after eye makeup application.
So below is my step by step tutorial on brows, contouring and highlighting:
Brow, Pow, Wow!
Use a brush to get your lines right, step 1: start with the brush straight up, resting on your nostril just beside the bridge of your nose, this is where your brow should start. Step 2: keeping your brush resting on your nostril, look straight ahead and line it up with the centre of your lip and the centre of your pupil, this is where the highest point of your brow arch should be. Finally, Step 3: rest your brush at the end/underneath of your nostril, line it up with the centre of your top lip again, all the way to the corner of your eye; this is where the tail of your brow should end. If you get HD or 3D brows done, this is how beauticians determine the best brow shape for your face and eyes.
The most important thing to remember when doing your brows is to treat them like sisters, not twins! They are never going to be exactly symmetrical or identical, and that’s ok. Just try to get them looking as natural and even as possible without looking like a one-size-fits-all “scousebrow” stamp! A brow pencil is best for achieving a more defined, natural looking brow, a wax/powder combination is best for achieving a fuller brow. A brow brush or brow gel is key for blending the colour out and make it softer and more natural looking. The bottom part of the brow is where you want the most definition, so start here and use a lighter touch the higher you get, using concealer or a highlighting powder just under and above the brow to make it look higher, more youthful and defined, but don’t overdo it!
Contour, Highlight, Sculpt & Define
Kim Kardashian I ain’t, stripey face ain’t a look I want and smokey eyes aren’t the only things you need to blend, blend, blend! Contouring is the art of using shadow and highlight to add definition, shape and colour to the face, creating and defining cheekbones, defining and lifting the jaw and even giving the appearance of completely re-shaping the nose! Highlight should be “on the bone”, contouring should be “under the bone”. Again, until you get used to it, using a brush to get your lines right can really help and make sure you’re putting the right products in the right areas. I would always advise a light touch, you can always build it up.
The image on the left is the finished look in an ever so slightly different light to really show off the contour and highlight. To find, and then define the cheekbone, take a brush and line it up with the top of your ear, to the corner of your lip, this should be sitting just under your cheekbone and where you want to apply your darker, contour shade. Now, some people pull the duck face for this part, but that doesn’t actually help you find your cheekbone. What it will do though, is show you where you should naturally stop the contour shade where the cheeks get sucked in towards your lip – you don’t want to contour along this entire line. The more definition is going to be towards the ear for a more defined look.
The contour shade can also be placed just below the jawbone, either side of the bridge of your nose and along your hair line and temples. For those of you with big foreheads, the more contour shade you apply to the top of your forehead, the smaller it will look. You can also apply a small amount of contour shade to the underneath of the lip to give the appearance of a fuller lip.
Highlight, Conceal & Reveal!
Essentially, highlighting can also include concealing and then revealing. Highlighting the bone structure of your face will bring those parts of your face foward and therefore make your face appear more defined. Typically, you want to apply your concealer or highlighting cream/powder along the brow bone just under your brow, the centre of your forehead and down the centre/bridge of your nose (great if you’re like me and hate your nose but can’t afford a nose job!), a little concealer either side of the nostrils to hide the redness, highlight the cupid’s bow, the centre of your chin and the highpoint of your cheekbones.
I often like to apply a little highlight or concealer just under my contoured cheekbone to really emphasise the definition. For this I use MAC Prep & Prime Light Boost and again, taking my brush, line it up just under my ear lobe to the underside of my bottom lip. Using my foundation stippling/kabuki brush or beauty blender, I blend the highlight down to the jawline, this will really make your contoured cheekbone pop!
The final step of any contouring and highlighting is to blend, blend, blend! Using your foundation stippling/kabuki brush or beauty blender will help to make sure everything has a smooth and flawless finish. Once you’re happy, apply blush to the apples of your cheeks, sweeping back towards the ear in gentle, light-handed, circular motions. Using a finishing, setting spray such as MAC’s Fix+ will bring the whole look together and give you an airbrushed finish.
For contouring, I recommend the NARS Ita brush…it’s pricey and makes some MAC brushes seem cheap, but it makes contouring so easy. However, the Benefit blushers and Hoola bronzer come with a very similar brush, which will give you the same look – you want to hold the brush flat and move it along your contour lines horizontally to get the definition line, then wiggle it up and down to blend it out. My favourite product to contour with is the Soleil Tan de Chanel; another pricey product, but I reckon it’s to make sure you only use it sparingly, because seriously, a lot goes a long way and if you use too much, you will look like you have a grubby, muddy face. Think Rachel from Friends vs Ross when he gets that disastrous spray tan. If you are viewing this on your mobile/tablet, Sephora have a fab contour class that is specific to your face shape, follow the steps and learn exactly where to apply contour, blush and highlight for your face!
If you would like more blogs like this, or would prefer video tutorials on makeup and beauty related posts, please share your thoughts, ideas and opinions in the comments below. Thank you for reading!