After spending more than five years working as a professional makeup artist, I finally saw the light — I was making my morning makeup routine much harder than it needed to be.
Makeup is fun. Makeup is beautiful. And believe it or not, makeup can be easy. Most makeup artists achieve some level of success because they have figured out what works, and they stick to it. What this means for the rest of us humans who just want to put something pretty on our faces is: Makeup really isn’t that hard, once you figure out what you’re doing. With a few interesting tricks in your arsenal, you can look more like JLo and less like a preteen dolled up for the homecoming dance when you leave the house.
1. Apply orange concealer
If you’re not going for that just-rolled-out-of-bed death look on Monday morning (and let’s be honest, who is?), you may want to laminate celebrity makeup artist Dedra Whitt Dakota’s tip and hang it on your mirror. Dakota, founder of the new skin care line dedra beauty, insists that the right shade of concealer is the most important part of your morning makeup routine — especially when you’ve been tossing and turning all night.
Try it: “Concealer is the most important makeup product for insomniacs because it adds 10 hours of sleep to your appearance. Placement is key, as well as choosing the right color concealer. Because the hue of dark circles is blue, choose a concealer that has a warm (almost has a bit of orange) undertone as it cancels out the blue,” she says. “Choose a concealer that is the same color or a shade lighter than your skin tone or foundation. Looking into the mirror, tip your chin down. You will really see where the darkest part of the circle is by doing that. That’s where you want to place the concealer. Then blend up from there, into the lash line. That will give you the most bang for your buck and look the most natural.”
2. Brush your lips
Come again? It may surprise you to know that one of my favorite things to do when I have down time and am feeling a little dull is to get out my trusty toothbrush and go to town on my lips. First and foremost, brushing your lips feels good. It also exfoliates dead skin that can make your lipstick look cakey and obvious. Last but certainly not least, brushing your lips will allow lip moisturizers to penetrate more deeply — creating the perfect canvas for any color you apply to your pout.
Try it: Brush lips with a soft, moist toothbrush or warm washcloth in a circular motion for two minutes. Slather on your favorite lip balm or moisturizer and allow the product to penetrate. Then apply lip liner and lipstick, with optional gloss, for a flawless finish.
3. Make your own bronzer
With one quick Amazon search, you’ll realize there are literally thousands of bronzers to choose from, so you might as well quit while you’re ahead. Margina Dennis, celebrity makeup artist who has worked on the beautiful mugs of Lea Michele, Tom Brady (yes, Tom Brady) and more, says that mixing up your own bronzer at home is easy if you have a few key ingredients in your spice cabinet.
Try it: Dennis says, “Cocoa and cinnamon powders mixed together [can] create an emergency bronzer.”
4. Mix unlikely products
As a wise instructor once told me in beauty school, “Blend, blend, blend is your friend, friend, friend.” I have never forgotten this silly little rhyme, which served me surprisingly well in my makeup artist career. When in doubt, blend everything: products, colors, textures and trends. Not only does blending make your makeup application look natural and polished, but it gives you the opportunity to experiment with new colors on the down low.
Try it: Dab a few spots of your favorite trendy lipstick (hot pink or deep red) on the palm of your hand. Blend well with a quarter-sized amount of tinted moisturizer and apply as cream blush. Don’t you look fabulous.
5. “Remove” makeup with foundation
This insider makeup artist tip sounds counterintuitive, but soon it will all make sense. Joanna Schlip, Physicians Formula celebrity makeup artist and recent judge on BLUSH: The Search for the Next Great Makeup Artist, tells SheKnows that using foundation as makeup remover (and we use that term loosely here) is one of the best tricks to have up your sleeve when you need to freshen up on the run. Don’t remove what you’ve already applied; just refresh with tinted moisturizer to create a clean slate.
Try it: Schlip explains how to substitute foundation for makeup remover when refreshing your face after work, “If you use makeup remover, it will take away the concealer, foundation and setting powder. Unless you are good at blending, it’s going to look like there is a blank spot on your face. Use a moisturizing foundation. Swirl it around and reapply.”
6. Sniff rubbing alcohol
There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs when you bring a mascara brush or sharp eye pencil anywhere near an unsuspecting eyeball — one eye may go rogue and start to water like a broken fountain. Sensitive, watery eyes make a beautiful eye makeup application damn near impossible, until you discover one of the top celebrity makeup artist’s tricks of the trade.
Try it: As Jacqueline Ryan learned when repping celebrity makeup artist clients, “If your eyes tend to water, pour some rubbing alcohol onto a cotton swab and sniff it. It stops your eyes from watering so you can finish doing your eyes without smudges.”
7. Use mascara for eyeliner
How many times have I forgotten my eyeliner on a trip or carelessly misplaced it in the abyss that is my purse? Too many to count. Makeup guru Dennis says that the answer to my problem lies right under my nose.
Try it: According to Dennis, “Mascara used with a liner brush can substitute for eyeliner in a fix.”