Done and dusted

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 February, 2010, 12:00am

With make-up, minor touches can make a big difference. Beauticians say many women want to look more refreshed or cover a blemish, but are either unsure how to do it, or use too much make-up when they do.

'In the same way there is that piece of advice about always taking something off when you have dressed up for a big event ... well it's the same kind of philosophy with make-up. It should be a confident reflection of who you are,' says professional make-up artist Kathryn Carroll-Lea.

'You should always focus on grooming and the structure of your face,' she says. 'My biggest advice is that you should always be able to see the person's bone structure, so [keeping it] light is important.'

Don't be brow beaten

Make-up artist Sara Wong says eyebrows are a small element of your look that make a huge difference overall.

'While many women love changing their hair colour, the big problem then becomes their eyebrow colour,' Wong says.

'Some people choose to dye their eyebrows as well. However, once new hair grows, the brows don't match. To change the colour of your eyebrows to match your hair, use waterproof eyebrow mascara that won't come off even if rubbed. It glides on smoothly, coating the hairs evenly to create a natural finish that really changes the colour.'

Carroll-Lea says styling brows can be done every day in seconds by putting some taupe powder on a dampened stiff-bristle brush and gently stroking it onto brows.

'Start where hair appears thin first - usually the outer portion of the brow,' she says. 'Often, the inner part of the brow is strong enough, so it is important to apply shadow only to the areas where it is needed. Taupe can be built up gradually to allow brows to look stronger and tends to suit most skin types.'

Use your finger to push all hair up. Hair that is clearly longer and lying above the top brow line can be trimmed to a thinner density.

Brighten up

One of the most common questions clients ask Wong is how she manages to make her eyes look so bright and wide awake even though she often works long hours.

'Here's my trick: try lining just under the lower lash line with a white eyeliner pencil, blending well so it is unnoticeable. It simply makes the eyes bright and also makes them look bigger than usual,' Wong says.

Carroll-Lea recommends using Naphcon-A eyedrops for bright white eyes; the drops are available from most pharmacies.

'Always ensure your foundation is blended on to the inner orbit of the eye as there tends to be shadow beside the bridge of the nose,' says Carroll-Lea. 'Use highlighter or cream reflective shadow on the inner triangle of the eye. Ensure this is blended well and looks soft, as it can appear too theatrical.'

Then apply a light or slightly pearlescent shadow under the arch of the eyebrow, keeping this high to enhance the brow height and the eyelid space. Even keeping eye make-up to a minimum, sweeping a light toned shadow very close to the lash line, can disguise any redness and allow your mascara to look sharper, she says.

Kat Chan, who runs make-up studio, Kat Chan Make-up, mostly uses shimmer power to brighten eyes and make them more radiant.

'You can apply this power to the brow bone, right underneath your eyebrows, or in the middle of your eyelids, which should be right on top of your pupil with your eyes open.'

A spot of bother

Learning how to cover up pimples or blemishes top most women's make-up 'how-to-do' lists. Wong says a common mistake is using too much foundation on blemishes or brown spots.

'If you attempt to completely obscure the appearance of freckles, you will end up with an unnatural look. Simply apply your foundation over the face as you would normally; apply concealer sparingly in small daubs to cover only the dark marks of the blemishes or spots.

'If you need to cover larger areas, use a stippling [dotting] effect with a sponge and apply the foundation over the concealer gently to blend in the colour to hide blemishes.'

Carroll-Lea advises using a sunscreen with a high SPF to protect sensitive skin prone to burning as the sun can increase the chance of blemishes and scarring.

'Then work with a yellow-toned concealer and apply with a Q-Tip, making sure only the clean end goes into the product to minimise spreading bacteria or infection,' she says.

'Apply by gently pressing on to and lightly around the blemish. Use a clean finger to press and blend. The warmth of your finger allows the more opaque, denser concealers to soften and blend more easily.'

When applying a light dusting of powder, be sure to 'pad' with a soft blending brush on to the blemish as brushing over it may cause it to lift.

To cover up spots, Chan says: 'Put the right liquid foundation on before putting on the concealer. The concealer stays on longer and looks more natural this way.'

Circle games

Dark under-eye circles are the bane of many women and can occur no matter how much sleep we get.

'Under-eye circles become more common as you age,' says Wong. 'But they can be camouflaged.' There are several tricks for this. Apply your normal concealer shade, but very lightly. Then, for the lower part of the circle, choose a concealer a shade lighter and mix with your foundation. Gently apply it with a concealer brush.

Chan suggests putting toner on a cotton pad and placing it on your eyes for five to 10 minutes. 'Then massage eye cream under your eyes and make sure it's fully absorbed before putting on any make-up. This way, your eyes look moisturised and the fine lines are less obvious. If neutralising a darker shadow, says Carroll-Lea, try peachy-gold tones and ensure the cover includes the area of the inner eye by the bridge of the nose.

'Again, apply highlighter to the arch to open up the outer-upper eye area and take focus away from the area of concern.'

Too much or too little

Some women are so worried about making a mistake when applying eyeliner that they refuse to use it, make-up artists say. If not applied correctly, it can look too heavy or harsh, or make your eyes appear smaller.

'Thick eyeliner has become a trend,' says Wong. 'But it is not easy to apply if you are a beginner. To find out which techniques work best for a dramatic but not heavy look, use a gel eyeliner as it doesn't smudge as easily as a pencil and is not as high-impact as liquid liner.

'Line the inner corner of your eyes to make them look sexier, then apply some highlighter to the rest of the eye to open and brighten them. A thickening, lengthening black mascara will make your eyes look sexy, so don't overdo the liner.'

Chan also suggests using mascara - but as a stand-in liner. 'You can use mascara to create a fine line on top of your eyelashes. Gently lift up your eyelid, and then apply mascara on the lashes, gently pressing it against the lid.' But press the mascara only against the area close to your eyelashes and spread it gently with a small brush. 'This way, it looks more natural.'

Only natural

Carroll-Lea also stresses a natural approach. 'Take an angle brush or a short fine-tipped lip brush and use brown-black shadow and water to make a paste; not watery but something that creates a clear impression on the back of your hand.

'Open your eyes wide so you can see the roots of your lashes in the mirror and use the brush to fill the root area on the edge of the lid with your shadow paste. The aim is to make the roots look lush and full. It can appear like liner without being at all harsh. This can be built up to create a simple smoky eye line.'

Carroll-Lea offers this advice if you are heading out with a new look and you're concerned about potential mistakes: 'Take a look at your face in a mirror by looking at your reflection through another mirror [for example, by holding a hand mirror side-on to a larger mirror]. This lets you see how other people will see you,' she says.