Make-up is a Difficult Thing to Get Right

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My first interaction with make-up was, I imagine, a universal one. I used to watch my mother painting her nails and applying lipstick and mimic her as she was getting ready. By the age of eleven I had progressed to experimenting with silver eyeshadow and dark brown lipstick. I blame these colour choices on the nineties: watching endless episodes of My So-Called Life and obsessing over a space-themed Levi’s advert. By the time I was a teenager I was struggling to understand the correct way to apply foundation and felt like I was supposed to wear it when I definitely didn’t need to and probably looked like a pageant child (no photos of this era exist – presumably my parents had the foresight and compassion not to capture it on film). And then I started modelling at the age of sixteen and was subjected to all sorts of glittery, smoky, sticky, sexy, oily, unpolished experiments with my face.

Despite all of that playing around I still think make-up is a difficult thing to get right. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to wear it at all, but unless you want to deal with that make-up tattoo situation, that’s not an option for most women. For me, if I don’t want to look like Dave Grohl past 11 a.m., it’s sort of a must. Personally for a daytime look I like to keep things natural. Often for photoshoots or TV I have stronger make-up on so on days off I just tend to moisturise, add concealer, mascara, blusher and lip balm.

Some things I’ve learnt from being lucky enough to have my make-up done professionally: a little eyelash curl goes a long way, especially if, like me you have what could pass as a row of iron filings for eyelashes. With lip balm it’s best to stick to Australian pawpaw cream or natural products to avoid a massive lip peel which can happen when you use glosses or overly fragranced products. Your mouth should always look kissable and to that end I will occasionally exfoliate my lips (sounds disgusting, sort of is). An impromptu exfoliation kit I have used in the past is some Vaseline and brown sugar, which I rub onto my mouth and rinse off with warm water. In the winter this can restore your wind-chapped lips to dewy summer status. With blusher it took me a while to perfect the art of application without going overboard and coming over all Aunt Sal. A dot of cream blush on each cheek blended with my fingertips is the approach I now take for that slightly flushed but not overly embarrassed look. I prefer cream blushers to powders because I’m weird and have this aversion to anything dry on my face. I am obsessed with moisturising. I am also obsessed with cigarettes – so I like to think the two balance each other out.

So that’s a classic crawl-out-of-bed face overhaul, but if I know I’m going out for the day and potentially into the night I add a cat-eye eyeliner. I stole this look from Cleopatra and Ronnie Spector from The Ronettes and I think it’s pretty much the most flattering make-up of all time. The two problems you’ll encounter if you’re trying to line the top of your lid are finding an eyeliner that doesn’t smudge all over your face and being able to draw in a straight line. I cannot help you with either of these things other than to say practice makes perfect and always think ‘up and out’. The thing you’re trying to fake is making your eyes look wider and more cat-like. Now study a cat’s face. Yeah, that.

Liquid liners in a pen form are best for control and staying power. I find the pot with the wand with the brush on the end of it was probably invented for the sole purpose of causing pre-leaving-the-house meltdowns. Someone evil designed it.

My addiction to cat-eye eyeliner started long before I knew who I was referencing. My first TV job meant that I had a professional make-up artist applying professional make-up to my unprofessional (hungover) face. We decided that all things considered we should play up my eyes as on TV eye contact is imperative. Once I had the black line traced on my top lid for the first time it was game over and no other make-up choices got a look in. It’s sexy and classic without seeming too much. (Apparently Cleopatra may have lined her eyes with kohl liner not just to look rad but also to help ward off disease.)

Eyeliner aside, sometimes I go crazy and add a red lip to my make-up look, but it has to be a very special occasion. That’s a lie actually, because one top tip I have is if I’m looking tired I wear a red lip to detract from my heavy eyebags. *WARNING* this can make you look as though you haven’t been to bed but came to work straight from a very special occasion. Also, a red lip is great to wear in airports. I don’t know why but it makes me feel very glamorous to have bothered to apply lipstick when I’m travelling. To pack for flying: red lipstick, moisturiser, concealer, hand sanitizer, a can of dry shampoo and a mirror, because queueing for the loo and managing to do a beauty overhaul before they turn the seatbelt sign on is nigh-on impossible.

Obviously different make-up suits different faces and it’s best to work out which features you’d like to play up and then experiment (in the house). Also work out which things don’t suit you, e.g.: I look odd when I’m overly tanned and so bronzer has never been my thing because I don’t like anything false as I feel like I’m lying to myself. In winter when things start getting very pale I just go with it and try and get into a gothic mood. Eyeliner inside my eye makes me look like I’m giving people evils so I try to avoid that, whereas it really looks brilliant on my friend Lizzy, who has rounder eyes than me.

What are your best make-up tips? Leave your answer in the comments below.


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