Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Contouring Demystified

Chatting to the many beauty bloggers and twitter-folk, one of the most talked about topics is Contouring. Some people do it this way and then some do it the other way. Prior to this discussion, it never really occurred to me what a controversial and varied subject it was. So after much prompting and urging, I’ve decided to share my method.
As like most of my techniques that I employ, contouring for me is once again a multi-step technique. Think of it in a biological sense, it’ll make it easier for you to understand.
Bare-faced with only foundation

Step 1. To carve the shape out in bone.
Step 2. Add the muscle and flesh back on.
Step 3. To warm it up to a lovely blush.
Colour. Well where do we start?! Many blog posts have been written about this and personally I veer towards the colour of shadow to ‘carve’. And that for me is slightly greyish-brown with a tinge towards the dull plum shade. I actually use a product that’s not been designed for contouring but that’s my secret!
And now where to position the contour. Too many and I mean far too many place the contour far too low on the face! Ideally it should sit half way on the space between eye and jaw. Also it’s not a steep diagonal but a gentle dip, I aim for the space between nose and top lip as a guide. Any lower, you’ll end up being gaunt and it’ll drag the features and face downwards.
After you get the bone structure sorted, I ‘cradle’ the bone with a warmer skin toned shade. A bronzer or a warmer foundation will usually be perfect for this and then a little pop of blusher to tie all of it together. 
That's really all there is to say about contouring. I do all the above in the wet stages, which really means before applying powder. And if after powder, if you think you still want to do more contouring, a light dusting of bronzer in the 'hollow' of the cheek will enhance all your 'surgery' work!

So please have a read and once again, comments are welcome to discuss this most intriguing part of makeup!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

One Is Simply Not Enough: A Lesson In Makeup Layering

As a makeup artist I am always seeking out new techniques to try and refine. To put it simply, I am never satisfied with anything I achieve for long.
For as long as I can remember, applying foundation has always been one of them.  Do I want it sheer? Matte? Glossy? Heavier in coverage? As I am faced with newer and more advanced formulations, this sometimes makes life more complicated because just as I am coming to grips with a new product, a new one comes along. I want to make it clear that I understand that modern women want products that just work, I get it but as an artist, I am looking more to creating different textures and effects and to see how it affects the results in photography and film.

I suppose it’s for this reason that there’s a plethora of shades and textures from all the various cosmetic companies when it comes to lipsticks, eye shadows, blushers, foundations etc. And it is this mad obsession that drives them and us to coming out with newer and better things. Sure it’s infuriating that the lipstick we love so much is sometimes discontinued but one thing’s for sure, there will always be another new cult favourite to replace it.

On this shoot, my brief was to just make the model Hannah beautiful. Glowing skin with a mere flush of colour. As for the eyes, I could do whatever I want but as long as it’s beautiful. We can all do a smokey eye but it wasn’t what I wanted this time yet I still wanted a certain degree of duskiness. So it was perfect to do a gorgeous grey-silver eye. Working in fashion shows which are usually a season ahead, I’ve been playing with greys a lot in preparation for when the products get released.  So this was the perfect time to crack out my new palette from Dior! 

One thing I will say about greys and silvers is that it is sometimes too cool in tone but when tempered with a hint of taupe, it works a treat. In fact taupe is a colour I go to when I want to when I want to “take it back” to skin tone. A great little trick for making any colour work for you! 

For the foundation, I ended up using 3 different brands and I’ll list them later with all the makeup I used. Now why did I go and make life complicated like that? Because I can is probably the simplest answer. Just like an artist does with their tubes of oils, I almost always do the same. Very rarely would I use a lipstick for example neat from a bullet. I find that customising the colour and texture of a product according to my model’s features and needs ensures that I always do what is just right for the model. Hannah had pretty good skin but there were certain redder areas, spots, flakiness and uneven skin tone that needed to be corrected.  So I worked the foundation into the skin in layers, each veil addressing various problems. As you can see from the result, the effect is gorgeous and hardly caked on! Try it next time, you’d be surprised. 

Now the eyes, working along the tried and tested method of lighter to darker shades, I worked various shades of silver and grey according to the eye shape, all the while making sure it looks good with eyes open or shut. I would have kept it as pure greys and silvers and it looked amazing but because my brief was to still keep some form of commercial beauty to Hannah, I then decided to surround the steel-greys and silvers with a light haze of taupe. Perfect.

With that done, the rest was kept very simple with a hint of blush, mascara on top and bottom lashes (using 2 different brands!), brows filled in and a lick of tinted lip balm to complete the look. I am pretty happy with the results and if you want to look at the actual shoot, click here.

So next time when you have time on your hands, please have a try and be a Picasso or Rembrandt! Customise and mix your own palette of colours so it’s truly yours and yours alone. I don’t know about you but I find great joy in knowing that something I have is a one-of-a-kind and no one has the same! Call me a snob that way!

Foundation(s): Shu Uemura Stage Performer Instant Glow, MyFace Mymix Foundation & YSL Teint Resist.
Concealer: MyFace Mycover Concealer & Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage.
Eyes: Christian Dior 5-Colour in Gris-Gris, 1-Colour in Graphic Grey, MAC Taupe, Madina Shiny Stick 001, Paris-Berlin Beige Eyepencil, MAC Phone Number, Max Factor Masterpiece & ArtDeco All In One Mascara.
Cheeks: Armani Sheer cream Blush in 2 & 4, Madina Shiny Stick 001.
Lips: MAC Lipliner in Subculture, MAC Cream Colour Base in Nude, Ellis Faas L109 & Lanolips in Dark Honey.
Powder: YSL Poudre Sur Mesure.

Monday, 7 March 2011


How's this for dedication to the craft eh? Besides juggling shoots and work, I attended 2 evenings of launches for various skincare companies. Exhausting but anyone who knows me and the way I work will know that I am a huge, huge fan of skincare! My ethos is that if you look after your skin well, you will get better makeup results! One thing I will stress is that skincare is really subjective so what works best for me and my work might not be the the best for you. It's definitely a case of try and test! Here's what I went to see and try.

I was lucky enough to be the first one to try some new additions to this much favoured skincare brand of mine. Improved and much researched reformulations bring Clear Skin Daily Face Wash, a zingy, intoxicating light-foaming facial wash with a blend of eucalyptus, thyme & tea tree. Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel, an on-the-spot treatment gel consisting of wild oregano, eucalyptus, tea tree and salicylic acid to treat spots but yet respect the surrounding skin. Gentle Daily Exfoliant i approached with little interest but was proven so wrong! I always cleanse skin with a muslin which yields a thorough but gentle buffing. So to see if the exfoliant worked, i cleansed without one which left my skin still feeling slightly rough and sticky. 1 tsp of the exfoliant mixed with water activated the freeze-dried enzymes and lightly massaged into skin to reveal shiny, soft and smooth skin! Shocking I must admit but best of all, so gentle and non abrasive!

This isn't a new product but a new formulation that I felt the need to introduce again. Essential Hydration Cream is a beautiful, light moisturiser with ylang ylang and arnica. I have lost count of how many times models and clients have asked to keep this product after I used it on them. The gentle but intoxicating smells I found both relaxed my subjects and gave a beautifully moisturised base for me to work on.

I first came across this brand just before leaving Asia to relocate to Europe and didn't know much about it. An evening with fellow bloggers and Jeff Murad, Vice-President of Murad Skincare to answer many questions of the huge range took care of that problem. There's something for everyone here and it was actually really good to see the involvement of supplements as a nod towards internal health as well. 

Noteworthy products were ones from the Anti-Ageing Blemish line to target acne or blemish problems of the late 20s, 30s and 40s, who find that teenage skincare ranges not working for them.

Other lines include Resurgence (hormonally troubled skin), Environmental Shield (sun protection) and Age Reform (ageing skin) are a few of the ranges available to custom treat our problems and address various issues across the board. I was very impressed and look forward to actually having a play on these products by sending my clients to give it a try.

Burt's Bees
A humble range that first started with the humble bee is now highly popular amongst us makeup artists with our clients' growing concerns of allergens and perfumes. Throughout my 17 year career, I've always at some point carried a Burt's Bees product. Usually a lip balm. So it came as no surprise when I first got to try the full range that I immediately sent some over to my niece who suffers from eczema to which she's had good results from using the products.

I'm quite a fan of their Radiance Body Lotion on shoots as there's mica which gives the skin a luminosity in photos so the model always looks great! The new and improved 24 Hour Body Lotion Collection boasts 4 new additions to target Normal to Dry, Sensitive and Dry skins and an additional fragrance-free one. I was treated to a demo by their creator, the lovely Abina Antwi who took us through how she makes the lotions with nourishing ingredients good enough to eat! So if it's good enough to eat, it's definitely good enough to go on the skin! 

LP Skin Therapy
Psychodermatology? What's that you say? It's all new to me too! It does however makes sense what with aromatherapy being around for years that a happier, more relaxed state of mind should and could generate better well being and thus better skin. Fronted by Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist and her team of cosmetic scientists, this new and might I add beautifully packaged range addresses skincare needs via one simple philosophy - a healthy mind means healthy skin. 

The 8 product range boasts familiar scents of Dr. L's homeland Cyprus, orange blossom, pomegranate and Cyprus lemons. First impressions were intoxicating! I left the presentation feeling all sleepy and happy. I've always been a fan of aromatherapy and it's affects on people's moods. 

Stand out products for me were Refining Lip Exfoliator with jojoba pearls to polish and exfoliate the lip area. Uplifting Facial Water,  fragranced with orange blossom water to lift the spirits and also to tone and refresh makeup throughout the day.  Untired Eye Cream has diamond powder which gives the light cream a gorgeous luminescence that colour corrects the dark areas under the eye! 

Fans of non scented products might want to give this a miss but if you're a fan of gorgeous scents and candles, you might want to check this range out. I felt like I was in the middle of a Mediterranean garden with all it's heady scents of blossoms, fruits and gorgeous things we only smell on holidays abroad!

This launches in Harrods and QVC mid 2011.

So there we have it, the newest skincare launches in the week. As customers grow more savvy with their spending power, there really isn't a better time to buy skincare. From the affordable to the ultra luxurious, from the natural to the highly scientific, consumers are really spoilt for choice!

Friday, 4 March 2011


As promised, here's an update for the Playing Fashion spread for London, Paris and Milan. I've chosen 2 of each set that I really love. So here it is! Show it some love and please send comments and if anyone wants to know about the looks, I'm always happy to share product information.

Photographer: Emma Tempest


Finally got my hand on the images for a shoot I did for VOLT magazine which is out now! The brief was a tongue-in-cheek homage to the fashion images of the 90s supermodels. My era! Instantly, photos of the runway queens like Linda, Naomi, Cindy, Kate, Stephanie, Carla, Helena & co popped into mind! 

I grew up with these women branded into my memory. Lifted super arched brows, loads of contouring, nude colours, all melding into a heady, sexy and cheeky mix. Obviously we now have the benefits of high-tech makeup formulas that eliminates all the heaviness of cosmetics in the 90s. And bearing that in mind, I really wanted to create modern and sexy looks that still kept the cheekiness and frivolity of the 90s.

Below are the my 4 favourites of the shoot. 

Photographer: Emma Tempest