For a long time now, I feel like I've been stuck in a makeup rut. Even as a beauty editor, I've found myself sticking to the same eyeshadow colours, the same application methods and the same trusty products to apply my makeup. While it's great to have a tried-and-tested makeup formula to fall back on for busy mornings (a shimmery bronze eye shadow stick and a glowing bronzer are always staples in my makeup bag), doing the same look with your makeup can get boring, and as your features and skin change over time, what might have worked for you five years ago might not necessarily work for you now. Plus, it's easier to encounter makeup mistakes when you go on autopilot during your usual routine.
So when an email landed in my inbox to have a 1-2-1 makeup masterclass with top makeup artist Lan Nguyen-Grealis at Studio One Makeup (based within Urban Retreat in Knightsbridge, London), I jumped at the opportunity for her to dissect my makeup routine and the products I was using and help me improve my makeup game.
At Studio One Makeup amongst just some of Nguyen-Grealis's kit.
My makeup after my 1-2-1 masterclass with Lan Nguyen-Grealis.
Lan Nguyen-Grealis not only works with celebrities such as Paloma Faith but also is a regular backstage at fashion week and is the makeup mastermind behind many magazine shoots, too, so she knows exactly how to get your makeup to work for any given scenario, whether it's no-makeup makeup or full-on glam. She founded Studio One Makeup to create a space where people can book in for a dedicated makeup lesson, which is personalised to what you want to learn about makeup. Her ethos is about making makeup work for you, not just following the trends, so you leave with a bespoke look that's tailor-made for your skin and lifestyle.
During my appointment with Nguyen-Grealis, I picked up so many great tips and tricks as well as the key makeup mistakes to avoid, and it's totally changed the way I do my makeup. Below, I shared some of the key learnings on how you can hit refresh on your makeup and the key products I discovered in a top makeup artist's kit bag.
1. Not Prepping the Skin
Lan Nguyen-Grealis focuses on skincare and priming products that make your complexion glow before applying makeup.
Laying down the foundation of good skincare prep is essential if you want your makeup to stay glowing and fresh for as long as possible. Makeup can only do so much, so having a hydrated canvas to work on will ensure your makeup looks its best. As such, in Nguyen-Grealis's kit, you'll always find an array of skincare, but her favourite variety is from Korean beauty brands. "These typically feature very lightweight formulations that sit well under makeup yet keep the skin hydrated," says Nguyen-Grealis, so you won't end up with quite so much dryness or concealer creasing throughout the day. And it goes without saying that it will make your skin seriously glow, so you might find you don't need to apply quite so much makeup. And if, like me, you have oily or combination skin, you'll want to look for a primer with a silicone formula, which will help smooth skin before foundation and keep your base long-wearing.
Luminescent by name, and luminescent by nature. This silky primer also contains antioxidants to boost your skin while providing the perfect canvas for makeup. It literally blurs pores. This isn't Lisa Franklin's best-selling hero product for nothing.
2. Eye Shadow Creasing or Not Lasting
Here, Nguyen-Grealis layered a cream eye shadow before applying a powder eye shadow in the same hue on top.
One of my qualms with my makeup was that my eye shadow never seemed to stay put. Having deep-set, hooded eyes, I found that my eye shadow would look great on initial application, but it would soon settle in to the creases of my eyelids as the day went on, before totally disappearing by the end of the day. "For long-lasting eye makeup, you need to layer a powder-based eye shadow on top of a cream formula in the same shade. This helps to seal in your eye shadow shade and helps it to last for longer," says Nguyen-Grealis.
My error was just using either a powder or a cream eye shadow stick straight onto my lids, which don't have enough staying power on their own. If you have hooded eyes, another trick of Nguyen-Grealis's is to take your eye shadow further up past your eyelid crease and towards your brow bone. Because most hooded eyes don't have a visible lid crease, any eye shadow that is applied to the lid disappears when you look straight ahead. Bringing it higher up to the brow bone helps your eyes look larger.
3. Overfilling Your Eyebrows
When brows are filled in too much, they can look too heavy and blocky. I was previously using an eyebrow pencil to shape my brows, but Nguyen-Grealis showed me how I can make achieve a more natural definition. "To fill in your brows, use an angled eye shadow brush and a eye shadow matched to your brow shade. Take the brush and apply upwards feathery strokes to mimic individual hairs," she says. Not only does this create a soft-focus effect, but any mishaps can be easily diffused by brushing through the eyebrows with a spoolie brush.
4. Applying Eyeliner Incorrectly for Your Eye Shape
Eyeliner has always scared me a little bit. My eye shape tends to be overwhelmed by lining my upper lash line. I do like a slight wing to my eye makeup, but my eyelid naturally folds over where a wing would usually be, so my painstakingly applied cat eye usually looks a bit distorted once my eyes are relaxed. Nguyen-Grealis recommends drawing this from the lower lash line as opposed to the top lash line if you find this the case on your eye shape. "Draw along the lower lash line and wing out," she says. "Then, diffuse the line with an eye shadow brush while connecting it to the very edge of your upper lash line." She explained that this helps to add definition while lifting and elongating your eyes.
If you are prone to hay fever or have watery eyes, or even if you find that your eyeliner doesn't last as long as you'd like, Nguyen-Grealis recommends fixing your eyeliner with an eye shadow powder. "This will set the look in place and give your eyeliner longevity," she says. And if you're looking to go glam with your makeup, but you find false eyelashes too heavy, Nguyen-Grealis recommends opting for individual lashes which will add subtle definition without looking too dramatic.
5. Not Fixing Makeup in Place
While we're big fans of the clean-girl makeup aesthetic (think dewy, glowing skin and lightweight makeup textures), it's not always the most long-lasting. If you really want your makeup to last throughout a busy day, then you'll want to fix any cream or liquid products with a powder, says Nguyen Grealis. Just apply a dusting to your oiliest areas after applying concealer and foundation.
If you find that your blusher tends to fade quickly, layer a cream version underneath a powder blush to lock it in. If you want your blusher to look multidimensional, apply a powder blush in a slightly lighter hue along the tops of the cheekbones for a contouring effect. "This helps to keep your blusher in place and helps to create dimension," says Nguyen-Grealis.