I’m a Beauty Editor, and I Never Learned These Basic Makeup Skills Until Now

As a beauty editor, I like to think that I know a thing or two about, well, beauty. I can recite product formulas and ingredient lists without fault and can go into quite intense detail about dermal layers and how your current skincare routine might be affecting them (anyone?). However, there is one area which, when quizzed on, my expertise begins to falter. And that is makeup technique.

When it comes to makeup, I like a slightly more natural finish that takes no longer than 10 minutes to apply. I like a natural glow, flushed cheeksunruly brows, and freckles. However, that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the more artistic makeup looks. In fact, I often stare on in awe when watching people execute a razor-sharp liner flick on public transport and have been known to sit in front of YouTube for hours attempting to teach myself how to contour my nose.

Before makeup application.

The truth is there are just far too many makeup tricks I can’t master. And in all honesty I feel like a bit of a beauty editor phony. I can’t give advice on how to achieve the perfect winged liner, I don’t fully understand what makes a great contour powder, and don’t even think about asking me how to best apply false lashes. So since I’ve been spending a little (a lot) more time at home, I decided that now is as good a time as any to sit down and really teach myself the basics of makeup artistry.

So in a bid to try and up my makeup game, I reached out to some of the industry’s top makeup artists and asked if they could lend a virtual helping hand. Armed with all of the makeup paraphernalia I own, I sat down in front of a mirror and followed my step-by-step guides meticulously. This is how I got on…

Generally speaking, my face is long and ovular. I really wish I could contour like a Kardashian. My brush skills, however, just don’t seem to compare. All I ask is that my makeup somehow magics up razor-sharp cheekbones and creates the appearance of a slightly slimmer, perkier nose. Is that really so much to ask?

To see what can be done, I enlisted the help of Vincent Ford, Nars global lead artist. “Remember that contouring is used to enhance a feature, or to change the appearance of where shadows naturally fall. Only use it where you personally need it,” he explains.

Step 1: Start by dipping a flat brush into a matte bronzer, and, using a tissue or the palm of your hand, press the powder into the brush with a stippling motion. This will give you more control over how much powder is applied to the face. I like to use this trick instead of tapping the excess powder off the brush. 

Step 2: Find the opening of your ear canal while looking straight ahead into a mirror. This will always sit just below the cheekbone and is a great guide to where your contour should start. Looking straight ahead apply the bronzer from the opening of the ear inward toward your nose. I don’t like to apply contour past the outer edge of the pupil.

Step 3: If you have a round to heart face shape, contour just the temples and outer corners of the forehead. If you have a square face shape, contour the whole top of the forehead and blend it into the hairline.

Step 4: To contour the nose, make sure there isn’t a lot of powder on the brush. You want to slowly build up the colour with light layers. Just align the brush to where your eyebrows start and do a downward motion to apply the bronzer to the outside of the nose. You want the two sides of contour to be closer together as not to create a wide highlight down the bridge of the nose.

I’m kind of feeling these. When I first saw the lashes in the packet, I thought they were way too crazy for the likes of me, but now that they’re on, I think I’m actually a fan. And yes, while applying them was still a little tricky, they’re not causing me the usual issues. In fact, they sat virtually on top of my natural lash line and aren’t poking me in the eye at all. For me, leaving the glue to dry a bit first was a total game changer. Suddenly things became a lot easier.

I am not a lip-liner sort of girl. In fact, up until recently, I’d barely paid any attention to my lips at all. I suffer from incredibly dry skin on my lips so try to avoid lipstick (especially matte formulas like liners) wherever possible. But in a bid to master the art of a lined lip, I dug out a liner and turned to the queen of lipstick for some guidance.

Step 1: Look in to the mirror and smile, tightening the skin on the lips to see exactly where to apply the pencil. 

Step 2: Starting on the outer corners, trace the liner just outside the natural lip line. This will help cheat a fuller pout, create symmetry to the lips and help to stop the lipstick bleeding, without looking unnatural. 

Step 3: For long-lasting power, you can also use liner as a stencil all over the lips! For the most natural, fuller-looking lip, choose a lip liner and lipstick that mimic the shade of your lips.

Step 4: You can create the appearance of extra-voluminous lips by adding a soft highlight to the Cupid’s bow. Using a small lip brush, add a soft X across the cupid’s bow. The light-reflecting highlight will create the appearance of plumper-looking, more luscious lips in an instant!

My lip is back! I’m overjoyed, but it really wasn’t easy to get here. To start with, I definitely overdrew and ended up looking a little Coco the Clown. But after I blended it out and started again, I noticed that my lip definitely looked a little bigger. I also love the tip of filling in the whole lip with liner first. I really feel like it helps avoid any ’90s, dark-liner situation. Plus, the highlight on the Cupid’s bow? Genius.

Next up, We Tried and Rated 24 Iconic Charlotte Tilbury Products—Here’s the Honest Tea. This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK.