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“You have to have a reason for why you’re applying something,” says NARS’ Executive Director of Global Education and Artistry, Jason Hoffman, addressing a group of MECCA makeup artists.
Suddenly, the penny dropped for me, and almost the makeup brush too. Like most of us, I’d never really considered the reason I apply makeup the way I do. Mostly, I think I’m on autopilot when I roll out of bed in the morning. But after sitting in on a recent NARS artistry workshop, hosted by Hoffman, the way I think about applying makeup on myself and other people has irrevocably changed.
When Hoffman applies makeup on a model, the audience is wrapped. Everyone’s eyes are fixed on each brushstroke, their ears attuned to every tip that comes out of his mouth. It’s really something. Equally as captivating is his counterpart, Tracy Dennis, the Vice President of Global Education and Artistry, who stands beside him sharing instructions and wisdom she’s collected over many years. Here’s a snapshot of what I learned from this dynamic duo.
Whether you’re a pro, a newbie or just experimenting with a new technique you saw on YouTube, it’s good to feel challenged by makeup. That’s how you improve. During the workshop, Hoffman wanted all the artists in the room to reach a point of feeling almost uncomfortable. “I don’t want anyone to leave thinking they’ve nailed the looks on each of their models, but leave feeling like you struggled along the way, pushed through and took your skills to a different place—that’s how you become a better artist.”
I’ve applied a few falsies in my time, but I’ve never heard of this lash trick before. During a recent workshop in New York, Hoffman worked alongside makeup artist Billy B—whose regular clients include Beyonce, Pink and Lady Gaga. His no-fail falsie trick is to use a black lash glue and paint it directly onto the lash line with a winged liner brush. Then, chop up strip lashes into pieces—that way they are easy to apply with no lifting edges. Applying them in pieces also means you can layer them to create a look worthy of a pop diva.
Don’t fear the fallout! Once you’ve done your base, all you need to do is place a generous layer of loose powder over the top of the concealer under the eye before you start applying your eyeshadow. Any fallout (excess eyeshadow that falls under the eye) will land in the loose powder, which can then be easily swept up with a fluffy brush. Consider it a powder safety net, and you won’t have to reapply your concealer.
When it comes to finding your perfect match, start with three shades, each applied in a small stripe on the bottom half of your cheek near the jawline. Let them sit for a little so they settle into the skin. Before you decide on a shade, ensure you’re taking the whole upper body into consideration. You want to ensure that the décolletage, shoulders and arms all match the colour you’re applying on your face—this is a good thing to consider if you’ve applied a little self-tanner on your body but not your face.
If you struggle to get the wand underneath tiny bottom lashes without smudging mascara everywhere, then this tip is for you. Take a small angled eyeliner brush and transfer some of the mascara formula onto the brush. It’s a more precise way to cover every lash. Another hot mascara tip: applying more layers of mascara in the middle of the eye will make them appear rounder. Who knew?
Some people are a little apprehensive when they hear the term smoky eye, but, as Dennis says, “A smoky eye is a technique, not a colour,” so don’t be afraid to ask for one the next time you get your makeup done. A good rule of thumb is to start with a deep base and then make it pop and give it dimension. Hoffman began with NARS eyeshadow in Ganges (on the model featured above), before making it pop with some white eyeliner in the inner corner. Next time you and your girlfriends are discussing eyeshadow, tell them it’s not about blending, it’s about “killing the edges”—they’ll think you’re a pro artist for sure.
New this month is the NARS Super Radiant Booster which Dennis describes as a gamechanger. “Alone, mixed with your foundation or on top it just really creates that glow from within.” Another trick created by Francois Nars’ assistant, Lena Koro, is to wait till the end of a look and take the smallest amount of Aqua Gel Moisturiser, warm it up in the hands and press it into the skin. “It’s so transformative,” says Dennis. “The last time we did this during a workshop there were gasps.”
Pick one element, whether it be bringing out a feature that’s unique to you, or a bold colour on one part of the face. “Everyone does everything everywhere and you end up with no dimension whatsoever—so when you want something highly graphic or bright, everything is yelling at you,” says Dennis. Same goes for your foundation, concealer or powder, strategically apply it where you need it—maybe to cover a little redness, or minimise shine throughout the day. And Hoffman’s number one tip that he learned from Mr. Nars himself? “Look at the makeup from every angle, every direction and where possible, in every light,” he says.
Words by Emily DeaconFebruary 2019
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