January 25th 2019
The Makeup Maniac
Why the royals and makeup artists love blotting papers
August 3rd 2021 / 0 comment
Image: Getty Images
They’re one of the few items in Kate Middleton’s clutch bag and Meghan Markle used them on her wedding day. Here’s why blotting papers deserve a spot in your makeup kit
Blotting papers - they’re just glorified Borrower sized nose napkins, no? While many will remain of that opinion, the rather old-skool book of blotting papers is seeing a resurgence in popularity of late, partly down to the fact that they’ve been revealed as beauty staples of both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. Given that anything worn or used by the women of the royal family in particular tends to trigger a sales rush, the pique in interest in the humble blotting paper is hardly surprising, but everyone from dermatologists to red carpet makeup artists agree that blotting sheets are far from a fad - they have sebum soaking capacities that can trump powder in terms of avoiding cakiness and keeping makeup in place and they certainly make for a cleaner, sleeker makeup kit, which is likely why they’ve found favour with Kate…
Author Marcia Moody stated in her biography of the Duchess of Cambridge (tellingly titled Kate: A Biography) that Kate only carries four items in her usually neat and petite clutch bag when she’s taking part in royal engagements - a lip balm, a mirror compact, a hankie and blotting papers. If you’re aiming to Marie Kondo your life, Middleton could be a good role model for that, although it should be noted that she doesn’t need the cash, house keys, smartphone and emergency snack bar that most of us require on a daily basis. But back to the blotting papers, because they’re not just handy for dabbing away shine on royal meet and greets - they were also one of the select number of beauty products used by makeup artist Daniel Martin on Meghan Markle’s wedding day.
Alongside her favourite lipstick, Martin revealed to Elle that blotting papers were integral to the Duchess’ beauty look on the day - he used them on her nose, forehead and chin and Meghan took only her lip colour and blotting papers to her reception. Celebrity makeup artist Nathalie Eleni confirms that blotting papers are a special occasion essential - she also sends her clients on their way with a booklet of blotting papers pre-red carpet events:
“Blotting papers are brilliant for weddings, evenings out, dates and other ‘small bag’ occasions - they’re easy to carry, never spill or break and you don’t need a mirror to use them. They’re great for quickly mopping up oil on set, on a photoshoot or at an event and they help you avoid the dreaded cakey makeup situation," says Nathalie.
“When prepping my clients I’ll usually use a dusting of powder to begin with to set makeup and then a blotting paper later to tone down any grease," she continues. "I think that they’re superior to powder in this sense as they prevent you needing to continually layer your makeup.”
The royal blotting paper crush likely doesn’t finish with Meghan either, as Princess Eugenie’s bridal makeup artist Hannah Martin has also declared herself a fan, recently telling us that she carries NYX Blotting Papers, £4, with her to refresh makeup and absorb oil where needed without her initial makeup going patchy.
Hannah emphasises that blotting papers come as much in handy for the daily grind as they do for royal nuptials:
"As a mum on the run most of the time I rarely have time to touch up my makeup but I can easily dab my forehead and nose with some blotting paper to mattify my skin. For work they are essential if I'm on on location in the sun as they absorb both oil and perspiration, which can be tricky to deal with. They’re also just excellent to have in my kit in case I find I’m working with someone with excess oil production or if the lights are making them perspire. Finally, I use them with my brides to rid the skin of any shine before touch-ups."
From the royal family to another famous blotting sheet devotee who’s nonetheless a queen in many people’s eyes, Rihanna is also a regular blotter - her makeup artist Priscilla Ono applies the natural fibre based Fenty Invisimatte Blotting Paper, £13, “onto her t-zone to absorb excess shine and diffuse the appearance of pores for an instantly filtered appearance.”
Speaking of pores, cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting declares blotting papers to be generally superior to mattifying powders from a skin health P.O.V too:
“I tend to avoid powders because the finely milled particles can clog your pores. If you want to reduce t-zone shine I recommend using blotting papers instead.”
Nathalie seconds the skincare positives of blotting sheets:
“They’re a great disposable, hygienic alternative to powder that can benefit acne prone skin especially, as you don’t need to repeatedly use a brush or sponge to mattify skin as you would with a powder which can lead to a build-up of bacteria, especially if you’re on the go.”
Even if you don’t have particularly oily or acne-prone skin, blotting papers can enable speedy makeup changes and create a smooth canvas too:
“I spritz a hydrating mist over makeup to bring everything to life and add moisture and radiance back into the skin, then I’ll take a blotting pad or paper and gently blot to ensure that there are no obvious marks, water droplets or shiny patches on the skin.”
If you’re wondering what differentiates blotting paper from you’re average loo roll, the sheets tend to be made of natural absorbent fibres that often deliver a skincare benefit on the side - Nathalie’s favourite Shiseido Oil Control Blotting Paper, £22 for 100, contains kaolin clay to soak up oil. Not to mention that carrying a neat booklet or blotting sheet dispenser is far more chic than carting toilet paper around on your wedding day (beauty blogger Fleur de Force told us that blotting papers were one of her bridal beauty essentials for further ‘big day’ bigging up of the little shine-stopping leaves).
For a budget option, Nathalie swears by Muji Face Blotting Paper, £1.95 for 100, and if having bits of paper floating around your clutch doesn’t appeal but you still want a natural matte finish, Beautyblender Blotterazzi, £17, provides a reusable, easy to wash sheet alternative.