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The Makeup Maniac

20 expert makeup shortcuts for flawless application

November 16th 2017 / Anna Hunter / 0 comment


They don’t call it makeup artistry for nothing - makeup application is a skill to master, there’s no doubt about it. Here are some quick tricks to take you from amateur to pro

Think of this as beauty-by-numbers - quick, simple makeup moves that allow you to dodge fiddly techniques and ten-step tutorials while bigging up your best bits and putting flaws or niggles in soft focus. Top makeup artists are on hand to help you take the beauty elevator, not the stairs - sometimes a few bluffs and tricks of the light make all the difference.


Add moisturiser to your foundation when applying - Gucci Westman advocates this base transformer. Doing this will add dewiness, make skin look nigh on professionally airbrushed and also speed up application time- product glides on easily while somehow not slipping off throughout the day, depending on your formulas of choice. Magic tactic.

Counteract redness without resorting to expensive laser treatments or paper bags. Listen to high priestess of beauty Bobbi Brown: “Yellow toned foundation or tinted moisturiser will tone down ruddy skin and rosacea. A bronzer can help to bring down redness too.”

Blurring products can hide a multitude of sins. Think of them as seamless veils of temporary perfection, invisibility cloaks for pores, fine lines and uneven skintone if you like (pardon the Harry Potter reference). There’s a formulation to suit every need, and many fulfil more than one duty. Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser, £7.99, is a backstage staple for sleep deprived models at fashion week, while L’Oréal Revitalift Magic Blur Anti-Ageing Moisturiser, £12.99, is instantly beautifying and enriched with Pro-Retinol A to put wrinkles in their place (i.e, not on your face) for the long term.

Skip contouring and highlight sparingly instead to create definition. Choose an illuminator to suit your colouring- pearl pigments bring life to pale skin, sheeny champagnes suit olive skins and darker skintones look glowy in bronze. Dab along cheekbones and anywhere you want eyes to linger.

Or, for a slimming shortcut, contour away - just make sure you stick to these golden contouring rules.

Eyes and Brows

Embrace eyedrops. Not technically makeup, but a squirt in each eye will give you a sparkly, wide-awake result to rival even the perkiest Disney Princess. They make any eye makeup that follows ‘pop’ even more, especially if you line the waterline in a dark shade. I always have Boots Brightening Eye Drops, £3.59, on standby for those days when eyes are red and puffy.

Transform botched up liner into a smokey eye by blending liner out with a soft smudging brush, or failing that, fingers. Such an easy save and a whole lot sexier that a ruler-straight line anyway.

Say hello to hazy eyeshadow. Playing with a paintbox style palette is always fun when time allows, but for instant impact, buff on a soft wash of coloured shadow. If you’re feeling particuarly brave, fashion forward, or just rushed, forgo mascara. Naked lashes and ethereal shadow is a regular on the catwalks.

Rock and roll eyes in a rush- Makeup artist Lee Pycroft simply waves a wand to achieve devil may care definition: “After applying mascara, use the tip of the mascara wand to push product into the roots of the lashes. This is such a quick route to rock star eyes.”

Apply lashings of the stuff and don’t miss bottom lashes. Mascara is most women’s desert island makeup pick for a reason.

The ‘I want it now’ brow. Need to get out of the door but feel underdressed without a power brow? Lee to the rescue: “Quickly groom brows into place with a tinted brow gel. This will set them and also add a shot of colour.” We love Eyeko's brilliant Brow Gel, £18.

Layer liner. Apply liner to top and bottom lashlines and layer shimmery shadow on top in a complimentary shade. One word: smoulder.

Get your lashes done. This will save you DAYS if you’re into your eye makeup - you really need nothing other than a well appointed set of lashes, particularly on weekdays. Our Editor-at-Large Susannah Taylor swears by Flutter.


Put a ring on it. Occasionally lip liner is a luxury. When your down on the tools front, your digits will do. Just listen to Lee: “Use your ring finger to apply a bright lip shade to avoid the hassle of lining lips. The ring finger fits perfectly into the lip area and this method of application helps you to achieve a natural finish.”

Red or dead. Bring life to your lips, nay, your whole face, with a swipe of red lipstick. Apply straight from the bullet in the manner of Jessica Rabbit. Find a red lipstick you love and you’ll need very little else.

Shortcuts to youth

Softness and light. Lancôme’s UK makeup ambassador Alex Babsky assures us that extreme cosmetic measures aren’t called for: “As skin ages, it reflects light less evenly, so the older my model, the more luminosity I try to restore. Shimmery products can emphasise wrinkles, so I try to enhance radiance with products that have a high moisture content.” Foundations infused with skincare ingredients are your friend.

Glow to go. Just as you’d touch up a shiny nose with powder or blotting paper throughout the day, you can plump up a dry, dull complexion by patting a little moisturiser over makeup. Skin will look refreshed and hydrated without you having to down gallons of water or speed dial a facialist. Pick up a sample size of a luxe yet light moisturiser at your favourite beauty counter.

Peaches and cream. According to Alex, the right textures can take years off. “I find that cream blushes give a far more flattering finish on older skins than powder formulations. Similarly, cream eyeshadows are a lot more forgiving.”

Cream products are also happily a doddle to apply when you’re working against the clock, travelling or sans brushes.

Line and define. Create structure and balance in the eye area for a polished look - thanks to Alex the process is subtle and takes seconds:

“Eyelashes and eyebrows become sparser with age, so I try to build back a slightly more youthful, fuller brow into a mature makeup look. Choose a cool-toned brow pencil that allows you to feather soft strokes to give your brows more substance, rather than trying to etch on an unnatural, uninterrupted arch.”

Spot-on. I’m not referring to former teenage outbreaks; it’s freckles that can inject some girlish gorgeousness, and if you thought they were just for summer, I refer you to December 2014’s Vogue cover featuring non other than a bespeckled Kate Moss. If you’re feeling adventurous, dot Topshop Freckle Pencil in the aptly named Forever Young, £5, over the bridge of the nose and top of the cheeks, setting with transluscent powder to avoid ‘mole merge’.

...and if all else fails

Call in the experts. Mobile beauty is getting both an image and quality overhaul of late- forget the dated 80s hairdos and granny mani’s. Currently London is best served with brands such as Blow, Ruuby and Priv, brilliant beauty apps that bring everything from makeup artists to personal trainers straight to your home, office or hotel room with minimal effort or planning on your part. If that’s not a shortcut to sublime, I don’t know what is.

Do you have any crafty makeup shortcuts to share? What trick saves you the most time or handiwork? Comment below or tweet me @AnnaMaryHunter

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