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The Makeup Maniac: Boyfriend as makeup artist

November 15th 2015 / Anna Hunter

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He’s been hanging around the house for a while now. He’s watched me do my face a million times. Now I’m subjecting him to a ‘does he pay attention to me at all’ relationship test and handing over the brushes. My column this week is in no way dramatic…

It’s all very well roping in the makeup pros, but sometimes even the experts don’t fully ‘get you’, as is to be expected if you’ve just met. A dark lid or a fuchsia lip might very well look awesome, but if it’s not your style, it might not sit well. Often you just want someone who knows you, your signature look and your taste, really, really well, to get the job done. Who better than a person you live with, love dearly and see pretty much every single day? They must have picked up on your morning or night out routine by now; you’ve hogged the bathroom for long enough that surely these things transfer by osmosis. Right? Hmm.

My house companion and partner, Nick, is a neuroscientist with artistic leanings, an accomplished cook and baker and quite into skincare and stuff, perhaps thanks to the fact that his Thai mum has been taking him to see dermatologists from a young age and ensuring he takes care of himself in that way. He’s pretty clued up on lotions and potions, but when faced with my extensive (but well categorised) makeup collection, he was baffled. He went about picking products for my ‘look’ forensically, and eye makeup alone took two hours, with a final haul of about 29 products. Given that he was briefed with making me look ‘normal’, this was concerning.

For the rest of the face he took a bit less of an analytical approach and went with what “appealed”, possibly because we were RUNNING OUT OF TIME owing to eye makeup gate. We ended up with an eventual edit of 20 products. All to put on my face apparently at once, exact location to be confirmed. Here’s how it went:

Step 1:

First comment of the session was that the makeover was taking him right back to his “Thai ladyboy days”. Joking of course, I hope. If not, things are actually looking up in terms of skilful application.

Confronted with his own edit:

“The foundation comes first. Foundation is everything. All other things must go on top. Duh.”

He pretty much had that right, and his colour matching was impressive given the many misjudged makeup matches that languish around our house (he went for Shu Uemura The Lightbulb Fluid Foundation, £36). He took a while to come to terms with the fact that he could use his fingers, but when he did he sort of spread it on my face initially and then buffed it in thoroughly using Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Complexion Brush, £45. So far so even, although it was possibly a bit heavy on the forehead, but we’ll let that slide.

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Step 2:

The strobing trend has clearly caught on:

“Wait, I need to put highlights and stuff in.”

He chose a cult product from the highlighting hall of fame, Benefit High Beam, £17.55. In an attempt to follow the instructions to the letter (the fact that it had instructions printed on the bottle may have been a major factor at time of selection), he daubed the liquid under and around my cheekbones, using about £10 worth of product I think (FINGERS). Then we came to a bit of a stumbling block:

“What the hell is the browbone? Where is that?” *spreads highlighter through eyebrows*

He didn’t have time for this.

“I’m a very busy man. Just tell me; am I hot or am I cold? It’s so weird. Your eyebrow is very wet.”

He’d given me a strange ‘space brow’.

“Look, it’s not my fault. I haven’t got my regular kit okay."

“I really wish I didn’t spread this through your eyebrows."

“So where do you put powder? It’s so confusing. What is that? I am so confused.”

That was the vibe, until he used his fingers to blend everything in, which made the space face situation miles better. You couldn’t really tell that the highlighter was a bit ‘off’ and not necessarily on the high planes of the face. ‘Glowing’ was the word.

Step 3

Bronzer was deemed to be a key element, and he opted for the biggest one I own, a huge limited edition Clarins powder similar to the Aquatic Treasures Summer Bronzing Compact, £30. Just as he picked up on highlighting as a ‘thing’, contouring was on his radar too, and he stated in no uncertain terms that he was to use at least two colour products on my cheeks to enhance the face shape. Again, concerningly insightful.

First we had to get over the brush choice hurdle (‘What does Bare Minerals do? What’s a Bare Mineral?’), and once it was decided that we’d use a fairly fluffy one, it was onto placement:

“Right, you tan most on your nose, so I’m putting the bronzer there *swirls brush violently in pan, does not tap off any excess*. Close your eyes.” *Why?*

“Whoahh that’s way too much. Oh shit. We’re just gonna roll with this. Yes. It’s fine. You look just like you’ve landed from Tenerife. It’s fine, this is going well. Your nose is a lost cause though.”

He swooshed my face quite a lot with the brush until brown nose went a bit lighter.

“I’ve got this. It looks just like your normal makeup.”

Once he was done bronzing, he applied blusher very gently. It was quite sweet and soothing. He went for Benefit Dandelion, £21.15, which is very light, and while it brightened things up, you couldn’t really see the colour, but he was happy, and except for the nose issue, so was I.

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Step 4:

Eye time:

“Right, I think the light stuff and the big stuff first (assuming this meant shadow). Not the lashes yet. We’re going with the Naked 3 palette (cue applause). Strange is how I’m feeling so that’s the shade I’m using.”

“You can’t see it! So do I want dark in the middle and light at the sides? Or light on the inside? That would look weird. Or would it?”

He decided on dark at the edges and lighter at the inner eye (I feel like he might have studied for this…). Using the enclosed double ended fluffy brush, he got busy:

“Does this hurt your eyeballs? There are already shadows on your eyes you know.”

Ever considerate, the buffing and brushing continued until he got distracted by Charlotte Tilbury’s Mini Miracle Eye Wand, £29 (he has an eye for the finer things in life):

“Ohh what’s this. Maaaybe it goes underneath? Okay no let’s do what we were gonna do, but I Iike it and I’ll be using it later.”

More buffing.

“Using this is making no difference. We’re using a different colour.” *Picks up insane amount of the darkest shade in the palette, doesn’t buff off the excess*

“Okay it just went from invisible to crazy. God, it’s the brush. It’s totally the brush. I need to undo this. How do you go back?"

I hand him the baby wipes, operation clean up begins.

“So now that’s over we’re covering it with Trick because it’s glittery. I’ve blended it out, it’s fine.”

He had, and it was. Impressively fine.

He followed shadow with liquid liner, proving that he has, after all, been observing the order of things keenly over the years. Either that, or he’s subscribed to makeup ‘how tos’ that I don’t know about.

Drawing a thin, precise and only very slightly wobbly line on the upper lid with navy Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liner, £13, he evened out the corner flicks with scientific precision, although he did leave a bit of a gap between the lashline and eyelid, but these things take practice. As things have progressed I’ve noticed he’s gone from sitting beside me to kind of straddling me from above. Not nearly as intimate as it sounds. It’s purely professional; nothing is breaking his concentration.

Liner lined, it was lash time. He was adamant about using a lash primer, which was very modern and enlightened of him. He spent a good few minutes stroking Smashbox Layer Lash Primer, £16, lovingly onto every lash, before following with just the one coat of Nars Audacious Mascara, £21. The artfulness with which the single coat was applied, and the wide eyed result, made me think that I definitely trowel it on on a daily basis, likely unneedingly. The teacher is being well and truly ‘taught’ at this point.

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Step 5:

Just the one product here, and a classy one at that: Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, £25, in a rich wine hue. This was the step that he was the most intimidated by, for fear of making me look a bit well, like I’d actually had a few wines, but given that he used no liner at all, the cupid’s bow was a crisp, perfect heart shape, and the colour only slightly migrated on the lower lip, and was swiftly corrected by baby wipe. By now he was not in any way shy about giving directions:

“Rub your lips together. Again. POUT. Reverse pout.”

He declared his masterpiece finished, and on literal and figurative reflection, the boy did good. I don’t have two hours to spare in the schedule of life to let him at my face regularly, but then neither does he, and I think he’s seen enough powder and paint for a bit. I suspect I now need to exhibit my baking and cooking prowess, and woe betide tables turn on the neuroscience front. People sometimes refer to us as ‘beauty’ and ‘brains’ in terms of life paths, but I’m going to put it out there that we both have...both, and can use both B&B to our advantage when it suits us, thank you very much. Beauty and brains aren’t mutually exclusive in our house honeys.

Follow me on Twitter @AnnaMaryHunter and Instagram @AnnyHunter

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