Practice makes perfect, except when you have a few shortcuts up your sleeve…

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A good makeup tutorial can be a godsend when you’ve got an impending fancy event and need to up the beauty ante. The very best Youtube makeup masters (shout out to Mary Greenwell ) break down bridal looks, Bardot-esque sultry eyes and immaculate red lips with ease and expertise, but more than once I’ve ended up down a contouring rabbit hole following a seemingly endless online paint by numbers exercise. The rise of social media filters, face warping apps and complicated ‘sculpting’ makeup is enough to make most ‘lippie and liner’ ladies amongst us run for the hills, in the exact opposite direction of apparent ‘perfection’. Thankfully, a backlash is a brewing, lead by industry top dogs such as MAC director of makeup artistry Terry Barber and senior MAC artists Cher Webb and Rachel O’Donnell…

According to the wise, worldly trio, ‘groomed’ trumps reality TV star ‘try hard’ every time; a brow hair shaded in here, a freckle drawn on there and a bit of ‘tightlining’ around the eye to add definition and the the illusion of fuller, thicker eyelashes. In fact, the word ‘illusion’ cropped up a lot when I met the team in between the whirlwind of AW16 shows earlier this week; Terry believes that we’re stepping away from a ‘what’s the point in wearing makeup unless you can see it?’ mentality to a more refined, empowering and altogether more freeing aesthetic.

Contouring is still on the scene of course, but it’s subtle, enhancing rather than overly structured and miles from the ‘cookie cutter’ facial carving we’ve become accustomed to thanks to a certain high-cheekboned dynasty going by a family name beginning with ‘K’. The idea is to choose one element of your makeup to ‘control’, instead of trying to meticulously maintain a ‘flawless’ face. Rachel hints that beauty is back in the eye of the beholder:

“The most ‘perfect’ makeup is often the stuff that even a makeup artist can’t detect or put their finger on. They know there’s something awesome going on, they’re just not quite sure precisely, definitively what.”

You don’t need to ambush a professional with your sneaky shading skills to have attained perfection (NOBODY’S PERFECT), but taking a tip-offs from highly skilled trend inventors will not only make you look polished, it will also save you significant amounts of faff, time and possibly money if you arm yourself with highly effective, multitasking products that will last you almost to infinity and beyond (or alternatively, make what you already have work harder). Nobody requires 29 different highlighters or an exhaustive palette of bronzers. Get the good stuff, go with your gut and remember that sometimes, ‘perfect’ doesn’t have to involve mascara. I KNOW. Here’s the lowdown on technically fairly low effort (some might say lazy) but also, SO on point makeup.

This stick is everything

By and large, makeup artists are just as pushed for time as most of us. The backstage environment is sometimes more akin to a train station at rush hour than a plush boudoir of pre-show pampering. Lipstick as blusher, blusher as eyeshadow, eyeshadow as get the picture; these makeup movers and shakers are nothing if not resourceful. It makes sense then, that Topshop Beauty’s new  Everything Stick , £10, has proved to be a huge hit both behind the scenes and on the street. Depending on the shade (there are six on the market), and according to your skintone, you can smooth the smart light diffusing, cream formula onto cheeks, lips or eyes if you’re feeling daring for immediate impact or a flattering, congruent flush of colour. Topshop Beauty Consultant Hannah Murray  emphasises that they were conceived for ease of both wear and use:

“These were born out of the need for an all-purpose stick that would create tonal washes of colour on eyes, lips and cheeks. This is one of my favourite looks to do for shoots and catwalk- but normally I have to use so many products! The Everything Stick is so easy to use, either directly from the bullet, blending with your finger, or with a brush for more precision.”

“My personal favourite shade is Charlatan, a rich burgundy that gives the most beautiful romantic effect. Smudge out the lips for a just-kissed stain or add more to the centre of the lip for a deeper finish.”

Speaking of sticks, keep your eyes peeled for the MAC Quik Trik Stick, launching in September (we’ll nudge you nearer the time). All three MAC champions lauded the double ended, multitasking, multi-finish marvel as one of their favourite products of the AW16 fashion weeks so far. Cher sung its praises in particular:

“We’ve seen the Quik Trik Stick making an appearance at so many shows. From a highlighter to a wash around the eye to a blusher, it works beautifully across the board. It has such a gorgeous texture and effect; it melts into the skin and looks so authentic. Skin appears warm, real, and highly chic.”

Spelling aside, it’s teacher’s pet in the ‘perfect’ product stakes. For now, make your contouring classy, low key and creamy by way of Tom Ford’s iconic Shade & Illuminate , £56, refreshed in a new peachy hue for spring.

Prep for perfection

Be as lazy as you like when it comes to base (‘skin is always sexy!’ as Terry would say), but don’t let skincare be an oversight. Good old fashion hygiene and hydration is timeless, and a bare face can be the perfect vehicle for a killer red lip or unusual eyeliner experiment. Treat your skin as Terry would:

“Skin prep has a huge effect on every finished makeup look. Great base should be ‘one step’; it’s not about layering separate coats on thick. No look should be anchored on physical coverage these days; the finish of a foundation should mimic fantastic skincare  instead of looking powdered or blocked out. Most modern products look better with skin showing through, for instance a strong lip and heavy base looks very ‘panto’. It’s like a costume, but skin always look better when it’s balmy and actually visible in any given makeup look.”

Get skin on your side and satisfy your inner slacker by applying an overnight ‘sleeping’ mask the night before your ‘perfect’ makeover. The right formula will address your skin’s needs as you sleep and leave skin plump and ready to play by morning. I’ve found  Shiseido Ibuki Beauty Sleeping Mask , £33 (available from 3rd of March) particularly conducive to rested, springy skin this week, in spite of some very early mornings and a naughty outcrop of spots.

On the topic of makeup readiness, smooth, soft lips make any lipstick look immaculate, even if you’ve blurred it outside of your lip line a bit or smudged it (preferably doing something naughty and highly enjoyable...I do love a buffet). For the ultimate in lip deliciousness, get your hands on a Clinique Sweet Pot , £15.

With shades and flavours inspired by macaroons, the six lip balm and sugar scrub combos wouldn’t look out of place in the window of a Parisian patisserie, and with a beet sugar based exfoliator on one side and a shea, coconut and aloe tinted balm on the other, their naturally derived ingredients are sure to please even the most picky of pastry chefs (and makeup artists of course). Designed to buff, prep, hydrate and beautify lips, a sweet pot readies lips for lipstick as the pros would. Despite the name, Sweet Pots don’t smell at all sickly either; in classic Clinique style, they’re 100% fragrance free. In short: looks cute, means business.

Lay the foundation, then forget about it

The equivalent of an invisibility cloak (Harry Potter inspo), a good foundation will go on undetected and stay with you all day, veiling redness, dark spots and blotchiness without requiring adjustment throughout the day. The Dior lot clearly appreciate that touch-ups are tiresome, and I can vouch for the ‘through thick and thin’ (as above, wear it thin) staying power of the appropriately named and slickly reformulated Diorskin Forever Fluid Foundation SPF 25 , £33. Matte but not ‘meh’, with impressive pore minimising potential, I buff it on using the ultimate lazy girl apparatus, Trish McEvoy Mistake Proof Sheer Application Brush , £35, and head off into the day secure in the knowledge that I’m glowing and even but not caked.

If you’re not a foundation fan, Pixi Illuminating Tint & Conceal Duo , £26, brings together the best of a BB type base with a more sturdy cover up, The shade range is a bit pitiful, but the addition of protective antioxidants, mineral SPF 20 and soothing aloe vera to calm redness and blemishes is very welcome on busy, spotty mornings.

Easy on the eye

Heavy, graduated smokey eyes have taken a bit of a break from recent runways in favour of light, glossy lids  or bold lips . Blending a much loved shadow with a sheer balm or even water can transform its texture, allowing skin to peek through and thus making Terry B very happy (you know you’re near perfection when that happens). Finish with a peptide-loaded lick of Perricone MD No Mascara Mascara , £25, for smudge-proof, nourishing definition that doesn’t overpower other bold elements you may have going on.

Liner is never far from a fashion face, but achieving seamless symmetry takes dedication and, more often than not, a savagely early alarm time to get it ‘just so’. Let Eyeko take the load off with the brand’s new dedicated Eye Liner bar , exclusive to Selfridges. Book an appointment between now and 1st March and seek wisdom and know-how from the eyeliner experts; you’ll learn how to execute everything from the classic and minimalist ‘Alexa’ to the double winged ‘Angelina’, and the team will show you the right tools for the job, many of them waterproof, dual ended and relatively foolproof. For your efforts, you’ll receive a free gift with purchase. Lazy girl perks right there.

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