When in doubt, keep it minimal. “Some of the trends I’m seeing for makeup both on the red carpet and on the runways are fresh makeup looks,” says celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo. You can accomplish this either through investing in impeccable skin makeup, or keeping it minimal with easy skincare.
“The sunburn or [TikTok’s viral] W blush hack for one is something makeup artists have done for years to mimic a healthy glow, and is becoming popular with consumers now as well,” says celebrity makeup artist Kale Teter. Just swipe on some cream or powder blush–then add some more. And some more.
Making a statement has never been easier. By just adding a few stark lines with either a pencil or liquid eyeliner, you can become the coolest kid on the block in no time. Bonus points if you use a fun color like blue or pink to really make the look pop.
The song “Teenage Dirtbag” is still all over my TikTok, and a return to our Tumblr grunge era is long overdue. Channel season three Jenny Humphrey by layering on black eyeliner, then smoking it out with powder eyeshadows.
After years of forgoing lipstick altogether, it’s finally time to paint on your brightest lip. If it’s a long-wear formula, even better, but it’s back to traditional lipsticks this winter. Because nothing cuts through the cold quite like a bold lip.
Whether you were born with naturally fluffy lashes or you could use a little help in that department, this is one of the easiest looks to achieve this winter. Just grab a strong-hold gel, swipe up, and you’re done.
“I think we’re all kind of yearning for something a little playful and joyful,” says Teter. “It’s about having more fun now.” To achieve that joyous makeup look we’re all craving, lean into color. A single-toned, bright eyeshadow is an easy way to make a statement.
We’re still not over the Euphoria season finale–or the beauty looks. A statement color, glowing skin, and graphic eyeliner are not going out of style anytime soon. And don’t forget to add on your face gems–they’re a must-have (trust us).
Bleached eyebrows are the new breakup bangs, you heard it here first. And you don’t need to be an artist with a collection of vintage jewelry to pull it off. As long as you wear them with confidence, no one will bat an eye. The best part? The worse it looks, the better it looks.
Seeking simpler times? The ’60s are an endless source of style inspiration, and this winter, let’s commit to the cat-eye like never before. Instead of a subtle swipe, go bold with the liner. A Mia Farrow-inspired pixie cut would pair perfectly.
“I always say that beauty is a feeling,” notes celebrity makeup artist Sir John on his beauty philosophy. “The way we make people feel is a destination—you become a destination of energy when you can do that.” While the pro is most known for his work with Beyoncé—including her glam at the 2022 Oscars and her BritishVogue cover—he has garnered quite a Rolodex of star clientele. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Serena Williams, Zendaya, and Naomi Campbell (who happened to be his first celebrity client), to name a few, have all sported his glam on endless magazine covers, music videos, and red carpets. Not to mention a slew of brand partnerships with L’Oréal, Barbie, and MAC.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #91 series on my blog.
And the sought-after makeup pro doesn’t have any plans on slowing down anytime soon. “One thing I know about life, especially at this big, grown age of mine, is that the finish line continues to get pushed back,” he continues. “There’s a Roman saying: never rely on past glory. Yesterday’s win is yesterday’s win. No matter what I did yesterday, that’s cool, but I’m really obsessed about what’s next.” Following two decades of experience, he’s adding another role to his ever-evolving resume: chief creative officer of Ctzn Cosmetics—driven by his commitment to building equity and diversity in the industry.
Founded in 2019 by a trio of sisters, the brand seeks to create products inclusive to people of color, inspired by their South Asian heritage. “I loved how authentically compelling they were when it came to what [they] want to champion for people who don’t always get invited to the party,” he says of his appointment. Sir John’s decision to join a promising up-and-coming brand, to him, is a reflection of the evolving beauty landscape.
He continues to say that he’s seen so many shifts in the industry throughout his career—noting specifically the emergence of men’s makeup. “I love the fact that we live in an era of exploration, where everyone can have a vehicle to make them feel better about who they see in the mirror,” he says. So, it’s clear Sir John is eager to create safer, more inclusive spaces and share the wealth of knowledge he’s learned—from normalizing Botox and filler to dishing his best makeup tips.
“I love making the eyes look like different shapes with liners,” he explains. “Liners would be my favorite thing to do if I didn’t have any other makeup on me.” He’s particularly enjoying how people are playing with colored, whimsical liners on TikTok. “Also, my ultimate hack is making sure you set concealer with loose powder—never pressed powder. It’s too heavy under the eyes and drying.” Otherwise, he has a penchant for what he dubs invisible sculpting: “I love the way I sculpt and contour; you’re not supposed to see it but rather offer structure.” To do this, he will do a cream sculpt, then buff in a taupe or cooler colored tone to create dimension on the face.
Sir John’s approach to makeup has transformed in tandem with the industry and his clients. When asked if he thinks Beyoncé’s look has evolved over time, his response is “abso-fucking-lutely.” Though he admits she certainly knows what she wants, he has learned how to not only have conviction but consistently soak in new knowledge. His biggest advice? “Have faith in your eye, in your references you’re pulling. Where do you want to take this person?”
With that, Sir John gave Vogue a sneak peek into his makeup kit—including his five must-have products.
1. Uoma Beauty Double Take Contour Stick
Key Benefits: “These are the best for sculpting,” says Sir John. “I sculpt and bronze with everything that looks like this. I’ll take a tiny bit on the back of my hand, and I’ll start to buff wherever I want that shadow.”
More to Know: A lychee fruit extract-infused dual-ended contour and highlight stick to illuminate and shape the face.
2. Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick
Key Benefits: The Fenty Beauty Match Stix is another top pick of his for his signature sculpted contour. For a lasting lifted appearance, he sets the cream contour with a cool-toned powder to keep everything in place all day or night.
More to Know: A buildable cream-to-powder contour stick that delivers a matte finish.
Key Benefits: “This is amazing,” says Sir John. “It literally resurfaces your skin immediately; even if you’re super sensitive, it’s not a problem. I’ve been using it for years.”
More to Know: An exfoliating mask powered by a blend of glycolic acid from pineapple extract, lactic acid from passion fruit, and papain from papaya to refine skin texture and improve radiance.
4. MAC Fluidline Eye Liner Gel
Key Benefits: “I love this because it doesn’t move, it doesn’t go anywhere,” says Sir John. He recounts etching a perfect cat eye while on Beyonce’s On The Run tour using this pot and MAC’s liner in Graphblack. “[The liner] didn’t move through two hours of cardio. They’re worth their weight in gold.”
More to Know: A waterproof, smudge-resistant gel pigment formulated for up to 16-hour wear.
5. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
Key Benefits: Sir John counts this NARS concealer as one of his favorites, along with its matte pot formula. Pro tip: just make sure the under-eye is properly hydrated before applying.
More to Know: A creamy concealer infused with balancing and light-diffusing powders, along with magnolia bark extract, grape seed extract, and vitamin E to hydrate, brighten, and correct.
Whether as a remedy for Mondays or the morning after the night before, one of life’s greatest lessons is learning how to make a tired face look brighter, fresher and, well, healthier. Victoria Beckham just shared her own quick daily hack for well-rested eyes, using the Instant Brightening Waterline Pencil from her beauty line, Victoria Beckham Beauty.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #88 series on my blog.
Moonlighting as a beauty blogger, Beckham posted an Instagram video showing the nude eyeliner – which is new to her collection – in full force on one of her brown eyes. Applied along the waterline, the other eye was left naked to show the difference the product can make. Scroll back through her Instagram account, and you’ll notice how often she uses the simple technique.
Nude eyeliner is always the first step Beckham takes when doing her eye make-up: “I love using this product first because what it does is take any redness away,” she explains. “It opens up my eye; it makes the white part of my eye look actually whiter.” A make-up artist’s trick to create the illusion of wide-awake peepers, a nude liner applied to the waterline can really open up the face, lift and add luminosity, with very little effort.
The Victoria Beckham Beauty eyeliner is buttery soft and glides onto the eyes, which makes it a super easy and flattering formula to use if you’ve not tried the technique yet. After that, “apply the rest!”, says VB.
At this point, the allure of Queen B is boundless. From her musical oeuvre to that Sasha Fierce sass, British Vogue’s July cover star has the whole world falling hook, line and sinker for all things Bey. But behind every icon is a team to help her look and feel her best. One longtime member of her glam team is Sir John, a make-up star in his own right, who has worked with the singer for more than a decade after being introduced to her by Charlotte Tilbury (then his boss), backstage at Tom Ford’s first womenswear show.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #87 series on my blog.
“I’m blessed to be able to work around really strong women – Beyoncé being one of them,” he tells Vogue over video call. “She beams from within, almost like the sun, and you can’t help but just be heated – and raised – up. My inspiration literally comes from whenever we see each other, I’ve known her for such a long time. It’s really cool to see how she continues as an artist to grow and push herself. It pushes [me] to ask new questions, investigate and be curious, and I think the more curious we are as creatives, the more we have to add to the world.”
Calm and gracious, you can see why B would choose Sir John as her go-to make-up artist – after all, actually creating a beauty look is only half of his task, the other half is (even if subliminally) helping her get into the zone. He is a big proponent of “dopamine glam” – the act of putting on make-up to boost your mood.
On the July cover shoot, he worked with his great friend, the hairstylist Jawara, on creating Beyoncé’s glam. “I remember going in and seeing all of these beautiful hair references, but when it came to make-up, there weren’t any,” he explains. “So I started out with fresh skin to make sure she looked effortless, and then I knew if I got approval [from Edward Enninful and the team] I could keep pushing the look.” As you can see, that’s exactly what he did, from the punchy vinyl lips to molten gold “halo” eyes – not to mention skin to die for.
“I’m confident that she loved how she looked that day,” he says. “Oftentimes, she’ll be like ‘Hey, listen, can we take this down [a notch]?’ She’s very vocal and doesn’t bite her tongue!” he laughs. “I wanted her to feel like she really did wake up like this in terms of ease and manoeuvrability. There are no lashes, minimal mascara, but I just wanted her to feel elevated. One thing I will say is that when you see someone who’s killing it on the red carpet or on a cover, there’s harmony in that dressing room.”
Below, Sir John shares the tips, tricks and techniques he employed on the day.
Structure not contour
“I love creating a lot of architectural structure on the face – I don’t like contouring so much, but sculpting instead. On Beyoncé [in British Vogue], you’ll notice that there’s sculpting to the eyes, temples and there’s a really beautiful halo effect on her eyelids. I predominantly used cream formulas and manipulated them in a way that made her look really pulled together. It’s all about giving yourself the shadows that your face naturally has, and magnifying them, to create a supernatural glam.”
The halo eye
“On her eyelids, I created a halo effect. The halo eye is lighter [in colour] in the centre of the eye, and deeper on either side. It creates a very 1930s or ’40s – think Marlene Dietrich or Jean Harlow – effect and vertically elongates the eyes. I wanted to open up this area as much as possible. It’s all about juxtaposition – take a little fluffy brush and sculpt the interior of the eye in the inner and outer corners. The halo eye creates a soft glow effect on the face, but doesn’t look literal or intentional, just like she fell into good light.”
How to get make-up to last
“People always ask how I get her make-up to last for hours when she’s on stage at Coachella, or whatever, and it’s really about duality. It’s using a cream or liquid foundation and then slightly buffing a powder into it. If I use a cream blush, I’ll buff a powder into that too. When it comes to sculpting eye products, it’s about setting them with a shadow. All of these are dual moments. Even with brow pencil – it’s waxy so by the time you get to lunch, brows will look shiny. Set them with a little brown powder or eyeshadow. The duality will make your face make-up last forever, even if it’s a super fresh, no make-up make-up look.”
The top make-up rule for mature skin
“As we get more mature, the areas we add shine or highlight our face have to be more strategic. When you’re a baby you can put highlighter everywhere, but as we become more mature, make sure that you only find shine at the side of the face, the areas that span outwards from your pupils. From pupils inwards – so in the centre of the face – you should have not have anything sculpting or shimmery. That’s key because if you look at the photos of Beyoncé, you’ll notice she’s glowy everywhere but when you look at her directly onwards, the little heart in the middle of her face is always matte.”
Contrast it up
“I love contrast and texture. Contrast creates something that is really compelling to look at – it’s visually arresting. That’s why when we see diamonds on matte velvet, or matte skin and shiny lips, it’s attractive. When it came to creating the different lip looks for the cover shoot, I wanted to give her lips something to sit on, like a pedestal. What you don’t want is for skin to be oily or balmy and then go in with super glossy lips, so I made sure there was some kind of strategy with how I applied her make-up.”
“On her lips, we started out with red, and did some natural, balmy looks – and then I just kept pushing it. I started really simple and kept sculpting, drawing out and blowing the look up. One of my favourite lips from the shoot was almost like a cognac colour – soft brown, very ’90s in a sense but glossy. I applied the lipstick, then I mixed it with a clear gloss to create a lacquer, and then applied a clear gloss on top of that. Those three layers created a vinyl, patent leather situation.”
A little behind-the-scenes look at our project with Katie, photo taken by Andrei Roman.
Enhancing faces since 2017, I truly never get tired of working on new people, projects, visit new places, and create new looks. It is truly my passion and I am grateful for every face I get to work on!
Isamaya Ffrench is sitting at an outside table at London’s The Maine, a stone throw’s from Vogue’s HQ. It’s a particularly sunny Spring day and everyone is full of cheer, which makes what she’s about to unveil that much more subversive. Taking its cues from the visual lexicon of BDSM culture – the lids of two serums and a mascara come skewered with wearable hard metal piercings, while a bound rubbery figure emerges from a 14 pan eyeshadow palette – Isamaya’s first make-up collection (the Industrial collection), for her brand new beauty brand, Isamaya, and its accompanying Steven Klein-lensed campaign, is as much a statement about the beauty industry as it is about beauty. Because Isamaya isn’t your typical beauty brand: it’s not selling you some repackaged notion of beauty in the traditional sense, nor is it relying on tired millennial tropes to appeal to a younger audience. It’s simply about providing the tools for people to express themselves in a way that’s incredibly freeing. “Everyone’s always banging on about make-up to transform yourself,” says Ffrench. “I’ve done the transformation thing, and I get it. But actually, I think make-up is a tool to return to who you are. And I think this collection could speak to people that can be more of their authentic self with this style of make-up, as opposed to like, a pretty girly blusher or something else.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #82 series on my blog.
But to focus on the visuals and underlying message alone would be to undermine what she’s managed to do in terms of the products. Because this is where the true ingenuity lies. A five-piece drop comprising a mascara, eyeshadow palette, glow serum, lip lacquer and brow laminator, Isamaya has worked tirelessly with her lab to create innovative textures and boundary-pushing formulas; a mascara that doesn’t just give you the effect of fuller lashes, but actually nourishes them to promote growth; an eyeshadow putty that melts with your body temperature to make it more blendable; a glow serum that doesn’t just contain pearlescent particles for a superficial dewiness, but also active ingredients that stimulate collagen production, creating a much deeper, more intense radiance. After years of lending her prowess to brands including Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, Burberry – where she remains global beauty director – and Byredo, Isamaya is executing her unique vision of beauty on her own terms, and without any commercial shackles. The result is a lesson in unrestrained creativity that feels truly Isamaya. “I look at these products and I think, ‘That’s just so much more me than any other products I’ve ever seen in my life,’” she muses. “Maybe other people will be able to connect to it as well.”
Below, Vogue takes a closer look at the collection.
Industrial Skinlacq Triple Hyaluronic Glow Serum
A pearlescent lacquer for the face, but without any added sparkle, the Industrial Skinlacq Triple Hyaluronic Glow Serum is ideal for creating that glass skin look. Using a triple hyaluronic acid complex, along with cell-energising peptides, it also works to nourish and reinvigorate the skin, which was key for Isamaya. “I didn’t just want a glowy serum that doesn’t do anything else,” she says. “If I’m going to use this on my face every day, as the perfect base for my make-up, I wanted that first point of contact to be moisturising and moisture-locking.” Bottled up beautifully in a glass orb, replete with a pipette and hard metal piercing, it will bring an edge to any bathroom cabinet.
Industrial Rubberlash Latex Lift Mascara
A true example of make-up artistry and invention, the Industrial Rubberlash Latex Lift Mascara doesn’t just make your lashes look fuller and longer, it actually curls them too. “The lab created this mesh-like texture to encapsulate the lash,” Ffrench says. “It has this kind of elastic property that pulls the lashes back so you don’t need to curl your lashes.” Using three separate pigments, two black and one blue, to create an ultra black lash, it gives that coveted false lash impression, while conditioning oils nourish to encourage growth.
Industrial Liplacq Maximising Lip Serum
Described as a veil for the lips, the Industrial Liplacq Maximising Lip Serum uses a blend of coffee and ginger root oil to create a plumping effect, while its deep berry hue and almost inky texture add a sense of depth. This isn’t your average lip offering. “I wanted to create something that makes your lips a couple of shades darker because I think it’s quite sexy, quite goth,” she says. “I don’t want it to look like you’re wearing any product, though, it just deepens your natural tone with a kind of greyish, veiny tint.”
Industrial Browlacq Brow Laminator
A multi-use brow lacquer, apply one lick of this hard-wearing, hard-working gel to your brows and it will hold them in place from day to night and right through to the morning after. Perfect for styling or giving that laminating effect, it contains glycerin and humectants to nourish the hairs as well. “For all the drag queens out there, you can use this to stick your brows down and then cover with foundation, and then you have no brows,” she adds. It’s also good for kiss curls.
Industrial Colour Pigments Eyeshadow Palette
Taking inspiration from industrial hues – oil slick greys and chrome silvers – but with the odd flash of acidic colour, the 14 pan palette is a mix of special effect pearls, mattes, and press putties – demi-wet textures that activate at body temperature so they blend more easily. They look just as exquisite together as they do individually. There’s a particularly arresting violet that looks almost holographic on the skin. Isamaya recommends it for cooling down your highlights, while a silver pressed metallic gives a foil-like effect. “It’s all about the textures,” she says. “They look really interesting in different lights, and photograph really beautifully.”
For all the follows and likes Pat McGrath generates around her make-up artistry every season (Julia Fox’s internet-breaking black eyeliner didn’t just happen), it’s the skin quality she has pioneered over the course of her storied career that is perhaps her biggest calling card. Hydrated, but not oily; smooth, but realistic, with a make-up-priming moisture quality that is “lightweight yet nourishing,” McGrath explains. Much like she developed a seven-step lipstick technique to achieve the ultimate in petal-soft pigment, McGrath has been cocktailing her own skincare formula for her entire career, layering simple creams spiked with rose water to create a quick-penetrating emulsion. And just as that signature make-up technique became Pat McGrath Labs’ best-selling MatteTrance Lipstick, her patented skin prep has finally been bottled.
Called Divine Skin Rose 001 and formulated by a Korean lab, the milky liquid that will launch on patmcgrath.com on 29 April closely resembles a blendable essence, formulated with 92 percent naturally derived ingredients; shake it up, and a ceramide-boosted oil phase combines with an antioxidant-spiked rose water phase to create McGrath’s replenished, rebalanced glow.
“The truth is I’ve been working on skin care as long as I have been working in make-up,” admits McGrath, who has tweaked her formula not in focus groups but on supermodels, including Naomi Campbell, who stars in the campaign for the rose-tinted glass bottle. “I wouldn’t use anything else,” says Campbell — which is high praise considering Campbell is serious about her skincare, specifically her hydration. “You never want your skin to look dried out. It’s not attractive. It’s unbecoming,” she says. Here, Campbell reveals how she’s been using the uniquely textured essence, and why after all these years in the business, good sleep might be the real secret to good skin.
As someone who has been on countless sets with Pat and at countless shows with Pat, what is her point of difference when it comes to skin finish?
When you work with Pat, before you she puts make-up on you, she really massages your skin — she loves glowy, dewy skin. So your make-up goes on smoother, everything just rolls. That’s her secret: that the skin still looks like skin and you see you and that’s important, I feel. That’s what I love about her; she never makes me matte. When you’re too matte you lose the whole person. Your make-up becomes like a mask. Pat’s make-up never looks like that.
As a McGrath Muse and, perhaps even more importantly, a Pat McGrath confidant, were you at all a part of tweaking early incarnations of her first skin-care product?
She’s been trying this out on me for a while now so I’ve had a bit of a head start in using it in my skin regime. We were actually using it last year when we were doing the Divine Rose make-up launch, but I couldn’t talk about it then, so I’m so excited that I can say all of this now. The cat’s outta the bag! In the beginning, she would ask me things like, “How does it feel? How long did it stay on?” But it’s really always been so easy — and it goes on the skin, but it also goes in the skin.
It just makes everything glowy and plump, which is important for me because I’m on set all the time, and I’m in front of lights, and I’m on planes, and my skin dries out and it gets really dehydrated no matter how much water I drink. Drink water, drink water. I never drink enough. My test is really traveling, though — how often do I need to reapply something on the plane so my skin feels hydrated. I usually sleep straight through flights and with this, I’d wake up and still have the shine.
It is not an exaggeration to say that your skin is, in fact, divine. Drop the routine!
It’s about clean for me. I cleanse in the morning and I cleanse at night. You’ve got to get the make-up off! And I need products that help make my skin look good without make-up, because I don’t wear make-up when I’m not working. I just put little bits where I want to cover blemishes so my skin can breathe. My next step is usually a serum, and sometimes I use the Essence first, before my serum, and sometimes I mix it with my serum and put it on together. You can top it off with a cream if you like, but in the summertime you don’t need to. The Essence is enough.
I watched anamazing clip on your YouTube channelabout some of your pre-runwaybody prep including an incredible lymphatic drainage massage. Are there any treatments that you regularly engage in for your face in tandem with good skin care?
I try to do my facials — you need to if you’re travelling, or you’re in the sun a lot. I don’t wear a lot of sunblock on my skin because I break out from sunblock. So I like people to extract because you have to clean out your pores sometimes! And I do microneedling every once in a while, too.
These days, so much of good skin care comes down to good self-care. How do you prioritise yourself with such a busy work schedule — and a newborn at home! — not just physically but mentally and spiritually?
The water thing is huge for me, and I’m always, like, how can I make water fun? Growing up I wasn’t really raised on soda so we always had cordials that we mixed with water, and that’s what I still drink. And I try to eat the right food and take the right vitamins — vitamin D, vitamin C, B, zinc, fish oils. Good skin is so much about what you eat, too. And sleep! I try to get as much sleep as possible even though I have a young one now. When I was younger I really didn’t need that much sleep, but now I like my sleep. It kickstarts things and helps me be enthusiastic about the day ahead.
The eyes have always had it, but in the age of ongoing face mask-wearing, extra attention is being paid to the gaze. In lieu of red lips, it’s perennially classic and universally flattering cat eyeliner that’s receiving renewed focus. “Now more than ever, eyeliner is the most effective tool to instantly enhance the shape of the eyes, express our mood, and accentuate our unique individuality,” says Gina Brooke, who paints winged eyes on clients including Cate Blanchett and Sofia Boutella. From creating a flattering base to drawing on the perfect eye-elongating wing, here pro makeup artists reveal their tricks for nailing cat eyeliner.
Start by tightlining
To begin, make-up artist Emily Cheng, who works with Yara Shahidi and Laura Harrier, recommends tightlining, also known as the invisible eyeliner technique, which consists of “applying eyeliner in between the lashes” to make them appear thicker and fuller at the roots. It will create a base for a richer, longer-lasting cat-eye look.
Swipe on a natural eyeshadow
After pro Tasha Reiko Brown (who works with Alicia Keys and Tracee Ellis Ross) tightlines, she adds a sheer swipe of a light, natural eyeshadow on the lids for a clean backdrop to add contrast. “Use a domed eyeshadow brush to apply a warm natural brown in the crease,” instructs Brown. To double down on brightening the eye area, Brooke recommends adding a neutral, flesh-toned liner at the inner corners of the eye, as well as to the lower inner perimeter to instantly open the eyes and ultimately create the illusion of larger eyes. “Using a gradation for colour and smudging the liner away from the upper and lower lash lash line will widen the eyes and provide a fresh, wide-eyed appearance,” she says.
Find the right texture
While there’s power in choice, sometimes it can be overwhelming to decide what type of eyeliner — easy-to-apply pencil, precise felt-tip liquid, or creamy gel with a brush — will be best for your desired cat-eye result. “The right tools and texture can make all the difference,” confirms Brooke, who prefers to use a soft angled nylon fiber lip brush with gel eyeliner for application.
Often, Cheng will take a hybrid approach. “I’ll start a wing with liquid liner and blend up and out with a black shadow,” she explains. “This will also contribute to making the eyes looking larger without the eyeliner looking like one large block.” Brown has a similar dual-minded approach, laying the groundwork with a kohl pencil before adding a layer of liquid liner, concentrating it at the base of the lashes for “sharply defined liner with a diffused edge.”
No matter what, though, it’s about finding the right balance between what’s easiest to apply for you and your desired result.
Choose your shade
“The most flattering shades are the ones you feel most confident in,” insists Brown. That being said, universally you can’t go wrong with warm, rich, deep browns to bring warmth around the eye. “It defines the eye without pulling focus and has more of a subtlety than black,” she says. For a similarly soft effect, Cheng recommends deep maroon as an alternative for a striking pop. But for the most part, she tends to stick to the ultimate classic, a highly-pigmented black liner, for a “sharp and clean” effect.
Strategise shape and lift
The intention of winged liner is to elongate the eye. To do so with optimal results, “Start with liner at the innermost corner and drag out slightly past the end of eye,” instructs Brown. “The line should be ultra-thin at the inner eye and gradually become slightly thicker as you move outwards.” One point that Brown drives home is that the tail end of liner doesn’t necessarily have to flick upwards in a cat eye motion.
“The tail end should angle slightly upwards and out for elongated eyes with a gentle lift,” says Brown. Before actually drawing on the flick or wing, really think about what kind of “lifted” look you want to achieve in the end. “Following rules of thumb for certain eye shapes won’t necessarily work in your favour as each face is a unique creation and other facial factors come into play,” she explains. “Really take a moment to analyse your face and your desired results and plan your technique from there.”
Add the flick or wing
To keep steady and trace on your ideal shape, Cheng recommends keeping your eye open and looking into the mirror with a relaxed face before attempting to sculpt the shape. “Following the curve of your bottom waterline and sweeping upward is a good place to start in finding the angle of your eyeliner,” explains Cheng. “This way you’ll avoid going too straight or too angled upwards, unless that is the look you are going for. I find following the waterline to be the most natural and flattering.”
Another thing to consider is if you want a crisp or diffused edge — the latter, which Cheng calls a “soft baby wing” delivers a softer, sheerer finish. “It instantly defines your eyes and it’s an easy way to create shape,” she says.
Clean it up and refine
No matter what your desired effect is, a tapered point Q-tip will be your best friend to clean up errors, as well as sharpen lines and shapes. “When I have a liner that has gotten too thick or to correct any mistakes, I’ll take a pointed make-up Q-tip dampened with micellar water and refine the line,” says Brown, cautioning that you should be wary of using traditional Q-tips as the fibers can get caught in mascara on lashes and travel into the eye.
Additionally, eschew make-up remover, which can disturb the surrounding make-up around the line too much and leave an oily residue (stick to micellar water instead). Another tried-and-true technique is harnessing the correcting and contrast-creating power of concealer. “Finishing with concealer underneath will also accentuate the liner,” says Cheng.
Finish with mascara
The final touch is mascara. After liner has dried, curl the lashes if desired, then wiggle it on. “The end result will give you depth and definition around the eye, and lashes that standout against brightened lids,” says Brown. For an eye-widening, wing-accenting curve, Cheng suggests “concentrating mascara on the outer corner, which will help elongate,” she says.