Makeup yourself: Five tips to take your makeup to the next level instantly

Let’s face it. Doing makeup well is not an easy thing. It requires years of practice and a wealth of knowledge, none of which can be mastered on a whim. The unique physical beauty and life style of every single person also presents further challenges, as it's literally impossible to make general, applicable rules in numerous aspects, such as colour choices and application techniques.

For many makeup lovers like you and I, it can take a lot of trial and error just to find what doesn't work. The serendipitous "Aha" moment will come if you are an avid and courageous makeup experimenter (You will be pleasantly surprised by how much close attention your colleagues indeed pay to your face when things go a bit unusual, and by their irrefutable obligation to point it out), but the majority of us give up fast simply due to frustration.

But with the help of a professional, there are simple things that you can do to take your current makeup routine to the next level. To show you the immediate effectiveness of these tips, I demonstrated two different makeup looks on the gorgeous new mum Dina. 


Before and after photos of Dina. Comparable lighting was used in all photos to faithfully reflect the makeup application.   Photography: Geoff Jones (                

1. Use a primer to colour correct unwanted tones.  

As a makeup wearer, you probably already know that a primer suitable for your skin type can provide a smoother canvas while improving makeup longevity. However, do you realize that it works wonders for colour correcting too? Unfortunately, most colour correctors on the market are way too pigmented and opaque to work effectively (In order to cancel unwanted surface/under tone, the product used has to be of complementary colour and transparent. Now you see why all the green correctors just make pimples green when applied heavy handedly, instead of minimizing the redness). You can either buy primers with pigmentations to kill two birds with one stone (e.g a green primer for redness, or a orange one for blue under eye darkness), or simply mix a tiny amount of the corrector into your normal colourless primer. One thing worth mentioning is, don't forget to primer your under eye area too. Doing so will: 1. Cancel under eye darkness; 2.  Help the concealer go on a lot smoother, as this area tends to be the driest on the face. 

Here I used an olive corrector mixed with a transparent primer to cancel the red violet discolouration under Dina's eye. 


2. Choose the right coverage and finish for your foundation routine.

One of the golden rules of good makeup is that the amount of foundation used is no more than what is needed (caked-on, mask-like foundation is never attractive in person and look horrendous on high definition cameras), while maximally keeping the natural sheen and texture of skin. Remember, real skin is neither matte or shiny, and a satin finish is the way to go. Next time think twice before you powder that face! Wax based cream (I personally dislike the finish of cream to powder foundations) and non self-setting liquid foundations (most long lasting formulations are self setting sadly) are my top choices for most skin types, as they mimic real skin texture by reflecting light in a similar way.  

I used a wax/silicone-based cream foundation sparingly on Dina after concealing, the amount of which was just enough to even our skin tone and hide minor blemishes.  


3. Conceal discolouration and darkness on your upper eyelids.

Interestingly, most makeup wearers are fully conscious of dark under eye circles (maybe paranoid sometimes), while ignoring the discolouration on the upper eyelid. Wonder why your eye shadow colour never stays true and looks muddy? Then you definitely need some good concealing to prepare a clean canvas before any colour product goes on your lids. Never forget to conceal and highlight the inner eye corner close to your nose bridge too! The darkness there will make your eyes look tired and pinched.

Notice that Dina's eyes appear wider-set in the after photos? (Wide-set eyes are considered to be more attractive in facial aesthetics) Beside proper eye shadow placement, highlighting the inner eye corner really did the trick.


4.  Choose eye shadow colours that enhances your eyes and complexion. 

Eye shadow application is always the most fun part of makeup, since the colour choice and combination seem endless. Nevertheless, it's easy for novice makeup wearers to feel lost for the exact same reason. The reality is, while there are colours that will complement your natural beauty,  some may appear harsh and dramatic (Of course you can wear outrageous colours if you want people to pay more attention to the makeup rather than your features).  When it comes to colour selection for beauty/corrective makeup,  ask yourself two questions: 1. Does the colour enhance my eye colour rather than competing with it? Most bright and vibrant colours will out-stage your eyes and take the attention away.  2. Does the colour and lightness/darkness of the eye shadows look harmonious with the depth of my complexion? For example, light, frosty or pastel colours will appear ashy on medium to dark skin tones; while dark colours can look too severe on light skin. 

For the first look, I used a soft dusty mauve which is complementary to Dina's natural eye colour. A dark Khaki green with gold sparkles was used in the second look, as the green tone is harmonious with her pupil colour and the gold brings out the yellow flecks. 


5. Make up according to your occasions.

I am a hardcore proponent for liberty by all means, and the way we wear makeup as individuals is no exception. But you probably don't want makeup to become an obstacle of communication under certain social situations. As human beings, we have to constantly fight against our cultural blueprints to avoid premature judgement and prejudice, which otherwise kicks in unconsciously and dominates our feelings toward people and life events .

Imagine that the subjects of your conversation only have five minutes to make a decision as to whether or not they would like to know more about you, but your colourful eyelids and ridiculously lush fake lashes just keep distracting them from bypassing the exterior to see your inner quality. You get what I mean. But for sure it's up to you, whether you still want to go to that job interview with party makeup ;) 

The first look up I did for Dina is very soft and subtle, which is ideal for her day to day roles. I then dramatized the look with smoky eyes and red lips, and Viola! She is all set for a cocktail party or a romantic night out with her little black dress!


Your friendly makeup artist,



Special thanks to my beautiful model Dina. She was so kind and patient to help me out, even she just got a new born!


Copyright © 2014 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.





Airbrush makeup: All you want to know but are afraid to ask

What is it?

An airbrush is a small, air-operated tool that sprays various media but most often paint by a process called nebulization, which converts liquid into a fine spray. Airbrush makeup is makeup sprayed onto the skin using an airbrush instead of being applied with sponges, brushes, fingers, or other methods.

What’s the difference?


Unlike traditional makeup (where you rub makeup into your skin), airbrushing sprays a fine mist of makeup that sits evenly on your skin. It provides flawless coverage (sheer or opaque), by minimizing skin imperfections while giving skin a natural finish.

You can expect experience including:

  • High definition close-up friendly finish.

The spray dot pattern the airbrush puts down on the skin registers less on camera than the patterns and trace lines that brushes and sponges leave behind. However invisible these marks may appear to the naked eye, they can be quite noticeable when your face is shown in Hi-Definition close-up or in a High Resolution Digital Photo. See the comparison of finishes from different application methods below. Left to right: Sponge, brush and airbrush.

  • Superior coverage with light weight.

Dark spots, pigmentation, freckles, acne scars, broken capillaries, bruises......You name them. Discolorations of all kinds can never be covered with such ease within a short time frame. But most importantly, the finish stays light and natural.

  • Unbeatable longevity and durability.

Although traditional makeup can be long wearing and water resistant, airbrush still wins over not just by a notch. Due to its unique formulation and application, airbrushed makeup can literally last for a full day and stays fresh without sliding over, even under extreme weather conditions. It’s a life saver for people with super oily skin without the need of frequent touch ups.

  • Idea for problematic skins.

For skin with irritable conditions, such as rosacea, eczema and inflamed acnes, airbrush application does not cause further sensitivities through physical contact. It’s also superior at hiding uneven skin textures. Opposed to traditional application, it does not sink into the skin and will not exaggerate undesired textures such as dry flakes and enlarged pores.

Is airbrush for me?

It is your choice if you:

  • Will be filmed or photographed closely by HD camera;
  • Have skin problems;
  • Need extra coverage and/or superior longevity;
  • Just want to try it.

Does airbrush application guarantee better makeup?

The answer is no. A good makeup relies on the craft of your makeup artist, not the method of application.  But always ask your artists whether they provide airbrush, if you have the needs listed above.

Seeing is believing?

Here is a photo of my bare skin (left) in comparison with one very thin layer of foundation applied with airbrush. To honestly show how it covers skin discolourations and textures,  there was no primer applied underneath or powder applied above the foundation. It just wears and looks like skin, and is literally inconceivable to naked eyes.

Airbrush compariosn close up web

Your friendly makeup artist,


Copyright © 2013 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.

Makeup transformation III: Enhance your image, Boost your confidence

As a regular (quite likely addicted) internet surfer, I assume you are as guilty as me, occasionally eyeing and giggling at the abysmal collection of paparazzi photos capturing A list stars in daggy clothes without makeup. Most of them (except for a rare few blessed with exceptionally good genes or plastic surgery) look just as plain as your neighbours and colleagues, or maybe yourself. We all love this type of confidence boost, feeling instantly better about our not-so-glamorous self: thanks to the fact that “After all it’s just makeup and styling which makes her hotter than me.  ”

But hang on a second. In retrospect, do you actually realize you have the potential to look as good as a star if you put some extra effort into it? I believe beauty is not skin deep, but who would refuse to look and feel better? As a makeup artist, I have never seen an ugly woman, but only women who don’t know how to present their unique beauty to the beholders. Given proper styling and makeup, every woman is a sparkling diamond. Here, I am going to show you how it works.

Same as any busy research student, Amber dedicates most of her time in never-ending experimentation and report writing. She thinks she looks plain, with a few flaws that she obviously dislikes, such as uneven skin tone, round face and smallish eyes (But don’t most of us have these?). She doesn't feel glamorous or believe that she can look like a star. So my mission is to prove her wrong.


1. Step one: Perfect your skin. The whole procedure includes concealing, applying foundation, contouring, highlighting and enhancing complexion.


See how much fresher she already looks. All I have done is only on the skin. Beautiful skin should always be the focus of your makeup. No matter how amazing your eye/lip makeup is, if your skin doesn't look flawless, the colours will show up muddy and dirty. However remember do not ever suffocate your skin with too much foundation (Honey we are not doing drag makeup). You need to let the true skin texture show through. 

2. Step two: Contour your eyes and shape your eyebrows. The makeup can be stop here if you want a natural daily look.


How many times do I have to tell all you ladies to take care of your eyebrows? They are not just some facial hair! They frame your face while balancing all the features. Not only do Amber’s eyes appear lifted by the new eyebrows, her face shape also looks more defined. Also, there is one note for all eye makeup maniacs: Beautiful eye makeup is not about colours. It is all about using different shades and depth to enhance/define/correct your natural eye shape. Here I mainly used a matte medium brown to contour Amber’s eyes, in order to extend and lift her whole upper lid while creating some depth. You don’t always need to wear dark liner and colours. Subtle eye makeup is also beautiful. There is no liners used here at all.

3. Step three: Dramatize your eyes for a sultry look but balance it with subtle lips.  


Eyes are windows to the soul. I love using makeup to add drama, and smoky eyes are always the easiest and safest way. Although colourful smoky eyes are trendy at that moment, nobody can go wrong with the old school black and brown combination. Many people claim that bold eyes and bold lips can work, but I would save that for editorial work. By doing so, you will automatically lose the focus point on your face. That's why I used a nude pink lipstick on Amber.

Last but not least,  proper hair styling and matching wardrobe go hand in hand to enhance your image. Remember, clothes are not just pieces of material covering you up and keeping you warm, they are also a statement of your personality and taste. If you want to be fabulous, dress accordingly!

Fellow beauty enthusiasts, after seeing this, would you consider a make over to change or enhance your image?

Your friendly makeup artist,


Copyright © 2013 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.

Makeup transformation: Recreation of the 60s Iconic Brigitte Bardot Look

No one knows  exactly when makeup had become an indispensable part of human life, but its history can be traced back to at least 6000 years ago in every society that has existed on earth. So why has human civilization been so imprinted with makeup? This certainly attributes to its unquestionable power to change and transform physical appearance. We all have witnessed its magic on big screen to turn anyone into creatures that you dare to imagine, but on a day to day basis, makeup is used not only to hide imperfection and enhance beauty, but to create powerful personal images, that are so distinguishable and have become an inseparable part of stardom. For example, Marilyn Monroe would only be recognized as Norma Jeane, the pretty girl next door, rather than the ultimate symbolic bombshell, until she established the iconic image with her very own makeup look created by makeup artist Whitey Snyder.

As a makeup artist, I often see star qualities which only need the right type of makeup to be brought out, in people from everyday life. Therefore, I was on the mission to find a girl, to make her up and show you the power of makeup. The first time I saw Eleanor, I noticed that she is such a classic beauty with an intriguing mixture of young girl innocence and mature woman seductiveness,  reminding me of the sexy 60s icon Brigitte Bardot. Yes, I want to make her Brigitte Bardot with a modern twist!  Luckily, she is such a sweetheart and generously donated her time to the makeover.

Makeup break down:

The Bridgett Bardot look is really simple to achieve.

1. The complexion:Focuses on flawless skin, with soft contouring and peachy blush. (Perfect complexion can make such a difference, as in the second photo, there is no other makeup applied on Eleanor except the base. )

a. I used a cream foundation matching Eleanor’s chest and neck, to even out skin tone and cover up her otherwise gorgeous freckles, as Brigitte always had perfect skin.

b. I placed a light pink highlighter on the centre of the forehead, above the eyebrow bone, on the bridge of the nose, underneath the eyes, and the centre of the chin.

c. I chose a foundation about four shades darker to her natural skin tone; placed it underneath the cheek bone, on the temple and side of the forehead, as well as along the hairline and jaw line.

d. All colours were blended together carefully with a damp sponge, without any noticeable demarcation.

e. I then added a peachy cream blush on the top of the cheek bone and blended it out with a small stippling brush. The whole face was not powdered to keep it slightly satinish.

Note: I am a dedicated practiser of proper contouring, but I’ve seen so many “over-contouring” recently thanks to Kim Kardashian.  I am not saying her contouring doesn’t look good, but not all looks/face shapes go well with the dramatic triangle lightness under eyes and darkness under cheekbones. A soft well-blended contouring without harsh lines and shapes is much more natural and flattering under most circumstances.

2. The eyes: Focus on dark liner and full lashes.

a. I lined the upper and lower lash lines, and the inner rims with the blackest eye kohl. To prevent smudge, a black shadow was pressed on top of the liner and blended out slightly to soften the edge.

b. I added a set of thick feathery fake eyelash onto Eleanor’s eyes, as Brigitte always had very long and dramatic lashes.

c. I then washed the entire lid with a soft taupe coloured eye shadow. The shadow used was minimal due to the drama created by the liner and lashes.

Note: I know many girls love lots of drama on the eye makeup. Heavy shadow, liner and lashes can work together. But at most time, especially in a real life situation, this combination can be too overdone and distracting.   Remember, for daily makeup, less is more.

3.  The lips: Focus on fullness.

a. Voluminous lips are definitely the most critical element in Brigitte’s look. To achieve so, I firstly used a neutral mocha colour to outline and fill in Eleanor’s entire lips. As her lips are already full, it was not necessary to overdraw, but I slightly rounded the outer edge of the upper lip.

b. I then used several coats of a peachy coloured nude lipstick on the top of the liner. I chose a colour that is lighter than the liner, and left the dark edge of the liner uncovered, to create the illusion of fullness. Although it may not be very practical in a day to day life, thick layers of lip products can add fullness.

c. To enhance the illusion of fullness, I lightly dabbed a white eye shadow in the centre of the lower lip.

Note: The technique described above can be used with any colour of lipstick, to create an illusion of fuller lips. It works really well with red lip sticks.



Eleanor before, during and after the make over. The middle photo demonstrates how the proper application of base products can enhance your complexion and features. All photos were taken under the same light stetting and are 100% un-retouched to honestly reflect the makeup.  Photos by Geoffrey Jones.


Elle01 900

From girl next door to sexy kitten in no time........Thanks again to my super talented husband Geoff (, for capturing the stunningness of Eleanor!

Copyright © 2013 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.

The ultimate guide to exfoliation: A beauty must

Why do you need to exfoliate?

Are you having any of these unpleasant experiences with your skin? No matter how much moisturizer you pile on, it still feels dry and looks flaky? You notice little bumps underneath it even you are not suffering from a single break out? The worst problem yet, is your foundation doesn’t go on smooth and simply vanishes on certain areas shortly after application, leaving a very unflattering patchy look!

So what is going on? You’ve done everything you know for the skin! You moisturize it ritually with a good cream; you carefully take off makeup and wash your face before bed every day; you wear sunscreen whenever natural light is in sight. What else can you do? You may start blaming your genes, or just spending more money on countless miraculous products to fix the problem (The SA can’t be lying right? Even her own skin doesn’t look that great)…..

But hang on. How much do you really know about skin? Skin; The largest organ of human body, has amazing abilities to renew itself over a 28-30 day cycle. Every second, new cells are generated in the bottom layer of the skin (the dermis), and over time, they migrate to the surface (the epidermis) and get filled with a protein called keratin, forming a protective barrier.  Cells on the surface eventually die and flake off, revealing newer cells underneath. However, many biological and environmental factors, such as changes of hormone levels, ageing, sun damage, harsh weather, medication and improper cosmetic usages can all impede this natural metabolism process, leaving excessive amount of dead cells clinging onto the skin surface. This can not only lead to a blotchy, dull complexion, but also causes a whole range of annoying conditions, including blemishes, clogged pores, dryness and loss of elasticity.

Fortunately, a procedure called exfoliation can efficiently remove the dead skin cells,boosting skin turn over and consequently giving back the baby smoothness and radiant look of you skin. On top of that, the effects of exfoliating regularly also include reducing break-outs, fading acne scars and hyper-pigmentation, and of course, fighting ageing which is every woman’s skincare enemy #1.

So if you haven’t included it in your skin care regime, you MUST check it out now!

How is exfoliation achieved?

Exfoliation is not rocket science. It can be achieve easily at home. Basically, there are two forms of exfoliation:

  1. Mechanical exfoliation.

Mechanical exfoliation involves physically sloughing off dead skin cells with an abrasive, such as nut shells (e.g the famous St’ Ives Apricot Scrub), sea salt, sugar, sponges, loofahs, microfiber cloths, micro-beads, microdermabrasion, or the recently much-hyped Clarisonic brush. This type of exfoliation is simple yet effective for normal and dry skin types without major skin problems. However, many exfoliants made with nutshells or other natural particles have sharp edges that can irritate skin and cause micro-cuts when rubbed against your face, therefore should be avoided by sensitive and inflamed skins in all instances. For skin with active breakout and infection, mechanical exfoliation could open infected pores and spread the bacteria all over the face, therefore is a big NO NO! That’s why many anti-acne face scrubs quite often exacerbate rather than help breakout (imagine the consequence of massaging all the acne-causing bacteria deep into your pores!).


 Clarisonic is the current hot shot for mechanical exfoliation.

    2.    Chemical exfoliation.

Also is referred to as chemical peel. Chemical exfoliation loosens the sticky bonds between dead skin cells and helps them to peel off through chemical actions delivered by various types of acids, which contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) or/and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs). This can also be achieved by enzymes extracted from fruits such as papaya and pineapple, but the efficiency is less potent. Other ingredients like retinol/retin-A/retinoic acid, resorcinol (all these are vitamin A derivatives) are also used, as they can promote cell turn-over while it flakes off dead cells.

Compared to mechanical exfoliation, chemical exfoliation is more versatile, as it’s suitable for most skin types and its peeling strength can be well controlled by adjusting the concentration of effective acids in a product and the amount of time it stays on the skin. There are a wide range of chemical exfoliants available on the market. The most common ones include lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Most over the counter products have relatively low concentration and has mild effects, while those with clinical strength are used strictly by licensed professionals.

 Despite its effectiveness, there are drawbacks with chemical exfoliants too. Skin sensitivity can be a general issue for beginners, but can be overcome by starting from a low concentration with less frequent use and gradually increasing it to let the skin build up resistance. Allergic reactions can occur , but fortunately people who are allergic to AHA may not be sensitive to BHA, and vice versa. Last but not least, increased sun sensitivity is inevitable after chemical exfoliation, which makes the usage of sunscreen a must.

There are also products containing both mechanical and chemical exfoliants available on the market, e.g a topical scrub with AHA. I personally dislike them as they may be way too harsh and cancel out the benefits of exfoliation.


So what type of exfoliant should you choose?

You may already be confused. The key is to choose the right type of exfoliant for your skin. I will break this down to make it simpler for you:

Normal and dry skin without any particular problems:Most exfoliants will do the job! However the extra benefits from AHAs, PHAs and vitamin A derivatives including increased collagen production, faster overall cell turnover, as well as reduced skin discoloration are something you don’t want to miss.


Oily or blemish-prone skin with/out breakout:As discussed above, mechanical exfoliants are not suitable for skin with active breakout and blemishes. BHA is preferred here over AHA because it is better at cutting through the oil inside the pore, and penetrating the pore is necessary to exfoliate the pore lining.  For people who are allergic to BHAs (if you are allergic to aspirin), AHA and retinol are the next options to consider. But using them sparingly and always start with a low concentration, as they are more sensitizing than BHA.


Mature skin with wrinkles and sun damage:Mechanical exfoliation is not ideal for mature skin as they are generally harsh on the already thinned skin and may cause broken capillaries. Chemical exfoliants including AHA, BHA and vitamin A derivatives are what you should consider. These exfoliants will not only even out skin tone, but also improve skin texture significantly. AHAs in high concentration are particularly effective at reducing deep wrinkles, but you’d better leave the application to professionals, rather than taking the risk of chemical burn. Retinol is also excellent for smoothing out skin while preventing damage caused by free radicals; however, some peoples’ skin just can’t tolerant it.


Skin with inflammatory conditions, such as dermatitis, eczema and cystic acnes:Please consult your dermatologist, as inflammation can be worsened by improper use of any exfoliants.


How often should you exfoliate?

Now you find your missing BFF. But should you two stick together all the time? The answer is NO. Moderation is the rule for everything, no matter how good it makes you feel. Excessive vitamin pills can increase cancer incidence, over exfoliation can damage your skin undoubtedly too. Some skins may benefit from daily exfoliation, while once per week could be too much for dry and sensitive skins. The rule of thumb? Listen to your skin! If your skin shows signs of irritation, such as excessive dryness, flakiness and redness, then you are overdoing it.Also remember to always start with a mild exfoliant and increase the potency gradually, and your skin will thank you for regular breaks from exfoliation too.


Product recommendation for chemical exfoliantion:

There are countless chemical exfoliants on the market yet many of them are either ineffective (mainly due to incorrect pH) or containing potential irritants. It’s literally impossible to try all of them out, but there here are some of my favourite yet inexpensive products:

John Plunkett Essentials Glyco Peel. This is an excellent AHA product with 25% glycolic acid. It also contains lacktokine which can stimulate cell regeneration and protect skin from inflammatory reactions. Available from most Australian chemists or buy it online from

glyco pee;
glyco pee;

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. One of the rare effective BHA products that work wonderfully on a wide range of skin types.( Unfortunately most BHA products on the market are not effective due to the wrong pH value). Ideal for skin prone to blemishes as it does unclog and diminish enlarged pores effectively. It is also claimed to be gentle enough to use on skin with rosacea. Ever since I started using it, I got much less blackheads and rarely had any breakouts (My skin is very oily and blemish prone). Can be purchased online from


Avene Eluage Cream. A rich facial cream which contains an effective amount of retinol without irritating skin. Although claimed to be an anti-aging product for women over 45, I found it has excellent ability to exfoliate skin and clear breakouts. What’s more, it’s formulated to be safe for sensitive skin (but please do test it before use if you have sensitive skin). This is the go-to product for me when my skin is down. Quite often one use is enough to give noticeable result.  But if this is not strong enough for you, see your dermatologist and get a prescription of a clinical strength retinol product. DO NOT use any products with vitamin A derivatives if you are pregnant or are preparing for pregnancy. Can be purchased from most chemists. 

avene eulage
avene eulage

Important note: When you decide to include a chemical exfoliant into your skin care regime, always follow the instruction or consult professionals. Always conduct a sensitivity test for new products. Most products should be used directly on cleaned face at night before moisturizing. Using exfoliants during the day or under your makeup is NEVER a great idea, not only because it makes your skin more susceptible to sun light and other environmental changes, but also the acidity from the product will oxidize and ruin your makeup. Last but not least, always wear a sunscreen with at least SPF15! 


Your friendly makeup artist,


Copyright © 2013 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.

Embracing natural beauty: Asian makeup transformation Part II

If you wanted to feel a little special; what would you do? Wearing makeup is a good start, but how about spicing things up?

The first look I did on Yileen was rather subtle and implicit, which is a precise reflection of her usual girl-next-door image.  I then decided to do something really different, to bring out her glamour and sultriness as a mature woman. The end result was breath taking as she just looked like a movie star! She later told me that on the way home after the shoot, she bumped onto few good friends, and they didn't even recognize her :)


The two different looks I did on Yileen. Photos were taken  exactly under the same light settings and were 100% UNRETOUCHED to honestly reflect the makeup. Photos by Geoff Jones

Key points to achieve this sultry look:

1.      Base:

I didn't add any extra foundation or concealer on Yileen as her skin already looked flawless. I just lightly powdered it.

2.      Contouring:

I slightly blended a cool toned brown contouring powder below her cheekbone and along the jaw line, to make her face shape more sculptured. This was also done on the side of her nose and eye socket.

3.      Complexion:

I enhanced her complexion with a peachy-orange cream blush, blended it seamlessly into the contouring and highlight.

4.      Eyes:

Eyes are definitely the focus of the whole look. Instead of bright contrasting colours, I prefer using similar colours with different tones (cooler or warmer), intensities (darker or lighter) and finishes (shimmery or matte) to sculpture the eyes with careful blending. On top of the eye makeup from the first look, I heavily lined Yileen’s upper lid all the way using a black pencil liner, and blend the liner up and out using a matte dark brown, from the out corner of the 1/3 eye length to the brown bone. The same colour was also used to slightly darken the front 1/3 of the eye and along the lower lash line. A golden shimmery brown was lightly placed in the middle of the upper lid and inner corner to enhance the dimensions. A black eye kohl pencil was used to line the lower waterline.  I then added a pair of fake lash to further dramatize the eye.

5.      Brows:

I didn't make any change at all.

6.      Lips:

Matching blush and lip tones always give a more sophisticated and chic look in my opinion. I used a rather light nude peachy colour here, as I didn't want her lips to compete with her eyes. Rule of thumb for me? Dark eyes and light lips. Vice versa.

Finishing touch? Put on a smile and feel all glamorous. Lights, camera, action!!


Photos by Geoff Jones. Makeup/hair/styling by me.

Just something about Yileen that you might find easy to relate to:

 Tell us something about yourself.

I’m Malaysian and am currently doing a PhD in Plant Science at ANU. I grew up being a bit of a geek slash tomboy. In a nutshell, I read a lot and love music – electropop, trance, ballads, pretty much anything with a good beat and rhythm to it, oh and I also have a very soft spot for guitarists!

What’s the definition of beauty to you?

I would associate the word “beauty” with anything that is aesthetically pleasing to look at; but if I had to make it more specific, I think people with elegance and subtlety (think geishas or ballet dancers!) especially beautiful.

What’s your beauty philosophy and daily regime?

I think health has got a lot to do with beauty. I believe that we are what we eat, so I try my best to look after myself well and have lots of fruits. It is always a struggle to stay away from alcohol and caffeine, but I make sure I've got on sunscreen every day, especially here in Australia where the sun is a lot harsher than in Malaysia. I've got extremely sensitive skin, and so I use as little products as I can. My regime is to simply wash my face with water and then moisturize on a daily basis. I have recently started exfoliating with lemon and honey twice a week, which has worked wonderfully well for me compared to any other products I have tried.

What’s your thought about makeup for women?

A lot of things we do in life are based around trying to be better, or to look better. I hate to come across as shallow, but physical appearance plays a big part in a woman’s life. Making up is a great way to enhance our natural features and to compliment different looks and styles. Makeup can also sometimes be an extension of our attitude and mood, and let’s admit it -- making up is fun! I am proud to say that makeup is a privilege that women have always had. Although I think the men are now starting to pick up on that, and so makeup isn’t really a girly thing anymore!

Do you wear makeup? When do you wear it? How? What’s your ideal makeup?

I had a terribly awful allergic reaction back in high school, so I have stayed away from putting anything on my face unless it was absolutely necessary. I have been brave enough to use makeup over the years, but only when the occasion calls for it. I try to keep it as simple as possible and stick to concealers, foundations, eyeliners and mascara, nothing more than necessary, really. I am years behind when it comes to experimenting with makeup, so I haven’t really struck my “ideal” look yet, but I’d say it would be a nude or clean look to compliment my current wardrobe.

Tell us something about the two makeup looks Mary has done for you.

The ‘girl-next-door’ look that Mary first worked on was such an eye-opener for me, as she had graciously taken the time to share a few tips on how to accentuate my features and yet keep it simple. I especially loved the ‘sultry’ look that she did next and it would definitely be something I can use for a romantic night out. It was amazing to see Mary work to accomplish these two looks with so little effort and so much passion! I am naturally shy in front of the camera, but both looks had made me feel confident enough to strike a few poses for Geoff!

Your friendly makeup artist,


Special thanks to my super-talented and supportive husband Geoff (Check his photography at to document the transformation and capture the beauty of Yileen! 

Copyright © 2013 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.

Read Part I of this transformation at:

Embracing natural beauty: Asian makeup transformation Part I

Makeup is not about masking, but taking pride of who you are.

Despite a recent rise of Asian faces in fashion world, the unique physical beauty of Asian women is rarely featured in western mainstream media, needless to say being praised. As one of the many Asian girls brought up in traditional eastern culture but living in a western country, I am being bombarded by Western aesthetics daily, which I found is particularly hard to relate to when it comes to makeup. Beside the preference of much more implicit beauty, facial anatomy also inevitably decides that we need to be made up differently, instead of wearing unsuitable styles and fighting our natural features.  After seeing many Asian girls wearing theatrical type of heavy makeup or resorting to plastic surgeries, just to mimic the standard Western facial features, I feel the importance to show that Asian are just as beautiful, and this can be easily achieved by choosing the right makeup styles.

Yileen was the first person popped out of my head.  Maybe it’s because our similar background (both are Asian of course, studying PhD in plant sciences in the same department), plus her endearing and cheerful personality made her even more approachable. Although she was a bit surprised at first (she never considered herself a model), I quickly assured her that it would be a fun experience.

For the first look, I want to keep it as light and natural as possible. The idea of proper makeup has to be heavy and made-up keeps lots of women from wearing it daily, missing numerous opportunities to feel better and look better. Therefore, I didn't use any dramatic contouring or eye lining to alter Yileen’s delicate features. Instead, I subtly adjusted the skin tone and balanced her features.


Yileen's before and after. All photos were taken under the exact same light setting and were 100% UN-RETOUCHED to honestly reflect the makeup.  Photos by Geoff Jones. Click the image for large view.

This look is very simple to achieve (less than 20 mins) and is definitely suitable for everyday wear! How to achieve the look? Keep reading!

1.      Base:  

I used a light-coverage liquid foundation on top of a thin layer of BB cream, to even out Yileen’s face and tone down the ruddiness. Although it is always said that you should use foundations match your natural skin tone (which is pink for Yileen), the foundation I chose was yellow-based as her neck and chest are both yellow-toned. BB cream is fantastic as a multifunctional makeup base, and can be worn alone for minimal coverage. Avoid caking on foundation if you have blemishes. Just spot conceal them. I used a liquid concealer under her eyes and over blemishes. Powdering was skipped as she has normal skin, and doing so left a healthy sheen.

2.      Contouring and highlighting:

I am usually a contour maniac, but I didn’t contour Yileen’s face at all as it’s already in a beautiful oval shape. Chiselled cheekbone and concaved temple are not always flattering, and over contouring can make your face look muddy and fake under day light. Fuller cheek with softer edge often give a much more youthful look (That’s why women with round face tend to look younger), and is more suitable for Asian women’s delicate features.

For highlighting, I used a liquid highlighter on the highest point of her cheekbone and nose bridge on the top of the foundation. Only selectively highlighting features that you want to emphasize, and use highlighter sparingly. Super shiny skin looks great in fashion/beauty editorials, but is not wearable in daily life, as you may just look greasy and dirty.

3.      Complexion:

I used a very light touch of peachy cream blush on the highest point of Yileen’s cheek, and carefully blended out it upwardly towards her ear and downwardly towards the tip of her nose. There are generally two typical mistakes women make in terms of applying blush for everyday makeup: First, abusing the amount of blush they use. Blush is used to imitate the natural subtle flush underneath the skin, so you know you used too much when the cheek colour gets more attention than other features.  Second, place the blush too low and/or too wide on the face. This will create an illusion of droopy cheek.  Rule of thumb to avoid it? Suck your cheek in and never go pass where it sinks.            

4.       Eyes:

I firstly used a light, shimmery golden shadow over Yileen’s entire upper eyelid, blending out from the lash line to just below the brow bone.  The same shadow was also used on her lower lid, concentrating on the inner corner.  A dark matte brown was then used on the 1/3 of the outer corner of both upper and lower lids to contour her eyes. Instead of strong liner, I used a push liner brush with the darkest brown to tightly line her upper lash line. Notice that there is no black shadow used? That’s because it can look harsh during day time. For a natural look, brown is very flattering on most skin tones, especially for Asian girls. I then curled her lashes (Well, that was a bit effort considering how straight they were!) and put two coats of mascara on.

 Due to the flatter eye structure, most Asian women don’t have obvious eye sockets with much eyelid showing. I've seen girls draw a crease using dark shadows to fake a socket; however that never looks very flattering in real life. Again, work on your natural features! Carefully layered and well blended colours in different texture and depth give a much more sophisticated yet natural look.

5.      Brows:

I am normally pedantic about eyebrow, but I didn't reshape Yileen’s at all, as it is in harmony with her features even they are not perfectly symmetric. I just lightly filled it in with a medium brown eye shadow using a dome shaped brush to avoid harsh lines. If you watch Korean drama, you will notice that most actresses kept their eyebrow very natural with minimal shaping and filling. This is opposite to the super neat, arched eyebrow trend worldwide, but can definitely give a younger, more refreshed look on some faces (Francois Nars is also a non-believer of eyebrow shaping).

6.      Lips:

The only feature I changed rather dramatically is Yileen’s lip colour. Her lips are in perfect shape, but due to the pink undertone, they appear rather red and draw much attention away from her other beautiful features. I muted them first with a concealer and used a peachy pink lipstick on top of it. As they are rather plump, I skipped gloss. 

That’s not all! I then tweaked the first look to make it perfect for a romantic date or an evening out! A short interview of Yileen talking about herself and her feelings about the transformation will be also featured in the second part.  And of course stay tuned for more stunning images :) 

(Special note: Certain makeup applications described as inappropriate above are only applicable in the context of daily corrective makeup, as they may be used for character and editorial makeup.)


Your friendly makeup artist,


Copyright © 2013 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.

Read Part II of this transformation now at:

Sixty years young (Eight makeup tips for mature skin)

Good evening fellow makeup enthusiasts! Hope the recent cold weather in Canberra didn't quench your passion for being beautiful!  Mother's Day is approaching soon, and as a daughter, I want to write something for all loving mums around the world. Here is my take :)

The majority beauty models in TV commercials and fashion magazines are under 25. Most makeup campaigns target young people. Many makeup artists have only worked on young faces.

What is going on? Does the natural aging process keep us from wearing makeup? Instead, mature women get bombarded with the overwhelming promotions of all sorts of anti-aging skin care products, and the negligence of main stream makeup market toward them inevitably makes us think, do we still need makeup as we get older?

But it is common sense that makeup can enhance anyone’s physical appearance, no matter you are old or young. Have you ever seen the paparazzi photos of Hollywood celebrities without makeup? Certainly glamor does not come from nowhere, and without the magic touch of makeup (of course plus hair styling, wardrobe, etc.), many stars are just pedestrians. Let’s be realistic. Although makeup cannot reverse your age from 80 to 18, it will make you look best at your age if it’s done properly. As a makeup artist, I believe that everyone has his/her own beauty at different age. I am constantly inspired by mature women, as they are attractive, wise, and confident. Just like wine, they get better with age.

My lovely mother-in-law Sue is definitely one of the most adorable women I ever met in my life. She has the most beautiful smile and her positive attitude is almost contagious. Believe or not, she is 60 years young( I really wish I can look as good when I am at her age). I had been wanting to do a makeup on her for a long time, and finally we sorted out some time during the Easter holiday. It’s not a typical makeover that you see in beauty books or magazines, as that type of makeup is often very dramatic and barely wearable in daily life. My aim is just to give Sue a healthier complexion as well as enhance her beautiful features in a natural way.

Here is the result as well as some makeup tips for mature people (Assume you know the basics of makeup). To show you what proper makeup can do, all photos were taken under natural lighting with ZERO digital modification (Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Jones at

1. Choose your foundation wisely: As people age, facial skin tends to become more pink-toned. That can be caused by many reasons, including poor blood circulation, thinning of the skin, or other conditions like rosacea and broken capillaries. However, that doesn’t mean you have to use pink-based foundation, as pink foundation on ruddy skin can age the skin and make it look unnatural. In contrast, yellow-based foundation can counteract the redness in the skin, as well as match the skin on your neck and chest better in most instances. Texture wise, powder foundation should really be the last choice, as it accentuates wrinkles and fine lines while makes skin look dull. Both liquid and cream foundations are good, but I found cream is ideal due to it relieves the dryness of most mature skin. Dewy finish is also more flattering compared to matte finish, as the slight sheen on the skin will make you face look fresher and healthier.A good foundation primer would also be a good investment, as it has the ability to smooth the skin out and minimize the appearance of pores.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

2. Get rid of heavy facial hair: In mature women, hormone changes (especially the reduction of female hormone e.g estrogen after menopause) may lead to heavy facial hair. To make the makeup stay put and the skin texture smooth, it is essential to get rid of the excessive facial hair by either shaving or waxing. Remember, moustache is never attractive on a lady.

3.  Sculpture your face with contouring: As we age, our faces change.  Gravity, loss of skin elasticity, the thinning of subcutaneous fat tissues, and loosen of the muscles all lead to a less tight profile. However, that doesn't necessarily mean we have to go under the knife to fight aging, as proper contouring can restore the youthful looking with relative ease. I am not going to take you through contouring in detail here as the topic itself is very extensive, but there are few fool proof techniques that everyone can do at home to change the look of your features.First, always highlight the triangle area underneath your eyes given eye bag is not a problem (Think of Kim Kadashian’s makeup, the highlight under her eyes is almost signature). Second, remember to highlight the nasolabial fold (lines along you nose and lips, which is also called smile lines or laugh lines).  Last but not least, remember to shadow the jaw line (to give face a lift) and the tip of the nose (nose tip tends to drop when people age).


Contouring is the best way to have a face lift without surgery

4. Cream blush/rouge is your new best friend: There is nothing wrong with powder blush, but it can accentuate dry complexion as they only blend well on powdered skin (Remember, powdery look doesn't go well with mature skin). Instead, try using a cream blush underneath your foundation or over to mimic the natural flush shown through the skin. It’s easy to do: Get a small dab of the cream blush, warm it up by spreading it on the back your hand. Then apply it sparingly on the highest point of your cheekbone, with fingers or foundation/small stippling brush, and gradually blend out  (I tend not to powder the cheek to reserve the natural sheen on the skin). One last thing, DO NOT smile and apply blush on the apple of your cheek (Believe me; I can quote so many top makeup artists on that, including Scott Barnes and Rae Morris)! You will end up with accentuated lines (as your blush gets stuck in the lines) and dropped cheek (Remember the apple of your cheek is no longer the highest point of your cheek once you stop smiling).


Apply cream blush with a small stippling brush over foundation is a good way to give skin a natural glow.

5. Keep eye makeup natural: Although when properly done, smoky eyes can look good on anyone at any age, many mature women won’t feel comfortable wearing dramatic makeup. Therefore the number one rule for mature eye makeup is to keep everything natural. Keep the colour neutral. Avoid shimmery/glittery eye shadows (these accentuate wrinkles and fine lines), matte ones are always more suitable. Deepening the socket is normally not necessary, as our eyes sink with aging. Do not use heavy liners, especially on the lower lid; as harsh line makes eyes appear smaller. Dark brown is almost always preferred eyeliner colour than black due to its softness and subtlety. Texture-wise, I try to shun liquid/gel eyeliners as they do not apply smoothly on eyelid with the slightest wrinkles (Yay for soft pencil liners).  Always curl eyelash to help eyes appear more open and youthful. Apply black mascara generously but avoid any clumping. False eyelash is a good asset but avoid heavy ones if the eyelash is sparse or natural finish is favoured.


Keep everything natural is the number one rule for eye makeup of mature people.

6. Frame your face with fuller eyebrow: Eyebrow is probably the most ignored feature in many people’s makeup routine, but no makeup is complete without perfect eyebrow.  Not only big eyebrows are trendy on run ways and editorials, but they make mature face more defined and youthful (Fuller eyebrows are always inevitably associated with youthful appearance). It also helps to open the eyes. See how different Sue’s face with/without defined eyebrows. If you are not sure what to do with you eyebrow, make an appointment with an eyebrow specialist. Trust me, I can never emphasize enough on how much properly shaped eyebrows will enhance your features.


Fuller eyebrow does not only frame your face better, but opens the eyes and makes them appear bigger. (Notice the difference between the left and right sides of Sue’s face? Everything is exactly the same except the eyebrow on the right side was enhanced).

7.  Go light on lips: I don’t know why some old-fashioned makeup artists suggest mature people should stay with dark lip colours. Darker lips appear smaller and duller. They don’t look flattering at all on most people, regardless of age. I am not suggesting frosty or nude colours are the right choice either (Save that for statement makeup or fashion magazines). Colours slightly darker (one to two shades) than your skin tone will make lips appear fuller (e.g coral, peachy pink) and complement your complexion perfectly. Moreover, I am also quite old school on matching your lip colour with rouge colour. (Yes, pink goes with pink and coral goes with coral, no exception). Texture wise, cream lipstick is ideal because matte ones can be drying for most people and look flat. Lining the lips is not essential but it will correct lip shapes to some extent and increase the longevity of your lipstick. Just remember to match the colour of the lip liner and lip stick as close as possible (Or use a natural coloured lip liner which is lighter than the lipstick). I am also quite conservative on the use of lip gloss as it can make you look like you are drooling in many cases (Less is always more, don’t abuse it). A dab on the centre of the lips is normally sufficient.

8. Smile, smile and smile: There is nothing better than having a positive attitude toward yourself and life. Love yourself and others. A genuine smile will beautify anyone. Be confident. You wear the makeup but do not let the makeup wear you.

before and after

Before (wearing minimal daily makeup) and after photos of Sue. Proper makeup can complement your features and make you look fresher.


Sue with her best buddy Flossie. A smile is the best makeup that everyone should wear.   

I know I should make things short and sweet, but it's not always easy to do so when I want to share all my knowledge with you. Hope those tips are helpful to you, your mum and even your grand mum :) Many thanks to Sue for giving me the privilege to  do a makeup on her beautiful face too! If you have any question or suggestion, please leave a comment below or drop a line here. Please also follow me on my FB page

You friendly makeup artist,

Mary xx

Copyright © 2012 Mary Li Makeup Artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.

Preparing for a photo shoot (or look fab/camera-ready for special occasions)

Greeting folks! I am Mary, a makeup artist based in Canberra, Australia. This is my second blog entry. I know it looks text heavy, but I've put a lot of thoughts and information into it, which makes it a valuable read for new models or anyone who wants to look fabulous in photos. Hope you enjoy!

beauty blog 1
beauty blog 1

  Want a beautiful glowing complexion in photos like those models? Then keep reading!(Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Jones at Makeup by me. Model: Stefania Knightley and Katie).

Most seasoned professional models know by experience what needs to be done before a photo shoot. However, if you are a beginner who is going to have your first portfolio shoot, chances are you are a bit lost on what would be expected of you from the photographer and makeup artist. This guideline is written to help anyone who is going to have a photo shoot in the near future (not just models),  The more strictly you follow these guidelines, the better your shots will turn out.

Long term maintenance (Who doesn’t want great skin and a fit body?):

1. Always take care of your skin, following a rigid routine of cleaning, exfoliating (This is a must and has to be done at least once a week!) and moisturizing. Apply a sunscreen whenever   you are going outdoor, even just for 5 minutes.

 2. Drink a lot of water on daily basis.

 3. Eat a clean and healthy diet, and exercise regularly.

 4. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

 5. Avoid excessive consumption of sugar. If the promise of a slimmer waistline hasn't curbed your sweet tooth, maybe the desire for smooth skin will. That might give the low carbohydrate diet a brand new justification. Excessive sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), causing damage to collagen and elastin, the protein fibres that keep skin firm and elastic (Hello, wrinkles and sagging! Weakened joints too!). These aging effects start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that. So really think twice next time when you are allured by the chocolate cake or doughnut!

! To sum up: Live a healthy lifestyle. I know this is grandma’s nagging and you probably know better than this. But how many people out there literally follow these?

Short term preparation (Just before the shoot)

5 days before the shoot:

1. Check your hair. If it has been a while since you had a trim, now is the time. Do not go too wild for the hair style. If your hair is dry, get a deep conditioning treatment. Refresh your hair colour a few days before the shoot. Dark roots will look even worse in photos.

2. Have your eyebrows professionally shaped and then maintain them by plucking the strays every few days. Any waxing needs to be done at least three days prior to the shoot, otherwise makeup won’t stick to the skin around your eyebrow bone. Having a makeup artist shaping your eyebrows on the spot is time consuming and you might get puffy/red eyelids afterward too.

72 hours before shoot:

1. Avoid the following items (They can give you bad skin and swelling):


  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Red meat
  • Spicy, salty and processed food (Cause water retention in the body).
  • Fast food and oily food (Cause oily skin and break-out)
  • Excessive consumption of dairy product. Dairy can be a major trigger of acne in many people.
  • Sudden change of diet (May cause break-out and skin allergy).

Cosmetics-wise and the others:

  • Prolonged sun exposure. Sunburn shows up well in photos (Think of the redness and demarcation lines on the body). Due to severe dehydration and damage to skin tissues, makeup will further irritate the burned skin, causing the sunburn to last longer and possibly even develop blisters. Even if you decide to risk your skin health and wear makeup, no product will stay put on sunburned skin. The quick absorption of any water content from the makeup will only leave you a blotchy flaky look.
  • Skin care products containing Retin A, Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA; e. g lactic acid, glycolic acid) and benzoyl peroxide (Main ingredient in many over-the-counter products for acne treatment, e. g Proactive). These will cause skin peeling that cannot be covered by any makeup (Photoshop nightmare!); and due to the loss of surface cells, makeup product cannot adhere to your skin well either (You may look like wearing a mask).
  • Any new skin care regime or new makeup products. This is not a good time to test out new products and risk skin irritation and allergy.
  • Sleep deprivation. That means no partying. Lack of sleep will dehydrate your skin and mess up your body.
  • Smoking.
  • Illicit Drugs.
  • Stress. Yes, this one is hard to avoid. But at least try not to have the shoot arranged right before your final examination or when you are facing some significant difficulties in your life.

 2. Drink a lot of water whenever possible. Carry it with you everywhere you go and keep sipping.

 3. Get rid of your body hair by either waxing or shaving. Anywhere and everywhere it could possibly been seen! If you are shooting lingerie or swim wear, do not forget the bikini line.

 4. Fingernails and toenails should be well manicured, and polished colourless or French,   unless there is any specific requirement from the shoot. Many great photographs have been ruined by horrible nails.

 5. If you have facial hair and you are a woman, you need to have it waxed. Peach fuzz will show up on your skin and looks worse in photo (Powder + facial hair= mildew on skin).

24 hours before the shoot:

1. Exfoliate your skin (face and body) the night before the shoot, ideally followed by a hydrating mask treatment for you face. If you’ve never done exfoliation, you seriously need to include that into your skin care regimen. Lots of skin problems, such as dull complexion, dryness and acne, are either caused or exuberated by the lack of proper exfoliation.

2. Avoid dry lips by putting Vaseline or Pawpaw ointment on your lips before bed and the morning of your shoot. Exfoliate your lips the night before you shoot by brushing them with your tooth brush.

On the shooting day:

1. Clean and dry your hair before you arrive at the shoot. Do not over condition your hair, as silicone in many conditioners will weigh your hair down and make it difficult to style; especially when volume is needed.  Light styling products can be used to make hair behave. Do not use dry shampoo as all powder will show up in the photos, especially if you have dark hair.

2. Arrive with clean skin without any product. All traces of makeup should be gone from your skin. No eyeliner and mascara should be left. Tinted moisturizer is not allowed either.

 3. Wear loose and comfortable clothing to the shoot; clothes that bind will leave unwanted marks (especially from bra strap).

 4. Bring strapless bras, nude underwear and a tube top (clean, basic colours only. E.g black, white or grey).

 5. Carry your own mascara with you, in case the makeup artist does not use disposable wand. Not everyone practices perfect hygiene.

 6. Bring eye drops which can stop bloodshot eyes (That can ruin photos too).

7. Bring a straw so you can sip water after your lip makeup is done.

8. Bring some snacks/energy drink if the shoot is likely going to be long.

9. Avoid big meal before the shoot. Avoid food which may cause bloating or any uncomfortableness.

10. Bring anti-perspirant if you sweat a lot.

Other things might be worthy noticing:

1. Try not to schedule the shoot right before or during your period. Quite likely you will look slightly puffier and more bloated.

2. Re-schedule the shoot if you have any contagious diseases including flu, which can be spread by air or skin contact. No makeup artist will touch a face with impetigo either.

3. A few pimples are not a big deal as they can be easily covered by makeup or erased from the images by post-processing. Do not over-clean your face and use harsh products containing alcohol, Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) and benzyl peroxide all over your face, as these will dry your skin out significantly. Do spot treatment and use an oil-free hydrating lotion/cream in addition to minimize side effects caused by those products. If you have persistent acne problems, please consult a skin care professional.

Last but not least, makeup artists are like painters. They need a clean, smooth canvas to guarantee proper application of different products, in order to bring the best out of you. Taking care of your skin is not only a prerequisite for professional model, but important for maintaining your optimal health.

Phew...That's quite a bit of reading, is it? (A quite long writing for me too!) If you notice that I've forgetten something , or have any suggestion/opinion (different opinions are always welcome :) ), please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an message here

Your friendly makeup artist,


Copyright © 2012 Mary Li Makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my express permission.

There's something about Mary (Me)

Hello world! It’s been such a long time since I wanted to start a blog (which may actually attract an audience)! I am Mary (I know how misleading it is for an authentic Chinese to use an English name, but please excuse me for getting confused constantly by how most non-Chinese speakers pronounce my real name Junyan. Someone even tried to call me Juan once), a researcher in plant molecular biology in Canberra, Australia. And oh yes, I am among those “evil” ones that Green activists fight with all the time. But relax; neither am I going to delve into the scientific circles that appear esoteric to the general public, nor to summon you the illogic behind the pandemic worries about GM food. I am here to blog about something common in everyone’s daily life that I am always passionate about, and hopefully it interests you too.

It may sound odd, but I am a scientist as well as being a makeup artist (I kinda enjoy the surprised look on peoples faces when they hear that). Maybe there isn’t much logical link between those two occupations, but I found the procedure of performing experiments is really not that alien to doing makeup, since they all require the fundamental elements of creativity, as well as precision and skills. The major differences of the two mostly reside in the purposes and outcomes. As much as I enjoy the challenging side of being a scientist, I have to admit that I suffer from constant frustration too: You never know whether the experiment will work; even it works, you can’t necessarily interpret it . The worst part is, working on a molecular level means 90% times, you don’t get to see what you are doing. Moreover, there is barely a moment that I can balance my creativity/imagination with reality in science (Just ask my supervisor how many wild, impractical experiments I would propose and get rejected annually). In stark contrast, doing makeup ultimately satisfies my needs of imagination and creation, and the results are always instantaneous.

People always ask me, how you started doing makeup. I just know I always love doing it. Ever since I played with my aunt’s makeup when I was four (She was always so willing and patient to let me doodle on her face), I wanted to be a makeup artist. Although I did exhibited some art talent at early childhood, the general Chinese society back then did not think highly of artists, especially for those are bound to serve people (Probably still hasn’t changed much nowadays). This concept rooted deeply in my parents and the schooling system; therefore my dream of pursuing a job in beauty/fashion was always discouraged (Have to admit, I was quite an obedient kid and lived in fear of disappointing my parents most of my life). But that didn’t keep me from drawing (mainly human faces), collecting fashion magazines, and dressing in a “bizarre” way that my classmates always made fun of. After I got into university, I was finally allowed owning and wearing makeup. I started doing makeup on lots of my female friends and relatives, and realized that I seem to have the born capability to make people look better; even I barely knew anything about colour, anatomy and makeup. I also felt so exhilarated when I made people feel beautiful, and not until now had I realized it fulfilled my human purpose of service more than most things I’ve done in my life.  However, I was under the pressure to hone skills that can guarantee me a “decent” job back then (hopefully a teacher, a doctor, or a scientist); makeup can at most serve me as a hobby. In the last decade, I worked my tail off toward my scientific career, and many life-changing things also happened, including moving to Australia to pursue my graduate degree, getting married and settling down. Life was hard and exhausting back then; and doing makeup became a remote dream that gradually ebbed away.

But things changed again about two year ago. My husband was always an enthusiastic photographer, and after winning a few photography completions with relative ease, he decided to become more serious about it. He started shooting with local models, which consequently made hiring makeup artist a must. I volunteered. I knew that I didn’t really have much time to idle (believe me, most scientists are competitive, hard-working nuts), but I desperately needed it to lift my life. My crazy, spiritual, and creative mind was trapped by the mundaneness of daily life. Once I started doing makeup on a regular basis, I never looked back. Doing makeup officially becomes an imprinted part of my life.  Words simply can’t describe the satisfaction and peace it brings me. I have to admit that it’s not an easy thing to pursue either, as I sacrificed most of all my spare time and money on it. But I believe it’s all worth the effort.  Today, I can’t say that I am 100% happy with all my work (I am barely satisfied with most things I’ve achieved anyway, being a perfectionist plus harsh self-critiquer), but I’ve progressed significantly compared to where I started. However, I am still learning and thriving to be a better artist every day.

Browsing through the Internet, starting a blog is probably the last thing that I should do with my limited life, risking becoming a dime a dozen.  But I think I have something unique to offer you. Other than self-marketing, I am here to talk about what I really love, to share with you my knowledge and life journey in a makeup aspect. I am not going to bombarded you with the consumerism-driven product information, but to show you and discuss simple things that can make life more beautiful. Behold, I won’t let you down.

Your friendly makeup aritist,

Mary xx

Mary Li makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia