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.