Yes, as far as beauty goes, Fashion Week Australia is about fresh new hair and makeup trends. But—and I think you'll appreciate this—it's also the one time of year I get up real close and personal with the industry's most knowledgeable. Could there be a better opportunity to quiz countless experts on everything from eyeliner hacks to favourite foundations? I don't think so. This year I used my backstage time to ask something relevant to me—what's your go-to method for flawlessly concealing a pimple? When a model turns up pre-show sporting a breakout, or worse, the aftermath of over-zealous extractions, makeup artists only have a limited amount of time to hide it. Not only that, an amateur cover-up won't do. These guys are called upon to do their best Photoshop impressions, and make the entire situation disappear. It's a talent, trust me.
Ahead, you'll find tips and hacks from fashion week makeup directors on expertly hiding blemishes, as well as the products they really use to do so backstage. Every pro has a slightly different bag of tricks, but don't let that confuse you—options are a good thing. What may work best for one type of blemish, may not for another. And it's always good to have a few skin-perfecting aces up your proverbial sleeve, amirite?
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Backstage at Thomas Puttick, a show cast with muses (not models), Shu Uemura's makeup director Panda walked me through her method. Note: It's more about skincare than makeup. "The important thing is cleansing, because without good skin you can't have a flawless makeup application afterwards," she says. Panda recommends using an oil-based cleanser to balance excess shine, and prevent it from returning. (Her pick is PoreFinist Anti-Shine Fresh Cleansing Oil, $112) Applying moisturizer is also essential. Boosting the skin's moisture levels can prevent it from "doing tricky things later, like allowing more oil to come through". Apply a thin layer of foundation and, if needed, dot concealer on top. Setting with powder is optional. Panda recommends adding a sheer layer of powder only if the skin still appears slick.
At Steven Khalil, Heidi Scarlet-King echoed Panda's instructions, stressing the importance of skin prep. "The area around a blemish can be quite dry, so if that's what you're dealing with, make sure it's heavily moisturized prior to applying makeup," she says. As for a foolproof concealing method, the Revlon makeup director recommends a two-step process: "If you're doing a no-makeup look it can be quite tricky, but the best way is to first create a base of coverage." To do this 'dance' a soft fluffy brush dipped in a minimal amount of concealer across the areas. Next, switch to a stiff pencil brush, and dab concealer directly on the spot. Work around the edges with your finger to blend, and lightly dust ColorStay Translucent Powder ($35) on top to set.
Mikele Simone, makeup director for The Body Shop at Karla Spetic, also prescribes nourishing skincare pre-makeup: "When you've got a blemish that's raised concealer doesn't seem to last, so I tend to apply moisturizer first then tap off the excess." Next comes concealer, but Simone's method is slightly different. "Don't use a brush to cover a spot—it's like painting on a mirror—the product slides right off," he says. Instead, press on concealer with a clean finger, blend out the edges and set with powder. Depending on the blemish, you may be able to layer product for more coverage. In this instance, you'd do a light application of concealer and powder, then repeat concealer, powder.
Kate Squires, makeup director for Napoleon Perdis at Christopher Esber, also subscribes to the 'foundation then—maybe—concealer' approach. "I like to lay down a sheer base first because it allows anything placed on top to graduate and fade away into the skin," she says. Next, Squires uses a fine lip brush to dot concealer onto the blemish, working the product into the skin with her fingers, and building up the coverage. If you can't get the concealer to stick, try this hack. "Sometimes I loosely spot a foundation stick onto the area and let it sit—I call this 'marinating' because the skin absorbs some of the pigment," she says. By the time you come to blend, you won't lift as much off.
Nicole Thompson, makeup director for MAC at Bec & Bridge says the most common concealer mistake she sees is too much coverage: "I understand why—we get a blemish, don't know what to do, and cover it really thickly." Thompson recommends starting with a light base of foundation, and then concealing if needed. (Sensing a theme here?) She most often relies on a small pointy eyeliner brush and full coverage concealer, however if a spot is raised, she'll use powder instead. "Face powder is perfect in this instance because it visually flattens the area." Go for a shade that either matches your skin, or is one tone lighter, to counteract the darkness caused by layering product in one spot.