We often get the unique pleasure of working with some of the industry's most notable makeup artists—you could call it an occupational hazard, but I like to call it the best possible perk imaginable. During these moments, they off-handedly impart wisdom like it's obvious, meanwhile, their tips and secrets have very literally improved our faces.
Below, the editors at Byrdie HQ detail the best wisdom imparted to them by makeup artists thus far. From almost-nude lipstick to the easiest way to apply foundation and the most flattering eye shadow, here are ten makeup tricks you never knew you needed from some of our favorite makeup artists.
"I met up with Charlotte a few weeks ago to learn about her new launches, one of which is this creamy, demi-matte lipstick version of her best-selling lipliner in Pillowtalk. I swiped on the tawny-pink shade at the event, as did the three other editors next to me. Lo and behold, it not only was extremely flattering on me, but it looked good on everyone—and we all had different skin tones. This is now my go-to everyday lipstick; I apply it anytime I want to give my lips a bit more color without committing to a full-on lipstick.
"I witnessed Sir John use these super-skinny cotton swabs on the set of a shoot and immediately demanded he tell me what they were (in a kind and non-aggressive way, of course). He explained that he much prefers using them to normal cotton swabs because they're much more precise; plus, the cotton is wound so tightly at the tips they allow you to erase eyeliner mistakes or wing out liner with the precision of a true artist."
"I've loved Baby Lips since they first launched, but I had always skipped over the Quenched shade in favor of the tinted versions. Then, I watched makeup artist Grace Lee use it for, well, everything backstage during fall fashion week a few years back, and I realized what I was missing out on. This clear balm is truly a beauty overachiever; yes, you can use it to moisturize your lips, but I also find that it makes a great light-reflecting highlighter when you tap it along your cheekbones. You can also pat it over any eye shadow to give it a more glossy effect with none of the stickiness.
"Some people consider themselves wine connoisseurs; I consider myself an expert in the area of eyeliners. Thus, I was intrigued by all the ones in this list of the best drugstore eyeliners that Byrdie's beauty director Deven put together. This dual-ended, chubby Rimmel liner was the only one that got two makeup artist stamps of approval, and thus, I knew I had to try it immediately. Sure enough, it didn't disappoint. I use the khol side to trace along my waterline (pro tip: Twist it up, and then hold it horizontal to smudge against your eye—it's more precise that way), and on days when I need to hop from the office to drinks, I'll trace the eye shadow side along my liner and smudge it out with my fingertips for an instant smoky eye.
Be warned: The liner side does have flecks of glitter (which to me, is never a bad thing)."
"It's so cliché, but I have to credit my discovery of the Beautyblender to watching makeup artists on YouTube. Back in college, I'd try to save some cash by using a drugstore dupe when my old Beautyblender had seen its day, but nothing has ever come close. I've had to justify this to friends when they ask if $20 is really necessary for a glorified sponge, but I insist it is: The consistency is bouncy but not too firm, it's porous but not too porous, and its shape is perfect for getting into every single nook and cranny seamlessly.
It gives me the perfect airbrushed finish—I practically go into a tailspin if I've forgotten to pack it and realize I'll have to improvise with my fingers. The end result isn't nearly as flawless."
I did a shoot with Sir John a few months ago (yes, it was a dream) and he mentioned he uses an Artis Elite Mirror Palm Brush ($65) to apply foundation instead of a Beautyblender ($20). As a sponge devotee, I was shook. He explained, "A Beautyblender is perfect for removing fingerprints and blending out product, but for a truly airbrushed finish, use the Palm Brush."
"Alice An, a makeup artist for Make Up For Ever, taught me perhaps one of the most life-changing tricks. Of course, I was already familiar with setting spray, but I wasn't ever really sure if it worked. On days when I needed extra staying power, I would stand in my bathroom, spray my face, and hope for the best. Instead, An suggests taking the guesswork out of it and using large cotton pads to set your makeup. The problem with spraying it on is that you never know how much you're using, and it applies in an uneven way.
Instead, spray the exact amount you want onto a cotton pad and hold it to your face. That way, it really sinks into your skin, and you can customize where the product goes and how much. Brilliant."
"Powder highlighters during the daytime are not your friend—they just won't look believable in natural light. Instead, makeup artist Suzy Gerstein suggested that for everyday use, take a cream highlighter like RMS's and tap it subtly along the tops of your cheekbones (and nowhere else)!"
"Makeup artist Kara Yoshimoto Bua told me this: 'When you're filling in your brows with a pencil, instead of shading them in like a magic marker, try to create soft individual hair strokes within the natural arch of your brow wherever they aren't as full. This will look infinitely more natural and will help you avoid the dreaded Instagram brow/caterpillar brow, especially if you have straight-across brows like I do.'"
"I was getting my eyebrows groomed by celebrity makeup artist and brow-shaper Stevi Christine when she told me to try Laura Mercier's Caviar Stick in Rosegold. She insisted the shade would make my blue eyes pop, and she wasn't wrong. Days after my visit with Christine, I tried on the metallic rose shadow and fell in love with the easy-to-blend cream formula, as well as the color, which, as Christine predicted, enhanced my blue eyes. To this day, it's my all-time favorite eye shadow."