7 Makeup Lessons I Learned From Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Long before Rosie Huntington-Whiteley founded her namesake beauty website, Rose Inc., she was a personal beauty muse of mine. I love her skin-first, makeup-second approach. I love the way she's not afraid to play with bright colors and bold shapes yet always keeps the end result looking high-end and editorial. What can I say? Whiteley is (along with other celebs, like Lily Collins, Emma Stone, Emma Watson, and Shay Mitchell) a major source of makeup inspiration for me.

That's why I was overjoyed to attend Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's makeup master class in partnership with BareMinerals (for which Whiteley is a brand ambassador) and celebrity makeup artists Katie Jane Hughes and Nikki DeRoest. Throughout the class, which took place in a nondescript yet trendy Hollywood studio, I did my due diligence, scribbling down each bit of brilliance that came my way—and trust me when I say there were many.

After the class, I had the opportunity to interview Whiteley, one-on-one, about her favorite beauty tips, her go-to products, New York versus L.A. style, and more. Here is everything (and I mean everything) I learned from the experience.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Makeup Master Class

Throughout the entirety of the master class, as I sat in the crowd scribbling on my notebook, I couldn't help but marvel at the seemingly ethereal goddess that was Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Not only was she beautiful as a supermodel is sure to be, but she was knowledgeable, sweet, and composed, fielding questions from the makeup artists and offering them back, sprinkling the conversation with that signature British dry wit.

For the first half of the event, she sat onstage next to Katie Jane Hughes while the latter painted the face of a volunteer model, teaching us humble makeup mortals how to wear bold color in the daytime (because if there's anything you can learn from scrolling through Hughes's Instagram, it's that color can and should be worn whenever you wish). 

1. Use a Makeup Spray With Glycerin

The first piece of beauty brilliance that I scribbled down from Hughes's demonstration was to reach for a makeup spray with glycerin. Apparently, these formulations are best for holding makeup to the skin, where it's supposed to be. They can also be added to a powder eye shadow in order to create a liquid eyeliner. Simply add a couple of drops of spray to the corner of a pan of pressed powder, dip a liner brush in, and swipe it across your lash line for DIY liner. This is a great money-saving tip, especially if you want to use a bold color but don't want to shell out money for a brand-new eye pencil.

MAC Prep & Prime Fix + $28

If you've ever tuned into to Hughes's Instagram Lives, then you're sure to be familiar with this classic MAC spray, which she uses often. Glycerin is the second ingredient, so it's extremely effective at setting makeup as well as hydrating the skin. Now, do as Hughes does, and try adding it to a powder eye shadow to transform it into a liquid liner.

2. Look Down When Applying Mascara

Here's a really surprising tidbit: Hughes has her clients apply their own mascara since everyone seems to have a specific application preference—plus, they have a better angle at which to coat every lash from root to tip. The only third-party piece of advice she offers is to look down during the application process. In other words, grab a handheld mirror, hold it below your face, and look directly down into it while swiping on mascara. This prevents any of the product from transferring from the lashes to the lids before it dries. If you do still get mascara on your eyelids, buff it away with a dry cotton swab so as not to disturb any makeup (like eye shadow) that's sitting underneath.

Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara -
Hourglass Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara $29

If your goal is drama, try using this Hourglass mascara, which adds an insane amount of volume, length, and definition. Seriously, it takes your lashes from 0 to 100 real quick.

3. Mix Lip Color With Concealer for a "Bespoke" Nude Shade

This was my favorite tip from Hughes, and one I've already used on three separate occasions. When it came time to pair her model's bold teal eye shadow with lipstick, she recommended mixing the lip color of one's choice with a skin tone–matching concealer to create a personalized shade of nude lipstick. Personally, I thought this was brilliant. Since my concealer already matches my skin tone, adding my favorite pink lipstick to it will tone down the color and ensure it matches the rest of my makeup. 

BareMinerals BareSkin Complete Coverage Serum Concealer $22

Try mixing your favorite shade of lipstick with this BareMinerals concealer, which is ultra-pigmented, creamy, and hydrating thanks to its unique serum formula. I wore it at the master class, and I'm happy to report that it perfected my complexion without looking cakey or dry. In fact, it lasted all night long without creasing or flaking, which is a significant first for my dry/combination skin.

4. Swipe Foundation Down Your Cheek to Find the Perfect Shade

After Hughes, celeb makeup artist Nikki DeRoest came onstage to apply makeup to Whiteley's famous visage. She created a red-pink smoky eye complete with a matching lip and youthful rose-petal pink cheeks. She started the look by applying Huntington-Whiteley's base makeup, during which she shared insights on how to accurately shade match your foundation.

Take the three shades you think are closest to your skin tone, and swipe them down your cheek in three parallel lines. This, she said, is the easiest way to compare undertones and find the perfect shade for you. If you're stuck between two different shades, mix them together to create a personalized shade that will match the skin on your face, neck, and chest.

BareMinerals BarePro Performance Wear Liquid Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20 $34

Try DeRoest's shade-matching technique with this liquid foundation from BareMinerals, which she used on Whiteley during the master class. It creates an even canvas on your skin, disguising blemishes while bamboo stem extract smoothes the skin and papaya enzymes improve the skin's texture. What I love most about it is that it's self-setting. In other words, it doesn't require a setting powder post-application. Plus, it's transfer-resistant.

5. Use Matte Liquid Lipstick as Eye Shadow and/or Primer

Team Byrdie is no stranger to using liquid lipstick as eye shadow, and that includes this beauty writer. In fact, I've even used lip gloss, blush, and traditional lipstick as eye color. However, I've never thought of using it as a primer or layering product. DeRoest showed me what I've been missing when she used L'Oréal Infallible Matte Lipstick in Velvet Pout ($9) on Huntington-Whiteley's eyelids as a base color before layering another slightly different shade of traditional eye shadow on top. This technique strengthened the eye shadow's saturation and staying power, so it was incredibly bold and long-wearing.

L'Oréal Infallible Matte Lipstick in Velvet Pout $9

This is the first product DeRoest applied to Huntington-Whiteley's eyelids. It's actually a matte liquid lipstick, but at the master class, it doubled as the prettiest rose-pink shade of eye shadow.

6. Use a Business Card as a Cat-Eye Template

If there's one single beauty look that's universally difficult to create, it's a cat eye. Mastering a feline flick can feel impossible on one eye and even more so when it comes to matching the length and angle of the liner on the other eye. DeRoest's hack simplifies the process. Taking a business card, she placed it at an angle from Huntington-Whiteley's lower lash line to her brow bone (this is similar to the tape trick that went around Instagram a few years back, except it won't irritate the skin or leave any sticky residue behind). Then, she applied liner and eye shadow. When she took the business card away, a clean, no-fuss line was left behind. Do the same on the other eye, and both sides will match like twins, not sisters.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner $20

For a traditional black cat eye, I like using Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner since it has an ultra-thin tip that's easy to control. It's also the best eyeliner I've ever used for maneuvering eyeliner in between the lashes of my lashline. I hate how other liners leave noticeable gaps between my lashes.

7. Use Burgundy Mascara Instead of Brown or Black Mascara

When it came time for mascara, DeRoest revealed that she often uses burgundy mascara in lieu of traditional black or brown since it's unique without being kooky and universally flattering without being boring. I can attest to the wonders of burgundy mascara. After the master class, when I interviewed Huntington-Whiteley, her lashes looked fluffy and defined, not clumpy, spiky, or distracting. I was instantly sold on the idea that this was the secret to supermodel-level lashes.

L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara
L'Oréal Voluminous Original Mascara in Deep Burgundy $6

The burgundy mascara DeRoest used on Huntington-Whiteley's lashes was this one from L'Oréal. It's a part of the brand's Voluminous line, which is well-loved by beauty editors, influencers, and artists for the easy length and volume it provides. The traditional black Voluminous formula has been my go-to mascara for years, but rest assured I'll be switching over to the burgundy side after seeing those long and fluttery lashes.

Speaking of, next it was time to interview the star of the show herself, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. I was ushered into a back room, where she sat reclined on a sofa. She welcomed me in and thanked me for coming, like the sweet and graceful superhuman she is. I, of course, told her the pleasure was all mine, before launching into my long list of questions.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Makeup Advice

Can you talk a little bit about how this master class idea came to be?

When we launched the [Rose Inc.] site, a lot of people were asking me why I didn't want to do a launch event—like a typical launch event—and I held off on it because I really wanted to do something that was inclusive to our readers and bring them in on the experience. Also, I always like the idea of turning up to an event and actually leaving with something, with knowledge or an experience, so that was really my decision. I really wanted to celebrate the launch with our readers and with people who have been supportive of the site so far, so it was really about throwing something that was more experiential and that people could walk away from feeling like they learned something or feeling that they were inspired in some way.

Can we expect any other Rose Inc. events in the future?

We're working on some really exciting stuff. Hopefully, this will be the first of many master classes. I know when we made the announcement, it was kind of overwhelming to see the response of so many people all over the globe saying, "Please come to New York! Please come to London! Please come to Miami!" And other cities that would like to have us there. It should be the first of many.

If you had to choose the most important or influential beauty tip you've learned from Nikki DeRoest, what would it be?

Nikki always inspires me to wear glittery eye shadow cause she's always wearing it. She does her makeup exactly how I want to do my makeup. It always looks really fresh, really dewy—she has amazing skin—and then she always has a little bit of sparkle on the eye. Every time I look at her, I'm like, I want to go home and try to re-create that.

What about the most important or influential beauty tip you've learned from Katie Jane Hughes?

Katie probably has made me more confident to experiment with color and just doing things that have a little bit of quirkiness to them. Sometimes I tend to lean toward makeup that's more classical or just more timeless. I think she has a great way of combining stuff that feels really modern and unique and yet making color be timeless and elegant. Sometimes I'm like, Oh my god, green eyeliner? That would never look cool. I think at the end of the day, she's really got a great way of still making it look flattering on your face.

What's your favorite element of your face to play up when you do your own makeup?

I definitely never have to worry too much about playing my lips up. [Laughs.] They're just sort of there. I like to have a very feline-looking eye, so I think, for me, I usually will keep my lip pretty neutral cause I've got a pretty strong natural color in my lip anyway. I like to look a bit feline with lots of lashes, always a little bit of a feline flick, and if I'm doing my makeup on my own, glittery eye shadow. That makes me sound like a 13-year-old, glittery eye shadow.

If you had to choose one city or place that inspires your creativity and beauty, or that you feel your beauty perspective matches the most, what would it be?

That's a really hard question because I feel like I'm constantly traveling and every city has something unique and inspiring about it in its own way. For me, being in Los Angeles, you're much more inspired by red carpet and the sort of Hollywood aspect of beauty. Then, in New York and London, for me, it's much more about fashion—it's more creative perhaps. That's how I look at the West Coast/East Coast divide of beauty. New York and Paris and London tend to be more experimental; it's more editorial. In Hollywood, it's about beauty; it's just like looking stunning and looking your very best, whereas in New York, it's more editorial. It's more about playing around, playing a character, perhaps.

Ed. note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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