Saturday, March 19, 2016

How to master eye makeup like a professional

My new boyfriend

Where do I start about my fun week? On Wednesday night I had tickets for my Mum, sister and I to attend an event here in Auckland, where NYC-based Estee Lauder global director of makeup design Victor Henao was going to be showing us his magic ways, and new makeup looks. I admit I was more excited about the promised goodie bag to start with, but by the end of the night I was a total Victor Fan.

He made up three models, and while he was doing that he encouraged us to throw questions at him. I have not experienced anyone more humble and down-to-earth at the same time as being so talented in a while. And funny! I think I fell a little bit in love and I know I wasn’t the only one in the room to do so.

If Victor ever does an event at your town, promise me you’ll go, you won’t regret it.

Now, about me and makeup, we definitely do get on and I love wearing makeup, but sometimes I can become lazy and complacent and just do the bare minimum to get me out the door. A beauty blogger I will never be, but after an hour watching Victor perform his skills on the models, I couldn’t wait to practice the eye makeup techniques that he’d taught us for myself.

The next morning with my new Estee Lauder eyeshadow palette (the goodie bag was amazing) I took the time to do my eye makeup remembering Victor’s words. Here are my results:
My own efforts

My mum is visiting from out of town at the moment and we were in the city on Thursday where we saw a big poster of Victor at the Estee Lauder counter. He was going to be doing makeup appointments the following day, so I asked if they had any bookings left. Sadly they did not, but I was encouraged to leave my name in case there were any cancellations. Half an hour later my phone rung - someone had pulled out, and the appointment was mine if I wanted it!

So yesterday I had my own personal makeup session with Victor, and he kindly allowed me to record him as he did my eyes (because when someone’s putting eyemakeup on you, you can’t see what they’re doing!) I can’t wait to watch it and practice, because eye makeup makes such a huge difference and I find it the hardest thing to master. I don’t want to look totally over-the-top and dramatic but I know that being fair in colouring and of a certain age means that having more defined eyes is definitely a good thing.

He was all finished within fifteen minutes - oh, imagine being able to create such a look in that time! – and I strolled back into work feeling quite the bombshell (my husband confirmed that yes, I was a bombshell, and referenced ‘smokey eyes’, his favourite term for its overuse on Project Runway).

Makeup by Victor Henao (how cool to say that for one day!)

To round off my Victor Fest, here are my favourite tips and tidbits that I picked up from the glamorous event evening and my makeup appointment yesterday:

Finish your eyes with bronzer. Once you’ve done your eye makeup, sweep a little bronzer over the lids to warm the whole look up and blend it into the rest of your makeup and put a tiny amount under your eyes over top of the eyeliner too. I tried this the next morning and loved the result.

Start your eyeshadow from the lashline. I noticed when he was doing the models’ eye makeup that he starts applying lid eyeshadow along the lash line and brushing up. This is the opposite of what I do, so I’m going to try this (I’d usually brush eyeshadow horizontally across my eyes). Starting at the lashline means the shade is concentrated along the lashes and creates a nice blended wash as it goes up towards the brow bone.

Look after yourself. He rightly stated that many women are so busy looking after everyone else that they cry ‘I don’t have time to put any makeup on/take time with my eyes/do my hair etc’. He said go to bed fifteen minutes earlier and wake up fifteen minutes earlier and put some makeup on and do your hair. When I have sufficient time to do this in the mornings I always have a better day because I feel happy with how I look.

Because he does not wear makeup himself, his way of looking after himself is to make a really good breakfast in the morning when he’s at home in NYC. He likes to make poached egg and avocado on toast, or poached egg, truffle oil and parmesan on toast. Yum!

Foundation brush or fingers? I asked two questions at the event; the first was about using a foundation brush versus fingers when you are applying liquid foundation. He said to use fingers when you want a sheer application, and a foundation brush or sponge when you want more coverage.

I bought myself an inexpensive foundation brush a few months ago and from day one I was hooked. I did notice it was easy to put too much foundation on though, so I have been trying to put less and less on each day as I get used to the brush.

The gorgeous lady Julia who did my foundation yesterday before Victor did my eyes used a foundation brush and used hardly any product, but just kept blending and blending. Victor said to put fine layers on and build up where necessary rather than one thick coat. My first attempts at the foundation brush were definitely one thick coat but I’m getting better!

What not to do? My second question I asked him if there was anything he saw on women that he wanted to go up to them and say ‘don’t do that!’ when it came to makeup. Victor exclaimed that he would never tell a woman not to do anything with her makeup because he believes that we should all feel free to express ourselves in the way we want. So I rephrased my question and asked if there was anything he would say that a woman could improve upon.

His answer was the word ‘research’. He encouraged us all to research new products, new techniques and new looks. At the start of each season it’s a great idea to have an appointment with a makeup counter and see what’s new. And not just with makeup either, but with clothing and fashion (see what’s new in the shops and in magazines).

You might not necessarily buy a new wardrobe each season (I certainly don’t) or replace makeup colours unless they are used up, but by looking around and updating incrementally you won’t find yourself stuck in a makeup rut. As I mentioned before, my rut is probably laziness rather than being stuck in the past.

Eye makeup for mature ladies? Another lady asked Victor what he would recommend for women who were not eighteen-year-old models and whose eyes weren’t so youthful. His belief is that makeup is not age-related, that you can wear anything at any age. The more important factor was confidence – he said the more confident you are with eye makeup, the further away you can go from your eyes, and the more conservative eye makeup stays closer to your eyes, which makes total sense.

Apply eyeliner on the inside. My other favourite technique which looks so different to how I was doing it is to apply eyeliner on the inside of your eyelashes. I’d always drawn on the top of my eyelid very close to the lashline but it still looked thickly drawn (so I’d smudge it away with eyeshadow on a cotton bud/q-tip). To apply it under the lashes you almost close your eye and run the pencil along the underside of your lashes – it’s actually easier to do this than the inferior way! There is hardly any pencil on your eyelid but you can see how defined your eyes look. Genius. I’d heard this before but never got the hang of it and it’s actually really easy.

Writing this post it occurred to me that I love having each morning as another opportunity to refine my makeup skills. Like those pads at the beauty counter where a face is printed on the page and the consultant shades in the colours you have used (it’s like a glamourous colouring book), we get the chance to tear that page off each day and start again with a new look and a more polished skill the more we do it.

A pesky thought that came to me though, is that makeup is frivolous and unnecessary and that we should have more altruistic and cerebral things on our mind. That did actually come to me as I was writing and feeling excited about putting colour on my face. Those thought gremlins are really annoying aren't they? My response to myself was to list all the benefits of makeup:

Putting makeup on is an artistic expression.

It’s taking time for yourself and showing yourself that you are worth doing that.

Applied well, it can make such a huge difference to the way you look.

It’s a fun part of life.

It doesn’t really cost that much for the boost you receive.

You can practice and get better at it every day.

It’s proven in studies that people who look better are treated better (whether we like those study results or not, they are true) so why not look as good as we can.

You don’t have to go all out – but you can if you want to: ie. 'le no makeup look; is just as valid as 'smokey eyes bombshell'.

You can create a different feeling for a different day.

I’m sure it must be good for your health, because being mindful and focusing on doing a beautiful job whether it takes five minutes or twenty-five minutes forces you to slow down and be present with what you’re doing.

When you know you look good you feel good.

You are showing respect for those around you, whether it’s family, co-workers or people who serve you at the bank or the supermarket, by being as well-turned out as you can be – this is the French point of view. You are showing that respect yourself as well.

Can you tell I'm in love with makeup again? Not that I wasn't before, I just think I was maybe taking it a bit for granted. Thank you so much Victor, for being a fab person and generous with your lovely energy. Your enthusiasm for makeup is contagious!


  1. Gorgeous, Fiona! What fun. I love a good, strong eye. Always have. I don't look like myself without my eyes smoked up on the daily. The rest of my face is fairly minimalist, but the eyes? Non. Jamais.

    Now you've got to watch this:

    I hope that link works. If not, Google Lisa Eldridge Ultimate Kohl.

    All of her videos are fantastic, by the way. You'll probably emerge from the rabbit hole in, oh, a week. ;o)


  2. Fiona, you look so glamorous when done by Victor.

    You look beautiful with your own makeup application.

    You're so right about feeling good when you've done yourself up. When attention goes to our eyes, it magnifies our smile, which makes sense since the eyes are supposed to show our real feelings. A double win.

    Thanks for all your tips.

  3. You look very glamorous! Now that I have the time, I'm going to look for opportunities like this and schedule appointments. It sounds fun.

  4. These are all ver useful tips!

  5. Fabulous blog. I was encouraged by some of your suggestions for applying makeup as I am already using some of the tips eg liner applied under the lashes. I am 63 and have 'discovered' makeup again, however I don't want to look like mutton etc etc so I am fairly restrained. I have been looking at utube for inspiration and have been to the Estee Lauder counter and had a consultation. Thank you for sharing and what an amazing experience for you. It's nice when these top people are really nice and approachable too.

    1. My Mom is exactly the same. Gotta love when you re-discover something. Good on you and good luck :)

      Elle from

  6. What a fun event & how awesome you were able to get in a last minute personal session with him! Thanks for sharing those tips. I love makeup. For someone who hardly wears it, I have quite a collection. It's fun to buy, try, and read about! You did a great job on your own (love the top/robe? too).

  7. I love eye makeup- it's what I wear most, even on a day when I just slap on a BB cream I still do my eyes. I don't consider it frivolous, either. If good eye makeup makes it easier for you to face the day, then go for it.

  8. Fiona you look lovely in the photos, both with your own makeup and Victor's. He looks like a sweetheart.

    Mascara is about the hight of my eye makeup adventure but I'd love to know how you do your blusher. I'm very olive skinned so I need colour but it seems to wear off in a few hours. Any tips?

  9. Hi Marsi, gosh you always make me laugh - 'eyes smoked up on the daily', so good! Thank you for the LE tutorial, my sister raves about her too, and I am almost too scared to see how good her videos are (I'm busy enough as it is). But I'll be brave.

    Julie, Stephanie, Lydia, thank you and my pleasure!

    OneEnglishLady, yay for you! What an inspiration. Isn't it crazy that fun with makeup can keep you feeling youthful, but it does.

    Pret a Porter P, hehe, stippling brush. I'm going to have to find out about that one. I know I still have a lot to learn, but lucky it's more exciting than my school days. There weren't enough lessons on makeup and knitting for my liking then.

    Haha Anonymous, 'For someone who hardly wears it, I have quite a collection.' And yes, that is my silky robe!

    Aurora, good foundation used to be my 'thing' I spent time on, but I'm adding eye makeup too. It's so tranformative.

    Marcelle, merci!

    Rose, with blusher, I don't know. Maybe because I put a fine dusting of powder over my foundation (under the blusher) that it lasts? I brush it on the apples of my cheeks, a non-shimmery rosy shade. I use bronzer too in the summer, sometimes both. Victor said that if your skin makes foundation disappear that you are probably dehydrated and need to drink more water. I don't know if that would apply to blush as well.

  10. So pretty! I want an experience like this!!! Thank you for sharing! If you have the recording I would love to hear it. Also, is the color in your eyes just the tight liner or added black on top?

  11. Hi Me, in the makeup that Victor did, he used navy and black eyeliners. Is tight liner when you do it on the inside???

  12. Thank you Fiona for your reply! Yes, the method of using liner in the interior is called tight lining. It looks very nice on you! It does accentuate your eyes without taking away from the top of the lid! Belle!

  13. Your eyes look amazing! I've been using charcoal coloured eyeliner thinking that black or navy would be too harsh for my age but it looks bold and beautiful on you. I should try it. If it's too dark, it washes off. I'm thinking bronzer time as well. It's springtime in Canada and I have a slight glow from Mexico so it's probably time. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Me, thank you, now I know how to tight-line :)

    Madame La-bas, I had a black eyeliner that I never used because I felt it was too harsh for my colouring, but I have been using it on the insides of my eyes and love the effect. I think navy would be gorgeous with your colouring too (and a bit softer than black). Totally true that it just washes off, no permanent harm done if you don't like it!

  15. Wow! Your eyes really pop! Don't take this the wrong way, but although I thought you were very pretty, I never noticed your eyes that much. Steel gray! Pretty!-Carla.

  16. None taken, Carla! The strange thing is, with all the navy and black eyeliner and navy eyeshadow, my eyes actually looked quite green (and they are steel grey). Colour is fun!

  17. So beautiful. You have a come hither look :)

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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