28 Brilliant Beauty Hacks That Will Change the Way You Apply Makeup
There are a lot of reasons to trek backstage at New York Fashion Week: the models, the celebrities, the nails, and the gorgeous beauty looks. But perhaps the most appealing aspect is that we get access to the top-tier makeup, hair, and nail pros in the world. These experts fly in for one week only to make sure every model is done up to perfection. And we beauty reporters are by their sides, recorders out, soaking in all their knowledge. But we're not greedy! So, here we've rounded up all the the genius tricks and tips we've overhead backstage at the New York Fashion Week Fall 2015 tents. Keep reading to learn everything from how to turn your favorite shimmery lipstick into a velvety matte one to a savvy new way to create an ombré manicure.
— Additional reporting by Jessica Cruel and Emily Orofino
Nail the Half Moon
Models at Malan Breton sported glittery half-moon manicures, a look that can be tricky to do yourself. Zoya nail tech Ajahmure Clovis shared an easy tip to get your half moon right on the first try. Using the tip of the polish brush from your half-moon shade, pat three small dots in the shape of a triangle where your half moon would be (so two dots close to the skin, then the top peak further down the nail). Then fill in — simple!
Create Your Own Nude Lip
To soften the models’ natural lip pigment, makeup artist Romy Soleimani for Beauty.com applied light touches of foundation and lip balm on the pouts at J. Mendel. But this isn’t a look that’s just appropriate for runway. She recommended applying Kevyn Aucoin’s The Flesh Tone Lip Pencil in Medium ($25) to the lip, then applying a little bit of concealer on top for a "beautiful, pale nude lip that isn’t too washed out."
Do the Twist
The retro updos at J. Mendel packed twists, a rope braid, and a chignon all into one beautiful style. But if you’ve ever tried to re-create a vintage twist on yourself, you know how challenging it can be to get it right. Stylist James Pecis for Beauty.com suggested brushing hair straight down, then clipping your strands into segments to make your workload smaller. Then start twisting sections vertically. As the piece of hair gets more twisted, you can pull it back horizontally. Twisting down, not back, will ensure the twist starts early on the scalp.
Make Your Lipstick Last Hours
A long-wear lip is truly a four-step process. First, cover the entire mouth in a lip pencil (or an eyeliner in a neutral shade — it has the exact same effect). Next, apply a layer of loose powder. Layer on the lip color of your choice, preferably something matte. The final step is another coat of lip liner. Backstage at Naeem Khan, makeup artist James Boehmer used Nars Jungle Red Lip Liner ($22) to give the crimson shade a precise shape.
Create a More Natural Highlight
Have you ever had highlighter go from subtly shiny to disco-ball glittery? The key to achieving the former is to mix the product with eye cream. "It's a great way to highlight the skin especially if you're using a shimmery highlighter," makeup artist Romy Soleimani for Beauty.com explains. "Instead of looking like you put highlighter on your face, it makes it more skin-like, more of a glisten." Backstage at Lela Rose, Romy used Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight ($44) mixed with Darphin Anti-Fatigue Eye Cream ($38).
Keep Your Matte Lipstick From Smudging
Before you apply a matte lipstick, it's imperative to let your lips marinate in lip balm for a seamless application. But you have to wipe away the glossy balm before applying your lipstick color. A slippery balm can cause your long-wear product to smudge or turn shiny — not the look you were going for, right? Another alternative is to use a matte lip balm or lip primer like Stila Lush Lips Primer ($21), which is makeup artist Sarah Lucero's favorite, as she told us backstage at Alice + Olivia.
Get Perfect Waves With Your Hands
You massage your face, you massage your scalp, and now you should massage your hair, too. Backstage at Lela Rose, Esther Langham for Beauty.com gave each girl's ponytail a twist-and-hold motion with the diffuser to create the ideal wavy texture. This isn't your average '80s scrunching motion; it's more of a side-to-side movement.
Create a Custom Nail Color
A true nail polish addict is never satisfied with just one shade of red. But you can give one bottle of crimson polish more life by adding another shade underneath. For instance, you can give it a darker feel by adding brown or a brighter vibe with orange. Deborah used a similar technique backstage at Kate Spade New York to produce a rusty brick red. First she laid down one coat of Knock on Wood, then topped it with My Old Flame ($18). The secret: "You have to let the first layer dry. You'll get drag and not the right kind of coverage if you don't really let that first layer dry for two minutes before you put that second polish," Lippmann says.
Brush Out Backcombing Easily
Do you cringe at the thought of teasing your hair because it's impossible get rid of the rat's nest afterward? Solution: brush out the volume using a side-to-side motion. Moroccanoil stylist Peter Gray recommends this technique because the backcombing slides right out. Otherwise you're just pushing the hair down more, creating tangles.
Contour With White
The most powerful color in your makeup kit that you're not using is . . . white. Lead makeup artist Tom Pecheux used the shade to tone down a pink lip on the Badgley Mischka models. But you can also use it to slim down the face, similar to contouring. Apply the white product around the eyes, on cheekbones, and on the chin to bring light to the high points of the face and slim down your features.
Buy Textured Bobby Pins For Fine Hair
Ladies with fine hair, this hack is for you! If your bobby pins always slide through your strands, it's time to upgrade to Japanese serrated bobby pins. These u-shaped pins have a textured edge that allows them to stay put even in thin strands — seriously, they won't budge. They are designed for sleek, smooth strands, so they really stay stuck. Lead Moroccanoil stylist Peter Gray used these special pins to add rosebuds to the Badgley Mischka bouffant.
Lock In Temporary Hair Color
Are you a fan of rainbow-bright hair color but temporary chalks leave your hair stained for weeks? Backstage at Libertine Catwalk by TIGI, creative director Thomas Osborn used hair spray to protect strands against pink hair stain. At home, spritz strands with a barrier cream, shine spray, or hair spray to create a seal around your hair before applying color. This is especially important for more porous shades like blonds. Then, give it a second spritz of hair spray to lock in the color. The hot-pink hue used on the Libertine runway was a pink MAC pigment mixed with talc, which easily washed away with makeup wipes.
Remove Glitter Topcoat
Trust us — we know how hard it is to remove a glitter manicure. So much so that we avoid polishes with particles at all costs! However, manicurist Nonie Creme has the process down pat. First, use pure acetone. Yes, we know that it can be drying to the skin, but you can always add cuticle oil afterward to remedy dryness. Plus, Nonie says you actually want the nail to be dehydrated to get a longer-lasting paint job. You'll also need to buy cotton pads with a smooth surface (cotton balls will only tear apart in the glitter-removal process). Let the pad sit on the nail for at least 10 seconds without rubbing, and then slide off the glitter. Violà!
Volumize Thin Strands
Bad news: every time you apply your favorite mousse to wet hair, you're losing out on the maximum potency of the product. Backstage at Milly, lead Phyto stylist Bob Recine recommended using product on dry hair, especially if your strands are fine. "The best way to get more power out of a product is to apply it to dry hair," he said. "That gives it a lot more strength and texture and control."
Switch Up Your Part
All the models for Rachel Zoe's presentation had an extreme side part. If you've ever tried to move your hair's part and struggled, we hear you! According to stylist Harry Josh, water is what you're missing. When styling your hair, wet down just your part, create a new line (using a rattail comb would be best), and then wet this new part. Seal the look by blow-drying your strands closely at the roots. "Manipulating your hair when it's wet is key," explains Josh.
Fake Perfect Nails
With a sheer, pearly white manicure like the one at Rachel Zoe, it's hard to hide your nail sins. (Nice stains you have there!) Instead of using a nude-tinted base coat, opt for a white ridge-filling formula like Zoya's Get Even ($10). "The white tint covers the nail and gives the polish a more even, clean look," explains nail lead Sunshine Outing.
Nail Your Cat Eye
Charlotte Tilbury was giving all the models London-cool cat eyes at Rachel Zoe's presentation, and the level of precision on the liner wings made us envious! Turns out, connecting the dots (a skill you surely learned in elementary school) is all you need to be a makeup master.
Using a felt-tip liner like Charlotte Tilbury's Feline Flick ($30), start drawing your line from the inner corner of your eye. Stop three-quarters of the way across, open your eye, and draw a dot where you want your flick to be. "You need to open your eye," insists Tilbury — it'll help you gauge the best spot for the dot! From there, connect the dot to your drawn line and the outer corner of your eye. Read more cat-eye tips here.
Apply Cream Blush With Your Fingers
Remember the '80s, when blush took over your entire cheek from lip to brow? Thank goodness trends are fleeting! Backstage at Misha Nonoo, Bobbi Brown makeup artist Marc Reagan taught us the more modern way to apply cream rouge — with your fingers. First smile and place product on the shelf of the cheek. Then, dab the color all the way back toward the hairline. Finally, use a separate clean finger to blend it downward. "[This technique] keeps the blush high on the cheek, which is lifting, and it covers the right area of the cheek where you naturally flush," he says.
Get Flawless Ombré Nail Art in 1 Step
You could layer multiple layers of polish to get the perfect ombré manicure, but in reality that would take forever to dry (and consequently smudge)! Instead, apply your three gradient shades of nail polish to a makeup sponge and then dab it on each nail, creating the gradient pattern. Manicurist Cinnamon Bowser used a similar technique backstage at ICB with Zoya shades Taylor, Adel, and Flynn creating a subtle french manicure effect.
Correct a Hair Oil Overload
You just wanted to add a touch of shine to your blowout, but too much oil turned your style into a flat, greasy mess. Don't jump in the shower quite yet. First rub a towel through your strands, and then apply a dry shampoo or dry texturizing spray like Redken Windblown to lift the roots again. If it's really gone too far, use baby powder to soak up the oil slick. And a tip for next time: "When you're using any product with shine in it or serum, spray it on your hands first," Guido recommends. "I always recommend to use [product] slowly at first."
Make Matte Last Longer
A matte topcoat seems cute in theory, but it can reveal every uneven brushstroke and nail ridge for the DIY manicurist. The solution: paint on a regular topcoat first. OPI nail lead Miss Pop used a similar layering technique backstage at Marissa Webb to seal in the linear negative-space nail art. This double topcoat method also adds days to the wear of your matte manicure.
Mattify Your Favorite Lipstick
Problem: you love a certain lipstick shade but wish it were matte. Backstage at Tibi, makeup artist Cassandra Garcia pressed Bobbi Brown's Pink Martini lip shade on the pout and then dusted the mouth with blush to create an original matte hue. As with any matte lip color, make sure to let the lips marinate in lip balm first to rectify any dryness. This trick will also transition your favorite bright Summer lip hue to a more velvety, Fall-appropriate finish.
Thin Out Pigmented Polish
Your most saturated bold nail polish is so much more than a one-coat wonder! You can transform it into a sheer shade with a clear topcoat — but avoid your superfast-drying standby. "Quick-dry formulas affect the pigment because it's drying as you paint," explains Gina Edwards. Instead, use a normal topcoat like Morgan Taylor Make It Last ($9).
Do it at home by pouring equal parts lacquer and topcoat into an empty nail polish bottle and mixing up your new formula. Then, test your blend on a piece of paper. If it's still too pigmented, add more topcoat. Too sheer? Add more polish. Getting your own custom color has never been so easy.
Fake Seamless Fringe
We've heard dozens of fringe horror stories, but you can take the look for a test run with this easy strategy using clip-in bangs. Yes, you can make faux fringe look authentic, and Tresemmé hairstylist Jeanie Syfu showed us how backstage at Marissa Webb.
First, create a deep center part. Then make a horizontal part about half an inch back from the hairline. Tease the hair at the scalp to create a grip for the clips. Next, pin back the two sections of hair on each side so you have a nice frame. Clip in the bangs, and trim them to your face. "Try to get human hair, because it always looks better," says Syfu. "If you do use synthetic, try to knock out that plastic shine with dry shampoo."
Create Perfectly Imperfect Texture
Everyone wants the cool-girl, undone look of a windswept ponytail, but achieving it at home usually results in a style that's more messed up than mussed. Bob Recine for Moroccanoil revealed his technique to perfect imperfection backstage at Monique Lhuillier. "After creating the ponytail, I loosely go over the front pieces with a brush, picking them up a little bit." You should use a very light hand to do this as you are only trying to pull out small, wispy sections, not large segments of hair. To make the look extra piecey, apply a mousse like Moroccanoil Volumizing Mousse ($28) to your fingertips, and then gently tug at little groups of hair to create texture.
Play With Your Tools
Precise, geometric nail art isn't just for the accurate hands of a manicurist — all you need to do is upgrade your everyday striper brush with a quick modification. Jin Soon Choi suggests cutting the tip off the brush. Instead of the standard pointed tip (like a v shape), hold your scissor perpendicular to the brush handle and snip the tip straight across to create a flat, squared-off edge. Forget those feathery designs — now your work will look blockier and crisper, like the Prabal Gurung look pictured.
Turn Eye Shadow Into Highlighter
When you need to pack light, throw a creamy, shimmery neutral eye shadow in your bag. Here's why: not only will it work as your eye makeup color, but it can become a gorgeous highlighter for your cheeks. This is the exact trick lead makeup artist Lottie used backstage at the Mara Hoffman show using Maybelline’s Studio Color Tattoo 24 Hour Cream Gel Shadow in Bold Gold ($7) and Bad to the Bronze ($7).
"Everything is being mixed in a mad-scientist kind of way," Lottie says of how she combined the gold and silver hues. Make the eye shadow cream sheerer by blending into the side of your hand. Your finger has natural warmth to melt the formula. Then, use clean fingertips to press it into the tops of your cheekbones, and voilà — you have glowing skin!
Get Flawlessly Groomed Brows
These adorable toothbrushes in makeup artist Alice Lane's kit aren't for dental hygiene — they're for eyebrows! In lieu of a pricey brow gel, copy Lane's backstage trick at Suno, and spritz a child's toothbrush with hair spray to use as your arch tamer. Not only does the finished result look more natural than a hard tinted gel, but the little brushes give your brows a tiny massage. Stimulating your arches promotes hair growth, getting you one step closer to looking like Cara Delevingne.