In my career, I've been lucky enough to go backstage to some of the biggest fashion shows in New York, Paris, and Milan. And I've witnessed some fairly outrageous behind-the-scenes moments, from Naomi Campbell swiping off all her makeup 10 minutes before a show because she hated the look to one designer (who shall remain nameless) kicking the show's makeup artist out of backstage and doing all the models' makeup himself because he was so fastidious about what he wanted. But diva-liscious tantrums aside, the countless hours I've spent backstage interviewing the beauty pros have also allowed me to pick some amazing (and surprisingly easy) makeup tricks. Here are best ones I've learned:
1. Liquid liner is actually a breeze to apply—if you follow this trick: Draw the line first with a black pencil, cleaning up any squiggles or smudges with a makeup sponge or cotton swab. Once you're happy with the line's shape, trace over it with the liquid liner. This way, even if the liquid line isn't totally perfect, you won't notice because of the black pencil underneath. One of my favorite liquid liners is L'Oréal Paris Lineur Intense Defining Brush Tip Liquid Eyeliner (it won a 2009 Allure Best of Beauty Award.)
2. False lashes look more like the real thing when you add black liquid liner and mascara. First, draw a thin stripe of the liquid liner along your top lash line. Press on the lash strip (try a set from Shu Uemura, which offers over 30 styles and lengths), wait a few minutes for the glue to dry, then trace over your lash line again with another coat of liquid liner. This fills in any gaps of bare skin so you don't see the edge of the strip. Brush on a few coats of lengthening black mascara, such as Maybelline New York Define-A-Lash, which helps blend in the fakes with your own lashes (avoid thickening mascaras, which can cause the false lashes to stick to one another).
3. Good cheekbones can be faked with makeup. The word "contour" gives most women the heebie-jeebies, but there's an easy way to do it without looking like a bad '80s ad. First, sweep a beige or soft brown matte powder blush (cream or shimmer formulas will look unnatural) in the hollow of your cheeks. It should be just a shade or two darker than your skin tone—anything deeper will look stripy (Lancôme Blush Subtil has five different beige/brown shades). Use a medium-size blush brush to apply and don't swipe it up and down—just lightly glide the brush from the bottom of your cheek upward a couple of times to create a subtle shadow. Then, rub a cream highlighter that's close to your skin color just on the tops of your cheeks (try a champagne shade of you have fair skin, golden for olive skin, and copper or amber on dark skin. Giorgio Armani Beauty Fluid Sheer has all three shades).
4. It's easier to put on lipstick with your finger. You'll get the same effect as the apply-blot-reapply-reblot technique, but with less fuss. Rub the top of the lipstick on your fingertip, then using a firm—not hard—pressure, pat your finger along your mouth to apply the color. This presses the pigments into your lips (which helps the color last) just as blotting with a tissue would, but the effect isn't as drying. It also creates a hazy stain of color that's not too creamy, but not too faded, either.