The only ten make-up steps you’ll ever need

Since she launched her bestselling signature line of cosmetics over 20 years ago, Bobbi Brown has become the world’s most famous make-up artist. Her philosophy is in tune with every busy woman’s lifestyle: a pared-down regime of make-up that enhances a woman’s natural beauty in the absolute minimum of time. No woman, she insists, needs more than ten make-up steps to look fabulous. ‘Most days, less than that,’ she adds.

Bobbi advises drawing up a list based on her steps (opposite) of the ten – or fewer – products you use most often, from the times when you rush out to walk the dog, right through to black-tie dinners. ‘Decide what’s the most crucial. Make that your everyday, going-to-the-shops/ hanging-out-at-home regime. It really shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. For work – or for lunch – pick the six or so steps that make the most difference. And leave the whole works for evenings only.’

Bobbi suggests choosing from her list those steps which you really can’t face the world without. For day, for instance, brunettes often need concealer, but they needn’t always do brows and lashes. Blondes always need to define brows and eyes, but may not need blusher because they often have a pink complexion. Redheads probably want lip pencil, even if it’s a nude shade, because they often have little colour in their lips. And black women usually have to wear lipstick. A younger woman can often simply go out with foundation, lipstick and a well-groomed brow, she says. ‘But anyone over 30 will probably want to add concealer to her list, since that’s the age when most women start to notice under-eye circles. And every woman has positive features; if your eyes are not your best feature, play up your lips. I don’t believe so much in heavily disguising flaws as drawing attention away from them to a woman’s good points.’

Bobbi’s Tips

  • If you do overdo it? ‘I keep a supply of cotton buds and cotton wool, and velvet powder puffs, to gently stroke it off again…’
  • ‘Use shadow – not pencils – to fill in the brows, with a fine brush. It looks more natural.’
  • ‘I honestly think that if you have to use an eyelash curler, there’s something wrong with your mascara.’
  • Bobbi’s line on evening beauty is that nobody needs much more than day make-up; the difference is in the colours. ‘Maybe you wear more foundation, deeper lipstick, brighter lipstick, more shimmery lipstick – even a touch of pearl shadow on the browbone. Try darker colours on the eyes: charcoal, navy liner, slate – just darker, not heavier. The mistake most women make is to go for a complete change. The bottom line is: if the colours need blending on the skin, you’re wearing the wrong make-up; it should still look very natural.’

Bobbi‘s step-by-step tips for perfect application

  1. Foundation:  ‘I don’t like to use foundation all over, just where there are imperfections: most often under the eyes, around the mouth and nose, and on any blemishes.’
  2. Concealer:  ‘I like to use stick foundation because it doubles as a concealer. I blend it with my finger – especially on the bone at the inner corner of the eyes, which is where people often have grey shadows, and around the nose. Concealer is layered on top of foundation.’
  3. Powder:  ‘I prefer loose powder in the morning – applied with a velour puff, then dusted off with a big fluffy brush. I put some powder in the palm of my hand and press the puff into it, then onto the face. I recommend this before you get dressed, or it goes everywhere. Then carry pressed powder for daytime touch-ups. Powder can be slightly yellow-toned, or neutral, but it shouldn’t make you look pale.’
  4. Brows:  ‘I use a powder, not a pencil, with a hard-edged brush – and I don’t make them too dark. Just enough colour to define them.’
  5. Eyeliner:  ‘I actually like to do this before eyeshadow, because for plenty of women that’s all they need. I use an eyeliner brush dipped in dark shadow to line the eyes. You can use it wet or dry.’
  6. Eyeshadow:  ‘On days when more impact’s needed than just eyeliner, I first like to sweep a neutral highlighter shade – like bone – all over the brow and the eyelid, which doubles as a base to help shadow stay put. The more tired you are, the more you need eyeshadow. But my tip is never to use a dark shade on the eyelid – not even at the edges. I prefer a medium shade, like taupe, charcoal or heather, to shade the socket and the edges of the eyes. Darker shadows need a lot of blending and only make-up artists are really great at that.’
  7. Blusher:  ‘Blush is my favourite thing in the world: if you have the right blush, you look younger, fresher, prettier. Older women should definitely add a tawny blush – which looks more natural than coral or red – to their list of basics; it becomes more important as you mature, as the skin cells don’t turn over as quickly and skin doesn’t look as fresh. I sometimes use two: a neutral shade, and then a brighter one on top. The darker your colouring, the more blush you need.’
  8. Lipstick:  ‘I like to apply this straight from the tube – I never seem to have time for a brush, although lip brushes make lipstick last longer. Medium tones are easiest for most women to wear, and lip stains are a really natural-looking choice.’
  9. Lip pencil:  ‘If the lips really need more definition, I apply this after lipstick, rather than before, for definition – it looks less hard-edged.’
  10. Mascara:  ‘A good mascara should colour and curl your lashes with just one coat.’