My interest in beauty and glamour comes entirely from my mother and elder sister’s influence. Mom told me how she woke up on the day of her scheduled C-section and carefully applied her eyeliner as she did every day–a true commitment to vanity! In my adolescence I would watch in awe as my sister perfected the 90s look of a smokey cat eye and dark mauve, lined lips. The first makeup I ever wore was lipliner and lipstick, and it remains my top staple until this day. I’ve applied it so many times that I can line my lips without a mirror! But I’ve also made, and continue to make, plenty of mistakes which are humbling to look back on. For example, in recent years I used to fill in my eyebrows so thick and so pointy that my husband asked me why I was drawing St. Thomas Mount on my face. Regardless, I adore the art of maquillage for its transformative power, for it’s function as a creative expression, and for the message it gives to whoever I am dolling up to meet: the message is that “I respect you and this occasion enough to put my best face forward.” So with that as our primary motivation, let’s get to the tips!

Go Heavier for Photos, Lighter for the Naked Eye

The first step in deciding what kind of look you want is identifying your end goal. Will you be swanning about at a cocktail party, where you want to look glamorous and dazzling but not in a painted-on way? Or is this an occasion where a photographer will be present, and you’re counting on those high resolution photos for some quality social media content? If it’s the latter, you can go for a heavier application that might look a bit startling in person, but will result in gorgeous photos, especially if there is studio lighting. If I’m going for a lighter look, I use a tinted moisturiser instead of foundation, and powder bronzer to contour. But if I want to be camera ready, I use foundation, then cream contour, and set both with powder/bronzer. My skin is very sensitive and it immediately reacts to these extra layers with some texture showing up. But a nice bright ring light would wash all this out, and suddenly that contour has chiseled your face into perfection! The camera loves emphasised brightness and shadows, so don’t be afraid to kick it up a notch for the perfect capture that will last forever.

Concealer > Foundation
I’ve noticed that many of my friends focus entirely on foundation as a base product while ignoring concealer. This is the wrong approach, especially for Indian women who tend to have beautiful skin, but dark areas under the eye and around the mouth. Concealer may be intimidating because of how thick it is, but that thickness is what you need for correcting these darker areas, and it ends up evening out your complexion far more than foundation does. Start with a moisturised face, including under eye cream, and then use a light tapping motion with your finger to apply under the eye and wherever else there is pigmentation. As your fingers warm up the product and you keep blending the edges, it will melt into your skin. The last step which is very important, especially for our humid weather, is to use a small fluffy brush to apply powder on top. This will set the concealer so it does not crease or move around. Next time try skipping the foundation and spot treating with concealer only, and enjoy the even skin with less application time!

Fill in Your Eyebrows and Curl Your Lashes
Even if you are a barefaced beauty who finds foundation and concealer too heavy and artificial looking, you can still do some things to make your face look more put together in an effortless way. One of these things is filling in your eyebrows, which is another intimidating task to many because a misstep can result in my aforementioned mountainous peaks. But it is absolutely worth it to practice and find the product which gives you the best result, because eyebrows frame the face. Try both an eyebrow pencil and a powder and see which one suits you. I find that a drier, chalky pencil results in a more natural finish than the usual waxy ones. I currently use a powder kit that has lighter and darker shades, and a small angled brush for application. Whichever you use, make small strokes like when shading in a pencil drawing, and definitely use a magnifying mirror if you have it. Finally, do not be scared of overdoing it! All you have to do is brush your eyebrow with a spoolie brush and all the excess product will come right off.

The second thing you can do to brighten up your eyes without applying eyeliner is curl your lashes. And here is my best tip of the bunch, the one that has been a game changer for everyone I’ve shared it with: heat your eyelash curler with a blowdryer before using! Blast it for 15-20 seconds, and then touch the curler on your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot. Carefully curl your lashes by trying to get the clamp as close to the base as possible, and bending the curler back. Try an experiment where you do one eye without heating the curler, and the other eye with heating it. The difference is enough to make it look like you are wearing falsies! Immediately follow with mascara for a night out, or use a clear mascara like I do when I want a pretty, open eye for the day without the fuss of removing heavy eye makeup.

Prep Your Lips Before Applying Lipstick
Sometimes we can make a lot of effort to get our whole face right, but the final effect is tainted by a small thing like a flaky lip. Liquid lipsticks have become very popular for their staying power and lip plumping abilities, but can look dry and wrinkly on an un-prepped lip. The tricky thing is that you have to remember this before you start the makeup process, even though lipstick is the last thing you put on. Try using a gentle lip exfoliator when washing your face beforehand. There are many available that use coffee, sugar, honey, lemon, and all sorts of delicious things that scrub, soften, and lighten. They are luxurious, and seeing them on your skincare shelf will remind you about this step, but you don’t need them! Often I apply some vaseline or lip emollient before showering, and then rub my lips with a towel or soft toothbrush after. Rub off the dry skin, then apply another layer of the lip balm and allow it to soak in while you start applying your makeup. By the time you get to your lipstick, blot off any excess lip balm and then watch how beautifully your lip product applies onto the smooth surface. And finally, always bring your lipstick in your purse and reapply during the night! So many women forget to reapply after having a couple drinks, but nothing looks more unkept than a bold lip colour that has faded away into a patchy mess.

And there you have my favourite tips for perfecting your glam routine. I hope that any newbies to the game will realise that makeup is not an all or nothing game, and that there are many subtle things you can do to give yourself a little boost for a special occasion. Happy glamming, Provoke readers!

– By Priyanka Acharya