A lesson in make-up

Despite blogging about beauty for over five years, it recently dawned on me that I don’t actually know how to apply make-up. Well perhaps the better way of explaining it is that I don’t have any technique of doing so. I just sort of splodge it on and hope for the best. I pour a dollop of foundation onto my fingers and haphazardly blend it in, while my idea of contouring is simply putting as much bronzer under my cheekbones as I can get away with before it starts looking odd.

But then I know I’m not the only one. Although we use make-up on a daily basis, many of us have never actually had any training. YouTube tutorials might be all well and good (I don’t know about you but my result – even when following them to the letter, my final result ends up looking hideously different to theirs) but we’ve never actually been talked through HOW to apply make-up to get the best out of it.

It’s not something you learn when you’re growing up, you’re just sort of expected to catch on and become a make-up Picasso. And while I will admit my skills have got considerably better than the days where I used to walk around with very pale foundation smeared over every inch of my face – even my eyelids and lips, I still yearned for someone to help me with the basics.

And so when walking past the Bobbi Brown Covent Garden store one afternoon I came across a poster that said the shop was offering complimentary make-up lessons, I booked my appointment without any hesitation. I’ve always been a fan of Bobbi Brown’s make-up, which for me, has embodied class, sophistication and glamour – without being too overdone. As much as I’d love to, I’m never going to be wearing flawlessly contoured, heavy make-up on a daily basis because it’s just not me, so to have made an appointment with a brand whose speciality is ‘less is more’, was pretty perfect.

I arrived for my appointment bright and early, baring my fresh face for all of London to see. I was taken to a little seating area at the back of the store and treated to a drink before my make-up artist arrived. For something that is a complimentary service, you’re certainly made to feel very special.

Before long, it was time for my consultation which involves going through what sort of make-up look you’d like to achieve. Considering I haven’t quite mastered the every day look just yet, I thought I’d start with this – and so the lovely lady who took my lesson (I’m rubbish with names, I’m so sorry) bustled about in the store, picking up the items she thought would suit my colourings.

Unbeknownst to me, Bobbi Brown actually do skincare as well as make-up, so we started at the very foundations of any great make-up look. Each product has several hydrating elements, so they’re all fabulous for using in the priming stage.


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After cleansing and toning, we started with the Hydrating Eye Cream – which is a gorgeous silky, light prep for your concealer. Interestingly, the under-eye area is the only place on our face where we don’t produce our own natural oils, so it’s important to keep it hydrated to combat dryness and early signs of ageing. I love that each of their products contains avocado butter and hydrating mineral waters, as it’s a natural way of injecting that much needed moisture rather than through tonnes of chemicals.

We then opted for the hydrating face cream, again prepping the perfect canvas for the make-up to follow.

When it comes to where to start with make-up, I’m always a little confused. I know lots of people start with eyes so that the fall-out doesn’t affect your flawlessly perfected complexion however I always start with the base. So I was slightly relieved when Bobbi Brown did too. She blended the Intensive Skin Serum Concealer with the Intensive Skin Serum Corrector, the latter of which is a pink shade which neutralises any redness and brightens up dull skin.


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Moving swiftly on, I was then matched up with a foundation – something I thought might be a rather difficult task as I have an uneven skin tone. I always find I’m on the too orange or too pale side of the scale, so I was quite excited to actually be partnered up with a colour by a professional.

Since my skin is quite dry in texture, I always tend to opt for liquid foundations as they sit better and don’t give that undesirable cakey, flaky look. This time, we opted for the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15 which is very thin in consistency, so perfect for everyday wear – however it actually provides a great amount of coverage without feeling too heavy. You can build upon it if you want a more dramatically flawless finish, however we found that one pump more than covered my face with enough coverage.

While of course, getting the right colour and consistency of your foundation is key, I was also informed that how you apply it is certainly indicative of the final look, something I already knew I needed to pay attention to (note the beginning of this post where I smear it on with my fingers). A builder wouldn’t go to work without the right tools and expect the same results, so I suppose it’s the same with make-up.


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We used the angled face brush to apply the foundation, dipping into more product which had been pumped onto the back of the hand. Once you’ve coated your skin and are happy with the level of coverage, you then simply dab the foundation gently to settle and smooth it for a more natural finish.

These brushes should be cleaned once a week to prevent a build-up and breakouts. Something I need to get better at!

She then asked whether I wanted a more matte or dewy look, which I couldn’t really decide on. Despite the dryness, my skin can get a little oily, so I do tend to set things with powder usually however sometimes the ones I use can make my face look a little pale and flat, as an all-over colour can look a one dimensional.

Once again, Bobbi Brown had the perfect solution. Having experienced this issue many times, they created the beautiful Nude Finish Illuminating Powder, which gives skin a subtle glow whilst setting your make-up firmly into place. It has some gorgeous shimmery elements (but not so much so that it looks like you’re re-visiting your Year 6 Disco days) and light-reflective powders, resulting in the most perfect of finishes.

We then swept a highlighting powder over my cheekbones, on the bridge of my nose and on my cupid’s bow, before finishing off with a quick dab of pale pink blush on the apples of my cheeks. Usually I’m a bit frightened of blusher as I had a rather scary experience once after thinking all was okay with my make-up at a party and then looking back at the photos and wondering who on earth the hideous clown was with bright pink circles on their cheeks. Typically, it was me.

After finishing the base, we moved onto eyes and brows – which again, is something I seem to struggle with.


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We started with a cream shadow stick in taupe for the perfect neutral base for an everyday smokey eye, before then finishing off with a slick flick. Unfortunately the latter of which I will never be able to feasibly re-create because this is possibly the most frustrating thing I’ve ever tried to do. But hey!

The mascara they used on me was the eye opening version, which is probably (without any exaggeration on my part) THE best I’ve ever used. It does exactly what it says on the tin and opens up your eyes, all while elongating,  curling and volumising your lashes. Perfect! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another mascara after using this one.

Finally, we finished off with lips – opting for a matte lip art stick in dusty pink. It’s the perfect neutral for everyday wear, while still providing some definition and colour.

After the make-up lesson had commenced, I had a quick browse around the store (taking some obligatory Instagram pictures) before being presented with a complete instruction manual to what was on my face. Well, sort of. Bobbi Brown rather helpfully provide you with an illustrations, swatches and details of all of the products they’ve used on you during your lesson. They even detail which brushes they’ve used so you can really re-create the entire look.


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And best of all? I’ve actually been lucky enough to put all that I learned into action as I was able to take some of the products home. I thought this would be the true test as to whether a make-up lesson was really beneficial – since it’s all very well having a professional looking over my shoulder, but when it comes to re-creating it in my own room, it might have been another story.

Luckily, all that I took away were really simple for the average person to re-create and I actually managed (for the first time ever) to achieve something that lasted all day long and looked pretty professional. People have noticed the subtle changes in my new look and I’ve had a few comments about where I got my make-up ‘done’. So hey, that can only be a positive thing, right?

To book in for your free make-up lesson with Bobbi Brown, visit their website (linked below) for more details.

Bobbi Brown | link 


Photographs by Lauren Shipley