If anyone knows how to ace flawless makeup, it's Cardi B's makeup artist. In a world where a lot of us are ditching foundation for a quick swipe of tinted moisturiser or simply giving our lashes a once-over with clear mascara, Erika La Pearl leans towards sharp contours, cut creases, velvet lips and perfectly defined eyebrows – and the results are nothing short of Instagram-worthy. Here's everything we learned about applying eyeshadow, contouring correctly and filling in brows from the pro herself.
How to contour like a professional
Whether you use cream or powder, it's difficult to strike the balance between a contour that lifts and sculpts cheeks and one that just drags your features down. After all, blending requires skill. But according to Erika, one simple trick will ensure a perfect finish every time. "For easiest application, simply smile," exactly like you might when applying blush to the apples of your cheeks. This will ensure you're depositing the bronzer in exactly the right place.
And always start high. "Apply your contour from the hairline next to the brows, right down to the bottom of your cheek," adds Erika. The trick is not to bring the bronzer past your nostrils, as it'll elongate instead of lift. Erika rates ICONIC London's Strobing Stick, £24.99, and Multi-Use Powder Contour Palette, £32.99, for those who prefer powder over cream-based makeup.
"Powder contours will ensure your makeup stays put," adds Erika. "Don't forget to apply the contour shades in hollows of cheeks, below hairline, and along the jawline to create definition. Dust the lighter shades on the top of the cheekbones, Cupid's bow and brow bone."
Invest in a makeup sponge
"I find that when applying things like foundation and concealer, it is always better to use sponges," says Erika. "A makeup sponge really helps to smooth the skin and fill in pores." She also suggests enlisting a silicone-based primer to blanket over pores, blemishes and dry skin. Try Ole Henriksen's Banana Bright Face Primer, £28, or The Ordinary's High Adherence Silicone Primer, £3.99.
Ditch your makeup brushes
A lot of us spend a fortune on the fluffiest, plushest makeup brushes, but hardly any makeup artists actually use them when it comes to perfecting both a base and eye makeup. "I use the tips of my fingers to apply eyeshadow," Erika told R29. "I just find it better than using a brush." Not only do your fingers allow for more precise, controlled application, especially in the corners, but it means you can really pack on the colour. Erika rates Morphe's The James Charles Artistry Palette, £39.
Erika isn't the only pro to eschew tools; both Mary Greenwell and Val Garland are advocates of using their fingertips to apply things like eyeshadow and foundation. "Sometimes, makeup sponges absorb too much product and that’s a waste," Val previously told R29. "I get why some people don’t like brushes because you can often see the residue." Just make sure your hands are clean and be super gentle, especially around the eyes, so as not to tug at your skin. Erika adds: "When I go for a brightly coloured eye, I like to go with a nude lip so Cardi's eyes can pop. I love Fenty Beauty’s Stunna Lip Paint in Unveil, £19."
Two shades are better than one when it comes to filling in brows
Erika advises steering clear of single, super dark shades when defining eyebrows. They can make them look too harsh and blocky. Instead, go for the multi-tonal effect. "Enlisting two-tone products – my go-to is ICONIC London's Brow Cushion, £26.99 – makes eyebrows look more natural. Use a double-sided applicator that has a spoolie at one end and an ultra-thin angled brush on the other." Using quick, short strokes, apply the lighter shade at the start of the brow and bring this to the centre, as this is where hairs are naturally more sparse. Then apply the slightly darker hue from the middle to the end of your brows. Brush through with the spoolie to soften the strokes as you go.
Swap brow gel for...hair gel
Beyoncé's makeup artist Sir John once mentioned he uses Pritt Stick to set brow hairs in place for hours on end, but Erika's alternative is a little more hair-friendly: Schwartzkopf's got2b Glued Water Resistant Spiking Glue, £4.19. Simply roll a spoolie brush in a small dollop of gel and comb it through brows, brushing slightly upwards (not sideways) for a much more natural, fluffy look.