While it's often difficult to find high street products that live up to the impressive formulas, incredible staying power and Instagrammable packaging of higher end buys, sticking to a budget doesn't mean you have to compromise on quality. To professional makeup artist Caroline Barnes, achieving a flawless, expensive makeup look lies mainly in application techniques rather than the products. From foundation to mascara, she talks us through how to get the most out of affordable makeup.
Always use a makeup primer
"The reason for using primer is to ensure that your foundation is lighter," said Caroline, so you avoid the heavy, cakey look and feel. "Primers with a green, colour correcting undertone are especially important if you have rosacea, sunburn or any kind of redness. The trick is to create a puzzle effect with it. I will strip back skincare on the T-zone and just apply a mattifying primer. When I then go to put foundation and powder on, I need very little. The more powder you put on the skin, the less refined makeup looks." And while many of us shy away from silicone in primer, Caroline champions it. "I think it makes the skin look really smooth."
Choose a foundation with skincare benefits
To help makeup look more like skin and less like a mask, Caroline employs two shades of foundation. "I use a flat brush to apply a darker shade of foundation to the perimeter of the face and the lighter shade in the centre. Simply dab them on with your brush, then whisk the two shades together, migrating the lighter shade into the darkest shade. It's just an effortless way to highlight and shape your face and the makeup looks more like skin."
Avoid applying makeup to these areas of your face
When you get a tan, it tends to hit the bridge of your nose, your forehead and your cheeks, so Caroline advises applying blusher and bronzer as if you are wearing a pair of oversized sunglasses. "Avoid putting any blusher or bronzer around that area because you want to brighten up the face here. A lighter shade of concealer on this area will amplify your face shape and stop you from looking too flat."
Try not to define your brows too much
Of course, how you do your eyebrows depends on what look you're going for, but Caroline prefers more of an understated vibe. "Simply brush brows up using a brow groomer or a spoolie brush and use a brow pencil that will allow you to draw really faint hairs for a soft look. It feels more contemporary and fresh if brows aren’t too solid, and it saves time, too." Try Soap & Glory Archery 2-in-1 Brow Filling Pencil & Brush, £8.50.
Recycle old lipstick
Not all of us have the budget to stock up on the newest makeup products every season, but seeing as subtle pink and coral-toned eyeshadow is taking over spring and summer makeup mood boards, Caroline suggests recycling your old lipstick collection. Think just a subtle wash of colour on the lids. "Because of the typical staying power of lipstick, it rarely smudges," said Caroline. "To create a soft swathe of colour, use a nice big brush all the way across the eye and sweep out at the outer corner. The trick is to set it with a flash of bronze eyeshadow powder concentrated on the centre of the lid for a sunset feel."
If your eyeshadow is matte, Caroline suggests going for something soft and balmy on the lips, to make your look less two-dimensional. "It’s nice to have shine back on the lips, but stay away from anything too sticky," advised Caroline. "You want to bounce the balm on to your lips so you get a nice, soft finish. Then, apply some cream blush using a small, soft, fluffy brush." R29 rates Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, £9.99.
Backcomb your eyelashes
When it comes to mascara, think about backcombing your lashes using simple up-down motions – and give it some welly. "This really helps wedge the mascara into the roots of the lashes, ensures you get a larger volume of product and helps lift the lashes, especially in the centre," said Caroline. She recommends 'tubing' mascaras, as they define lashes delicately without any clumps. Her go-to is DHC Mascara Perfect Pro Double Protection, £15.90.