Fenty’s Global Makeup Artist Shares His Ultimate Smoky Eye Tricks & More

Cherry-picked by none other than Rihanna, Fenty Beauty's global makeup artist, Hector Espinal knows a thing or two about how to nail Instagram-worthy beauty. A smoky eye and flawless foundation are his forte, but he's also a dab hand at picture-perfect eyebrows, dramatic lashes and a natural, seamless contour.
Here's what we learned about achieving luxe makeup you can wear anywhere and everywhere when we spent an afternoon with the artist himself.
This is the ultimate hack for smooth foundation.
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There are two things you need to get right when applying foundation, says Hector. "Firstly, skincare is important," so always prime skin with a moisturiser that gives good slip. Try The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA, £4.90, or Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar, £35.50.
Hector continued: "With foundation less is more and always apply it with a damp sponge, but ensure the water is cold. The reason for this is because your pores will tighten up and the finish looks much smoother and more natural." According to Hector, using warm water will only accentuate pores on the skin. For a dewy look, try the Fenty Beauty PRO FILT'R Hydrating Foundation, £27, or if you prefer matte skin, Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, £27, with a soft sponge like the Sunday Ivy Purple Rain Microfibre Blender, £8.
Know when and where to apply powder.
While Rihanna likes a little glow along her cheekbones, Hector always sets her foundation (especially along the nose, chin and forehead) with a little Invisimatte Blotting Powder, £24. "There’s a fine line between looking dewy and sweaty," he said. "Always ensure your forehead is matte especially, because if the camera flashes your makeup won't look great."
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Mix blush and bronzer for a natural flush.
"Remember growing up and doing dolly cheeks? That's not it anymore," said Hector. "After I apply bronzer to the cheekbone, I take the same brush (make sure it's relatively small, like your foundation brush), dip into the blush and blend the two shades together. I like to start at the apple of the cheek but then I quickly work upwards to give the face a soft, sculpted, bronzy, natural look."
Great brows require these three products.
"Rihanna does her own brows," Hector told R29, "but the best way to get the perfect arch is to start from the arch of the brow outwards with a dark shade. Then, take a lighter shade and fill in the beginning of the brow." This makes the overall finish softer and more believable. "When brows are one universal colour it looks blocky," continued Hector. "Also, go in with a brow gel to set everything. You don’t want them to move all over the place."
How to do a smoky eye in minutes.
"A lot of people think a smoky eye is so tricky," said Hector, "but honestly, it’s one of the easiest looks to do if you know the right tricks. Use two eyeshadows, three at the most, and remember that not all smoky eyes need to be black. There are some great cool neutrals that can also be used depending on your skin tone." Try combining two or three similar shades from the new Fenty Beauty Snapshadows Mix & Match Eyeshadow Palette, £21.
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Hector advises starting with shaping the eye using a small, precise eyeshadow brush (try MAC Eye Shader Brush, £21) starting in the crease, rather than the outer corner. Simply dust the eyeshadow into the crease socket and blend, blend, blend.
Using the same brush, Hector then likes to create a small V-shape at the outer corner. "A simple trick is to lean back to see how the definition pops out, especially if you have a flat-set eye. It’ll give the eye look much more depth." It also keeps the smoky eye tight, not messy.
Now, turn your attention to the lower lash line. "Take a small brush and smoke out the bottom by running the same eyeshadow along the lower lash line. When you do this, it instantly looks like you have a smoky eye and helps create the drama alongside mascara and eyeliner." Hector likes Flypencil Longwear Pencil Eyeliner in Cuz I’m Black, £18, but mentions you only have around five seconds to blend it before it sets. If you're taking it slow, also try MAC Eye Pencil in Ebony, £15, and Urban Decay Glide On Eye Pencil in Pervision, £16.
To amp up the smokiness, Hector suggests swiping the Flyliner along the inner waterline. The next step is optional, but he likes to set eyeliner with a touch of black eyeshadow using a tiny brush. "It doesn’t feel too intimidating but still gives you that saturation." A touch of shimmery, dark shadow right in the middle pulls everything together. "I like to use my finger to apply this pop of shadow because I don’t want the shimmer to go anywhere but the centre of the lid," said Hector.
Finally, apply mascara to the top and bottom lashes. "The Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara, £21, which is water-resistant, works well because the fat side loads and lifts as it deposits pigment and the flat side defines and curls," said Hector. "Just don't roll it otherwise your eyeshadow will be ruined."
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