Whether you're obsessed with makeup or use Instagram as a source of beauty inspiration from time to time, you're bound to have come across makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes. Known for her cool eyeliner art, love of vivid colour, and lit-from-within skin (more on how to achieve that later), there isn't much she doesn't know about great, wearable makeup. Ahead, the Brit beauty expert dishes the tips and tricks she swears by for creating an everyday look in a matter of moments – including the products and tools she can't imagine her kit without.
Do your eye makeup first
For some, this may seem counterintuitive – foundation always comes first, right? But there's method in Katie's technique.
"I always do eyes first and base second because any eye makeup that falls down the face can be removed easily. Just take a cotton pad drenched in micellar water (Katie rates Elemis' Smart Cleanse Micellar Water, £31.56 for 400ml, available at QVC UK) to clean everything up." When it comes to eye makeup mistakes, Katie ditches cotton buds for an angled brush and a touch of moisturiser to erase smudges. "Micellar water might bleed into the eye makeup, but moisturiser works because it is much denser. This way, you can clean up marks without disturbing your look."
Nail your skincare routine
Before applying any sort of base, Katie makes sure her skin is properly prepped, and exfoliation is a must for glassy, glowy skin. Katie uses Elemis' Dynamic Resurfacing Pads, £39, to get that gleam, putting slight pressure on areas where makeup tends to collect, such as the forehead and around the mouth. After waiting for your skin to dry, move on to moisturiser. Katie's application technique is far from slapdash, though...
"Skin prep is everything because it changes how the makeup wears, how it looks and how long it lasts," she explained. "Apply eye cream very gently around the orbital area but not too close to your lash line to stop mascara and eyeliner from smudging. When it comes to moisturiser, it's all about selective placement. If you get oily around your T-zone, don’t put moisturiser there first. Products with rich textures should go in the zones where you are dry first and foremost." Katie uses a small brush to dot a little moisturiser (she famously loves Weleda's Skin Food, £7.95) on to the cheeks, chin, forehead and nose before massaging in. "The pores and the nose is the last thing I touch and there’s hardly any product on my fingers by then, so I'm not putting such a thick texture there." If Skin Food is too thick a product for your skin type, try Botanics All Bright Hydrating Day Cream, £6.99, or La Roche-Posay Effaclar K[+] Anti-Blemish Moisturiser, £16, if you're prone to blackheads and spots.
Primer is optional
Some makeup artists argue that primer only creates a barrier between the skin and makeup, but Katie thinks it has its purpose. "Pores are supposed to be there," she said, "but primers definitely add a softening filter. Half a pump on the T-zone is more than enough."
Start with the thinnest texture
Foundation isn't meant to completely hide everything, says Katie. "This step simply works to even out the skin tone and to create a canvas before you go in with concealer. Pump some foundation on to the back of your hand and start buffing it on to your T-zone, but don’t go too close to the eyes. The softer you press the better, as you're less likely to move your moisturiser around, and therefore you get less streak marks." Katie recommends Spectrum's A04 brush, £7.99, for a flawless finish, but it's how you wield the brush that matters. "You can do the 'cross hatch' which is where you alternate sides of the brush to get rid of streak marks. Or you can bounce the brush over your face. I love to use Glossier's Stretch Concealer, £15, as a tinted moisturiser, which will give you a consistency similar to IT Cosmetics' CC Cream, £31.
How to apply concealer like a pro
Instead of dabbing a fuller coverage concealer on with the applicator, Katie mentioned taking a little bit on the back of your hand (she likes NARS' Creamy Concealer, £24), and saturating your concealer brush. "Really get it into the bristles so that they are covered but not clogged, then dot the concealer on to the orbital area, not too close to the eye, and blend it downwards." Her top tip? Not committing to the lash line. "Placing concealer here means it will crease and move. There’s a shadow there from the bottom lashes anyway, so it's much more natural to leave that."
Concealer isn't solely for blanketing blemishes, though. After doing her eye makeup, Katie slowly and gently edges the concealer up to the eyeshadow as it gives the look a soft, diffused line. "Just try not to touch the actual eyeshadow with the concealer."
Only powder where you need it
A lot of us are guilty of dusting our entire face with powder once perfecting our foundation, but this instantly takes away any dewiness, leaving skin looking flat. Katie's solution is to powder selectively, focusing on your T-zone and chin or wherever else you get oily throughout the day. "Saturate your powder brush on both sides, then buff the powder-laden brush into the palm of your hand," explained Katie. "You don't want to see any powder on the brush, just know that it's in the bristles. Now think of it like a blotting brush. Just dab or blot really gently so as not to disturb your foundation or skincare."
Chuck your blusher brush
Katie advised using a jumbo fan brush, like Spectrum's C00, £9.99, for light and targeted blush application as it looks a lot more natural. "I can press really lightly with a brush like this but achieve wide coverage. If the skin moves or the bristles splay, you’re pressing way too hard. The bristles want to float over the skin. Then, take the concealer brush you recently used and blend this over the skin to blur the harsh line of blush along the cheekbone."
How to make highlighter look natural
Katie skips highlighting powder and liquid illuminator (which can sometimes look a little too garish thanks to the large shimmer pigments) for a slick of facial oil so that the finish is more like skin. Using the same concealer brush, dip it into a little bit of oil to make a tint. "Apply this to the top of your cheekbones, chin and the collarbone, but don't go too close to the eyeliner or any other details, as you might cause a smudge."
Rethink the way you apply lipstick
Precise lipstick has had its day as Katie champions the blurry lip for summer. Simply buff lipstick pigment into the brush so that it is saturated in product. You can do this directly from the bullet or applicator. "Apply lipstick in the centre of the mouth first to distribute the colour evenly," said Katie, "then build up the product in little layers. This will make it last longer and look more natural." Katie likes to use NARS' Powermatte Lip Pigment, £23. Try this with Spectrum's C06 brush, part of the 8 Piece Eye Blending Set, £29.99.
Be a makeup realist
Finally, Katie wants you to know that if your foundation moves or your eyeshadow creases, that’s totally okay. "It’s always going to," Katie reassured us. "Just use your ring finger to press it away or blend it back into the skin. I’m a realist and if makeup moves, I let it move or simply add more."