Val Garland Shares The One Piece Of Kit You Need For Great Makeup

From the wild to the wearable, take any fashion week beauty look and you can almost guarantee that longstanding makeup artist and L'Oréal Paris global makeup director, Val Garland, is the mastermind behind it.
Throughout her career, she has painted the faces of some of the biggest celebrities and models, including Lady Gaga, Kate Moss and Maria Borges, and worked on some of the most memorable beauty campaigns, from Dior to MAC. With so much expertise under her belt, it seemed like a no-brainer for Val to collate all her best work and cleverest tips in a new book, Validated! The Makeup Of Val Garland. To celebrate the launch, and L'Oréal's new longwear 24H Infallible Foundation, we sat down with the pro herself – these are the smartest makeup hacks we learned.
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Skin prep is even more important than you think
"Prepping the skin for makeup is very important and I firmly believe that if you have a good canvas, you get a better result," Val told R29. "I like to do a bit of face gym. In my fridge I have so many tools and I currently use a ReFa. When I’m working on celebrities and models, I always keep my tools in ice in a bowl on the table because it’s a nice way of a) waking them up, and b) really bringing the blood to the surface. We will have cleansed, moisturised and done the face gym so that the rollers glide better over the moisturiser and then, I'd apply a primer. I will always go in and do the eyes first, then come back and do the base so it leaves a little moment for everything to sink in. If you’re doing things one after the other, you aren’t giving the skin any time to breathe. I’m also a firm believer in a water spray, and I love face masks that leave behind a glow – just paint it on underneath the eyes and on the cheeks. They're handy because if you’re doing a strong eye, any fallout ends up directly on the mask and then you can just peel or wipe it off."
The expert way to apply foundation requires hardly any tools
"Applying foundation really is down to personal choice," said Val, "but I would say fingers is best. Sometimes, makeup sponges absorb too much product and that’s a waste. Also, all of a sudden you end up with a big base and I get why some people don’t like brushes because you can often see the residue. The way I do it is by pumping the product into the palms of my hands, rubbing them together, warming it up and applying it like a moisturiser. I know I need foundation more around my nose and cheeks – my problem areas – so I concentrate it around there. I just pat it in. I’ll do concealer with my fingertips and then at the end, I’ll buff everything with a brush, so that it looks and feels flawless and more like skin, not foundation."
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A fan brush is the one piece of kit you need for great makeup
"Everyone needs a fan brush," Val told R29. "It’s about buffing it all in so that it looks seamless and you don’t have any 'drag'. I work with the Duo Fibre Face Brush, £34.50, and the Duo Fibre Fan Brush, £21. Get foundation on with the stippling brush and then use the fan brush to refine the base, feathering everything out. It’s great for highlighter, too. Sometimes I put Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream, £28, on skin to make it look Hollywood and glossy, so I get my fan brush, dip it in, take a lot of it off on the back of my hand or my thumb and then I’ll just fan, fan fan, and there you are, a catwalk look."
This is how to apply cream blusher without ruining your foundation
"I’d apply cream blusher first (onto bare skin) and use a light fan brush to apply your foundation so it looks like the blush is coming from within – a natural flush," said Val. "A tiny veil of foundation over the top allows the blush to peek through. I like benefit's Benetint, £25.50, but you have to work fast and it's quite pink. A sponge would also be good, but remember, if you're using your hands, you’ve got oil on your fingers so you might be lifting off the base."
The foolproof way to fake freckles
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"I love freckles and I often do them with about five pencils," Val told R29, "but this season I made the freckles at Preen look outdoorsy by picking up a cosmetics stipple sponge, dipping it into a cream-to-powder colour and patting it onto the face, so that the freckles went on seamlessly and stayed put. It was a really fast, innovative way of fashioning these lovely, natural freckles."
This is the simplest way to switch up your current beauty look
"The easiest place to start is your eyes," said Val. "There are so many great things you can do like popping a glitter dot in the centre of the eye – just little things. You don’t have to throw everything at it. I also think, just take one thing off. There is great beauty in everything and as long as you find the beauty within it, then it’ll work. For me, that usually means leaving something off. If I’m going to be creative, I may not use any foundation for example. That’s what makes it look fresh and young."
Here's how to stop your mascara from smudging once and for all
"One ought to be using a waterproof mascara but a lot of people aren’t careful with what they put around their eyes," said Val. "Transferring and smudging could be a result of your eye cream and even your foundation. Maybe you shouldn’t put foundation on your eyelid. Instead, use an eye prep. MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pots, £16.50, come in taupe, beige and many other natural skin colours. You can also use a cream-to-powder eyeshadow instead of foundation, so apply this all over the eyelid and you’re done – the thing about a foundation is that, invariably, unless it’s as long-lasting as L’Oréal’s 24H Infallible Wear, £10.99, there’s still a bit of grease and moisture there."
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These are the makeup products she can't live without
"I’m obsessed with the L’Oréal Infallible Unlimited Mascara, £9.99," revealed Val. "I use it on myself because I’ve got no eyelashes. I kid you not, it's incredible. With one stroke, it lengthens and curls at the same time. I always have to have spare ones backstage because all the girls want to take them. I also love a bronzer and a variety of bases for different finishes, as well as Hourglass' Veil Mineral Primer, £49, for hiding blackheads and 'orange peel' skin on the nose."
This is how to ace a seamless cat eye in one try
"I never use liquid eyeliner – it’s too wibbly and wobbly," said Val. "I like a felt tip pen with a nib because then I can get right into the lash line and it doesn’t move. If you want to use a pencil, make sure it’s the blackest pencil you can find and make it waterproof because that makes it look blacker. Then immediately get an angled brush and smush it into a very black eyeshadow and then place it on top of what you've drawn with the pencil. Dip in, apply, dip in, apply – in small sections. If you try and apply the shadow all at once, in one sweep, you only get about a tenth of it."
If you struggle filling in your eyebrows, you need this clever tool
"There are many tools on the market when it comes to making eyebrows look fuller, but there’s a brilliant tool from L’Oréal called the Brow Artist Micro Tattoo 24H Eyebrow Definer, £9.99. It’s an angled brush but it has three prongs on it and it’s like microblading without the pain or the price tag."
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