Tips for getting your makeup professionally done

A professional makeup application doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Plus, it’s a great way to try out new trends and formulas

I think That’s a great idea. Why? ‘Formulas change, trends change,’ says Jane McKay, a M.A.C cosmetics senior artist. The company is a leader in make-up services: Their artists go through an extensive training program. ‘It’s a good idea to get your makeup done professionally once in a while, regardless of whether it’s for a big event,’ says McKay, who is based in Toronto and travels globally for M.A.C.

Just like when you have something in mind for a new hairstyle, bringing photos of celebrities and models whose makeup you love can be good for communication between you and the makeup artist, to give them a sense of the look you’re going for. Then keep an open mind. The makeup artist may have suggestions for how to adapt the trend to suit you rather than treating it literally. (By the way, the celebs most often mentioned by customers at M.A.C whose makeup they want to emulate are Kate Hudson, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. What’no Angelina?!)

‘Application technique is just as important as any product,’ says McKay. For about $55 at M.A.C stores (there are 28 in Canada), you can book an appointment for a one-hour full application’within a private makeup area ‘(I like that idea)’including having your skin cleansed and prepped. Bonus: You get a free mascara to take home. Alternatively, you can book a 90-minute lesson, which costs more and includes a free mascara and 20 percent off purchases for one month. As well, three or more friends can have ‘a group makeup application called M.A.C Technique. This takes two hours and costs $75 per person’redeemable in products, which is great. M.A.C expert services are also available at Hudson’s Bay locations; check at your local store for details.

I’ll let you in on a tip: You can also pop by M.A.C just before an event and have faux lashes applied on the spot, whether a full set or a few individual ones, for less than $20. The cost is for the lashes; the application is free. ‘With good lashes, you don’t have to wear as much makeup,’ notes McKay.

The company also has a roster of free walk-in services called ‘Just One Look’ that focus on a key feature; e.g., eyes or lips. They are based on artist availability and designed to teach the customer technique and how to use a product.

At Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutiques‘they’re not at every Shoppers, but they are at more than 340 locations across the country’you can walk in and ask for a free application from a beauty advisor, although it’s best to call ahead and make an appointment. (The beauty advisors at Shoppers don’t work for any one particular brand.) And here’s a nice touch that the company calls ‘Clienteling’: With the customer’s permission, advisors will store your purchase history and brand interest details to keep you in the loop about future events and promotions.

Rexall also offers complimentary makeup application and tutorials at its stores that have a full cosmetic section. Walk-ins are welcome, but during the holiday season it’s recommended you make an appointment. ‘Cosmeticians will give you step-by-step application instruction if you want,’ says Natalie Mohamed, manager of corporate communications at Rexall’s head office in Mississauga, Ont. ‘The cosmetician will suggest products, but there is no requirement or pressure to purchase anything.’

There’s no way I could talk about makeup application without mentioning Sephora. At Sephora Canada stores’ there are more than 40’options range from walk-in free ‘express’ makeup application, to full makeup for a fee. It also has a tiered kind of club membership program; details for all its services are on sephora.ca. (A bit of an amuse-bouche: Did you know Sephora staffers are called ‘Cast Members’?)

And of course, there’s always the department store beauty counter, many of which are great. But, warns Debbie Bondar, founder and president of Calgary-based Face Atelier’a makeup collection sold mainly online, and which is the stage choice of high-powered pop artists like Kelly Clarkson’not all makeup counters at all stores have fully trained staff. ‘It’s a bit of a crapshoot,’ says Bondar.

She offers this tip: If you’re getting makeup done for an evening event, ‘ask the person applying it not to use a cream with sunscreen in it, because it could contain titanium dioxide. That’s a safe and effective sunscreen ingredient, but if you have your photo taken with a flash at the party, your face could flash, too, and end up looking much lighter than the rest of your skin.

So whose counter do you go to at a department store? It kind of figures you will gravitate to a brand whose images project the look you like. And once there, you might be surprised by the services. For example, at Estée Lauder you can dip into a Signature Services Menu. These are three-minute quickies including Fatigue Fighter (which brightens tired eyes with makeup) or Try the Trend. For those with more time, there’s the 5-Step Face and Beautiful Eyes Made Easy. They’re free. And this is neat: Customers receive a 10-day supply of foundation in their shade.

Says a Chanel spokesperson, staff at their beauty counters are always prepared to apply makeup, and most customers who are going out that night will end up buying a lipstick or powder. I’d say making a purchase is a fair expectation for someone’s time and expertise. Bondar agrees with this etiquette.

‘After someone has worked on you for 40 minutes, don’t just get up and say, ‘Have a nice day.’ Buy an item.’

Conversely, don’t get swept away by the moment, or you may end up buying a lot of stuff you won’t use.

I say that you should give a pro makeup job a try. You may discover a go-to item for your purse’and a hot new look you love.

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