Your 2017 makeup masterclass
Neons are in, powder is out and eyeliner isn’t just for women! Professional makeup artist Mandy Cummins gives her top tips
Mandy Cummins can’t remember a time when she wasn’t fascinated by makeup. “I used to watch, rapt, as my mum did her face,” says the Bajan makeup artist. “I used to paint myself – and my brothers! – with her old lipsticks. After I broke one of her expensive eyeshadows, she finally bought me my own. I was about six.”
Since then, Mandy has worked hard to make her passion her profession. As well as doing makeup for weddings, photoshoots, theatre productions and fashion shows, she has worked on TV projects (including Caribbean’s Next Top Model) and film. Indeed, Mandy’s creative handiwork will feature in the movie A Caribbean Dream (premiering at the Barbados Independent Festival, 11-15 January), for which she had to create animal-head prosthetics and loads of fairies.
“I love to create characters,” she says. “Even when I do beauty makeup, I think of it as a character with a story that I’m telling. Whether I’m doing something simple or a full-on fantasy spectacle, I love conceptualising the idea and then making it come to life. I love makeup’s transformative power.”
As the new year begins, and we’re all seeking a new start and a new look, we delve into Mandy’s sketchbook to steal some tricks of her trade…
Mandy’s makeup ‘rules’
1 First: there are no rules!
Wear as much or as little makeup as you like. It should be approached as an accessory, like earrings. No one absolutely needs it, but it’s fun to play with your makeup look, in the same way you play with your hairstyle or clothes.
2 Makeup matters
For people with something like acne, rosacea or a scar, makeup can be important. When people see someone with a scar, they can’t help but stare, which can make the person with the scar feel like that is all they are, even if they’re not insecure about it. Makeup can help them feel like others can see the person beyond the blemish.
3 It can help you love your yourself more
Taking the time and effort to pamper your skin and make yourself look how you want to look can have a domino effect. You tend to take more care of your skin and your health as a result. Time spent applying makeup, smoothing on a face mask or shaping your brows – even if it’s just five minutes – makes you feel special. That boosts self-confidence and self-love.
4 When starting out, experiment
Try that bright eyeshadow or that crazy glitter lipstick! Remember, it’s just makeup. It washes right off!
5 Buy wisely
These days there’s a lot of good-quality makeup available at reasonable prices, so some high-end makeup isn’t worth it. However, you’ll tend to find more inconsistencies with cheaper products. Do your research: look up ingredients and read or watch reviews before you buy anything.
6 Stay away from cheap brushes
Cheap brushes will make even the best makeup look poor. That doesn’t mean you have to buy super expensive ones, just do some research first. Good brushes, when cared for, can last for years.
7 Handle humidity
Makeup has a tendency to melt as you sweat, or even change colour in the heat. I’ve got many tricks that I’ve developed over the past 12 years – for starters, avoid oil-based foundations. Also, always allow your face moisturisers to sink in for a few minutes, then blot your face before applying other products; always use a good primer; and spritz with a setting spray between layers.
8 A good skin care routine is vital
Healthy skin is the foundation of good makeup – make sure you have some kind of cleansing, exfoliating and hydrating regimen in place. Many people (men and women) believe that because they live in a hot climate and their skin is oily, they don’t need to moisturise. Wrong! Often, oily skin is dehydrated skin that is over producing oil to combat the dehydration. Apply a good serum, or an oil such as extra virgin coconut oil, every morning and evening – over time, this will reduce your oiliness throughout the day. Pro tip: instead of rubbing the oil or serum into your skin with your fingertips, which can irritate the skin and cause it to reject the products, rub it between your palms to warm it up and then press it into your face, and finish by lightly smoothing it in (without applying pressure) with your whole hand.
9 Don’t cake on the powder
More is definitely not better when it comes to powder because caked-on powder looks awful and heavy, and has a tendency to crack, flake or look lumpy as it wears. Instead, let your foundation sit for a moment, blot it a little with tissue and then set it with a light layer of powder. Then, a few times during the day, blot and reapply a little powder in areas that you need it. Your skin will look more radiant and natural, no matter how full-coverage your foundation is, and you won’t clog your pores.
10 Don’t neglect your lips
A good lip balm with sunscreen, either worn on its own or applied and blotted beneath lipstick, is a must.
11 And makeup is for men too!
Anyone who wants to wear makeup can and should. Just 25 years ago the only men doing so, aside from actors, were men like Prince and David Bowie; it was considered part of their ‘thing’ as performers. Now, it’s becoming much more common. There’s still a taboo associated with men and makeup; many people think that if a man wears it, it’s some kind of statement about his sexuality. However, like jewellery and clothing, it’s simply something we can use to express ourselves. So, if a man wants to warm his face up or even out his skin tone or groom his eyebrows or define his lashes or wear eyeliner, I say, absolutely, go for it!
Top tech tips
• To make your lipstick last longer, apply it in very thin layers with a lip brush. Work the first layer in well – it should be sheer and almost dry. Let it set, then blot your lips by making a relaxed ‘o’ with your mouth and pressing a tissue on evenly with your fingers. Repeat until your lipstick is as rich as you want it. Blot the final layer for a matte finish or leave it alone for a satin finish.
• For perfect eyeliner, tip your head back, hold your mirror down by your chin and then point your eyes downward to look into it. This gives you more freedom, as your forehead is out of the way and your lids are more taut. This technique also allows you to more easily see and follow the angle of your lid.
• A pinky-brown lipstick can double as a blusher. Put a little lipstick on your finger and pat it lightly onto the desired areas. The heat of your fingers will help melt the colour into your skin, and will give a healthy, fresh, natural look.
Style list: hot looks for 2017
1 Minimalist is in – clean skin, no eyeshadow, groomed brows and juicy natural lips. Perhaps, to give it a punch, dark vampy lips.
2 Try neon liner or eyeshadow – when looking for a fun pop of colour, we’re going to see girls reaching for bright blue, teal and orange.
3 There will be a move away from strong-cut creases and winged liner for eyes; 2017 will be more about a messier, more undone one-colour smoky eye, in colours like matte wine, mustard, soft brown, and the ever-classic charcoal grey.
Mandy on the movies: Making-up A Caribbean Dream
“Working on A Caribbean Dream was incredible. We filmed at Fustic House in St Lucy, Barbados, which is like a fairytale come to life. It has all these romantic, almost mythological nooks and crannies, overgrown with ivy and moss. It looks like something out of a fantasy novel, while still retaining its definite Caribbean-ness.
I love working on TV and film sets; I love the feeling of mutual respect, and the shared experience of creating something wonderful with talented people. The biggest challenge was that there were only two makeup artists for most of the shoot: I was responsible for designing and executing the makeup for the Fairy World while Theresa Drvaric was responsible for the Real World. On the really big nights, when we had literally every member of the Fairy World on set, we called in one other assistant, and the makeup team was on its feet for 17 or 18 hours.
To create the magical looks I consulted with the director, photographer, producer and costume designer; we shared ideas and I did sketches and tests. I wanted to keep everything looking organic while still being fantastical. I believe that often subtlety is most effective, and I strived to keep the balance between realism and fantasy.
I had to create a sheep’s face out of latex for the character of Bottom, but my favourite character was Puck, who I gave a heavy black-and-red smoky eye, slightly glossy pink lips and rosy cheeks. There was so much joy working in a high-pressure, low-budget but mutually respectful environment. Even when we were so tired we could barely see straight, everyone had fun.”
A Caribbean Dream previewed in the USA and the UK in 2016; the Caribbean premiere will be at the Barbados Independent Film Festival, 11-15 January, 2017. www.caribbeanfilmproductions.com