Secrets about make-up for smart girls that I learnt from Belinda


This is a very frivolous post. It is about a frivolous topic. Even smart girls need to know a few things about make-up. It isn’t that difficult, you just need a few tips from Belinda.

My mother cannot wear make-up. She is totally hopeless and in all of my life I have never seen her apply anything more than lipstick. I did not, therefore, start life with the advantage of a good guide on make-up.

My first experience of using make-up was as an eight year old child, when I applied it to an adult family friend. She was very kind about it but I know now that what I did to her was hideous. No eight year old should ever be allowed to use liquid eyeliner. As I got older, I was ‘too cool’ for make-up because smart girls didn’t wear it. Then one day I wanted to and I really didn’t know what to do.  I read about it in magazines, but I knew that I didn’t really know what I was doing. So I faked it. I wore concealer and lipstick and that was about it. Until I met Belinda.

Belinda was the coolest woman I had ever met. Not cool in a trendy way but actually cool. She was one of those women who knew the rules and what to do but could just ignore them.  She could wear tie-dye and blundstones and not give a shit. She was trained as a hairdresser. And as a make-up artist. When I met her, Belinda had just had her first baby, Nic. She was doing the odd hair cut at home to bring in the cash. She used to charge me $20 for a cut. We would sit around, play with Nic, drink tea and chat. The pivotal moment was when I asked her what the other three colours were for in my Revlon eye shadow pallet.

‘What do you mean?’ she asked. ‘Well’ I said, ‘I buy these four colour eye shadows, and I use up the lightest colour and the other colours just get wasted.’ By this time she had a pretty pained expression on her face but she knew me well enough to know I had absolutely NO clue what I was doing. Belinda taught me some stuff. She needed hardly any encouragement – she’d been observing my woeful handiwork. Here are the things she taught me that you need to know.

First, before you do anything at all in the eye make-up department decide what colours suit you, based on your skin tone, and how ‘bright’ you want the make-up to be. There is a good reason Stila sell more ‘Kitten’ eye shadow than anything else – a pale pink beige suits just about everyone.

Now the tips. These are the gold lessons from Belinda. These take you from applying one colour eye shadow across your whole eyelid and adding mascara to actually wearing eye make-up well.

1. Get the right tools – buy some decent brushes.

Three essential make-up brushes

If you look after them you’ll have them for a long long time. If you ask me, you need about three. One wide flat shaped brush for the base colour, a stubby short bristled one for accent and drawing lines and a medium rounded one for blending it all together.

2. Use your eye-liner pencils horizontally – don’t hold them like your are about to draw. Hold them horizontally to your face. Drag the coloured point across your lash line so the colour goes down into the lash line and doesn’t just sit above it.  This gives definition without any sharp lines.

3. When you apply mascara – hold the brush close to the eyelid and then wiggle it through the lashes. Apply on the underside and the top side. Use the point of the brush to define individual lashes or to separate them. Mascara lasts only a short time – so do throw it away after 6 months. It is a germ factory.

4. Why there is more than one colour in the palette. The other colours are for definition.

Start with the neutral base colour all over the eye socket using a big brush. A flat brush is great.

Next wash a contrast colour along the crease of your eyelid. This is best done with a stubby bristled brush – if you use it damp it will give stronger definition. Define the arc of your eyelid. Rub it in along the crease to define that crease line – you can define the crease a lot. The stubby brush helps to draw the defined line. Then use the round brush with the base colour to then blend the lines together using tiny circles – otherwise you look like you have just drawn lines on your eyes. Good eye make-up is well blended.

Then line the rim of your eyelid – either with a dark colour for emphasis or with a lighter colour to open up your eye – good if you are knackered or have small eye lids. Use a small short bristled brush for this or an eye pencil held horizontally so the pencil colour is rubbed along your upper eye lid. You can also line the lower lid but for day to day I hardly ever bother. The trick Belinda taught me is to apply a lighter colour towards my lash line and a deeper colour in the crease – this makes your eye look larger. Nearly everyone does it the other way round.

5. Shape your eyebrows and then use a bit of pencil to define them. They frame your face.

6. If you’ve got no to time to do anything else, wear mascara and lip gloss.

(For me I would add also get some Nars The Multiple, Orgasm – YES that is really what it is called. You can use it as blush, on your eyes – actually any where. It is great if you’re looking a bit flat, haven’t got time to go all the way, and it still makes you look like you’ve made some effort.)

Finally for me the best thing I every did was buy a ‘Stila Smokey Eye Kit’.

Stila talking eye make-up

Stila talking eye make-up

This little gem is a make-up palette that speaks. It has a tiny chip in it that talks you through the application process.

It has a guide on the back to tell you which colour to put where and which brush to use. It is totally awesome. I use it when I am going out. You can use the techniques to apply any kind of colour or look (as they say).


That’s it. It isn’t that hard. You don’t need to know much to improve and if I can do it, anyone can.