• Krystina Te Kanawa-Coffin

8 Top Tips From A Hong Kong Makeup Artist.

It’s time to address some common makeup queries!



Did you know the cosmetic industry is a worth a whopping USD$550 billion and is set to reach USD$800 billion by 2023? It’s mind boggling! So no wonder it can be a bit of a minefield trying to make sense of all the differing brands and formulations, plus interpret claims of long-lasting this and age-defying that. Not to mention trying to choose between a bountiful array of colours, textures and everything else in between. So, as a makeup artist, I thought I would address eight of the most common makeup queries I’m asked by my clients, to try to help to ease confusion and set the record straight.

1. Less is more

When it comes to makeup, I believe less is more. I take between five and seven minutes every day to do my makeup. It makes me feel better and more alive, but I don’t plaster it on, nor do I try to mask, shade or over contour my face (which can make it almost recognizable). So if you lack time, my “less is more” three-step makeup mantra is for you!


  • Foundation brings life to your face without having to use any other products. It instantly brightens, freshens and evens out your skin tone within minutes.

  • Mascara opens the eyes, whilst adding definition, curl and lift.

  • Blusher is another product that also brings life to your face without much effort. Just smile and apply lightly to the apples of your cheeks for an instant pick-me-up!

These three products will ensure your day gets off to a good start!


2. Primers: What are they and do you really need to use one?

Primers are a base makeup you apply after your moisturiser and serum, but before your foundation. Its main purpose is to form a layer between your skin and makeup, so your foundation goes on more smoothly and ultimately lasts longer.


Do you need it? Yes and no! If you find your makeup disappears by midday, then it’s a big yes. I also highly recommend using a primer if you live in a hot, humid city like Hong Kong. But if you’re lucky and your makeup stays put all day long, then save your money!


3. Why use brushes?

Brushes are the key to even, long-lasting and better-looking makeup, full stop! Love them or loathe them, they’re designed to make your life easier. They allow you to use a lot less product and give you better control of it. Brushes can help to make your foundation thinner so you can build it up in breathable layers, plus your eye shadow will look more blended with no harsh lines and you’ll get an overall better finish than when you apply your makeup with your fingers. Quality brushes will last for years if you treat them right, so they’re also a good investment!


4. Does SPF15 plus SPF15 equal SPF30?

SPF really is a must in your moisturiser and/or foundation because it protects your skin from the harsh rays of the sun (even when there is cloud cover). However if you have SPF15 in your moisturiser and SPF15 in your foundation, sadly it does not equal SPF30, it is still SPF15 ladies! If you want higher protection the best option is to find a moisturiser that has a minimum of SPF20. The SPF will lose its purpose after two to four hours so remember to reapply frequently. A spray SPF is perfect to mist on your face so it doesn’t affect your makeup!

5. How do I test my foundation?

I really don’t know who came up with the idea to test your foundation on your hand, but I’m pretty sure lots of people still live by that rule. However, nine times out of 10 your face is a totally different colour to your hand, so you really do need to test your foundation on your face itself!


6. What is blending and why is it so important?

Blending is the best makeup term ever created and, when done correctly, it makes a world of difference. You need to do it in all aspects of your makeup application to get a flawless and even finish.

  • Foundation – once you have a layer of foundation on, buff and blend it into your skin so it isn’t sitting on your skin or creating any build up and thickness around your jaw. Sometimes un-blended foundation will leave streaks on your face, so spend that extra time smoothing and buffing it out.

  • Eye shadow – when you are working with dark or colourful colours they can leave behind harsh and edgy lines, so you need to use a shadow blending brush and move it along to diffuse the edges of the colour.

  • Blusher – blend those edges girls! Once you have applied your blush, go back over it with your powder or foundation brush and lightly blend the edges away. If you feel you have too much on, then continue to blend the product down a notch until you’re happy with it!

7. How long does makeup last for?

It can be hard to know when you need to throw out your makeup. Powder products like eye shadows and blushers have a longer shelf life so you can easily have them for several years.

However liquid and crème formulations are what you need to keep an eye on (foundation, mascara, lipstick etc). To check, most products have a little square box on the back of the product with a number inside it, if it says 12, it means it lasts for 12 months (clever right?). Just remember when you bought it! I also go by smell to check if a product is off.

When it comes to mascara if it’s dried up or clumpy – dump it! Mascara probably has the shortest shelf life of around three months, while foundation usually lasts 12 to 24 months.


8. How often do I need to wash my brushes and what should I clean them with?

Professionally, I wash my brushes after every client. Personally, I wash mine weekly, but if you fall under the category of forgetting or can’t be bothered, then try doing it every two to four weeks. If you tend to have sensitive skin or acne, then try to clean them every one to two days to avoid spreading bacteria.

You can easily wash your brushes with shampoo or conditioner. Sometimes dish washing liquid is better to get emollient-type products out (such as lipsticks and concealers).


Featured image courtesy of Getty Images, image 1 courtesy of Jazmin Quaynor via Unsplash, image 2 courtesy of Krystina Te Kanawa via Instagram, image 3 courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury via Instagram, image 4 courtesy of Krystina Te Kanawa via Instagram.

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