How the Oscars ushered in a quieter mood in beauty

Normally a time when actresses bust out all the stops, I was interested to see at the Oscars how understated everyone’s make-up was.

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For the last little while, I’ve been sensing a new mood in beauty – natural, but not too natural; pared down but played up again in just the right places, and that was exactly the look heralded on Sunday’s red carpet.

It was evident in the shadowy – not smoky – eyes, highly polished skin and nude or pale lips. And it was a look worn by everyone from Angelina Jolie (OK, so it’s her trademark but…) to Vanessa Hudgens, Penelope Cruz to Natalie Portman.

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‘Pretty much everyone at the Oscars went for an eye,’ commented MAC’s head of artistry Terry Barber when I asked him to talk me through the look. ‘A beautifully made-up eye is the ultimate glamour statement and instantly prettifying. You can do more with eyes than you can lips – and they don’t need re-touching. This year, though, the smoky look using blacks and dark greys was replaced by a shadowy eye using grey-browns, charcoals and dark purple. It’s a fresh, flattering look that’s easy to perfect.’

And here’s how:

‘Starting with eye pencil, work a nice, thick, creamy line along the upper and [half way along the] lower lash lines,’ says Barber. ‘I often use MAC Eye Pencil in Coffee, £8.81, as it pops eyes better than black. Smudge the line a bit to soften it, then use your finger to press a satin-textured eye shadow in brownish-grey or charcoal over the pencil.’ Barber assures me this is the professionals’ secret for creamy, expensive-looking eyes. ‘A soft metallic, such as MAC eye shadow in Satin Taupe, £9.79, works really well, too,’ he says.

‘Smudge and smoke your eye shadow over the rest of your lids then use an ultra-fine eyeliner brush to push a little gel eyeliner into the upper and lower lash lines for added depth.’ (Try MAC Fluidline in Macroviolet or Blitz & Glitz, £10.77 each.)

‘Finish with a few lashings of mascara.’

Tomorrow: award-winning skin and lips

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