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.


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.


‘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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