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Tips of the trade



Melissa Murdick is a professional makeup artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She has worked on editorial, advertising, and entertainment productions for clients including Ralph Lauren,

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Photographer: Kurt Linder
Hair: Anna Lyles
Model: Brooke Butler

BCBG, Target, Vogue Italia, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vanity Fair, among others.

Melissa sat down with Amelie G to discuss beauty basics, this winter’s hot makeup trends including the two looks seen in this spread.

How did you get started as a make-up artist and what prompted you to pursue a career in the field?

As soon as I started middle school, I became obsessed with makeup. I would read Allure and other magazines and try to copy what they did on my friends, as well as experiment on myself. I was always doing everyone’s eyebrows and makeup for dances, etc. I knew I wanted to make it my career after working for several years at a makeup store in my hometown, and also being present at photoshoots that my dad would bring me on (he is a photographer).

 In your opinion, what is the most important part of the makeup process?

The most important part of the makeup process is feeling good; otherwise, what’s the point?

How do you build a look?

When I’m building a makeup look, I first visualize what I want
to do, drawing on various sources of inspiration and considering what I think would look best on the person I’m making up. Sometimes the idea is a bit more vague and I let the look unfold as I go, and sometimes I am going for something very specific.

As for the actual process of applying the makeup, I always start with skincare to let it soak in, then I work on the eyes, followed by foundation, blush, and finally lips. I start with the eyes so I can easily clean up any smudges or eye shadow fallout, and so I don’t make the foundation splotchy where I rest my fingers when applying the eye makeup. I don’t see very many other people use this technique, but it [has] always worked for me.

What are the basic tools that you recommend every woman keep in her makeup arsenal?

A solid skincare regimen is a must because it keeps your skin healthy, letting you get away with much less makeup overall. Using the correct skincare products for your skin type will also help your makeup last longer if dry skin gets adequate moisture, it’s less likely to “eat” your makeup in search of it, and if oily skin is balanced, makeup is less likely to slide off it.

Makeup brushes are, of course, the essential makeup tool, but knowing how to use them is more important than just owning them. Go to Sephora and ask a sales associate what brushes you need and how to use them, or check out YouTube for similar tutorials. Demonstration followed by at-home practice is all you really need to get handy with them.

Q-tips for cleaning up mistakes and a relaxed attitude are helpful, too!

What are the most common makeup mistakes you see women make?

One of the most common mistakes I see on women is overly heavy foundation application. Heavy foundation gives the skin a very flat appearance and really jumps out at you. I prefer to use the lightest coverage that I can get away with, followed by concealer on areas that need more coverage so the skin looks flawless, but still has life to it.

Another mistake I see is (women) trying to completely copy someone else’s look (Kim Kardashian, anyone?). Using someone as inspiration is great, but the look needs to suit your features, to feel like your own. To me, makeup is about being comfortable and true to yourself, not thinking. “If only I looked like so and so…” It’s about expressing who you are and embracing individuality.



How would you describe aesthetic?

As an artist, I tend to be  “light-handed”. I love simple, clean beauty, but I also really love makeup that expresses elements of someone’s personality (sensuality, innocence, playfulness, etc).

What are your current sources of inspiration?

Fashion and clothing are always big sources of inspiration in my day-to-day work because they help to create the image of whoever we are working with; makeup continues that story. Iconic women, movies, songs, and other artists also inspire me.

What have been your favorite shoots to work on?

My favorite shoots are always those where the crew has a lot of fun together, or when the team (hair, photography, stylist, model, etc.) is exceptionally talented and creates something really special.

Least favorite?

Anytime the shoot goes over 12 hours—my brain turns to mush!

Are there any makeup looks you predict will be especially prevalent in the upcoming winter season?

For fall/winter 2013, deep, powerful lips became a big trend, with colors ranging from rich brown-reds to burgundies. Also, runways showed a lot of variations on the traditional cat eye, which are so much fun. These trends are great because they are super wearable! Try a cat eye using metallic eyeliner, or buy a new lipstick to update your look this season.

Can you share how to recreate the two looks shown in this editorial: the bold lip and the warm, smoky eye?

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Photographer: Kurt Linder
Hair: Anna Lyles
Model: Brooke Butler

In order to recreate the rich lip I did for this shoot, you’ll need
a lip liner, lipstick, and some translucent powder. I filled in the entire mouth with MAC Bittersweet lip liner (a chocolate brown) and then topped it with a great reddish-brown lipstick by Edward Bess called “Deep Lust”. I then dusted on some translucent powder to give the lips a matte finish. With any bold lip like this, Q-tips are great to have on hand to clean up mistakes (yes, even the pros need them!). Another good idea is to use a bit of concealer and a small brush to go around the border of the mouth before and after applying the liner and lipstick, which makes the edges super clean and crisp. The lip will really pop!

For the warm smoky eye, I first applied MAC Bamboo eyeshadow (a warm linen color) on the eyelid and blended it into the crease of the eye. I then lined the eyes with a brown liner by Chanel on top and bottom. Using a small brush (you could use a Q-tip or the smudger at the end of your liner pencil, if it comes with one), I blended the liner a bit to start the smoky effect. I then used a nice, matte, warm brown eyeshadow by La Femme and created a sideways V shape at the outer corner of the eye that I blended inward, into the crease, and underneath the eye. Afterward,

I used a great skin-toned eyeliner by NYX called the “Wonder Pencil” on the inner rim of the eye and around the tear duct to keep the eyes looking more open. To finish, I added just a hint of Too Faced’s “Better Than Sex” mascara. Voila!

Finally, if there’s any advice you can offer women looking to create a signature look, what would it be?
If you want to create a signature look, go for what makes you feel good—what appeals to your unique style and personality. Don’t be über-concerned with rules or trends; enjoy yourself! I feel like women often get nervous about doing a poor job, or not doing the right thing. This totally kills the pleasure of the process and the end result.

If you feel like you need help putting your look together or learning how to do something new, use the resources available to you—ask for a lesson at Sephora or watch how [a technique] is done on YouTube, and practice. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you mess up. The more you practice, the better you’ll get!

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