All you need to know about make-up

Navigating the world of make-up can be daunting for a beginner.

There is a reason that the cosmetics industry is a US$20 billion one – with so many products available, all promising to brighten complexions or lengthen lashes or plump lips, one has to wonder whether any of these work, and if so, where to begin?

The Observer on Sunday spoke with two local experts, Tricia Ali, senior paramedical beauty therapist at Eclipze Hair Design and Day Spa, and Danielle Ebanks, aesthetician at the Silver Rain Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, to get the lowdown on where to begin with make-up.


A base is an essential element to any make-up, but particularly in our climate, according to Ali.

“An SPF is very important – you should always use an SPF to protect your skin,” she says. “People say they’re not in the sun much, but there are UV rays coming out of fluorescent light bulbs, then going from the house to the car, from the car to work, you’re exposed to the sunshine. It all adds up at the end of the day.”

Peter Thomas Roth and June Jacobs, two skincare lines carried by Eclipze, both offer moisturisers with an SPF in, including a translucent powder that brightens skin and contains instant SPF.

“Normally sunscreen takes about 20 to 30 minutes for it to activate, but this is instant, so you put it on and you walk out,” says Ali. “It’s translucent so it blends right into the skin. It’s great for lunchtime when you’re running out because sunscreen wears off after a while; the light actually breaks down the protection, that’s how you lose the SPF.”

Ebanks explains that all of la prairie’s liquid foundations contain SPF 15, as well as many other skin benefits.

“They have caviar-based foundation for older skin and anti-aging foundation for younger skin to prevent aging,” she said.

Foundation that can benefit your skin? Isn’t that counter-intuitive?

“Well, cleansing is very important, because you hear a lot of people saying that their make-up is causing them to break out, which can be the case if it is oil-based and clogs your pores and irritates your skin, but the most important thing is cleansing your skin,” says Ali.

The overall goal of foundation or powder is to even out the skin tone and provide a base for make-up, allowing it to stay on longer.

“When you look at someone’s face, they have high points and low points, meaning their naturally highlighted areas, usually their forehead, cheekbones and chin, and then their darker areas like jawbone and around the eyes which appear darker just because of natural shadowing – you can use foundation to balance the different tones out, evening out the skin tone,” says Ali.

Choosing between a liquid foundation and a powder foundation is usually a matter of preference, says Ebanks.

“Foundation offers better coverage but people may prefer powder, especially in this climate, because when you sweat it feels nicer on the skin,” she says.

Ali explains that Niko has tried to combat this issue by coming out with a dual foundation, which can be used dry or wet for heavier coverage.

“If you wanted more coverage, going out at night for example, you could take your sponge, dampen it just a little bit – not drenched but just lightly damp – and then it gives you a heavier coverage,” she says.

Choosing the correct shade is difficult, but tips that Ali and Ebanks share include testing it on your face – not another part of your body – and in natural light conditions.

Concealer can also be used to combat dark circles under the eyes, but should always be two shades lighter than your skin tone, says Ali.

“The caviar-based foundation that la prairie offers comes with a concealer in the cap,” says Ebanks, which is already a shade lighter so that it is appropriate for the skin tone of the person purchasing a particular shade of foundation. The line also has separate concealers, which are fitted with a brush and utilise a click top to dispense the ideal amount of product for application.

Eyes and lips

Colour choice is also a matter of preference, but can be dictated by skin tone and eye colour.

“We tend to use the colours according to eye colour; for example, with blue eyes you can use greens or purples. For brown eyes you can stick to blues or earth tones,” Ebanks says.

The la prairie line groups eye colours into quads, recommending colours that complement each other well. Eyeliners are also available, and are retractable – eliminating the need for sharpening – with a smudger on the other end.

Ali explains the logic behind matching skin tones to eye and lip colours.

“Warm skin tones that have a red undertone or yellow undertone should stay away from reds and oranges and stick more to earth tones. Cool complexions, skin with blue undertones, should stay away from blues and purples,” she says. “However, there’s always different laws with make-up. Normally, the colours you are attracted to when you look at a palate are what look good on you.”

Lip colours can be fun to play around with, and Ebanks says she would recommend a brighter red lipstick to a younger client, for example. However, the one thing to remember is to complement the eye make-up.

“If you’re going to do dramatic eyes, go for softer lips. If you want really subtle then do a brighter colour with the reds, for example, but don’t go smoky on the eyes and then bright red on the lips – it’s sometimes too much,” says Ali.

Preparation is important as well, and la prairie offers a lip plumper and line filler for use before applying lip colour.

“The line filler is applied to the outside of the lip, while the plumper, which is citrus-based, is applied to the lips and prevents the lip colour from bleeding or feathering,” says Ebanks.


Important tips for mascara include never pumping your mascara, which introduces bacteria into the product, and replacing it every three months, says Ali.

“Niko’s mascara is very cool; it’s dry, so when you’re ready, you wet your wand, dip it in the mascara and it’s like fresh mascara every time,” she says.

Ebanks says that la prairie offers two black mascaras – one which lengthens, and one which curls. Lengthening mascaras tend to clump less, she says, so that can be a good option if people are unsure what to purchase.


Blush and bronzer can illuminate skin, adding that flush of colour or sun-kissed glow to an otherwise pallid complexion.

“We have powder blushes and cream-based blushes as well. The difference is in effect, the crea act as more of a shimmer on liquid foundation to brighten the complexion, more of a highlight, whereas the powder is matte and is a solid colour on the face,” says Ebanks.

Ali explains the importance of careful application.

“Different face shapes require different types of application, but generally we say not to go lower than the inner ear or past the outside of the iris,” she says. “However, it depends on the face shape. If you have a wider face you can go a little past the outside edge of your iris. If you have a narrower face you would stick to the edge of the iris.”

Both the Silver Rain Spa and Eclipze offer make-up lessons and applications, so for a true newcomer, an ideal way to find your perfect products is to book a make-up lesson and learn the application techniques from the professionals, while also receiving tips on recommended colours and products for your individual skin type.

It’s easy to look your best with the right products and correct application, but Ali says her experience has taught her the golden rule of make-up:

“Over the years of doing make-up I’ve come to realise there’s no real right or wrong way, so feel free to experiment.”