The Makeup Application Technique That Will Make You Look Perfectly Imperfect

Wipe on, wipe off. (Apologies to Mr. Miyagi.)
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Wipe on, wipe off. (Apologies to Mr. Miyagi.)
Smudgey imperfection backstage at Jason Wu. Photo: Imaxtree 

Smudgey imperfection backstage at Jason Wu. Photo: Imaxtree 

Everyone loves a creative hack. In the beauty world, there are tons of time-saving, money-saving ways to re-purpose products, plus techniques you can try that don't require you to have the makeup brush prowess of Pat McGrath. For this feature, we will pick the brains of beauty's best and brightest to try to make your life easier.

Backstage at Fashion Week this season I've picked up tons of new beauty tips and tricks (which I will be sharing soon), but there is one particularly pervasive technique that makeup artists have been turning to that is both genius in its simplicity and modern in its final result.

Drumroll: After you put on makeup, wipe some off. It's basically like the makeup version of Coco Chanel's edict to take off one accessory before you leave the house. Beauty has been "normal" and "real" backstage this season, and the slightly undone look you get from removing a little makeup feels fresh. It's basically the facial equivalent of bedhead. But there's a technique to it —don't just take a wipe to your face willy nilly. 

At Jason Wu, Diane Kendal used moisturizer to dilute and blend eyeliner. After applying Lancome's Le Crayon Khol in Black, she took moisturizer on a q-tip to remove some, and also to drag it up into the contour while taking it off, giving a "beautiful, sultry eye with some residue." She then covered the lid with cream-based brown for depth, finalizing the Charlotte Rampling effect.

Kendal also used the wipe on/wipe off trick backstage at Alexander Wang. After applying NARS' Via Appia Larger Than Life Long-wear Eyeliner close to the lashes, she took most of it off with Embryolisse, then covered the rest of the lid with gold shadow. The look was meant to convey boyish athleticism meets Bladerunner

Public School, Jason Wu, and Alexander Wang. Photos: Imaxtree

Public School, Jason Wu, and Alexander Wang. Photos: Imaxtree

Then there was makeup artist Yadim Carranza at Public School, who wanted the eye makeup to look "slept in." He used a flat brush to push gel liner into the lash line — not extending past the end of the eye — then traced over that with liquid liner. Then he took a Q-tip rubbed in clear Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm and smudged it out a tad for an "oily" look.

Finally, Carranza also broke out this trick at Opening Ceremony, where the models were supposed to look like they had just come from a show and had haphazardly wiped off their makeup before the next casting. He applied tons of Great Lash Mascara in black on their lashes, lined the lower water line and slightly below, then wiped it off with a makeup wipe. "It's not about raccoon eyes," he says. "It’s less about smearing it off and more about lightly taking off excess."

Because if this season in beauty has told us anything, it's that less excess is more. 

Additional reporting by Eliza Brooke.

Last week's beauty hack: How ketchup saved my blonde hair