Molly R. Stern (below) began working on a Shu Uemura makeup counter at 16 and later took on corporate roles at Clinique and MAC, gaining a respect for “real women” beauty that remains strong in her work for A-list actresses and musicians.
Conspicuous in this age of Instagram-friendly celebrity “fake-up,” her looks champion each woman’s most naturally pretty features, from Lily Collins’ Hepburn-esque brows to Reese Witherspoon’s Tinkerbell cheekbones and Julianna Margulie’s almond eyes.
Molly recommends enhancing what you like most about yourself before reaching for the cover-up.
Her makeup advice is some of the most accessible I’ve heard.
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1. Layer your blush for a natural flush
Molly likes to layer blush for naturally contoured, flushed cheeks. She suggests picking a gel or sheer cream blush that is “on the spectrum of contour shades” to use as bronzer.
“Kjaer Weis Creme Blush in Desired Glow, €45 @ www.net-a-porter.com, is a subtle enough bronze to be used as both a contouring and highlighting colour.”
Giorgio Armani Maestro Liquid Summer SPF15, €48, available at Brown Thomas from June, is another great sheer contouring option.
“My next step is to add a rich cream blush to the apples of the cheeks.”
She uses Laura Mercier Crème Cheek Colour in Blaze, €30, for this almost every season.
“It creates a really natural flush. It is so important that cheek colour looks like how you’d really blush.”
She recommends topping off the cheeks with your favourite pink or peach matte shade to set and highlight.
“I love NARS Blush in Sex Appeal, €30, and Christopher Kane for NARS Blush in Silent Nude, €30, but really any matte shade you like will do.”
2. Embrace your sun-dewed skin
Matte foundation may have been a big spring trend but Molly reckons you shouldn’t spend summer fighting the sheen.
“Don’t make a matte complexion your goal. Go for healthy, flushed skin when it’s hot out!”
The artist recommends using blotting paper to keep skin looking dewy rather than greasy.
Boots Skin Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets, €4.99, won’t irritate skin as they soak. Molly also likes to apply pressed face powder only where most necessary.
“Try to control your shine, not eliminate it.” Laura Mercier Invisible Pressed Setting Powder, €36, is one of her favourites.
3. Use lipstick to warm your complexion for summer
“I believe you should look your most beautiful, so don’t load up on spray-tan.”
Molly suggests using makeup colours to both express yourself and celebrate the change in seasons.
“Try a bright new lipstick to add a little ‘pow’ to your look. I think anyone can wear fuchsia, it is just a matter of believing you can pull it off.”
Try YSL Pop Water no 209 in Aquatic Fuchsia, €33, for a bold, shimmery take on the shade. Lancôme Shine Lover in Fuchsia in Paris, €26, is a great sheer option.
4. Spend most of your beauty budget on skincare
Molly thinks skincare should be the most expensive items in your makeup bag.
“Good skin lets you use makeup to accent rather than remedy. A really good serum and moisturiser are very important...you can probably get away with a cheaper cleanser.”
She used Kiehl’s Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate, €49, to prep Reese Witherspoon’s skin before the 2015 MTV Music Awards.
“There are excellent foundations available in every price range. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have great makeup.”
Her favourite pharmacy foundations are by L’Oreal and Cover Girl. Try L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation, €14.99.
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5. Almost all makeup is multi-purpose
Lighten your cosmetics case for travel by making products perform double-duty.
“You can use any lip product as blush, so definitely try smudging your favourite lipstick on your cheeks,” says Molly.
“Chubbysticks are great for eyes, lips and cheeks.”
She also recommends using cream eyeliner as shadow.
“Renée Zellweger showed me how to use white eye-shadow to highlight the tip of the nose, the Cupid ’s bow and the chin, almost tracing a line right down the middle of the face. The shade should be at least two lighter than your skin. It is a great tip that I still use to this day.”
Sisley Phyto Lip Twist in Coral, €34, is a great chubby pencil for summer or try Renée’s trick with Bourjois Mono Shadow No18, €8.99.
6. Stock up on waterproof eye products
Eye makeup is the first to migrate when the temperature or pollen count rises.
“I love Make Up Forever Aqua Cream Shadow, €22.50, which comes in lots of fun colours. 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, €20, and Cannonball Ultra Waterproof Mascara, €22, both by Urban Decay, are also great.”
7. Perfect a six-minute smoky eye look
An easy evening look is useful when you are too busy enjoying your holiday to spend hours on makeup.
“Start with a good cream eye-shadow in a mid-range colour like dark taupe or a medium grey for the base. Smudge it all over the lid and up into the crease,” says Molly.
Take a small brush or cotton bud and smudge a little under the lash line.
Then use a second matte shade like NARS Single Eye Shadow in Bengali, €25, to go over the cream, concentrating on the base of both the top and bottom lashes to define the eye.
A matte aubergine or brown looks less harsh than a black shadow for this kind of look.”
Molly uses Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara in Over Black, €32.50, to intensify Reese’s freshly-curled lashes.
8. Pull off sun-goddess shimmer at any age
Many Irish Examiner readers love shimmer shadows but are concerned about their tendency to highlight lines and droops.
Molly recommends layering a matte cream or powder over your favourite shade to tone down the iridescence.
“Glitter eye liner is another great way to get a little dazzle without worrying you’re highlighting parts of your face you don’t like,” she adds.
Try Chanel Stylo Yeux in Perle de Lune, €24.
9. How to make eyes look wider and more rounded
Lily Collins, one of Molly’s regular clients, has naturally large, doll-like eyes. To emulate the shape, the artist recommends focusing most of your mascara, shadow and liner on the very centre of the lid, eye contour and lashes.
“Pop on a couple of individual false lashes at the very centre of the upper and lower lines to really open the eye up. Blend a tiny dot of highlighter above just under the eyebrow, directly above the pupil, for a subtle difference.”
Molly applied Lancôme Grandiôse Lengthening Mascara, é30 to Lily’s lashes for the Met Gala earlier this month.
Shu Uemura Hard Formula Eyebrow Pencil, €21, is the artist’s favourite way to define brows.
10. Sun protection is always in style
“Just apply it before you have coffee in the morning and let it set before you even think about starting your makeup.”
Molly loves Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense SPF50, €40, and Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection SPF50 Primer, €97 @ www.net-a-porter.com.