The art of flawless makeup

Photos (clockwise from top): Rae with with Kelly Rowland, Rae with Dutch supermodel Doutzen Kroes, Rae with a model during Loreal Fashion Week, cheek shading technique, a brush roll stocked with Rae Morris brushes, signing a copy of ‘Makeup The Ultimate Guide’, brow shading technique, Rae with Pink!, Rae with Miranda Kerr. All images c/o Rae Morris Makeup The Ultimate Guide.

I've been working with professional hair and make-up artists since I was ten and one of the key things I've learned is that really good brushes are the secret to flawless looking, perfectly blended make-up.

Like a golfer finessing different shots with different clubs, different make-up brushes can be used to create different looks and effects. My Aussie hair and make-up artist Fotini is something of a make-up brush Ninja, wielding a million and one different brushes to banish blemishes and blend away dreaded ‘tide marks’.

Some of my favourite makeup brushes are made by Rae Morris. Rae is a four-time Australian Make-up Artist of the Year and has worked with some of the world’s most beautiful women including Jessica Biel, Pink!, Kelly Rowland and Miranda Kerr. Her specially customised brushes are handcrafted from recycled bamboo. 

I was ‘made up’ to catch up with Rae recently, and to continue my application education with a true Aussie make-up maestro. Rae is so loved and respected by people I know in the industry that I wanted to share her story, and some of her tricks and tips, here on my blog.

DM: Where did your love for perfect makeup begin?
RM: I grew upnot having a love for makeup because I was a complete tomboy. It was through hairdressing (I started when I was 14) that my love for both hair and makeup began. I have to admit, being a teenager in the ’80s era definitely helped. I loved Boy George, Duran Duran and Marilyn. It was just such a great era to get inspired by makeup. A David Bowie ‘Ziggy Stardust’ poster hung over my bed and, looking back, it was the makeup I loved more than him! And, as it turned out, Richard Shara (who created Ziggy Stardust) was my makeup teacher!

DM: Why did you set about creating your own brush set?
RM: Throughout my whole make-up career I would buy handmade individual brushes (that cost a fortune) and then - using a razor - I would shave them into a pointed shape. Once you use a pointed brush, it’s hard to use anything else! With a pointed brush, your brush does your blending for you and gives you perfect edges as well as overall flawless application. How could I keep that knowledge to myself? It made sense to make brushes that any woman, from those who aren’t confident with make-up, to professional make-up artists, could use. If it made my job so much easier, and cut my makeup blending time down by at least half, it had to be something everyone would want to use.

DM: Audrey Hepburn is one of my ultimate beauty icons. What are the secrets to achieving her sculpted eyebrows?
RM: Creating perfectly sculpted eyebrows is all about matching your eyebrow pencil or shadow to your ‘exact’ brow hair color. If the color is different, it will end up looking fake. An angle brush is perfect for this - It’s about filling in the gaps to create a perfect brow rather than drawing the whole brow in. It is also important to make sure the end of the brow has the most perfect immaculate finish. When sculpting brows, you should take them to about a millimetre before where you want them to actually finish. Then take a clean angle brush with a little bit of foundation and go above and below the edge of the brow to give you a clean precise result.

DM: Is shading important? What are the key areas to shade?
RM: The best places to shade are under the cheekbone, along the jawline and around the hairline. When choosing a color, my favorite ones to use are matte colors such as browns and greys - the types of colors that you would usually use on your eyebrows. My Ultimate Cheekbone Brush (No.3) creates a shadow effect that really emphasises the cheekbones in less than two strokes for cheekbones worthy of a Hollywood A-lister! 

DM: How do you make sure the color of your face matches the rest of your body?
RM: Whenever purchasing a foundation, always match the color to your chest rather than to your hand or jawline. A good way to check that your foundation colour is perfect is to apply your foundation, stand sideways in front of a mirror and place your chin on your shoulder (best to be wearing a singlet when doing this). Your face colour and shoulder colour should be the same. I always take a picture of myself and, with or without a flash, the color should be an exact match. And remember, if you tan more in summer you have to use a darker foundation!

DM: What is your ultimate tip for brides to be?
RM: Ask your make-up artist to do touch ups for photos and before your reception. In Sydney I’ll do a wedding party for an 11am wedding and the photos might be at 1pm with the Opera House a favourite spot. It’s a wind tunnel – the perfect place to see your immaculate bridal ‘do’ destroyed in seconds! By photo time the bride generally has lipstick kiss marks all over her face, at least one (if not all) of the bridal party will have cried (so requisite red noses and running mascara), the groomsmen will be bright red beetroots with sunglass dints because no one told them not to don their shades until after the pictures and the poor flower girl will be a mess. I wish more make-up artists would offer a touch-up service because your wedding photos are your memories for life.

Rae’s Tip: All brides should buy blotting paper - it’s great to eliminate shine during the day and it’s small enough to fit into your purse.

DM: What makes your brushes different?
RM: My brushes are the softest in the world. The softer the brush, the less it drags your skin (creating awful unblended bumps and lines) when you’re applying your makeup. I’ve also made sure they’re affordable. On average, they retail for about $25 per brush (if purchased in one of the sets). My brushes are all handmade and every brush is shaped to a point so you will not get harsh edges or lines that all other makeup brushes leave. 

DM: What is your favorite brush?
RM: I have two favorites. My Ultimate Cheekbone Brush and my Foundation Brush. There is no other brush in the world like my cheekbone brush. With two strokes, it gives the most chiseled, defined cheekbone. My “Radiance” foundation brush applies foundation flawlessly, creating an immaculate finish. When I use it on a client it never fails to elicit an: “OMG I need that brush”!!!

DM: The brushes are magnetized – what is this for?
RM: I got sick of brush rolls taking up so much bench space but brush cylinders can sometimes bend bristles and damage the brushes. I am in the process of designing a magnetized plate that allows brushes to stand up by themselves. Ultimately, my brush range will be able to stick to any magnetized surface including mirrors.

DM: What is the best way to clean and store brushes?
RM: I use hospital strength, Health Department approved, brush cleaner. Not only does it kill all bacteria instantly, your brushes will dry within 10 seconds. (You can purchase this from any professional makeup supplier). I don’t ever use conditioner on my brushes because it leaves an oily film, and I never use brush cleaner that is perfumed and claims to condition your brushes. Brushes don’t need to be conditioned, they need to be super clean and dry in seconds ready to use again. (I clean my brushes twice a day and it has never affected them).

Rae’s contouring masterclass has really got me motivated to spend a little bit more time on my make-up application at home – especially when I’m getting ready for a special event.

How long do you spend on your hair and make-up each day? What about when you’re preparing for an important occasion?

For more about Rae’s custom designed brush collection (27-piece set $699) visit her website.

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