The Best Beauty Hacks We’ve Learnt Backstage At Fashion Week

Including how to tone down an overdone brow (so basically, essential reading)

backstage beauty hacks

by Viola Levy |
Updated on

Being backstage at fashion week is a bit like stumbling into a beauty vortex: a whirl of hairdryers, flashbulbs, mirrors and models, with sometimes up to five hairstylists and make-up artists working on a single girl while photographers try their best to insert themselves into the melee like snipers in order to get the best shot. For a beauty writer, it’s the closest you’ll ever get to ‘front line’ reporting. Given the experts only have a short amount to time to get jet-lagged models looking runway-ready, they tend to have a few tricks up their sleeve. Here are the cream of the crop you can try at home …

1. Use Glitter Nail Polish To Salvage Chipped Nails

At a recent Cushnie et Ochs show, the 'shattered metallic ombré' nails by Julie Kandalec for Essie added some serious wow factor. After slicking on the polish, glitter was applied across the tip of the nail (similar to a classic French manicure) and gently swept down towards the cuticle. Kandalec explained how this glitter technique is also a great way to make your regular manicure last longer – seamlessly masking chips or smudges. Add some sparkle yourself with Essie’s Glitter Nail Polish Luxeffects in Set in Stone.

2. Create A 'Wet Look' To Hide A Bad Hair Day

For tresses that look a bit knackered or bedraggled, make like hairstylist Paul Hanlon at Roberto Cavalli’s AW19 show, who transformed the models’ overheated and overdyed hair into lacquered, slicked back locks. Yes this look is a little ‘editorial’ but it’s not too tricky to accomplish. Chris Appleton created something similar on Kim Kardashian recently, where he slicked Color Wow Pop & Lock through the hair, working on one small section at a time, twisting it around and blow-drying with a diffuser for a mermaid twist.

3. Use A White Base To Make Nail Polish Colour Pop

Manicurist Geraldine Holford is a backstage regular at New York Fashion Week, creating the looks for a number of shows. For a really vibrant colour, she recommends using a white polish to create the perfect canvas for it to pop. She first applies two base coats of the white and then paints over them with a vibrant neon for traffic-stopping talons. Try NARS Nail Polish in Ecume.

4. Use salt spray to stop hair looking too ‘done’

You know when you get a blow dry and your hair looks a little bit too polished – like you should be reading the 6 o’clock news? (Or when you use curling tongs and end up with identical ringlets, last seen when you were a bridesmaid, aged 6?) Hairstylist Alan While for Dr Lorenzo at Lee Mathews has a great tip for making your ‘do’ look more natural – and the answer is salt spray. Just tousle a few spritzes of this marvellous stuff through the hair (evo Salty Dog Cocktail Beach Spray is great for this), working it from roots to ends for a slightly rougher, laissez-faire finish.

5. Use Eye Cream On The Lip Line To Plump Out Fine Lines And Stop Colour Bleeding

Backstage at Paul Smith's SS19 show in Paris, Senior Artist Cher Webb relied on MAC Fast Response Eye Cream to create an immaculate red lip. 'My trick is to use this around the lip line before lipstick application to frame the lips and act as a barrier,' she explained. 'This transparent gel texture instantly absorbs into the skin and I’ve found this simple technique makes all the difference, especially with a statement lip. It can prevent feathering and bleeding and will smooth out the lip surface. Any lip pencil will simply glide on with ease!'

6. Tone Down An Overdone Brow With A Spoolie Brush

The bold brow is going nowhere anytime soon, but to avoid it looking too OTT, Benefit’s Head Make-Up Artist Lisa Potter Dixon let us in on a tip she used backstage at Paul Costelloe last year. 'If you add too much brow product to the brows, don’t try and remove it with makeup remover. Just brush through with a clean spoolie [the brush you usually get on a mascara wand] until you have removed the excess product.'

7. Eyelash Glue Helps Glittery Eyeshadow Stay Put

If you want those sparkles to stay on your lids and not end up falling on your cheeks come midnight, take a leaf out of MAC make-up artist Ismaya Ffrench’s book, who used eyelash glue at Halpern’s SS19 show to ensure models’ eyes were all shades of Studio 54, without any slippage.

8. For Fool-Proof Highlighter Draw The Number '3'

I learnt this trick a while ago from Talia Shobrook, backstage at Jenny Packham in New York but it still comes in handy today. When applying highlighter (or bronzer) place it where the light naturally lands on your face i.e. the forehead, cheeks and chin, and subtly join together to create a '3' shape (or an 'E', depending on which side of the face you’re working on!). Opt for a creamy texture, such as WUNDER2’s Caviar Illuminator, for a fresh 'SoKo' glow.

9. Use Brow Products To Make Your Hair Look Thicker

Some of the techniques used to fatten up sparse, thinning brows can be equally applied to the hair on your head. If braiding fine or thinning hair leaves a bit too much of the scalp exposed, hairstylist Justine Marjan offered up this brilliant hack at Alice and Olivia a few years back. Basically, pick a brow product or powder eyeshadow that is the same as your hair colour and dab it into the scalp between your strands to make them look thicker and fuller

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