“Make up your mind”. “Express yourself”. Inspiring in themselves, these sentiments combine to form one of the most empowering statements we’ve heard this season – and, refreshingly, it’s been composed from within our very own beauty industry. Originally published in 2001, Francois Nars’ Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself is a homage to the earlier edition, but with a modern injection of individualism and fun. The book is initially sub-divided into three sections, “Play”, “Perfect”, and “Polish”, allowing initial choice as to your desired look’s outcome. Within each lies a small smorgasbord of tips and tricks – although these are intended more as guidelines or a framework, inviting you to experiment with as much or as little creativity as you wish. The result is a refreshing break from clinically regimented make-up how-tos, revolving around the philosophy that a little of what you fancy does you good – if you fancy clashing a pop-up pout with a smokey eye, then why on earth not?!
Interestingly, the image-heavy book relies not on models but on real women (and men), cherrypicked off the streets of NYC. Images follow a look-by-look, before-and-after format, designed to demonstrate the power of makeup as a tool. The idea, it seems, is that makeup should be treated not as a face paint or camoflage but as a means to manipulate, using what you naturally have as a starting point. The reader is encouraged to experiment and make the looks their own, although illustrated instructions are provided for the more makeup-cautious. NARS shares his philosophy of the face as a canvas, makeup as a tool, and a woman’s cosmetic collection akin to her wardrobe (think layering – foundation = underwear, old faithfuls = staple pieces, extravagant / avant garde = trend purchases, and so forth).
I was treated to a NARS Makeup Masterclass (plus obligatiry champagne), courtesy of NARS International Stylist David Scheffen, aka in-house makeup guru. I emerged from Harvey Nics 45 minutes older, a bucket-load wiser, and cursing myself for not fore-planning my exit route to go via the mini macaroons. Not only did I learn that I have almond eyes, which is apparently quite rare and good for smokey eyes (cue conspiritorial whisper from Le Artiste as to how the look can be “a bit much” on very round eyes), but I took away some useful makeup tricks, too…
Lips – Break the mould! Eyes and lips can be done in combo, but clash warm with cold colours for a more muted result. Roman Holiday is a gorgeously cool pink, available in Lipstick or Velvet Matte Lip Pencil format, £17.50 each. Or treat yourself to the Express Yourself Lips kit, £47 from the Harvey Nics pop-up. (Contains Roman Holiday Lipstick, Dolce Vita Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, Bangkok Pure Matte Lipstick and Orgasm Lip Gloss).
Blush – Lightly build, playing with the colour on cheekbones. Blend down if you want to but not too close to the nose as the aim is to lift the face up. Try combining shades for a more personalised shade. For those less skin-savvy, experiment with Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself Cheeks, containing an array of bronze and blush shades for £55 at the Harvey Nics pop-up. (Contains Orgasm / Angelika Blush Duo, Copacabana Multiple and Laguna Bronzing Powder).
Eyes – Use an ice-cold colour on the inner rim of lower lash line to lessen redness in the eye. Try Nars Eyeliner Pencil in Parrot Cay, £16.
Eyes – Layer shadows on top of each other up to the brow line. Use a highlighter that’s not too white to bring out the brow bone and add definition. Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself Eyes is a perfect introduction, available for £65 at the Harvey Nics pop-up. (Contains Smudge Proof Eye Shadow Base (med), Eye Shadow Palette, Larger Than Life Volumizing Mascara and Eye Makeup Remover).
NARS artists say that the Make Up Your Mind makeup kits allow for maximum experimentation since each kit contains the essential products for playing with and changing looks according to mood, style and preference.
The NARS team is staging the pop up shop in the Harvey Nichols’ Beauty Department (Knightsbridge), offering Makeup Masterclasses at £35 for a 2 hour class*, the book Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself at £29.95 (which can also be purchased from narscosmetics.com), and DIY packs to take home (exclusive to Harvey Nichols), starting from £47. The event finishes on 28th May, so get your skates on!
* After each consultation, customers will leave with a personalised face chart and complimentary NEW travel size Orgasm Illuminator – additionally with the purchase of four products customer will receive a NARS luxurious black cosmetic pouch with a travel size Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Aigle Noir.