Best Way to Do Runway-Style Makeup

It’s fantastic, it’s frivolous and it’s fun. Here are some backstage tips which will help you to upstage others with your show-stopping make-up.

Make-up maestro Frangois Nars believes that runway-style make-up is a great way in which to freshen up your look. ‘Not everyone can rush out and buy the latest Versace outfit, but by trying some of the season’s new make-up techniques you can add new life to your current look’, says Nars, who has applied his signature palette to the face of almost every supermodel and dozens of celebrities, including Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone. ‘Runway looks are an inspiration. The best show make-up will suggest new ways that you can play with your own look and encourage you to experiment with your usual style.’

Style Makeup Best Way to Do Runway Style Makeup

Warpaint-style stripes, black lips and gold faces – catwalk make-up is decidedly cutting edge. And much of the time it’s pure fantasy or, as Nars puts it, ‘fashion masturbation’: ‘Designers, make-up artists and hair stylists are not thinking about what real women want, they are just pleasing themselves,’ he muses, continuing: ‘Catwalk make-up is usually extreme. Although not necessarily strong and dramatic (sometimes it can be an almost completely bare face), it is designed to create an effect. The worst thing about trying to copy runway make-up is that it is so easy to make mistakes. Not all runway work is really beautiful in any case – even on the most amazing model, so even the most brilliant version of such a look is not going to look good for normal wear.’

It’s the faces painted for the catwalk that provide the direction for each season’s new make-up trends. So what of the future? Will we be seeing one strong trend or a variety of themes transcending from the runways? According to Nars, there is no longer one single make-up look that dominates: ‘Freedom is the only dictate into the new millennium.’

Get the look

With the ever-growing number of make-up artists’ signature ranges, like Nars, Vincent Longo, Bobbi Brown, Stila and Trish McEvoy, all the tools of the catwalk are now available for you to use at home. And, with these key elements from the runways, you can give your make-up that supermodel edge.

Be inspired

‘Women should see what is happening on the runways and be inspired,’ points out Nars. ‘But I don’t want them to copy exactly what they see. Instead, they should tailor it to their own individual style.’ Take your cue from Nars: be influenced and inspired by the make-up you see in catwalk shots and footage, but don’t attempt to reproduce a hard-to-wear effect that could look simply hideous on you.

Take a single element

You can add a modern edge to your make-up by taking inspiration from a single component of a runway trend, such as a colour, texture or technique. For example, pick a lip colour, reinterpret a eyeshadow application or invest in a new textured base. By simply varying the strength of application, make-up artists achieve different looks: a hint of blush to create a rosy glow will give a completely different look to the bright, exaggerated sweeps of colour that sit on the cheekbones. Whatever element you choose, adapt it to suit your features or you could end up looking like you have been rather heavy handed or, what’s worse, incredibly dated. Retro looks are often seen on the runways, but they still have a contemporary twist that brings them up to date.

 Best Way to Do Runway Style Makeup

Become colourful

Brightly coloured make-up has appeared on the runways for several seasons and looks like it’s here to stay. Eye make-up has the most mileage when it comes to colour, so reserve paint-box-bright hues, such as yellow, turquoise, lilac, green and pastel blue, for your eyes. While neutrals are a piece of cake to apply, colour is not quite such a doddle. In order to avoid looking like a cabaret artist, go carefully on the application, applying a little at a time and blending well. If you’re going for washes of colour on your eyes or are using coloured mascara, keep your lips neutral. (You may want to stick to brown or black mascara and just sweep a touch of coloured mascara to the tips of your lashes.) Only allow one feature to take centre stage. If you prefer to brighten up your pout with such tantalising hues as burnt orange and berry red, accent your eyes in muted shades.

False eyelashes

False eyelashes are catwalk favourites, and also work well for clubbing and partying. Paint them with coloured mascara or, for an even wider choice of colour, with nail polish.

Special effects

The catwalk is a brilliant source of inspiration for a variety of special effects: glitter, metallic face paints and beauty spots made from jewels, stars or hearts, for example. You’ll find little pots of such fancy stuff in make-up and fashion boutiques or department stores. But while special effects are perfect for clubs and parties, don’t overdo it (unless, that is, you want to look like you’ve just taken part in a Christmas pantomime). Again, it’s about taking one element and reinterpreting it to work with the rest of your make-up. For example: smudge a touch of gold over your eyelids or slick it over your lipstick as a final touch; add glitter to your eye make-up or along your brow bones.


The fashion world witnessed an incandescent moment when every model on every catwalk glistened from head to toe, not with droplets of sweat, but with particles of shimmer products worn on different areas of the face and body. Iridescent make-up remains a mainstay element, albeit in a more subtle, pared-down way. It can be used in a multitude of ways from highlighting cheekbones and opening up eyes to creating an all-over glow. However, shimmery bases and blush have a habit of highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly, so give them a miss if you have any spots or blemishes. The body products are more forgiving and are great for evening, so let your shoulders, arms, legs or decolletage glisten.

Style Makeup 1 Best Way to Do Runway Style Makeup

Update your make-up

One problem that many women encounter is getting stuck in a make-up time-warp. But you wouldn’t still wear those psychedelic hot pants that you wore in your teens, would you? So if you are guilty of slapping on the same old lipstick, mascara or foundation, it’s definitely time for a make-up overhaul. Besides, updating your make­up kit is essential, not just for fashion’s sake, but also to take advantage of the latest textures which sit more comfortably on the skin and last longer. Scour the fashion and beauty stories in magazines for the season’s catwalk must-haves. After that, your first stop should be the cosmetic counter or make-up boutique. You don’t need to buy a completely new set of make-up – one or two hot items is all it takes to update your make­up wardrobe and achieve a runway look.

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