How to be beautiful

February 18, 2003

Kathleen Baird-Murray is the author of beauty bible How to be beautiful she’s got the answers to the questions on everybody?s lips…Why does being beautiful have to cost us so much money?

Actually it doesn’t. Eyelash curlers are inexpensive and make a huge difference to the face, especially if you have shaped your eyebrows beautifully first. A touch of sun (I know, you’ll hate me for saying this as I know if I were being truly responsible I’d advocate staying out of it completely) is hugely uplifting, and a good night’s sleep is the best beauty remedy of all.

How do I get the perfect haircut every time?

Go where the people with good haircuts go. Ask a friend who has great hair where she goes, getting the name of the actual stylist and book only with them. Bring pictures in, being aware that of course you can’t be transformed exactly into Nicole Kidman/Kylie/that model in Vogue in the Calvin Klein ads, but you can take something from their style – a choppy fringe, a shade of blonde, a flick at the ends. Take risks – some of the best haircuts I’ve ever had have been when I’ve said to the stylist, “I’m bored. Do whatever…but keep the length.” Be realistic – a hairdresser can only do so much. Remember cut is but a third of what makes a great hairstyle – colour and condition are just as important.

What’s the biggest mistake women make when choosing makeup?

There are probably two – getting the wrong shade of foundation, and doing the same old thing for years on end. The first is easily rectified either by heading down to your nearest Prescriptives counter and getting a Custom Blend foundation made just for you – a brilliant, brilliant service that takes about half an hour and gives you a formulation with just the right texture, finish and colour for your skin. Or ask for a sample, and test it in daylight on your jawline. You’re looking for the shade that disappears without a trace into your skin. The second mistake – well, sometimes it’s worth challenging your image of yourself and heading to a department store for a free makeover. They’ve changed a lot since the days when all consultants had orange faces and white coats, and many are trained makeup artists who won’t pressurise you to buy the look they’ve just created.

Eyebrows – wax or tweeze?

I know people who swear by either method. What is more important than how you remove the hairs is the shape in which you remove them. If you have time, visit a professional once to get a really good basic shape, then maintain it as the hairs come.

Make up brushes – do we really need so many?

How many is too many? Even makeup artists can’t agree on how many you need, so I say go with what you feel you can use skillfully. Personally I don’t use many at all, because I’m too lazy and I like to travel light. I apply foundation with fingers if I need it, use cream eyeshadows to blend colour on my eyes, and use my fingers to apply a tinted lipgloss. Even my blusher is a cream blusher so I can apply it quickly with my fingers. Having said that, there’s nothing more luxurious than having a well-equipped make-up bag with the best brushes, and the time to use them properly. Practice and you’ll see a difference.

Concealer – a girl’s best friend. But which one to choose?

The idea is to draw light into the areas that most need it, such as under eye shadows, for which you need a slightly pink toned concealer to counteract grey tones. For spots, the last thing you want to do is add pink to a reddish bump, so go for a yellow toned concealer.

How to be beautiful a thinking woman’s guide to beauty is available from the SheSaid bookshop.

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