IMATS Toronto 2010: The Complete Complexion and a Holiday Makeup Look by Kevin James Bennett.

While IMATS is great for the nice discounts on some of my favourite brands, it is also a nice opportunity for makeup artists (and addicts) to learn new tips and tricks straight from the experts.  This year, I wanted to attend as many seminars that I can squeeze in.  So we got a little carried away shopping on Day 1 (which by the way was so. much. fun)!  But, I did manage to attend one seminar on Day 2 that I have been dying to see: Kevin James Bennett’s seminar on perfecting your complexion.

The Importance of Complexion.

Most people I know want a natural makeup look. You know the look — the effortless, fresh face that looks like you’re not wearing any makeup.  Or at least that’s what you want the boys to think. 😉  Nailing good complexion work is key, says Kevin James Bennett, because once you perfect the complexion, you can do anything from bridal to glamour to avant garde makeup.  It’s always easy to add more sparkle here, and some lashes there, but a good makeup artist understands that a good base will take you farther! 🙂

A Holiday Party Look.


Tip: Just as a painter primes a canvas, a makeup artist must always prime the face for makeup.  Even if the client insists that they have already moisturized, you never know how the makeup will sit on top of their moisturizer.

Start by priming the face.  Make sure the lips are also prepped with lip conditioner.


Tip: “Eyes first, face second” is the way to do makeup when you’re under a time crunch.  Why?  There’s always a chance that your eye makeup may fall down and make a mess all over your cheeks. It is very frustrating to redo the face, and not to mention, so time consuming!

Eyeshadow and mascara. Pat a shimmery copper wash all over the lid, and a shimmery cream coloured highlight. When working with pigmented eyeshadows like Yaby’s, he first pressed the colour in place, then went back in to blend. Break up the shimmers with a matte brown in the crease.  Apply an inexpensive mascara.  He actually used one of my personal favourites: CoverGirl LashBlast!

Tip: Applying mascara before finishing your eyeshadow work drastically changes the eye’s landscape.  This is an easy way to gauge how much more makeup is needed, and when to stop (hopefully before it veers to drag queen territory).  Also, using inexpensive mascara allows you to take advantage of the brush in the tube, which is designed to work best with that mascara’s formula.  Then, you can give the mascara to the client, which will make them very happy! 😀

Clean up, liner, and brows. If necessary, clean up under the eyes with a no rinse makeup remover.  Do not use an oily makeup remover, as it will break down any product that you layer over it.  Then it’s time to line the eyes!  First, push eyeliner to the top lash line using a square top liner brush, then line the lower lash line with a gold eyeshadow.  Finish off the eyes by lining the lower waterline. Oh, and don’t forget to fill in the brows to frame the eyes: very important!


Tip: When trying to match someone’s foundation shade, make sure to match their neck! The face is usually two shades darker than the neck, so by matching the neck, you avoid the dreaded “foundation mask” that has never, ever, been cute.

Foundation. Lay the foundation on thick using your favourite foundation brush. Then go back in with a clean synthetic kabuki brush, and buff the foundation to your heart’s content! The result? Makeup that looks like your own skin.
Contour. It is important to put dimension back to the skin after flattening it with foundation. Add a very dark colour to the foundation shade to custom mix a contour colour for the cheeks and temples. Use a powder highlight on the cheeks right below the eyes, and a powder lowlight as a contour.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to layer powder products over a liquid or cream base. The products will still blend together nicely as long as you haven’t applied a finishing powder.

Blush. Dot bright pink blush on to the apples of your cheeks, at full intensity. At this point you will look a little crazy. But that’s okay, because we’re about to…
Blend and finish. Dampen a foundation brush with a teeny tiny dab of foundation, and go all over the contour, blush, and highlight to blend the colours into the skin. So once you set your makeup with finishing powder, nothing will budge because the contour, blush, and highlight become a part of your foundation. (Doesn’t that make perfect sense?!)

Tip: To maintain a natural complexion after applying finishing powder, powder the T-zone only (forehead, down the nose, and chin). If you must set the rest of your face, simply dab a little bit of makeup sealer using a sponge.


Kevin James first applied a peachy tan lip on the model, but did not like it. The model blotted the colour off, and a coral lip was applied instead.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to change your mind. This shows that you care about your client and that you want them to look their best. This builds the client’s confidence and trust. There’s nothing worse than having the client see their artist raise an eyebrow, as if they are unsure if the makeup looks alright.

The Finished Look.

Pretty, yeah? 🙂

I hope that this was useful for those of you who wanted to come to the demo but couldn’t! Kevin James Bennett was so funny and entertaining, that learning so much was just an added bonus! 🙂

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