As I declared my hermit phase over, I crawled out from under my rock and decided to hit up the town in my first night out in ages. And truth be told, I was horrified.

Not at the pulsating beats that made meaningful conversation impossible, the overcrowding, or the signage that had zero correlation to the name of the bar. It was the make-up. These people should be staying home.

Crookedly lined red lips paired with metallic eyeshadows in primary colours, unearthly bronzed skin, uneven brows in shades of eggplant… How could this be? With a make-over show airing every half hour on basic cable, how could these otherwise beautiful ladies be so misguided? There is only one conclusion to be made – they must not own TV’s. But not to worry, ladies, SDTC is here to help. Hopefully the girls I saw the other night have the internet.

In the spirit of education, I threw a little soiree for a handful of my lady friends and asked my favourite make-up artist Arabella Bianca Trasca to teach us her ways. Arabella has worked as a make-up artist for 8 years. She had a stint working for Christian Dior, and spent 4 years at MAC. She’s recently decided to branch out into a career as a freelance make-up artist and instructor. She’s also the right hand woman to Jackie Gideon, one of Toronto’s leading make-up artists. But most importantly, she’s clearly in love with the craft and within moments of meeting her, her passion is undeniable. She’s inspired by everything and anything including “people, places, and art” and finds the most interesting way of incorporating them into the job that she loves so much.

Next, our private beauty lesson! We started the night off sharing our biggest make-up faux-pas and discussing our issues when doing our own make-up. The room was split. Half of the ladies took the minimal approach for fear of looking too cheap or overdone, while the other half, myself included, felt that we needed guidance in toning it down.

Luckily, we reached a compromise and Arabella ended up teaching us two looks – one involving a classic smokey eye and pale lip, and the other harsh liquid liner and RED sex kitten lips! More than anything, Arabella assured us that there’s no right or wrong in make-up, it’s meant to be playful and creative, and that the difference in results lies in the application and technique more than the colours.

What better way is there to spend an evening than hanging out with a gaggle of your girlfriends, sipping wine and learning about make-up! It occurred to me this would make a nice opener to a bachelorette party or a fun pre-cursor to a special night on the town. And did I mention that you get to go through Arabella’s make-up kit and play with her toys? Coveted shades of lipstick, sparkly eyeshadows in every colour imaginable (and then some), special edition potions, fake lashes, liquid liners and mascaras galore…what more could a gal ask for?

Over the course of the evening, we learned a lot from Arabella. Here are some more tips and tricks:
-Kohl liner is waxy and moves around. It’s meant to look a little messy, and makes the perfect accoutrement to a smokey eye when used to line the eye and brushed upward in a feathery motion.
-Another trick with using pencil liners is to go around the circumference of the entire eye. Many women leave out the inner point which results in the eye actually looking smaller. When it’s lined all the way around, the contrast creates an illusion of a bigger eye.
-Always dust eyeshadow off the brush before applying. Layers! Layers! Layers!
-When contouring your face, make sure to take the colour from ear to cheek to give the illusion of the best lift. A little dusting of the powder below the jaw bone doesn’t hurt either and completes the look.
-Bronzer should be used sparingly and applied with a nearly naked brush. It is the easiest of all products to o.d. on.
-Make-up brushes are an intricate part of a flawless make-up application. They should be viewed as an investment. Especially when it comes to your eyes, an angled brush is your best friend.
-In fact, the day after, I ran out and got a liquid liner gel and brush duo and it’s the best decision I ever made. So much easier to apply and way less room for error as it’s easier to control the amount of product you apply. Liquid liners be gone!
-Lady Danger is the sexiest red lipstick EVER and is made my MAC and only available at the Pro Store on Queen Street. It was also sold out for two weeks following this seminar. Heartbreaking.
-Baby shampoo is the best form of cleanser for brushes. It gets the product and germs off without loosening the glue that keeps bristles together.
-Know and remember the shelf life of your make-up. While you may go through lipstick at the speed of light, other things may sit and sit in your drawers. Every product is different, but a good rule of thumb is to toss out gel based products after a year and powders after two. Eye shadows should be discarded after three years. Most importantly, mascara has the shortest shelf life and once exposed to air, should be thrown out after 4 months.

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By Olga Barsky