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Five Minutes With: Makeup Artist Nigar Qureshi

“Makeup is a girl’s best friend, diamonds follow.” – Nigar Qureshi

From contouring to strobing, smudging to blending, award-winning makeup artist and owner of Spa BPZ, Nigar Qureshi, knows exactly how to bring out the smoky-eyed goddess or natural beauty within us. After spending two decades working in cosmetics, and celebrating the 15th anniversary of her sought after Power of Tool make up brushes, we catch up with the makeup whizz to find out how to get that A-List look – and avoid those beauty faux pas!

What is the biggest makeup trend at the moment?

Strobing – this focuses exclusively on a highlighter that is applied to the areas of the face that light naturally hits. I find that a small angled brush lets me apply colour exactly where I want it to go, and blends cream and fluids beautifully on the cheeks. A brush also helps to create more definition and leaves a soft, chiseled, blush look.

Contouring is hitting the headlines, what’s your opinion of it?

Contouring is a technique previously reserved for runway models and fancy photo shoots, but for many women it’s now becoming a part of their daily routine. Contouring uses makeup to give shape to an area of the face and enhance the facial structure, but it can also use dark shades to help reduce features, so for this you need to go two shades deeper than your foundation. Contouring is all about the artistry and illusion, and there are certain rules to follow:

  • Stick with matte – always avoid shimmery products.
  • Follow the tone – as a makeup artist I’m against the use of bronzer on every skin tone, unless you have tanned skin. You need to find something which creates the illusion of an actual shadow, like a tone of beige, brown, taupe, or gray. I would suggest using a darker pressed powder such as MAC Congo (my favorite). For darker skin tones, try the Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate, or a bronzer like the Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder.
  • Customise your skin tone or complexion – if you use powder to contour you will get a matte finish, and if you use a cream it will be more dewy. I always tell my students to start with creamy products which are easier to blend and build. My favorite is Chanel’s Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Base.
  • It’s all about the brushes – start with a small, fluffy brush for more precision and use an angle crème brush to apply under the cheekbone and jawbone. It’s better to have two brushes – one for contouring and the other for highlighting. My favourite is MAC 217. A fan brush is also a great idea, and Sigma has some nice, cheaper options to help you get that precise, airbrushed look on the cheekbones.
  • It’s about the smudging too – hard lines are not allowed. Most makeup artists use a regular brush or an egg shape sponge to blend the contour and blend it well. Add some happy colours, like candy pink, to the cheeks and a bit of sheer to further enhance the complexion.
  • Start soft – build pigments as you go along by using circular movements.
  • Buff it after building.

Do you think “less is more” when it comes to makeup?

Yes. Less is more, especially if you are an amateur makeup artist or doing personal makeup. Dramatic makeup can age you if not done by experts. Mask-like makeup can cover up the real you, but that doesn’t mean that you need to stop using it completely – just use less and you can feel more confident and beautiful.

When applying products, when is it better to use your finger rather than a brush? 

It depends! Fingers can give more of a natural, rosy, fresh look. As long as the blusher formula is long lasting or water resistant, the result will be the same whichever tool is used. Two decades ago there was no choice when it came to brushes and makeup tools, that’s why I created my own, which I call my “power tools”. They are 12 essential brushes, and I still use them when I could use my hands.

What is the most unusual makeup request you have ever had?

Being a makeup artist, I’ve come across a lot of different style requests. Most of the time, guests come up with a picture of their favorite actress – the most popular right now is Kim Kardashian, and sometimes Audrey Hepburn. But the most unusual one for me was around Halloween time when this beautiful lady came to me with a picture of her dog and asked me to match its face – it was an unusual request, but I fulfilled it the best I could and she was very happy with the end result!

What is the biggest makeup “fail” you see women make?

The skin tone factor. Finding the right colour of concealer and foundation is very important, as balance is key. Too dark and you will look orange, and too light will turn your skin a grey colour. Also, make sure to balance the lip shade and eye shadow colour. Some of the biggest beauty fails have been when attempting to follow trends. When the results go wrong, you end up with over-plucked eyebrows, too much tan with pale foundation which creates an orange skin tone, overdoing the hair waves, noticeable contouring (without blending), over extended eyelashes (so they look like a fan), or messy extensions. A makeup artist should know when to stop – whether it’s blending, over-doing the eyes, or over-plucking the eyebrows.

In your opinion, which famous celebrity gets their makeup right, and who gets it wrong?

Most celebrities make a good job of their makeup and very few have mishaps. Everybody knows the Kardashian clan nowadays, and being a “smokey eye queen”, I can relate to their look. The most important thing is to make sure the selection of foundation, concealer, and powder blend well, otherwise you will have a disaster like Angeline Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Sharon Stone. These girls have been known to get it wrong in the past.

What do you think about makeup tattoos? For or against?

This topic is one of my favourites and I say, why not “wake up with makeup”? Makeup tattoos are a great help for eyebrows, lips, and up and down eyeliner because you don’t have to worry about applying it every day. A word of caution – hygiene, natural pigment, tattoo artist, and consultation are very important factors to consider if you go down this route. Always look for a reputable place.

What is your favourite brand of makeup and why?

As a makeup artist you can’t limit yourself to only one brand, so while I use my own NQ brand of customised foundations, concealers, and brushes, I love to use MAC products which offer a great range of variety and prices. Bobbi Brown is another one of my favourites, I love Chanel for its ingredients, and Smashbox and Urban Decay are great brands too.

Ready to give it a go? Looking to master the magic of makeup, or get a celebrity makeover? Why not give Nigar a call, or visit Spa BPZ to find out more?


Read more! Spend Five Minutes With some other colourful characters who are shaking up Hong Kong.

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