Social Icons

Monday, 14 January 2013

Experimenting: The Scott Barnes Technique

Experimenting The Scott Barnes Technique
My New Years resolution this year is to really knuckle down with studying makeup. When you’re in fulltime work and can’t afford to go to college, self-teaching is really your only option! So to kick start, I bought a ton of makeup books I’d been lusting after with my Christmas money to go with some that I was very kindly gifted!
One of the books I was really surprised by was “AboutFace: Celebrity Makeup Techniques” by Scott Barnes. I didn’t know much about him, but the gorgeous photo of J-Lo, for whom Scott famously works for a lot, sucked me in. I was really surprised with the book and the  approaches that he uses. Firstly, Scott explains  that he thinks in terms of light and the way the light hits the face, as opposed to purely the facial structure. This helps him achieve a really glowing, contoured look. Sounds good, right? You might be more familiar with his technique than you thought…

Yikes! I’m sure you’re all familiar with this photo and the methods that Kim K uses. Well, Scott Barnes is her makeup artist! He contours and highlights the skin with foundations/correctors before buffing everything in with a foundation that matches your skin tone. It sounds and looks bonkers, but like it or not, you can’t deny it’s a transformation and a half!
scott barnes
Here’s a snap from the book – you can see it’s a method he employs on everyone, not just celebrities. I was dubious – in the book, you can see in the final photos the models are wearing a lot of makeup – a lot! Some shots almost look like theatrical makeup as opposed to glamour or beauty makeup. I did find this strange, as much of the books is laid out like a makeover book with before and after shots and interviews with the people in the photos – to me, a makeover generally suggest something practical that the person can take away with them and use in real life! Nevertheless, the book is crammed with lots of different types of tips and tricks and surely someone held in such high regard can’t be wrong? I have  used darker foundation to contour my cheekbones many a time, so I decided to give it a go and try the technique – with a slightly lighter hand!
My tool of choice was this concealer palette which you can get from Coastal Scents, eBay, etc., for an absolute steal. I’ve use some of the colours before for contouring and it’s actually a handy little palette. For reference, I used the yellow corrector with the top colour on the far right hand column. While probably a tad warm for concealing, I wanted a palette at my reach so I could switch colours if necessary. Although both colours were matte, and Scott constantly talks about the “glow,” he rarely mentions any illuminating products, so I decided to go with the palette.

Naked Face
For starts, here’s my naked face. Just moisturiser, nothing else. Forgive my slightly grubby looking left eye, I had a liner mishap which stained horribly! You can see here I don’t have bad cheekbones at all, but a little more definition always looks good.
So let’s get started. Adding a dark colour to my the sides and tip of my nose, jawline, underneath my cheekbones and forehead. In with the yellow concealer under my eyes….

Contouring Your Face
…and down my nose, the tops of my cheeks, browbones, chin, and down my nose. Not quite as bad as Kim K? Oh, fine, it looks bonkers. I followed the photos in the book where he applies the lighter shades in a less angular/stripy way that on the photo of Kim.

Starting to Blend
Now I’ve taken my regular foundation on a buffing brush and really working it all in… work, work, work. You can see my hairline is looking a bit iffy still. If I look worried, it’s because I’m really rather worried. I feel like I have a metric fuckton of slap on.
powder puff
Despite buffing for about ten years, my powder puff after setting the makeup attests to the fact that I do indeed have a metric fuckton of slap on. Well, we’re done…

Naked Faceblended contouring
Blended Contour

Here it is, all blended out and powdered with no blush, lip or eye makeup. It looked much more dramatic in real life, but not quite in the realms of Drag Queen or indeed Kim K. My skin certainly looks MUCH nicer in the after shot, doesn’t it? I particularly like how my nose looks, as this is an area I never really contour at all, although I don’t think I’ll bring the dark foundation up so high next time. I was careful not to use too much product during the process, as I didn’t want to make a huge awful mess. I found it tricky and I still feel like I was wearing so much, so I dread to think how much product some of the people in his shots have on their face!
My main problem with the technique was under the eyes. My skin is a little crêpey there, and too much product never looks good on me in that area. So, I just use the yellow corrector in the hope that that blended out with my foundation would be enough. Compared to the rest of my face, I think my dark circles look horrendous! I’ll certainly have to play with which stage to use which product in that area – I’ll try using my under-eye concealer to blend out the yellow-toned corrector, or try my usual peach corrector instead of the yellow. I’m very, very keen to avoid the horrible reverse-racoon look you see on some celebrities and that does feature a little in Scott’s book. Hey, to each their own, and I won’t moan about how it looks unnatural while I’m wearing so much makeup myself, but still, it’s not for me.

Finished Contoured Look
finished look with scott barnes contouring
Finished look

Eyes: Inglot shadows, Benefit Eyeliner in Steel, Collection 24/7 Extreme Liner in Black.
Cheeks: Mac Buff, Boots No 7 Vital Illuminating Highlighter
Lips: LA Colours Lip Liner in Natural, Maybelline Mauve Diamonds

Here’s my full face, just because! I couldn’t face a smoky or colourful eye after all that, especially just to sit around the house in PJs! I suppose the real question is… would I wear this technique again? I definitely would, but it is a LOT of makeup for a normal day, and as you can see, I  felt the need for a little bit of blush and a touch of powder highlighter as it still looked as if I was lacking something and I needed a bit of colour. For a night out on the tiles, or on one of my models, though, sure, I’d do this again! It’s certainly very glam and I did catch myself looking in the mirror quite a lot! So for a fancy do, absolutely. For nipping down the shop or..well, most things, probably not! It’s a very effective and surprisingly easy technique, and I’d recommend it if you have trouble contouring with powder as it does seem more intuitive, but I don’t think it’s practical for most women everyday. I went through a LOT of Bioderma that night..

Well, while it’s not for everyone, it’s certainly a fab book and well worth a read if you’re interested in makeup artistry. Would you try this technique?

AboutFace: Celebrity Makeup Techniques is available on Amazon, where you can read the introduction, for roughly £10.


  1. That's an interesting technique but if it requires too much make up then it's not really routine friendly :P I might give it a try though - thanks for sharing!

    1. I guess that's why it's a "celebrity" look...not for us mere.mortals who have 10 mins to get out of the house!

  2. Thank you. Loads of good tips here. My concealer settles into my fine lines too. I heard recently mixing a little moisturiser in with concealer under the eyes will make it settle less. I'll give it a try and see. xx

    1. That can help... a good setting powder helps too.

  3. Replies
    1. Wonder if it on my abs, or lack thereof lol

  4. It definitely makes you look "celebrity amazing", but as you stated, not really a daily routine type thing. Although, I may employ this for special occasions like date night with the hubby, and such. :)

    1. Agreed, it's nice for a change bit fir everyday, what a hassle!

  5. Wow! That looks like alot of makeup haha :') How long did it all take to do? Seems like more effort than its worth =o

    1. Not too long actually. I think once you get used to it, it'd take not much longer than your regular routine. Couldn't have done it without a buffer brush!

  6. It looks great in the end! But I can't stand having too much on my face. Eyes and lips I don't mind too much, but I definitely like to be able to actually feel my real skin! I do think though, that for a special occasion, this would be a great technique to get a flawless look! x

  7. It's not something I'm used to either. I found myself touching my face a lot which obviously isn't good!

  8. That IS a lot of makeup (even for me and I'm a heavy user) but it certainly photographs well!!


Thanks for reading! Got a question? Catch me on Instagram @staybeautifulmakeup or on Twitter @robynheartsslap