Red Carpet Preparations: The Empire Film Awards

mel arter makeup

This is the smokey eye look that I wore to the Empire Film Awards a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky enough to have been invited by Max Factor, who were sponsoring the awards for Best Actress and Best Female Newcomer, and they very kindly asked me whether I’d like my makeup done beforehand by Mel Arter, who is, quite simply, brilliant. So of course I said yes. Mel took a look at what I was going to be wearing – a beautiful “leather and lace” dress by Catherine Deane – and suggested that we go for rock-chick eyes (lots of liner and lashes) and nude, matte lips.

Interestingly, Mel very rarely uses a full-on foundation, preferring to conceal imperfections where needed and leave the skin looking really bare. For my skin she used Max Factor’s Facefinity primer and then the CC Cream, which has a lovely sheer finish. She also used the new CC “sticks”, which really piqued my interest; these are chunky, creamy crayons in different colours that each tackle a specific type of skin imperfection. There’s one to help counteract redness, one for dullness, a very light concealer for dark circles… I think that the most usable (and probably most popular, if I had to hazard a guess) is the green one that helps to cancel out redness. It’s actually very handy to have in your makeup bag – just a quick scribble with it around the sides of the nose and on the centre of your chin and the worst of the redness is eradicated. It makes a world of difference to the overall look of your complexion, if you’re not going in for a fuller coverage foundation.

max factor cc cream sticks

Mel defined my eyes using Dior shadows in grey and black and then really smoked them out using loads of Max Factor kohl eyeliner pencil. Mascara was Clump Defy Extensions Mascara and I’ll have to get back to you on the false lashes – I can’t remember where they were from. The eyes were definitely the focus of the look, though – the lashes almost touched my eyebrows!

Mel used Lipfinity in Always Delicate to get a perfect nude lip – she didn’t use the top coat that comes with the lip colour, just the colour itself so that it was completely matte. Maybe there was even a spot of powder over the top – I’m afraid I was halfway out of the door at this point, trying to squash my boobs into the bodice of my Catherine Deane dress! (Incidentally, my camera managed to delete the full-length images of me in my dress. I’m quite upset as I really loved wearing it – it was very unusual and very chic, I thought. It had a leather bodice with a lace overlay and a really floaty, feminine skirt. I have found pics of it online, you can see quite a good one that shows the whole dress here.)

best easy hair tool

My hair was very hurriedly arranged into a tousled kind of do – I didn’t have time to do anything swanky as I’d been out having lunch with my brother for his birthday and didn’t get to the hotel until about an hour before the awards started. I used the Mark Hill Wicked Waver, which I reviewed the other day in a separate post – you can read about that here – and I sprayed Tresemme hairspray quite liberally over the finished “do” in an attempt to keep everything from falling flat.

catherine deane dress

My legs and arms and chest were buffed with a bit of Vita Liberata’s Skin Illuminator in Latte Light. I take this with me whenever there’s the danger of some flesh being out on show, because not only does it add a hint of colour to pasty skin, it has this amazing perfecting effect that blurs out bits of redness and little veins. You can read my full post about it here.

perfect skin

It’s non-shimmery, but somehow adds a very noticeable glow, and it doesn’t streak or transfer. It’s a bit like wearing nude-coloured tights over your skin, except that you have don’t have to buff tights on with a mitt. And tights don’t come in a bottle. (You don’t actually have to use a mitt to apply the Light Capture Skin Perfecting Illuminator but I find that it gives an even, flawless finish and it means that your hands don’t get messy.) You can find Vita Liberata at Cult Beauty or LookFantastic. It’s quite pricey, but the best one I’ve found for foolproof skin finishing.

And that was the extent of my Red Carpet preparations. I could have done with a stiff drink, as I’m a bit quaky when it comes to standing in front of a banks of paparazzi photographers (oh, the irony) and weird things happen to my body when I get nervous. I’m like an angsty horse – I start doing odd little side-steps and the insides of my lips go dry and stick to my teeth! But I ran the gauntlet and made it through alive and was rewarded at the other side with quite an amazingly delicious cocktail. I have no idea what it was called, but it involved raspberries and something sugary and that is always a good combination.

Max Factor makeup can be found at You can find Catherine Deane’s website here and if you want to see more of Mel’s amazing makeup artistry, her agency website is here.

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