Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


We Tried It: Making Runway Beauty Looks Work (Kinda) In Real Life

Posted on

Like many girls, I often stare admiringly at bold beauty trends in magazines, but never actually try them myself. My eyeliner/mascara/neutral lipstick look is pretty much all I can manage — maybe I’ll add foundation if it’s a special occasion, but you’d pretty much have to pin me down and draw on my face to get me in bright eyeliner or a statement lip. So in the spirit of science, I went to check out the new MAC store on Powell St. in San Francisco armed with two runway looks that scared me. I showed up doing the full Shailene Woodley: no makeup, dirty hair in a topknot and a positive attitude. Then I let the line’s senior artist Victor Cembellin work his magic. (Disclaimer: These close ups of my face are ridiculous, but after this, nothing can embarrass me.)

Runway to real life makeup looks MAC
Alex Apatoff

What it is: The bold red lips seen at Max Mara in Milan
Level of difficulty: 4/10
The first step to making this work is having totally clean and even skin, so Victor brushes the line’s Strobe Cream and Face + Body foundation all over my face and down my neck, then spot conceals. He pumps my lashes five times with a curler, then swipes clear mascara on and combs up my brows with it. Then he gets out the original “Viva Glam” shade (Max Mara used “Hearts Ablaze” which won’t be out until the fall) and applies it like a stain for the “real way” version of the look. “Apply it with a pencil brush — I call it the eyeshadow treatment, because you’re blending it like eyeshadow,” Victor says. “Then blend it into the skin with a softer brush [seen above at bottom left] so it truly looks like your lips are stained that color.” The results are at left:

Runway to real life makeup looks MAC
Alex Apatoff

For the runway look, Victor really layers it on with lip brush #231, “It’s shaped like a paddle, so … it kind of does the work for you [top photo, top left],” he says, advising to pull in from the corner of your lips rather than trying to work from the center out. “Just whack it on as quickly as you can, then go back in and fix it later. At the very end, you should always do a symmetry check with a neutral mouth. There’s nothing more classic and feminine than a red lipstick statement.”

When he gets out the lip liner, I recoil, but he just runs it around the edge of the filled-in lip “to give you more shape and dimension but without that line of demarcation,” he says [top photo, bottom right]. I balk at the lack of eyeliner, mascara or blush, but I’m shocked to see how “finished” the look is with nothing but the major lip (above right).

RELATED: Are you a real beauty? Enter your photo now to possibly be in PEOPLE magazine!

Runway to real life makeup looks MAC
Alex Apatoff

What it is: Graphic blue eyeliner as seen at Kenzo
Level of difficulty: 8/10
Again, no blush, mascara or bronzer and Victor goes in over my lips with concealer. I’m freaking. But he just washes over them with a tiny bit on a soft brush [above top right], saying, “I like to mute them down to the point where they don’t disappear, but you play them down so they’re a non feature.”

Then he gets out Chromaline in “Marine Ultra” (“Atlantic Blue” shadow is a close match if you can’t get to a pro store) and gets to work on giving me a wearable version of the out-there runway look, though he doesn’t think I should wuss out. “I always say, go full force if you’re going to wear a bold color!” We’ll see.

Rather than dragging the liner out, he gently pulls the brush down and in towards the lashline in small strokes, which makes it much smoother and easier to blend than going in one direction over and over. Then he pats over the line with the side of the brush to add color saturation [above, both left photos] Then he highlights my cheekbones with “Pearl” colour base, which he warms up between his hands so it will go on evenly. The “real way” blue liner can be seen at left — I think it’s cool, but the shape’s not very modern, I’m informed:

Runway to real life makeup looks MAC
Alex Apatoff

Next, he gives me the full Kenzo punk look [above, both right photos] by doing the same motion but just going a smidge thicker each time and “extending the bar of the line — no more of that retro shape.” [The difference is in the middle photo, bottom right square.] To get the shape exactly right, Victor suggests adding the tail first and fill in from there, plus the most genius tip: “I recommend looking down into a compact to get exactly the right leverage for an eye like this.”

The verdict: Every girl I meet loves the outrageous blue liner. They all think I need to schedule a dinner out with my husband (who thinks I should stop putting mortifying pictures of myself on the internet). I text him a preview, to which he responds skeptically “What’s going on there?” But in person he’s way more into it, saying it totally changes my look in a fun way.

Would I do it again? Yes, for a fun girls’ night out, but I couldn’t dance too much — the liner started to bleed after a long day, so it may be strictly for looking pretty. But I’m totally sold on trying something bold for the future.

Follow Victor on Instagram and Twitter for more of his amazing makeup tips. If you want to stop by the SF store, ask for Danny Zhen, who can give you your own runway look. And tell me, what do you think of these bold beauty looks? Can I pull either of these off?

–Alex Apatoff

Have you seen the other crazy things we’ve tried? Right this way…