Despite my best efforts, I don’t have very much in common with Kylie Jenner. I’ve never been to one of Kris Jenner’s Christmas parties, I lack any and all skill necessary to take a decent belfie, and frankly, I’m not really into wigs, but at the very least, I can definitively say that we have both been blessed by the glamorous touch of Hrush Achemyan.
Even if you don’t recognize her name, you’re certainly familiar with Achemyan’s work. After all, she’s the woman behind the perfectly sculpted, gorgeously glowing looks that Kim, Kendall, Kylie and Ko. have helped make famous. And she’s also the woman responsible for the fiercest brows I have ever had in my life.
As one of PEOPLE’s resident KarJenner experts — and the writer behind 9 out of 10 Kardashian-related posts that run on Snapchat in a given week — I spend what some might call an unhealthy amount of time staring at their perfectly made up faces, and thus, swooning over Achemyan’s work. So, when I was asked if I wanted to be a model for the last night of her ELEMENTS Master Course in Hoboken, New Jersey, I leapt at the chance of making my Kardashian-adjacent dreams come true.
After two long hours in the makeup chair (I clearly don’t have the same kind of stamina for glam that celebrities do) and a chat with Achemyan herself, I can safely say that they all did. And I even picked up a few tips and tricks on the way:
1. Everything is about symmetry.
Here’s a sentence you probably never thought you’d read: There is math involved in getting the perfect glam look. “The first thing I encourage everyone to do is measure the face, know the symmetry of a face, the mathematical equation of a face, before you’re applying makeup,” Achemyan said of the fundamental principle behind all of her looks.
Right after I sat down in the chair Christina Puzino, the student who I would be modeling for that evening, pulled out a ruler and measured my face in order to determine its shape (diamond, for the record.) “A lot of people think that makeup is just a pastime, and it’s not,” Achemyan said. “I look at it as an art and you’re basically challenged with a three-dimensional surface versus a flat one. I believe that what I’m teaching these girls today, and I’ll continue for the next year, [is that] it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you make the person look beautiful and symmetrical.”
She explained that symmetry is the cornerstone of all of her ELEMENTS course, because “what you need to know to execute any look, whether it’s a shimmery eye, a matte eye, whatever it is your heart desires, you’ll be able to do it as long as you understand the key factor of symmetry. So what I’m trying to teach these girls is like, execution of symmetry more than anything else.”
2. Take pictures as you go — especially if you’re doing your makeup for a big occasion.
Even the best selfie lighting has a different effect than flash photography, and that, too is different than looking into a mirror to apply your makeup. But taking photos as you got helps you to figure out what’s working in your look, and what isn’t. “To you, visually, something might look appealing in person, but when a photograph goes off on someone’s face, or a flash goes off, they look super sweaty, or [there’s] too much, or their eyes look extremely raccoon-y,” Achemyan said. Plus, it’s extra time to practice your smize.
3. The perfect contour needs three things: Shadow, light and warmth.
“I feel like [people] don’t add the third factor in highlight and contouring, which is warmth, and what I really stress is that you need a color to blend in between the two,” she explained as the secret to the perfect contour. “So you can’t just light highlight and contour for it to look super white and dark, you need to blend it in.” A good rule of thumb when blending your contour into the skin? “If I can see a line of what’s giving you a bone structure, that looks like contour. I want you to look like you’re naturally chiseled,” she said.
4. And the perfect brow is all about feathering.
I, like most people with access to a brow pencil and a YouTube tutorial, thought that I had gotten that whole “filling in your brows” thing down. But it turns out, I was doing it all wrong, as I learned when Achemyan stopped by my chair to check in on her student’s work. She had carefully, painstakingly filled in my brows, using a light hand and short, hair-like strokes the way we’ve all learned. But something wasn’t quite right.
After blending away a little bit of the makeup on them, Achemyan added short strokes to the very front of my brows, getting heavier as she moved along towards the tail. Instantly, my whole face changed; my brows, which hadn’t been groomed in a little bit too long, look effortlessly perfect, and I’m not sure if everyone heard it, but there were definitely choirs of angels singing.
“I feel like I see block eyebrows everywhere, like on Instagram, social media outlets, people fill in their eyebrows incorrectly. And it’s supposed to look natural, it’s supposed to look like actual hair, you know? Not like I filled it in with colors,” Achemyan said afterwards. “I love brow feathering, how it makes your brows look more natural.”
5. She’s secretly just like us …
Before she was a world-famous makeup artist with 1.7 million Instagram followers, Achemyan could barely afford expensive products. So, she did what everyone who loves makeup does, and went to Sephora to thoroughly test things before she committed to buying them. “I think [people just getting into makeup] should play around with products. It’s so shady, but I used to go into Sephora and play around with the products to make sure that it what I could afford to buy. And then on top of that I’d be like ‘can I get a sample of this? Can I have a sample of that?'” She also named Chapstick as her number one, ride of die product: “I die without Chapstick, I need lip balm and Chapstick all the time.”
However, she was also wearing an amazing, low-cut jumpsuit and sky-high heels to teach this class, so she’s basically the super gorgeous, glamorous version of ourselves that we always dreamed we could be.
6. Find products that multi-task.
“I feel like me as a makeup artist, when people look at my makeup bag, they’re like ‘This is all you use?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ve just learned to deal with it.’ I hate breaking my back and carrying a million products and I always turn towards products that are used for multiple purposes,” she revealed. And that’s why — if you can get your hands on it — her Styled By Hrush palette for Tarte features a blush and shadows that can be used as highlighter, so that everything you need for your whole face can be carried around in one simple palette.
“I was asked to do was to create a professional palette for the every day woman, and that’s where my inspiration came from. They’re all corrective colors and it’s a face palette. If you touch and play with the palette, each shadow has a different texture, so one’s for blending and the other’s for packing on the lid,” she said.
7. If you have dry skin, you can use rosewater to help blend and make things look more flawless.
As I was getting my makeup done, I noticed that Christina would periodically spritz a beauty blender with a bottle of rosewater and use it to blend out my foundation a little bit more, and when she stopped by, Achemyan explained that it helped give the skin a more flawless finish, without the need for powder. Sure, it’s not necessarily the kind of thing that us mere mortals have lying around, but I can say from experience that my skin has never looked so perfect.
8. Cut creases aren’t meant to be worn on your coffee runs.
When asked to name one makeup trend she was over, Achemyan didn’t even hesitate before naming cut creases. “I just think we should keep that for Halloween or photo shoots. I’m tired of seeing people with really heavy cut creases. Like it’s beautiful, it’s artistic, but I don’t want to see you walking down the street like in broad daylight, rocking out a cut crease on your eyes. It looks crazy. Like, you go to Starbucks, and everyone has a full beat on with a cut crease, you’re like, ‘Damn girl, what time do you wake up in the morning?’ That’s dedication to your face.”
9. “Mascara and lashes make the biggest difference.”
And if your lashes aren’t making a big enough difference, feel free to build your own by adding individuals on top of a strip of false lashes. Oh, and for any other false lash-newbies out there, like myself (who never wore a pair before that day, despite all of the theater I did in high school), Christina revealed that curling your lashes after they’re in place and adding an extra coat of mascara will help lift them up, so they’re not blocking your vision.
10. Figure out what works best on your features.
“I think a lot of mistakes that a lot of people make — and I used to do the same thing — is I just applied the same method to every face, and that’s incorrect. Each person is beautiful and individual in their own way, and you have to highlight each person’s beauty,” Achemyan said, as the overarching theme of the lessons she teaches. In other words: Kim’s contour might not work on you, and that’s okay. You have to keep trying and experimenting to find a method and application that makes you look like your most glam self.
“That’s my point,” she said. “It’s just to make women look beautiful, not to make them look overdone, not to make them look like the makeup is wearing their face, for them to look like they are wearing the makeup.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go build a proper shrine to that glorious, glorious eyebrow, until I can figure out how to replicate it myself, every single day. (For the record, I named it Kylie, and it was the love of my life.)