How to… Grunge


My personal makeup style has been labelled grungey, witchy, dark, goth- which I’m not complaining about because I’m all of the above. This week I thought I’d demonstrate a “basic” kind of grungey look- I would like to preface this piece with this is basic for me, this is my “day drag” as the drag queens would say. So here goes!

1. Prep is Key!

My skin type is norma/combo-oily and I suffer from redness (I run quite hot so my face is constantly flushed), the way I prep my skin and the products I use on my face may not work for you so do keep that in mind before going out and purchasing any of these products. Like anything in life, preparation is key! You don’t run a marathon without stretching (well, I don’t run at all), and you certainly don’t put makeup on without prepping the skin and creating a barrier. Your face is constantly bombarded with bacteria and so you don’t want to contribute to that unnecessarily. Not only does moisturiser and primer help to hydrate you skin, preventing makeup from looking “cakey” but also helps to fill in your pores, so you’re not clogging them up- resulting in lovely break outs. I use Ren Clear Skincare “Evercalm- global protection day cream” all over my face. It’s me, so I just use my CLEAN hands to do this, however if it were a client I’d use a nice duo-fibre brush like in the above picture.

I then use Ren Skincare “Keep Young and Beautiful- Firm and Lift Eye cream” under my eyes. One of the biggest reasons your under-eye area can crease so easily is that it gets dry really quickly. By applying eye cream you’re keeping that area nice and hydrated. Give the moisturises a few minutes to sink in- lay out the rest of your makeup while you wait. And then go in with your primer. Primer is another thing that will depend on your skin type, if you have large pores you’ll want a pore-filling and blurring primer. I use a hydrating primer, specifically the “Moisture Infusion Serum Hydratant” by MAC, I don’t have very dry skin, but the foundations I use are quite drying on me. “Jess why not use a more hydrating foundation?” you ask, well being as pale as death as I am, it is VERY rare I come across a foundation that doesn’t make me look yellow or muddy so I work with what I can get.

2. Colour Correct and Foundation

Most makeup artist would apply foundation first, then colour correct and then conceal. However as previously mentioned my foundation runs white and so often my concealer isn’t enough to cover up my colour correcting- and so I do things a little differently. First I take my Stila “Correct & Perfect” colour correcting palette and my concealer brush (side-note: my brushes are either from Crown Brush Australia, Real Techniques or Wasp), and I apply the coloured concealers in my “problem areas”.

The basics of colour correcting is understanding the colour wheel- if you want to cancel out redness you use green concealer as it is opposite colours on the colour wheel.If you want to cancel out purples/blues under the eyes you use a peachy concealer- again because they are opposite to each other on the colour wheel.

These are my two biggest concerns so they are what I colour correct. Before you apply foundation you SET your colour correcting. I just use a bit of NYX “HD Finishing Powder” and a Real Techniques “Setting brush” to press a bit of powder onto the areas I have corrected. This means that when I apply foundation the colour correcting won’t move around, ruining all the work I just did.

For foundation today I’m using a Hourglass Vanish stick in “Blanc” and buff it all in with a Crown Brush buffing brush. This foundation is a stick foundation and so I need a brush with packed bristles to help it blend. Please please please blend your foundation down your neck! I can’t stress that enough!

3. Cream Contouring

Now to make my self look like a Kardashian; because that’s what the media tells me I should want to look like. Recently, I’ve gotten into cream contouring, it used to be there was no such thing as a “cool-toned” cream contour so I never bothered. But after a recent trip to MAC I found a cream cool-toned contour stick (it is a limited-edition item so I apologise if you can’t get it). I use a duo-fibre contour brush to pick up product from the “brown” end and VERY lightly start to swirl the product in a “3” formation down the sides of my face. You start at the top of the forehead and swirl down the edge of your face, dipping under the cheek bone and then under you chin (to block that double-chin). I say swirling motion because this product is cream if you sweep you’ll have brush strokes show up, so swirl in circular motions to defuse any lines you may create. I use a little bit of the “white” end of the contour stick for the top of my cheek bones with a clean duo-fibre brush.

Contouring is using the darker shades to hide/cast shadows/shrink parts of your face (i.e. the double-shin) and using the lighter shades to bring attention to features (i.e. your cupid’s bow, cheek bone etc).

I then take my NARS “Radiant Creamy Concealer” in Chantilly (yes, the lightest colour you can get) and apply it as an up-side triangle under my eyes- blending it in with a duo-fibre foundation brush. I then INSTANTLY, using my setting brush, set under the eyes with my NYX “HD Finishing Powder” to prevent any creasing.

4. Contour and Highlight

The brushes in the second pic are as follows (left to right): 2x angled contour brushes (Crown Brush Australia), Pro Detail Powder/Contour brush (Crown Brush Australia) & Power brush (Wasp)

I use powder contour to help reinforce that contour I’ve done with cream. If I were to just powder my whole face either with a finishing powder of foundation powder it would dull down the colour I’ve just put on my face- what would be the point? I first reinforce my contour with the shade “Sculpt” from my NYX “Highlight & Contour Pro Palette”, again in that “3” shape I discussed earlier (use an angled contour brush for those angles). You typically want to contour where my lovely black lines are in the above pic. Now typically a “true grunge” look doesn’t involve blush, but if I don’t use a little bit I look like a corpse and while that’s my aesthetic I’m not actually dead. So I use MAC’s blush in “Full of Joy” just on the apples of my cheek- again with a CLEAN angled-contour brush.

My face is round/short and so to make it look longer I focus the blush more on the centre of my face, if you had a longer/narrower face you would blend it more outwards to create the illusion of width.

I then take my Anastasia Beverly Hills “Nicole Guerriero Glow Kit”, my Pro Detail Contour brush and my MAC fix+ to highlight. The glow kit is incredibly pigmented on its own but by wetting your brush slightly it makes the pigment of anything more intense (you can use this tip for eyeshadows as well). Being pale, highlight is something that doesn’t show up easily on my skin so I use the fix+ to enhance my highlight- I want it to blind my enemies. Highlight above the cheek bones, middle of the chin, forehead, cupid’s bow and lastly the nose using the infamous Drag queen “!” technique (create “!” mark with highlighter on your nose). Now this glow kit is intense so I wouldn’t use it on the forehead and chin, I’d opt for a subtler highlighter- you want to glow not look sweaty.

5. Bad-ass Brows

It should be worth mentioning that the third pic is a before/after (i.e. one brow has been done)- in case you were wondering why it looks insane.

There are so many products designed for brows so I’m not going to talk about the products I use more so the technique. I line my brows, in this case with a MAC eyeshadow in “Charcoal Brown” using an angled brush. I then use the “mascara wand” end and swipe the colour up and out to blend it through my brow. Make sure you pay particular attention to the start of the brow in terms of defusing the pigment. If sharpie brows are your thing- GO YOU! On me it looks way to intense so I defuse the beginning of brow to lessen the harshness.

This is where the magic part happens, cleaning up your brow is what makes it look sharp, intense and “on fleek” (yes I did just vomit a little at that). Take your concealer and a clean angled brush and run the product right under and right above the brow- blending it out. You’re basically lining your brow with concealer.

6. Eyeshadow

Brushes: 1. Small flat-pack brush, 2. Angled brush, 3. Fluffy blending eye-shadow brush, 4. Flat-paker brush & 5. Detail blending brush

Traditionally for a “Grunge” look orange is the preferred “transition” colour; being a pink/cool-toned person orange isn’t very flattering so I use more browns and cool-toned reds for such a thing. Before any eyeshadow, apply eyeshadow primer for pigment to stick better.

To get that magic angle for both your eyeshadow and your eyeliner you need to imagine the line going from the bottom of your nose to the end of your eyebrow. (Pic 1). For this look I used Too Faced’s “Sweet Peach” palette; I started with a mix of “Puree” and “Summer Yum” (a reddish brown colour) on a small detail blending brush to first carve out that magic angle. I then follow through in the socket line towards the bridge of my nose, creating a slight nose contour. Then take a buffing brush to blend it all- I take some of that pigment under the eyes to make the look cohesive.

Taking a dark purple eyeshadow, in this case a mix of “Peach Pit” & “Delectable”, I use a CLEAN small detail blending brush and deposit the pigment into the outer quarter and sweep it a little into my crease. I then take a small flat packing brush and run that colour mix on the outer quarter of my lower lash line. Defusing it all with a blending brush. I then fill in all that blank space left on my lid with a MAC paint pot in “Stroke my Ego” with an angled brush- setting it with a mix of “Nectar” and “Luscious”. I’ll say it again- BLEND!

Do you remember that highlight palette? Well I’m going to take that palette and in this case “Forever Young” and highlight my brow bone and the inner corner of my eye.

7. Liner and Lashes

Using that magic angle trick I take my L’Oreal Paris “Super Liner Perfect Slim” felt liner and draw out my wing, finishing my liner by lining my lash line and filling in my water line. I have quite naturally curled lashes so I don’t curl my lashes but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to, but I go straight in with mascara in this case Urban Decay’s “Perversion” mascara.

8. Finish

If you were to go for a traditional 90’s grunge look, brown lipstick would be the place to go or even a deep berry. I am not traditional nor is this the 90’s so I went for dark purple, Anastasia Beverly Hill’s “Potion” Liquid lipstick.

As a wearer of dark lipstick, concealer and an angled brush is you best friend to tidy up your lips after applying lipstick.

To finish the whole look I spray my face with some MAC fix+ to hydrate my skin and to help set it all into place.

There are many ways to do “grunge” and more importantly no “right” way to do it either. This is my “day drag grunge” and not even my favourite type of grunge but it’s still fun and dramatic, just like me.

Jess xo


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