Edwina Ings-Chambers: The secret to grown-up glamour

No, it isn’t retiring your favourite bold red lipstick, it’s aceing how you use it.

The main tenets of stylish beauty looks have remained ageless for the best part of a century – and certainly since Hollywood established itself as the centre of on-screen glamour: red lipstick, a smoky eye and defining eyeliner – be that a feline flick or heavy kohl.

Marilyn Monroe
Red lips, plenty of kohl, Marilyn Monroe’s classic glamour isn’t just for starlets. Image: Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture/Getty Images

But when it comes to how we apply make-up, as the years tick by and our faces change, it’s best to ring the changes however small they may be. ‘It doesn’t mean you have to do a whole 180, it’s just about loosening the belt, making it softer and more flattering,’ says Dominic Skinner, senior Mac make-up artist and a familiar face to fans of the BBC show Glow Up. ‘When you’re young you can get away with a harder-looking exterior, but as you get older it’s about relaxing into it, being less structured.’ So here are Dominic’s tips on how to adjust and update the classics.


The question Dominic is most asked is how to define a hooded eye – which can be an issue at any age, it just depends on your eye shape.

Olivia Colman
For a smoky eye, think soft and subtle a la Olivia Colman. Image: Getty Images

Getting it right is all about the groundwork. Firstly, says Dominic, look straight ahead at yourself in the mirror with both eyes open and start mapping out the shape of the line using a little bit of dark eyeshadow and an angled brush – sort of stamp it out so it looks like a running stitch. Remember, if you close one eye while doing this the line won’t be in the right place. Use this as a template and fill in the gaps with liner. For older – or as Dominic phrases it ‘wiser’ – eyes he suggests a gel liner is the way to go as pencils are designed to grip, and crepey skin can end up with a bumpy finish. I’m a fan of Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner (£17.85, johnlewis.com), but you could also try Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner (£8.99, boots.com).

Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, £17.85, johnlewis.com

Maybelline gel eyeliner
Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner

Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner, £8.99, boots.com

Smoky eyes

The key thing to remember, says Dominic, is that, ‘You don’t need to be heavy-handed. A smoky eye can simply be a line of eye pencil smudged with your finger for soft, quick, but effective make-up.’ For more smoke, start slowly with a wash of colour two or three shades darker than your natural skin tone before building – it’s easier to add than to take away. He loves Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pots (£17.50 each) – Groundwork is great for fairer skins; for deeper tones, try It’s Fabstract.

Dame Helen Mirren
Just like Dame Helen Mirren, older can mean more glamorous – if you nail your make-up techniques. Image: Rex/Shutterstock

To work up more colour Dominic recommends Mac Extra Dimension Eyeshadows (£17.50 each, pictured in Evening Grey, all maccosmetics.co.uk) as their soft pearlessence gives the eye both highlight and shade. I also like the new Zara Eye Colour palettes, which come in flattering shades such as Earthy Warm (from £3.99, zara.com).


Mac Paint Pot
Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork
Mac Paint Pot
Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot in It’s Fabstract
Mac eyeshadow
Mac Extra Dimension Eyeshadow in Evening Grey
Zara eye palette
Zara Eye Colour in Earthy Warm

Red lipstick

The key lies in the texture and sharply outlining the lip with a matching red pencil is not necessary. If you want to fake volume on the lips, outline them with a pencil the same natural shade as your mouth – try Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk (£17, charlottetilbury.com).

Angelina Jolie
The key to pulling off a red lip as elegantly as Angelina Jolie? A lipstick with great texture. Image: WireImage

While for the lipstick, Dominic suggests Mac Powder Kiss Lipstick (£19, maccosmetics.co.uk) as it’s a sheer matt that gives a soft-focus wash of colour and won’t spread to fine lines – Devoted To Chili is Mac’s top-selling red. I also like Glossier Generation G Sheer Matte Lipstick in Zip (£14, glossier.com). But generally, for wiser mouths, opt for a creamier texture – you can always press on lipstick with your finger for a softer swish of colour. @edwinaingschambers

Charlotte Tilbury lip pencil
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk
Mac lipstick
Mac Powder Kiss Lipstick in Devoted To Chili
Glossier lipstick
Glossier Generation G Sheer Matte Lipstick in Zip

Beauty assistant: Alice Robertson