A Guide to Achieving the Perfect Fall Makeup Look

By Shauna Mazenes


Makeup can be complicated, and that’s no joke. With brands reaching wider audiences through social media, there are been tons of new makeup lines, products and looks to keep up with. So I went on a quest to make sense of the ever-expanding, complex beauty world.

I spoke with two makeup artists: Reneé Mooney, a Toronto-based MUA with a long list of star clients (Shawn Mendes, Waka Flocka Flame and Marilyn Denis to name a few!) and Pierrette Donaghy, a retired Toronto makeup artist with extensive experience in the beauty world, doing celebrity makeup, TV makeup, weddings and more.

Mooney said there are four central fall looks every year. When it comes to perfecting your go-to fall makeup, you should keep in mind that it’s all about transitioning from one season to another.

We tend to see looks similar to the summer feel, but with an autumn spin.

The four main fall looks are:

  1. The splash of colour

  2. The colour wash

  3. The classic red lip

  4. All emphasis on eyes


The Splash of Colour​

The splash of colour look is all about bold shades, like deep blues and purples, although reds are especially popular. In the fall, eyeshadows won’t be as vibrant as they were in the summer. Instead of wearing a bright, summery red on the eyes, you should transition to a deep cranberry.

“Everything is a bit earthier,” said Pierrette Donaghy, a former Toronto-based makeup artist who, much like Reneé, worked with celebrities and fashion shows throughout her career.

“You’re turning away from your lighter brighter colours and getting into more muted deeper tones,” Pierrette said.

Pierrette said a splash of colour looks the best when the colour is focused on the outer corner of the eye and blends both outwards and inwards.


The Colour Wash​

To achieve the colour wash, one wants to look natural. This is where you would see blushed skin, tinted moisturizer mixed with a highlighter (for that extra glow) and lots of golds and coppers. Mind you, it's all about soft application. Eyeshadow, contour, highlight, it all must be done with a light hand to create an effortless look. The only thing that can be a little heavier is the blush.


The Classic Red Lip

Everyone loves a red lip. Even before Kylie Jenner emerged and a wave of matte lipstick gripped social media, the red lip has always been effortlessly beautiful. This look incorporates neutral coloured eyeshadows, usually earthy mattes or coppers and taupes, so that the lips stand out. Highlighter on the cheeks, nose and just above the upper lip is also used. The contour is generally strong with this look, so it’s safe to pull out the angled brush and define those cheekbones.


All Emphasis On Eyes

“This look is all about amplifying the eye,” Mooney said. “They’re either soft and diffused, or bold and structured.”

Eyeliner comes back full force with this look, including anything from a bold wing, to a smudged and smokey mist, to a slick liquid flick. Mooney prefers tight eyeliner on the waterline that follows the natural lash-line, fading outwards into nothing.

Blending is crucial for this look. Donaghy explains that you must start at the centre point of wherever you are emphasizing.

“Wherever you put your brush—the first place you touch down—has got to be the centre of whatever area you’re working on,” she said. “Even if you’re just doing the outer corner of the eye, the first place you put your brush won’t be on the exterior of the eye, it will be in the middle of the area.”

This way, the colour seamlessly fades into the outer and inner corners, eliminating any strong demarcation lines.  

Now, for a little bit on how to accentuate your eyes based on eye colour:

Brown eyes?

Add colour!

The beauty of brown eyes is that they’re so neutral you can pretty much wear any shadows and it will look amazing. Except brown; stay away from brown. It's too “wishy-washy,” according to Mooney.

Donaghy said the secret of blue eyeshadow lies within the ideal candidate, which is: brown eyes! Blue also tends to look good on a deep-set eye with olive skin. This year, blue has been massive trend, and even models on the runway have been rocking it.


Blue eyes?

Donaghy suggests most people with blue eyes avoid using blue or purple colours in the fall, as it tends to make the eye look less blue. Instead, pick a colour that’s complementary to blue, such as corals, peaches, and browns. Anything with an orange undertone will look gorgeous on blue eyes.


Green eyes?

“Green eyes are so great to work with because they’re the most unique colour,” Mooney said. “There are gold flecks within green eyes, so golds, coppers, and bronzes are so stunning.”

In terms of a deeper, smokier, all-emphasis-on-eyes look, Donaghy suggests using a muted plum and focusing it on the outer corner of the eye.


Getting Eyebrows on Fleek​

Donaghy and Mooney both agree that a defined eyebrow is essential for shaping the face in fall looks, but be careful: nothing crazy or it will take away from the eyes and the lips too much. Mooney recommends using a clear gel brow gel to sweep across your eyebrows and keep them in place (like Gimme Brow by Benefit Cosmetics). Use this after shading in your brows with a shadow for the best look.

Mooney also suggest using two different shadows on the brows: one lighter and one darker, as one single colour tends to make the brow look a bit too harsh and unnatural.

Stay away from pencils! They tend to come on very strong and it’s harder to diffuse the look than it would be with powder. In fact, running a clear gel over a penciled in brow would actually make it darker rather than sheer.


Additional tips

“The glow isn’t going anywhere, honey,” said Mooney. “It’s all about ‘skin from within.’ ”

That being said, avoid matte at all costs! Fall and winter glows are incredibly youthful, as the skin is naturally dry and dehydrated, so don’t be afraid to use that highlighter.

Mooney also swears by Fix Plus, as if it was the Da Vinci code of makeup. If you ever feel dry or dehydrated anywhere on your face, spritz a little Fix Plus and you’re cured. Spray it on your beauty blender instead of water and your makeup will be flawless.

Finally, primer is key. Don’t ever forget to prime, as the way your makeup looks overall is dependent on it. A primer acts as a barrier between your skin and the makeup, protecting your pores. Be sure to get one to match your skin type; it wouldn’t be logical to get a hydrating primer if you’re oily.

Don’t let this guide stop you from having fun, just focus on your execution to prevent from going too over-the-top. As Pierrette says, “you can pull off anything if it’s done right.”


You can follow Reneé on Instagram @reneemooney.