Maturity in Makeup: An Interview with Makeup Artist Boriana Karan

“Every face has beauty and personality.  I see where my clients are and where they want to go and look for ways to get there.”  So says award-winning Boriana Karan, one of Canada’s preeminent makeup artists, whose work has appeared in a plethora of magazines, commercials, and videos.

It’s easy to get lost in her collection of dazzling work, yet for all the glamour of her profession, Boriana has a decidedly down-to-earth manner.  She is equally at home in the world of high fashion as she is on the living room floor playing with her two children. So it comes as no surprise that Boriana’s clientele includes not just models and actors, but also the rest of us who seek out individual consultations to help us look our best.

I’ve talked to Boriana a few times about her work, and each time it’s nothing short of captivating.  And since my beauty regimen consists primarily of an annual haircut and flossing, this really is saying something.  I think it’s because her approach to makeup is so thoughtful.  Listen to her:

Like a house, you need to build structure to a face.  I observe how women do their make-up – usually they focus on the eyes and sometimes the mouth.  But every feature of the face is part of the structure and needs attention, so emphasizing one or two features doesn’t create a balanced look.  Just as a good room is created from various pieces of furniture, or a recipe from different ingredients, a face is made of multiple components and requires a structure.  Some components are more prominent than others depending on the person – these components include hair, eyes, a nose – if a woman is lucky, sometimes a mouth – also fullness of the face and colour.  

It sounds very subjective but everyone has to look in the mirror and see what parts of her face’s structure are missing, and then focus on this first.  Maybe you have small lips or big eyes or a reddish complexion or lack of colour or healthy glow in the face – whatever it is, you must address this missing link first.  If you have only a few minutes to do your make-up, this is where you spend it by focusing by building a complete structure from all your features.  Creating these basic structural elements to the face is like creating basic visual manners.  Make-up should have a health and balancing to it before moving onto something more elaborate.  Then, if you have an extra minute, you can go on to something else.  But make sure that this translates into balance of the overall structure.

This reference to minutes is another reason why Boriana has the credibility that she has.  Sure, she can airbrush a naked body into almost anything, but she also knows how it works for most of us, on the ground.  Women are busy; mothers are very busy. “Three minutes – it’s what most of us has,” she says.  In which case you need to know how best to use each of those minutes.

I ask her whether she has any advice to dispense to the everywoman, and the biggest message here, hands down, is to take care with eyebrows. “There is a huge misunderstanding about brows,” she explains. Firstly, girls and women are too aggressive with eyebrows at an early age, and regrowth in the brow zone can be as little as 10%.  But the more we age, the more brow we need.  With age, the asymmetry in the face becomes more prominent and the eyebrows can compensate for that without surgical intervention and create the illusion of better symmetry in the face.   As eyes inevitably become deeper set and faces start to sag with time, clearing underneath the brow and working the top layer can give the face a natural face lift.

Another area that’s often overlooked is colour in general in the face. We’re not talking here about sucking in our cheeks and stroking an angular slash of blush under the cheekbone.  Boriana speaks instead about the apple of the cheek, the highest and roundest part of the cheek most prominent when someone smiles.  She’s seeking here to replicate the flush of youth, the glow that comes after exercise, an external showing of healthy, internal heat.  This is where “makeup can compensate for the lack of a look of health, including the lips.”

Finally, Boriana generally recommends that for women 30 and over, smoothness and softness to the features is usually more flattering than sharper lines. So, as we age, it can be helpful to shift from lipstick to a gentler lip balm, stain or gloss.  Move away from powders to mattifying creams; choose targeted use of concealer rather than a foundation over the whole face.  “Imagine a move from tempera paint to watercolours,” she tells me. “It’s maturity in makeup.”

Boriana is completely engaged as she talks and her energy is contagious.  She has been interviewed for magazines and other print media before but this is her first blog experience.  “Is there a way for your readers to ask questions?”  I’m surprised by this because she is a very busy woman, but I am meeting with her next week and she says she can answer questions then for me to report back.  It won’t be instant gratification, but her thoughts will undoubtedly be helpful, because this is a woman who not only wants you to look your best, but who can actually help you get there.

boriana pic

                    Boriana shows how to match skin ton from a palette of rainbow colours from Make Up Forever