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Make up in a new light

Emma Macdonald

It is a Wednesday afternoon and I am sitting at a bar in Braddon, concentrating hard on…geometery?

Under the expert tutelage of Canberra’s resident eyebrow guru Jaki Bradley, I am learning things about angles, lines and lengths of the brow that I probably should have mastered long before now.

Sitting with my HerCanberra colleagues, we are taking part in a sample of Saloon Blow Dry Bar’s upcoming makeup masterclasses – aimed at teaching woman the fundamentals of skincare and makeup.

I have been applying makeup for more years than I care to recall, and I like to think I know my way around a contouring brush. I have also been cleansing and moisturising for I don’t know how long.

But it turns out that I am hopelessly old-school – completely ignorant of changes in skin care and makeup techniques that could make me look well, considerably better than when I walked in the door.

For one thing, Jaki and her business partner Sarah Wright have spent years working in the cosmetics industry and there is not a brand they don’t know or a technique they have not mastered.

As we settle at their glamourous stone bar and the champagne is poured while the cheese platters are handed around, Jaki and Sarah discuss the latest in skincare.

Having both worked for MECCA Cosmetica, they recommend different regimes for the five of us depending on our skin types and preferences. I make a list.

Then we move onto the fun stuff. With model Maria seated in front of us, Jaki does her stuff with primer, base and foundation. She shows us the tips and tricks to getting even coverage and correcting colour and tone. I take careful notes and promise to buy myself a water spray because clearly I have been doing things wrong for some time now.

Then the fun stuff starts as the bronzers and highlighters come out and Jaki turns Maria’s pretty face into a sculpted work of art.

Unlike some of the ‘Instagram’ makeup looks that come through my feed, there is nothing scary about this makeup. It is light and enhances Maria’s face rather than masking it. But would I ever wear bronzer on my paler-than-pale complexion? I think not.

Next thing you know Jaki has me up in her chair and is wielding the brush around my cheekbones. When she finishes I am glowing and highlighted and declaring that I will not be washing my face for a week. Bronzer convert right here.

My shopping list at MECCA increases by the minute. Similarly, my teammates are taught techniques that make makeup easy. Sarah shows us how to press liquid eyeliner onto your eyelid rather than trying to master a not-too-squiggly line. All the while there is endless chatter, more champagne and cheese and biscuits aplenty.

The biggest revelation to me comes when we reach eyebrows. There is no doubt Jaki is a gun on the topic (and possesses the most perfect brows I have seen up close). She hands us all wooden sticks to measure and guide our brows then shows us the points brows should reach to flatter faces the most. I honestly had no idea. Then she fills in our inadequate brows and we all pledge to indulge in her digital brow tattoos so we can stay this way forever.

Frankly, geometry was never this much fun in school.

Sarah, Jaki, Beatrice, Amanda, Ashleigh and Emma

Here’s what the team said:

HerCanberra girlboss Amanda Whitley: “I left the Saloon tutorial with a long list of products I really, really want to buy. Plus a burning desire to have Jaki tattoo my eyebrows (but that’s another story!) For me, the biggest takeaway was how to correctly use bronzer and highlighter without looking like an Oompaloompa or a Kardashian. Now I can achieve a gorgeous healthy glow in minutes!”

Online Editor Beatrice Smith: “Having the chance to delve into Jaki and Sarah’s years of experience in the industry was fantastic. Chatting with them about what cult products were actually worth it was really enlightening as they knew exactly how to deconstruct all the ingredients.”

ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went: “I’ve recently bought the Urban Decay Naked Heat palette and had no idea how to use it. The Saloon girls walked me through it – from what colours to use with my complexion and eye colour to the application itself. I feel so much more confident playing with my makeup now. Not to mention the brows – what a difference good brows make!”.

Classes are broken into three sessions: basic skills & complexion, colour theory & eyes, advanced techniques & glamour makeups.  If customers want to learn specific techniques rather than everything offered in the lessons, the team is more than happy to do an individual lesson during standard business hours.

the essentials

When: Lessons will run on Wednesday evenings, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.  The first session of lessons will begin on Wednesday 7 February.
Who: Lessons are open to everyone from beginners right through to experienced makeup artists.  At this stage, the maximum bookings per session is eight people, so availability is limited.
Cost: $500 for the three lessons, which includes a brush set, take-home training resources, and refreshments for each session. Participants will also receive a 10% discount on any cosmetics or tools purchased during the session.
Where: Saloon Blow Dry Bar, 53/30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon

The authors experienced this session free of charge from Saloon for review purposes. It complies with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s guidelines on Online Reviews.


Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

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