If there were ever a more pressuring moment to apply and perfect your makeup, it would be on stage before a panel of expert judges closely scrutinising your every brush stroke. You might shrug and think the situation is impossible but for a finalist group of six aspiring makeup artists, this was exactly the scenario on an eventful Thursday evening where the theme 'Sense of Tokyo' took over the Singapore National Gallery.

Shu Uemura atelier artist pro tips makeup trends

Pitting their skills against the clock and each other, the Shu Uemura Beauty Art competition — first started by founder Shu Uemura who wholeheartedly believed in nurturing new generations of makeup geniuses — was the ultimate platform for one to hone and display their beauty prowess to a grand audience.

And seated among the awed spectators was the label's very own atelier artist, Yang Yu Hwa, who flew in from Japan armed with her experienced background of 16 years with Shu Uemura to judge the competition. With a keen eye and an expert appraisal, Yang's sharp gaze could possibly induce an anxiety breakdown but luckily for us, we got to chat with the seasoned pro in a relaxed setting where she lets us in on the backstage secrets to tackling three of the biggest beauty trends. Budding makeup artists, take note.

Shu Uemura atelier artist pro tips makeup trends

HIGHLIGHTING
To get that runway model superskin, the key is in your makeup base. As Yang emphasises, "The importance of applying a base is so that everything holds together." She highly recommends the Skin Perfector oil, a multi-purpose product that straddles skincare and makeup. It acts as the final, moisturising step in your skincare routine and lays down the base as the first step in your makeup application. The right way to do this is to have a few drops of the oil on clean, dry hands and spread them evenly on your palms before lightly pressing down on your forehead, chin and cheeks.

Shu Uemura atelier artist pro tips makeup trends

With 9 different kinds of herbal ingredients, the unique formulation of the Skin Perfector oil helps to prevent perspiration and excess sebum to better adhere makeup. Frequently used backstage, this all-in-one product is slated to be your new best friend, so don't let the 'oil' in its name turn you off from making it one of your beauty bag staples.

Following that, you'll want to pat on some Glow Creator along your cheekbones, nose bridge and chin — these are angles of your face that catch the light. As you can discern, this product was specially made to bestow skin with that glowy finish. Even with different skin types, the Glow Creator works its magic to give that instant dewy look. Best applied with Shu Uemura's lightbulb sponge, you'll get the glow you've always wanted and a professional flawless finish.

PRO TIP:
To prevent looking like a disco ball, Yang cautions against over-applying the base and going out all with the shimmer. You have to find the amount that's just enough for your entire face. For strobing, study your facial angles in a mirror, turning in different directions to figure out where the light hits as this can vary for every individual. Additionally, she advises to go in with a very light hand, gently building up the glow as needed. That way, people won't mistake your highlight for sweat or greasiness (the big no-no in every makeup rulebook).

COLOURFUL EYESHADOW
Got a 32-piece eyeshadow palette that's sitting forlornly on your vanity? Time to break it out because Shu Uemura advocates colour play like no other. Yang is equally enthusiastic about eyeshadow as we are, declaring it's all about experimentation and there are no right or wrong colour combinations. Going with a different rule of thumb, it's the tone range of the eyeshadows to look out for instead of the lightness or darkness of the skin. According to Yang, there's no such thing as a colour that doesn't suit a person. The trick is to figure out which shade of a colour family best accentuates your skin and hair. "Eyeshadow is like accessorising. Use the colours as you would a necklace or earrings," she said.

Shu Uemura atelier artist pro tips makeup trends

And the best way to pack on the colour? Shu Uemura's eyeshadow brush number 10 is the best brush you could possibly invest in as it mimics the motion of your finger and is the perfect size to fit into the creases of your eyelid. And if you're the one-and-done eyeshadow kind of girl (or just in a rush), brush number 12 is your go-to as the thumbnail-sized bristles will sweep on colour in one smooth coverage.

PRO TIP:
For those who are unsure what eyeshadow tones would suit their complexion, refer to your natural eye colour, as well as the hue of your lips as a guideline. Yang also drops an unusual but useful hint where she mentioned referencing the colour of the veins beneath the skin of your pulse or those near the corner of the eyes to help you figure what shades are best suited for your skin tone.

MATTE LIPS
We all know liquid lipsticks are the must-have beauty product that's being hoarded in the dozens right now but applying it correctly is the part that may still elude most. Yang had politely disguised her laughter as a cough when the topic of girls sporting crazy cracked-looking matte lips came up. To prevent falling into that makeup mire, she informed us to first use concealer on the lips as a base. This will take away any excess moisture and oil to give you that super matte look. Apply your lipstick on top of that  — Shu Uemura's Unlimited Rouge Supreme Matte is our prime choice — then set the layer with a light dusting of eyeshadow in a matching colour to really lock in that matte finish. Alternatively, you can also use face powder.

Shu Uemura atelier artist pro tips makeup trends

Of course, what makes a great matte lip besides these pro secrets is actually the condition of your lips. Yang stresses the importance of using a good lip balm to keep your lips moisturised to prevent peeling and cracking. Taking care of your lips will go a long way in helping that matte look stay on-point.

PRO TIP:
If you're out and about but your matte lipstick requires some touching up, the proper way to go about it is not to liberally swipe on colour from the tube. Caking it on will instead lead to pronounced flaking. Yang tells us to go with the 'less is more' mantra, tapping on the colour with your finger on areas that need a refresh and using a tissue to blot before dabbing on a second layer if needed.