How to Make Your Drugstore Makeup Look Like a Million Bucks

Cara Delevingne's go-to pro has a few *excellent* tips.

Hair, Nose, Mouth, Lip, Cheek, Hairstyle, Skin, Chin, Forehead, Eyelash,
(Image credit: Getty, design by Dana Tepper)

Suggestion: Let's use "once in a truly 💯 promo tour" as an even rarer version of "once in a blue moon." Because great, consistent celebrity press tours—when they hit carpet after carpet promoting a new project—are a dime a dozen, but Emma Stone Spiderman-level career-making ones are like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Having just completed the London leg of her Suicide Squad tour, Cara Delevingne's been hitting it out of the park beauty-wise, with makeup artist Romy Soleimani banging out creative look after creative look and glam-squad teammate Jen Atkin heading up the enviable hair game. But the best bit, as we discovered via Soleimani's Instagram, is that Delevingne's *editorial* glitter eyes and crimson-slash lips were created using mega-affordable brand Rimmel London.

Keep reading to learn Soleimani's tips for working with reasonably priced products to execute high-concept ideas, how to preserve your makeup when you're on the 24-plus interview circuit (same), and what Delevingne *actually* keeps in her bag.

Marie Claire: Drugstore makeup has definitely come a long way in terms of quality, but how do you make sure it performs just as well as a more expensive products?

Romy Soleimani: I would say skincare—really taking all those steps. You should put a lot of love into the skin always, because that's how you're going to get the best out of any product, whether it be drugstore or luxury. It's all the same, just depending on how you start it. For Cara, all week long, I used these Elemis Pro-Collagen Eye Masks under her eyes while I was doing the makeup. And then I would peel it off and do her skin. That was a great way of not only catching fallen shadow, but it also refreshes and plumps—you know, some mornings we start at 5 a.m.

The night of the premiere, I cleansed her skin to refresh and re-plump again. I used Eve Lom Cleanser all over, like really gave her a good massage, then I used a warm towel to take it off. Then Dr. Colbert's Illuminating Mask and I massaged in Dr. Hauschka Rose Cream.

Marie Claire: And what about application? Is there any difference in how you do it?

RS: You don't have to use things the way brands tell you to. Like I used the eyeliners smudged as kind of a sticky cream shadow, which was a great base to add some chunky glitter. Or even though I used the 16-Hour lipstick as a strong, non-moving stain, I then layered it with another Rimmel lipstick in "Call Me Crazy," and I just put that in the center for a bit of moisture and an extra pop of color. You can play around with mixing products, like using a shimmery eye stick in a pearl color as highlighter. I might have even used a drop of a Rimmel lip gloss to help the glitter stick...

"You should put a lot of love into the skin always, because that's how you're going to get the best out of any product, whether it be drugstore or luxury."

Marie Claire: When you're using products not exactly as intended, how do you factor in that the look has to hold up for a long time?

RS: Right—and I can't be right next to her. Lining the lips and then pressing it in with your finger as a base is a great way to start. And a matte formula on her T-zone, that's a great way to have things last a long time, especially when you use blotting papers. Then I press on a little extra concealer, then blot again—I don't like adding so much powder because I think it's aging and it makes the skin look heavy and not fresh.

Marie Claire: Along those lines, are there any products you give to clients to keep in their bags for touch-ups?

RS: Mostly just the lipsticks to reapply. A lot of looks we did, they would really last all day, and there's really not time for her to do much. And I kind of don't *want* her to do that much. A lot of the looks, the makeup kind of lives and it gets better with time. And I think it kind of goes with her personality as well.

Marie Claire: What about for regular people without makeup artists who want to play with textures, like an eye gloss? What advice do you have on that?

RS: First of all, you don't want to use too much product. If you're using an eye gloss, you want to keep it minimal, you don't want a big blob on your eye. Let it really kind of set. But I think the beauty of an eye gloss is that it does move and you kind of have to go with that and let that be your thing. It's not about looking perfectly retouched.

One of the looks I did on Cara was a very strong liquid liner, and then I added gloss on the upper part of her lid. If you look at yourself with your eyes open and see where things land, you can cheat it and not put it on your entire eye. You want to just put it where you need it so you get the effect without heaviness.

And experiment with which formulas work for you, because everything looks different on every person. Every skin is different, everyone's levels of oil and moisture and dryness are different. But generally, for the center of your face, keep it more matte. If you're going to add any gloss to the base aside from the eye, keep it on the outside of your face, so like the temples, or the high points. If you're using a luminous formula, my personal suggestion would be to not cover your entire face.

Marie Claire: We as editors love seeing a promo tour like this one because it feels so fresh—so many of them rely on looks that are more formulaic. How did you keep things interesting?

RS: I'm incredibly lucky because Cara really trusts me and she lets me do whatever I want. And when you're in a situation like that, you're incredibly free as an artist and you can really just go for it. I also really enjoyed working with Jen Atkin. She would show me some inspiration hair things she was thinking of, and we would would just play with whatever moments that inspired us from those hair looks and the wardrobe. We would be like, "Oh, this feels a little bit '60s," or we'd look at a little film in the beginning. We're just having fun being creative. I'm glad it showed.

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.