Whether you’re here for the horses, the headwear, or just a glass of Champagne, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the fun of spring racing. But with a trackside soirée comes meticulous planning on the fashion and beauty front. There’s dress codes to think about, colour palettes to play with, and make up considerations that will take you from the betting ring to the Birdcage to bar (and beyond, for some party animals). To help keep your face and hair in check, we tapped the beauty prowess of makeup expert Michael Brown, who divulged everything from his most trusted foundation, to the power of natural light. See the interview below.

GRAZIA: What are your top three makeup trends for the spring racing carnival this year?

BROWN: As outfit choices can be bright and involve bold prints or patterns, you can’t go wrong with a bronzed makeup look. I love deep bronzed eyes with peach lips and cheeks.

Another idea that I love is a modern liquid liner flick with a thicker, square wing, rather than long and thin. It can edge up an otherwise pretty look. Add another brighter colour liner on top of the black to make the eyes a focus. This look is perfect for Derby day if you’re wearing a sleek, monochrome outfit.

Lastly, I love a super fresh makeup look. Pinks and peach tones work so well across the eyelid, lips and cheeks. A bold lip can be hard to maintain on a long race day, so going soft and tonal is easier. Keep your features matte, only adding sheen to high points like the cheek bones, and bridge of the nose.

Image credit: Instagram/mbrown_beauty

GRAZIA: Where do you look for race day makeup inspiration for clients?

BROWN: I mainly look at Hollywood red carpets, as they usually start during the day, so it’s great to see the looks in natural light. I always take a photo of my clients too before they leave the house as a safety precaution – I want everything to look natural.

GRAZIA: How do you prep the skin for long-wearing makeup?

BROWN: I love using a sheet mask while I’m doing hair – it will hydrate, cool, and plump skin. The more hydrated your skin is, the better your foundation will look. I then use a mattifying primer, but only in the t-zone. It balances main areas of the face that can become shiny as the day goes on.

Image credit: Instagram/mbrown_beauty

GRAZIA: What foundation formulas do you swear by for good skin that doesn’t crack or crease? 

BROWN: I love using a cream foundation stick for long days such as the races. Liquids can become quite shiny and can move easily into expression lines, whereas a foundation stick is usually semi-matte and a little more weighted, so it won’t move when pressed in with a beauty blender. I often use the Bobbi Brown foundation stick, Marc Jacobs Beauty blurring primer, and Olay Total Effects Whip moisturiser to prep.

GRAZIA: And what about touch ups? What should we keep in our clutch bag?

BROWN: A little concealer around the mouth and nose after eating, and a light dab under the eye to freshen when needed. A lightweight pressed powder is great to have as well if you’re prone to shine – spring racing can get warm. I’d apply on the chin, nose, and just under the eye where the front of cheeks begin. Lastly, lipstick or gloss! A touch in the centre can really revive a dying or drying lip!

Image credit: Instagram/mbrown_beauty

GRAZIA: Favourite long-wearing lipstick for race days?

BROWN: The Fenty lip paints are amazing! Or a good tip is to press any lipstick into lips with your fingertip. It will stain and bond to the lip better than painting on with a brush.

GRAZIA: Any makeup looks you tend to avoid?

BROWN: Too much highlighter. Try using a light creamy texture highlight so it bonds to skin – avoid glittery, liquid highlighters. Bold lips can be a great makeup focus, but most outfits are bold enough already, and it can be too hard with all that champagne and food.

GRAZIA: Any hair styles you’re into this spring racing carnival?  

BROWN: I think it’s best to work your around your millinery or head wear – embellished headbands are very popular this year, as well as clips and bows. If that’s what you’re going with, effortless hair works best, soft waves – mermaid waves are popular, or a high textured pony can be fun. Also great as it’s up and away from your face.


Marc Jacobs Under(cover) Blurring Coconut Primer, $64. SHOP NOW

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint, $36. SHOP NOW

Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick, $72. SHOP NOW