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F is for Fill 'er Up: A Customized Makeup Palette with the Mary Kay Compact Pro

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I know it's not Friday, but I felt like an "F is for..." post. The staff protested, but I've menaced her into acquiescence -- I do like to win. Hey, I'm the boss. *grin*

Customized compacts are an opportunity to design a just-for-you palette for eyes, cheeks and lips. But when you're faced with a shimmering array of silky colours and endless combinations as offered by a sleek Mary Kay Compact Pro (a makeup-addict's dream), how do you choose your best options in less than four hours -- or weeks? (Yes, weeks -- there are 28 shadows, 10 blushes plus bronzers, highlighters, and a slew of powders, foundations and lip colours from which to choose. That's a lot of choice.) For a little fill-'er-up guidance, I checked in with top professional makeup artist Diana Carreiro, whose skill has been photographed for Vanity Fair, Vogue Spain, Marie Claire, Flare and Fashion magazines. A fan of Mary Kay's colour cosmetics, here she shares her tips on putting together a versatile custom colour palette.

1) Spotlight your eyes. Selecting eye shadow is a challenge for most women -- we all want to know what colour best brings out our eyes. "Blue eyes will pop in copper, taupe, slate coloured grays and warm browns with a slight orange base," says Carreiro. "Lavender is also a pretty option for the summer. Green eyes look best in red browns, plums, purples and golden metallics, and brown eyes are lucky because they can get away with almost any colour. That said, experimenting is the best way to find the colours you love."

2) Create a core of neutrals then add colour. When faced with a buffet of pretty eye shadows, the temptation is to geek out over your faves. But to make them work, you need tone variations so you can create shadows and highlights to emphasize eye shape as well as colour. If you can, take your cue from a standard light/medium/dark palette you already own and love, and create a core of neutrals upon which you can build. Start by choosing a good basic duo, "a neutral all-over colour and a darker shadow for liner," suggests Carreiro. Build up to an effective trio by augmenting the light/dark duo with a medium tone in the same colour family. Then add as many shades of eye-popping colour as you like -- they'll all work with your neutrals. If you want an evening-specific palette, Carreiro suggests throwing a metallic neutral into a mix of darks. "Silver with black and grey will help create a smokey eye," she says. If you're all about bold colour, "contrasting metallic and shimmer shadows are great options. Try copper with aqua blue, or gold and violet."

3) You need options for cheeks, too. "A good all-around palette should have more than one blush," says Carreiro. "If you're running errands, a pretty pink on the apples of the cheeks looks healthy and fresh. If you're going to the office, a more 'serious' shade of dusty rose might be appropriate." Carreiro likes a combination of blush, bronzer and highlighter. For pale women wary of bronzer, however, she suggests a "spice" shade of blush. For women with darker skin, "deep plum would be good for contour and depth." For women with round cheeks, "highlighter can make cheekbones stand out a bit more," says Carreiro. Remember: choose cool or warm shades of blush to match the cool or warm tones of your eye shadows.

4) Punctuate with lip colour. You need one neutral colour and one bold shade. "In general, if you're wearing neutral eye makeup, choose a brighter or bolder colour for your lips; if you're wearing smokey or vibrant eye makeup, balance with a neutral lip," says Carreiro. "Those are only guidelines, however. Black-and-silver eye makeup can look great with vermilion lips, and a neutral mouth with neutral eye makeup can be ethereal." And of course be sure to choose cool or warm lip colours to match the cool or warm tone of the rest of your palette.

The Mary Kay Compact Pro case retails for $40 CAN/$35 US. Individual eye shadows retail at $7.50 CAN/$6.50 US; cheek colours go for $12 CAN/$10 US; and lipstick for $16.50 CAN/$13 US. Check everything out at and While you're there, try the virtual makeover tools and "get-the-look" features -- they're good for hours of entertainment. Hours. Image courtesy of Mary Kay Cosmetics.