They may look intimidating in the pan, but when applied correctly soft, pastel shades can instantly brighten your complexion.

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Just take it from the Koreans – everyone from Stylenanda’s Park Sora to K-Pop girl group royalty Girls’ Generation have been spotted wearing pastel makeup colours.

But before you rush to the store to pick out the brightest mint green powder, read these six OL-friendly tips we got from M.A.C Cosmetics senior artist Beno Lim at a recent shoot. (There’s a fine line between looking like a feminine lady and a teenybopper who just discovered makeup, really.)

TIP #1 You don’t need foundation all over

“Keep it natural, just use foundation on the areas that need coverage. But before that, you really need to treat the skin,” says Beno. Doing this will help foundation to go on easier, and you’ll find yourself using a lot less of it, too.

During our shoot, Beno used M.A.C Cosmetics 2-in-1 Tint and Serum with Radiance booster ($93, available from end May) to lightly hydrate and even out the model’s skin. This skincare-cum-makeup product houses a clear brightening gel serum, and a tinted serum in two separate chambers. The former is meant for use at night, while the latter is for the day. They both leave a non-sticky, silky finish that’s great for makeup application.

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There are other products in your stash that you can use, too. For example, you can mix a brightening serum with a subtle cream highlighter. Some whitening serums like Vichy’s Ideal-White Meta-Whitening serum ($85, from leading personal care stores) are also enriched with light-reflecting pigments that help to give the illusion of clearer skin.

Once you’re done, apply a light foundation. Beno says that the areas people usually require coverage at are the sides of the nose and the under eye area. Then finish off with a light dusting of powder on the T-zone.

TIP #2 Skip the blusher and contour powder

Pastel looks tend to focus on the appearance of youthful, soft skin. So skip the contour powder and your traditional blusher, says Beno. Highlighting the cheekbones is enough to bring out your features.

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You want to look for one that has a hint of colour, like M.A.C’s beauty powders (Pearl Blossom, $42, M.A.C stores and counters). Beno advises applying it with a big fluffy brush for that post-gym glow, or you can tap it on the apples of the cheeks.

TIP #3 The best colours for Asian skin tones

“Asians have so many choices – they can use a lavender shade, a coral or a light green [on the eyes],” says Beno. But it’s best to stick to using one colour at a time.

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Now here’s how you should apply it: Prime your lids, then use a long, fluffy eyeshadow brush like M.A.C Cosmetics’ 217 to lightly shade the eyes. “Any brush that’s long and fluffy will give you softer application, because it doesn’t deposit too much colour,” says Beno.

Your eyeshadow (featured above, $30 each, M.A.C Cosmetics stores and counters) should stop at a point that’s just touching, or at a position that’s a little higher than the eyelid crease. If you have monolids, keep the colour close to your lash line and blend upwards with a clean brush. Be sure to use the tip of the brush to blend your eyeshadow, and not the sides.

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Of course, if eyeshadow isn’t your thing, Beno says that a light flick of a green eyeliner (Leaf green, $30, M.A.C Cosmetics stores and counters) will make Asian eyes pop. Advanced K-Beauty junkies can try pink, too.

TIP #4 Top it off with mascara

Once you’re done with your eyeshadow, coat it with a layer or two of mascara. “I think it’s essential, it’s every girl’s little black dress,” says Beno.

Use one that has a small brush, like M.A.C Cosmetics Zoom Lash, so it’s easy to coat the lashes.

If you’ve got straight lashes that point downwards, you can also try Benefit’s Rollerlash ($37, Benefit counters and Sephora stores) to help hold the curl, and if you love the falsie effect, L’Oreal’s Miss Manga False Lash Waterproof ($19.90 for May only, UP$22.90, leading personal care stores) will do the trick, too.

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But it’s not necessary to apply mascara on the lower lashes. “If your lower lashes are long enough, you can give it a few gentle coats. If they’re very fine and thin, you can just skip that step,” says Beno.

TIP #5 Keep your brows full

Pastel makeup may be a K-Beauty trend, but the straight Korean brow isn’t really for everyone. Take Beno’s advice in keeping your natural brow shape.

“Full brows are still very in. Keep your shape, don’t over pluck. Use a brow gel to brush it up and sculpt your eyebrows to give it a bit more lift and height,” says Beno.

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Dior Beauty offers coloured brow gels ($38, available from June), or you can just get a clear one from the cult-favourite brand Anastasia Beverly Hills (US$23.87, about SG$32,

TIP #6 A bright pop of colour on the lips

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To finish off, use a bright colour on the lips, like Tom Ford’s Lip Colour Sheer in Sweet Spot ($72, Tom Ford beauty counter), a sheer coral, for a naturally youthful look.

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If you’re heading somewhere after work, you layer your lipstick with a little bit of gloss on top. Voila!

Photography: Vernon Wong; Art direction: Eugene Quek and Sabrina Tiong; Styling: Hong Xinying; Makeup: Beno Lim, Senior Artist, M.A.C Cosmetics, using M.A.C Cosmetics; Hairstyling: Patcharin; Model: Zhao Meijuan/Nu Models; Top and accessories: Cool-find K-Style

Want to know more about Korean beauty trends? Here’a a tutorial on five ways to get the K-Beauty gradient lip, and the Korean lip mask we’re completely crazy about now!