NYFW is honestly like a game of survivor for makeup artists. They're in obscenely cramped, hot spaces, usually without running water, and often only have a short amount of time with each model before sending them to hair, nails, or clothing. Not to mention the whole "better not mess this up, the entire fashion industry is watching" pressure. It's exciting to watch them work their magic because these pros are dedicated—and talented—AF.
We hit up some of these NYFW makeup artists—who were gearing up for this month's Spring/Summer 2018 shows—to discuss how they work their magic under the most chaotic of circumstances. From a makeup remover that’s so effective it’ll remove two-inches of glitter in one swipe, to lash-enhancing tricks that keep lashes looking flawless from 9am makeup to 12pm runway time, here are their best tips.
Use The Right Makeup Remover
Fun fact: There’s never running water at makeup stations backstage during fashion week. Add to that the fact that models often work one show after another, which means they may be coming from a runway sporting full-on black, glittery eye shadow and changing into a look that’s more natural.
“You have to the best makeup remover on hand,” said makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes, the go-to key for designers such as Libertine and Nicole Miller. "It's Bioderma, with the pink cap, and it's a savior backstage. If you don't have this in your kit the models may judge you. Not joking! It's so good because it removes everything all the while keeping the skin balanced and not stripped of its natural oils.”
Another backstage favorite is makeup remover wipes, but not all are created equally.
“My favorite wipes for quick and easy eye makeup remover on the models is either Neutrogena wipe or Dermalogica face wipes. I love both, but the reason Dermalogica is so awesome is because they are a totally non-greasy wipe,” said makeup artist Alexandra Rutkay, who's worked Venexiana, Lela Rose, and Christian Siriano. Dana Perisco, a beauty expert, said her go-to was Johnson's Hand & Face Baby Wipes. “They are the perfect cleansing towelettes for removing makeup. They are pillowy-soft, smell like a hint of powder, and feel great on skin,” she said.
Smudge Proof Lips
“To keep the vibrant lips from budging, I make sure to use a three-step process to achieve the perfect pout,” said Rick DiCecca, the key artist for Pamela Rolland and global makeup artist for Artistry. “I always start with a lip liner, followed by a highly-pigmented lipstick or matte color, and then finish the look with a shimmer from a lip gloss. The result is a rich, subtle-shimmer lip that’ll last through many drinks and walks down the catwalk.”
Get The Perfect Lashes Every Time
It’s probably safe to say we’ve all dealt with clumpy lashes, sparse lashes, and everything in between—and MUAs are definitely not immune to the struggle.
“If I want to take down a clumpy mascara to a light application, I spray Fix Plus by MAC on a mascara wand and comb it through,” said Kabuki, who's served as a key artist for The Blonds, Jeremy Scott, and Zac Posen. He's also the Perfect365 PRO beauty advisor. “The model has her eyes closed when I do this. I hold a coated baby spoon under her lashes to catch the runoff and it also gives me something to press against as I comb through the lashes.” He added that to make lashes stay aerodynamic up to the point where they hit the runway, he uses a Panasonic heated lash curling wand.
DiCecca has a few tricks up her sleeve, too.
“The lash trick that I have taught all of my backstage team members is to wipe off any excess mascara from the wand before you apply it to the lashes. Building up the mascara in layers helps to achieve a fuller, fringy lash,” she said. “For lashes that need a little boost even after mascara is applied, I will add some natural looking inserts to get them runway ready.”
Fake a Fresh, Pampered Mani
Models get manicures backstage, too, but there’s really no time to clip and hydrate cuticles. Repeated exposure to acetone can actually dry out nails and cuticles, which isn’t the greatest look.
“One of my favorite touches is applying OPI Avolpex Cuticle Oil very quickly to the skin surrounding the nail plate on the fingers and toes if the model looks like they did not go for a Mani/Pedi the day before the show,” explained Persico. “This little extra gives immediate hydration & goes a very long way with back stage powers and designers.”
You can keep a bottle in your purse for the same purpose!
Keep it Matte, Man
“It gets hot backstage in front of all of those lights and flashbulbs, so I tend to use matte foundation and blotting papers for the T-zone to avoid a cakey buildup of powder,” said Kabuki. “Also, Matte Crème by MAC is great for the line-up. Just before the models walk onto the runway, I’m there with Matte Crème; it’s great because it’s clear and works with all skin tones.”
Each designer has relayed exactly what kind of look they want MUAs to create on the models, and it’s very common for them to want a dewy, but natural, finish.
“Highlighters are obviously popular on Instagram, but it’s way too much for most fashion week or day-to-day looks,” said Rutkay. “A subtle skin-like glow is what makeup keys usually like, and Glossier’s Haloscope does the trick. A quick swipe on the cheek bones is a fast and easy way to give your skin a little subtle, healthy sheen.”
Hughes is also a fan of Glossier’s Haloscope, as well as a few other products. ;
“Everyone backstage — and in life — needs a good, glowy product in their kit,” she said. “I swear by Weleda Skin Food to use in parched skin before I apply any makeup to skin. It will glow through the foundation like nothing else, and it's great to use on certain areas like eyelids and cheek bones to add a sporty kind of shine.”
Blend Like You Mean It
“Beauty blenders are a life saver during the hustle and bustle of fashion week,” said makeup artist Mary Irwin. It’s true that the bright pink sponge is spotted at a lot of MUA stations, and Irwin said they’re just as useful at home, too. “You can do a five-minute face with it. Bounce on foundation and concealer, add a cream shadow and blush, some brows, mascara and a lip balm and you’re out the door.”
Really Pay Attention to Skin
Skin prep is paramount, Perisco noted. Models should be doing what they can on their own, such as drinking a ton of water, eating well, moisturizing, and exfoliating. However, it’s the MUA’s responsibility to take them the rest of the way.
“I always apply a hydrating toner over the models’ entire face, followed by a facial massage with a hydrating moisturizer. The skin will react and give you valuable info,” said Perisco. “For example, if the skin absorbs the moisturizer right away and it immediately mattes down, then I use a slightly matte foundation. If it doesn't, I use a foundation that is more luminescent. Also, I take note of where the skin begins to rose up on cheeks because that will be where you want to go back and apply blush.”
The best part about all these hacks is that you can totally apply them to the real world and still not have to deal with the NYFW mad rush!
The Lookbook is Bravo’s celebration of personal style. We keep you up to date on the inspiring looks from trend-setting stylistas, test and report on the most-coveted fashion and beauty products, and offer solutions to all your style-related conundrums. Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.