We’re in the midst of award season, which means that celebrities far and wide have begun assembling teams that’ll ensure they look flawless when sauntering down the red carpet in front of all those cameras. The truth is that it takes a fleet of makeup artists and fashion stylists to prevent A-List celebs from showing up with deodorant smears, lopsided boobs, unruly static, running mascara — or anything less than perfect skin, hair, and clothing.
Who better to talk to about the crazy tricks and hacks employed by the most glamorous of our species than the people who work behind the scenes to ensure their perfection? Celebrity makeup artists and stylists dished on their best tricks below. And bonus: many of the tricks easily work for non-celebs, too.
Duct Tape for Picture-Perfect Breasts
Nope, it’s not a myth. Duct tape is the answer to every problem including misbehaving boobs.
“I know it sounds so bizarre, but when you have a couture gown that allows for no bra or no Spanx — and you need your client to have that perfect silhouette — you improvise,” said Toni Ferrara, a celebrity stylist who’s worked with Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian, Ashley Benson, and others. “I’m pretty sure at this point working in the industry for over a decade, I’ve taped almost every body part. You can make strapless bras and corsets with tape.”
She called duct tape a “miracle worker” for low cut, backless, and strapless gowns, and insists it’s better than any fashion tape you’ll ever find.
“They make fashion tapes on the market, but I’ve personally never had good experience in my 12 years of styling. Duct tape or gaffer tape can be a skin irritant, but nine times out of 10 your client will be OK with it because the end result in photographs is worth a couple days of redness when you take it off.”
Blend Foundation into Hairline and Ears
The whole “your face ends at your neck” skincare and makeup rule is a given, but don’t forget your hairline and ears.
“Ears on the red carpet sometimes can read very red. By applying just a little foundation you’ll neutralize any red tones and have a perfect match from body and face with no demarcation,” noted celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek, who’s worked with Hailey Baldwin, Adriana Lima, and Olivia Culpo. “I also use a damp sponge, or damp beauty blender, to blend lightly into the hairline and around jawline for a seamless finish.”
Of course, Sesnek always starts by prepping skin first to create an impeccable base. Some of his fave skincare products are Dear by Renee Youth Hydra Serum for oily skin, and Enriched Luxe Moisturizer for dry skin.
Makeup Everywhere Else, Too
MUAs know that every single inch of their A-list client is up for scrutiny, which means every single inch is subject to makeup application.
“I use makeup on legs, hands — and especially the décolletage of a low neckline dress — to even out and match skin to the tone or shade of the face makeup. The same goes for sleeveless or backless gowns. It’s important for celebrities walking the red carpet to have matching skin tone from face to body otherwise it can be a distraction,” said Bruce Grayson, department head for makeup for the 2018 Academy Awards. Grayson will lead a team of 15 makeup artists backstage at the Oscar’s, touching practically every face that graces the stage, including performers, presenters and winners needing touch-ups.
Lube for Too-Tight Shoes
“I’ve definitely had to ‘grease up’ some feet that were too [big] for a perfect heel. Aquaphor definitely can be the perfect lube for your Loub-outin,” said Ferrara.
Another trick to get shoes on? Plastic bags!
“For premieres where we didn’t wear gowns and a client wore knee-high boots, we used plastic bags to get her foot to fit into the boot — enough to walk the carpet and be photographed,” said Ferrara. (The plastic bag allows the shoe to slip on more easily since it reduces friction.) “Then I would have pumps waiting for her inside. All for the love of fashion and the best dressed list!”
Panty Liners in Pits
Armpit sweat is totally naturally, but it’s still one of the most embarrassing “oops” moments a celeb can experience when walking the red carpet. A great, streak-proof deodorant will work, but when in doubt stylists call in panty liners.
“You can double side tape or quick stitch a trimmed panty liner to the inside of the arm hole to prevent this from happening,” said Ferrara. “This trick works by sewing it into the inside of the garment.”
White Cream Eyeshadow on Teeth
“One trick that I have used on the red carpet is brushing on white cream eye shadow directly on teeth to brighten a smile,” said Grayson. “It whitens teeth and it’s undetectable. It doesn't stay on long, but long enough for that one important close up red carpet photo!”
Hairspray for Everything
“People don't know this, but hairspray is awesome for eliminating static,” said celebrity stylist Ali Levine (you may also remember her from the premiere episode of Stripped). “If it’s a little windy or brisk outside before a red carpet event, I always make sure to give my clients a little spray.”
Hairspray also works for preventing zippers from unzipping, removing lipstick stains, and drying nail polish, added Ferrara. You can even spray it onto a paper towel and run it over fabric to pick up rogue lint or pet hair.
Emergency Touch-Ups After Crying
We don’t know about you, but simply watching an award show on TV can bring on the tears. Imaging being in the room — or being the recipient of an award! Tears are basically inevitable.
“Fixing a celebrity’s teary eyes happens all the time backstage at the Oscars. Tears of joy create streaks of foundation as they stream down the face. When someone wipes tears away from the eyes there’s a good chance they're wiping off eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara,” said Grayson. “I always have a hefty supply of MAC makeup wipes around to gently wipe off emotional makeup moments, then I reapply concealer, foundation and either patch eyeliner and eyeshadow or start from scratch and perform a total re-do. I always try to get to work on touch-ups when I think the crying has stopped, but on more than one occasion I’ve done a perfect touch up only to be fooled by a second wave of emotions.”
Black Sock for Deodorant Marks
“One of the weirdest fashion tricks I've used has been using a black sock to get deodorant off of a dress,” said Levine. “It sounds crazy, but it works so well. I did it for reality star and bachelorette, Clare Crawley, and many others, and they were amazed it worked also.” For this to work, quickly rub the sock back and forth over the deodorant mark and the mark somehow magically disappears.
Sewn-In "Dancing Loops" to Prevent Tripping
Fact: celebrities deal with gravity like the rest of us, and they are not immune to tripping. Stylists have adopted a number of tricks to ensure their clients have a graceful walk down the red carpet.
“Anyone considered to be an A-Lister should have a personal assistant who has time to make sure your gown is performing well as you saunter down the long red carpet,” noted celebrity stylist Patrick T. Cooper, who’s worked with Ciara, Usher, and Sean "Diddy" Combs. He added, “above all else, it is imperative to partner with amazing designers. I opt for having Jessica Brown of Ivy & Aster on speed dial for red carpet season.”
A lot of stylists, including Cooper and Ferrara, have “dancing loops” sewn into their client’s gown so they can gracefully lift and maneuver it as they walk. For those unfamiliar, it's just a small loop made with matching fabric that blends into the dress. It's at about hand level so you can loop your finger or hand inside and lift up.
We knew it takes a lot of work to get ready for the red carpet, but we had no idea there were this many bizarre hacks. BRB, running out to grab some extra panty liners and a 12-pack of duct tape.
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