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Image / Beauty

My day in beauty… with Beyoncé’s make-up artist


By Aisling Keenan
31st Jan 2019
My day in beauty… with Beyoncé’s make-up artist

My jaw is on the floor. Today’s ‘day in beauty’ is no ordinary one…

I have just spent the morning in the presence of one of Beyoncé’s closest confidantes. Her long-time friend and make-up artist and L’Oréal Paris ambassador, Sir John. Yes, Sir, as in – the name Bey called her son. That’s how close they are.

Just to put my extreme, unbridled excitement in context, I am a HUGE Beyoncé fan. I won’t go into massive detail (I could, and if I didn’t think you’d die of boredom, I would) but I have seen her live 20 times, I have held her hand as she sang to me and I have travelled to several different countries to go to her concerts. This masterclass was a big, big deal for me.

INCHES FROM BEY

Sir John, meanwhile, has done Bey’s make-up for years – her Superbowl performance, countless magazine covers, most of her videos and her visual albums, every big event she’s attended. His profession means he gets to be inches from her face on the reg, and for that, I am eternally envious and in awe.

Related: Beyoncé’s biggest beauty secrets revealed

So for me, taking into account my love of Bey and my passion for all things beauty, Sir John’s London masterclass with L’Oréal Paris is a definite career highlight. His career highlights, as he’s said in previous interviews, include meeting Beyoncé and “getting that call back”. He also talked today about starting out as a make-up artist and how he’d do fashion week during the day for pittance, and would make his money at night doing make-up at strip clubs.

THE MASTER AT WORK

Arriving into the location for the masterclass, I hadn’t a clue what to expect. I know Sir John has previously trained with Charlotte Tilbury (who introduced him to Beyoncé), and other celebrity clients of his include Naomi Campbell, Khloe Kardashian and Joan Smalls, so I’m expecting great things.

Well, I genuinely was blown away with his talent and insight. And it’s rare enough that I’d hear something that I feel is something different and authentic, and he definitely spoke the unfiltered truth.

Here are the best Sir John-approved tips I took from my time watching him work:

1. “DUALITY CREATES A TEFLON FACE”

Sir John spoke about his ‘client’ who performed recently at Coachella – no guessing who he’s speaking about – and said he “used liquid foundation buffed in and powder foundation layered over it to make that long-lasting Teflon face”.

2. “LIVE AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE FOR BETTER SKIN”

His advice for perfect make-up? Start with flushed, healthy skin. As he applied the new Infallible Prepping Essence (that scary blue bottle isn’t as scary as it looks) he said that the best prep for “breathable skin” is actually exercise and a bit of a glow. Which is motivation to go for that run I’ve been attempting to go on since January 1.

3. “LOOK AT YOUR LIGHTING”

“Before you apply anything to your face, before you spend more money on beauty products, take a look at the lighting you’re applying your make-up in. In your home or in hotels you’re not guaranteed good lighting. You need to mimic daylight as much as you can,” Sir John explained.

4. “HERE’S WHAT NOT TO DO…”

Sir John advises: “Don’t conceal your eyelids. Don’t do that roller blind effect there, a little visible vein in the eyelid is sexy. It’s cool. Don’t conceal or hide your freckles either, freckles are hot. And brow highlights [as in, highlighting your arch] is played out. Not a good look anymore.”

5. “NEVER USE PRESSED POWDER AROUND YOUR EYES”

Wait, what?! But we need to set our concealer! Apparently, pressed powder is too heavy. “If you set under your eyes with powder, nah, that’s too heavy. It’ll age you, no matter how great your skin is. Anything that goes under the eye needs to be light.”

6. “USE PRIT STICK ON SPARSE BROWS”

“If you’ve got little brow going on, apply Prit glue on there, and let it sit, then you can apply hair-like strokes of brow on top. It creates just the right texture. It also sets the brows for the day, they are not moving even if you perspire or wipe your face.”

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I am still not quite relaxed after meeting him, knowing the he’s spent some of the most intimate time one can spend with a person with Beyoncé, arguably the world’s most famous and successful artist and, you know, my future best friend.