6 Black Makeup and Hair Artists Share Their Best Beauty Tips

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Celebrity clients: Tracee Ellis Ross, Alicia Keys, Gabrielle Union, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya 

Top makeup tip of all time:

I love to custom-make my own rollerball for de-puffing and hydrating my skin in the morning. It’s an inexpensive, luxurious self-care morning ritual. I use a whiskey ice ball mold (very inexpensive), and after filling it with water, I add jojoba oil, essential oils, and strained chamomile tea. The results are tightened, glossy skin that often allows me to skip foundation afterward. That said, if I do wear or apply a medium-coverage foundation, I always have to powder to set the foundation. My trick for making it look very light and clean is to go back in and whisk a bit of foundation on your cheeks, forehead, and chin back over the powder with a loosely bristled brush. One would think adding more coverage would make it seem overall very heavy, but whisking a little foundation back over the powder breathes a little bit of glow and texture back into the skin.

One standout moment or memory you’ve had since making it in the beauty industry:

Two memories stand out in a career where I constantly live beyond my wildest dreams every single day. It’s very rare to have a client perform at the Oscars. I’ve now been back several times, but the first time so clearly stands out in memory. I was working with Florence Welch. She was also performing with Elton John at his annual Oscar party, so we had a lot of logistics to sort out during the day, including having a police escort to make it to both red carpets with a change in between. We were moving very fast. A door closed and locked behind me, and I somehow ended up walking the entire red carpet, casually drinking champagne. Later, I was standing right behind the main curtain backstage doing touch-ups, and I looked out into the front row and at the theatre. It was the first time I paused all day and took it all in. That’s when the moment fully sunk in. Later that night, I had the same feeling standing just offstage watching her and Elton sing “Tiny Dancer.”

Touring with Jill Scott was also a dream. I’ve seen her perform “He Loves Me” countless times in countless countries across the globe. She moves me every single time. No matter how hectic things are backstage, when the chords to the song start, I run back just off to the side behind the curtain. Touring is hard on the body and hard on the mind. You’re living on the road with no schedule. You’re moving from country to country and city to city at odd times, in the middle of the night, by plane, bus, and car. Hearing her sing “He Loves Me” when the key changes to opera restores me every single time. Occasionally, I’ll zone out and watch someone in the audience watch her, and the look on their face reminds me… that while Jilly’s a dear friend and client, I’m working with living legend Jill Scott. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give artists who are just starting out?

Have your own point of view—your own aesthetic and style. Be authentically and unapologetically you in your art. The right clients will find and appreciate you.  It’s a terrible place to be as an artist when your art doesn’t fully reflect your instincts and you’re aware of it. You can’t fully create and thrive in that space. Be you. The world needs more you.

What beauty products can you not live without when working on your clients?

I use Chanel’s Baume Essential Multi-Use Glow Stick on every face every time. It’s like painting with light. It brings a sheen back to skin that powder or foundation can dull down, so it’s also the perfect trick to hide a fuller coverage into looking like bare skin. I like to apply it where the sun would naturally hit—the tops of cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, and the chin. I’ll even apply a dab in the center of the eyelids to “wake up” powder eye shadow. A little on the décolletage extends the glow and makes the sheen on the face look so natural. I don’t like the face to look too made up, per se, and eyeliner can sometimes be a bit too much when you’re trying to strike a delicate balance with a bolder lip. I do, however, also love definition around the eyes. Enter Le Volume Stretch de Chanel Mascara. The 3D-printed brush lets me get right up to the lash line, so I get my definition without the added product buildup. The eyes pop, and it really wakes up the whole face.  

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