How to Prep Your Clients for Red Carpet Events

Celebrity Makeup Artist, Sir John, Talks Prepping Clients for Red Carpet Events

When it comes to red carpet events, celebrity makeup artist and American Beauty Star mentor, Sir John, knows a thing or two about prepping for them! From Olivia Culpo’s stunning lavender eye at the 2017 Oscars, to Beyoncé’s iconic glow at the 2018 Grammys, let’s just say he has an in with entertainment’s “it” girls. Recently, we sat down with Sir John to get an in on the different hacks he uses to prep his clients for red carpet events

Q: How do you prep your clients for the red carpet?

In terms of prep work, when going to a red carpet event, it’s not so much about the day of – it’s a holistic approach to their diet in general.  At least a couple days before the event, I tell all of my clients to stay away from salt. If you’re doing margaritas – no salt. Sodium makes your face puffy; your under eyes will retain water and your face won’t be as tight. Even Gatorade has a really high level of sodium so stay away from things like that!

Also, try and get into an alkaline diet. Alkaline water or lemon in your water are great ways to make sure that your skin is in good condition, plus it balances out your PH levels.

Another thing that I recommend is kale juice. Kale juice has 650% of your daily value of Vitamin K which helps to increase circulation and gets rid of dark circles. If you look in the mirror and see dark circles, really it’s just sluggish circulation. Things like kale juice and broccoli increase blood flow and promote a glowing complexion. Men should shave because it repairs the skin around the beard area rapidly.

When you increase blood flow you increase collagen, and this helps you to look radiant. Anything with beta-carotene, (i.e. carrot juice, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin) is a great choice because it promotes rapid cell turnover. Think of beta-carotene as an internal exfoliator that makes your skin beautiful from the inside out.

Q: What are your top beauty hacks for any red carpet event?

Whenever I’m doing a client’s makeup, the first thing I do is give them a moisturizing face massage. This increases their blood flow and prepares them for foundation. I have this philosophy about foundation – when your skin is slightly damp from your moisturizer, it’s time to apply your foundation. This helps the product to dry organically and makes it look like second skin.

I love beauty blenders. I dampen the sponge, then stipple on the foundation so it goes on very soft. Once that’s done, I manipulate it with my fingers to make sure it blends seamlessly.

For fuller brows that last all day, I put a tiny bit of Elmer’s glue stick on a tooth brush and brush them into place. The good news is that it does not clog your pores and washes off very easily. Once that’s done, I use powder or pencil on top of it so that it looks like they have more hairs there than they naturally do. Think of the glue stick as your brow primer.

As for concealer, it’s really important to apply it with your ring finger (great for eye creams too). Your ring finger is the weakest finger you have, so it’s going to pick up the least amount of product. Also, using your fingers changes the texture of the product making it look more organic – like you woke up like that.

Q: How do you choose what look your client will rock the night of the red carpet event?

Makeup artists are usually the last to know what the client is wearing and what their hair will look like for the night. Some of these women are in gown fittings for weeks and pieces have to be shipped in from Paris. Sometimes hair stylists have to order extensions or hair pieces to finish the final look. It all takes so much time! Often I show up the day of the red carpet event and just go to work.

However, opposite things happen in the editorial world. If I’m doing an editorial piece,  I will see a storyboard for the campaign weeks or days in advance. For red carpet events, I only have a couple of hours to get the look together.

Q: How do your clients tell you what kind of look they want? Do they show you photos or do they just let their glam team decide?

Depending on what the project is the client may already have a vision in mind, but sometimes they don’t and I get to be creative. There’s never a situation where a member of the beauty team doesn’t get to voice their opinion. Everyone wants to contribute to the outcome.

Q: How do you ensure that a beauty team decides on a cohesive look?

I think the most successful makeup artists create a sense of harmony and balance for the whole look. It’s a collaborative effort. There are so many amazing makeup artists and hair stylists, but if you lose the sense of  “she’s first and we want to make sure that she’s magnified” you won’t get the call back. Or you’ll see on the red carpet that there was a tug-of-war within the beauty team.

Q: You’re saying you can tell when a beauty team didn’t have harmony when a celebrity hits the red carpet?

Absolutely! When someone is over-styled you can tell that somebody didn’t want to back down. We’re basically in a band. Sometimes I’m lead, sometimes I’m tambourine, and other times I’m the back-up singer.

Q: Do any of your clients make you nervous?

No. You know who makes me nervous? Non-celebrities.

For example, I teach beauty classes. This month, I’m going to Amsterdam to teach a class of 300 women on March 18th, then in June I’m going to Paris to do something similar. It’s one of those things where I’m surrounded by all of these women who so desperately want me to emulate something I’ve already done or live up to the hype that I already have.

I don’t feel pressure when I’m in front of Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Karlie Kloss, or Margot Robbie. They already know who I am and what the extent of my brand is. It’s not like I come in and they have no idea what I’m capable of.

Q: Was there ever a point where you were nervous in front of celebrities?

I was nervous when I first met B. My hands were sweating profusely. I also used to get nervous with Naomi Campbell often. You know, these women are used to working with the best hair and makeup artists every day! That means every day is the Olympics of hair and makeup for them.

When I work with real women who are not used to that, they get emotional after they see my work. In this industry, when you don’t get a “thank you” that’s how you know you did a good job.

Social media is huge when it comes to how moving a look really was. For instance, the Grammys were not too long ago and when that photo dropped on Instagram and that Glossier collab hit, it was everywhere from the Daily Mail in London to Teen Vogue. So that’s where I look the next day for my love.

Q: Who is somebody you haven’t worked with but you would love to?

Jennifer Lopez is beautiful and I would love to work with her someday. A lot of the women I would love to work with aren’t alive anymore, unfortunately. Women like Elizabeth Taylor and Josephine Baker were beauty icons to me.

Q: What advice would you give to a makeup artist who’s working with a celebrity for the first time?

The first thing I can tell any makeup artist is all you have to concentrate on is giving your client beautiful skin. If you can give them beautiful skin they will trust you to take them anywhere and give them a smokey eye later.

They’ll trust you when you have a trend you saw on the runway that you want to emulate next time. However, don’t start off with, “oh, I’m going to give this person a big beautiful smokey eye and a red lip my first time meeting them”. It never goes that way and the comfort level is at a minimum when it comes to what you can do at that point. So if you want her to emotionally put her hand down and trust you, give her glowing luminous skin!

I don’t think people realize how important skin is. It tells people where you are in life, how much time you have to vacation, how much you’re drinking, if you’re going to the gym, and even if you’ve had great sex recently.

Q: So you don’t want to go overboard just because you have the chance to?

No, no, no! Pull back. It’s harder to give someone a great ‘makeup, no makeup‘ look or an effortless glam than it is to do an excessive makeup application that looks like they just left a department store counter. It takes a level of skill to know when to stop and pull back.

Q: That seems super humbling, especially when you know you can do so much. Right?

The question is does she need it? You don’t always have to use all of the tricks in your bag just because they’re there. Use them when it’s necessary. She may just want to look younger or go to dinner with her husband after an event and not seem inundated with a look that screams “I just left this huge red carpet event”. There are so many times when it has nothing to do with you. That’s why you have to check your ego at the door and that’s what makes makeup artists great artists.


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