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10 Tips From Celebrity Makeup Pros

Makeup artists reveal their secrets to making their celeb clients look fresh and fabulous

spinner image Tim Quinn applies makeup to Alana Stewart
Makeup artist TIm Quinn preps Alana Stewart before a summer event in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

Looking at celebs our age on social media is not only one of life's guilty pleasures, it's empowering. The more we look, the more we realize they're a lot like us — right down to the laugh lines, crinkles and creases. Lately even their makeup appears more realistic (aside from the false lashes). I asked three top celebrity makeup artists — Tim Quinn, VP of Giorgio Armani, (clients include Diane Lane, Alana Stewart and Glenn Close), Sandy Linter (fans include Beverly Johnson, Iman and Christie Brinkley) and Gad Cohen (devotees include Jane Seymour, Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange) — for star-studded tips DIY-ers can use to update their everyday makeup routine. Here are the top 10.

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1. Spend more time prepping skin

spinner image Glenn Close, Viola Davis
Glenn Close, Viola Davis

It makes the difference between wearing makeup and looking great in makeup. In fact, Tim Quinn suggests we "spend the most time during your makeup routine on really moisturizing your skin well. If possible squeeze in a super-hydrating hyaluronic acid sheet mask especially when skin is dry or fatigued. Celebs know spending an extra 10 minutes upfront means a fresher face in the end." Gad Cohen says to "try the new facial oils to revive very parched complexions fast. These formulas are sophisticated, not greasy. I use them under foundation or even over it — sparingly — to give mature complexions a healthy sheen."

spinner image Diane Lane, Laura Dern
Diane Lane, Laura Dern

2. Apply makeup in sheer layers

Thanks to HD TV and the eye-opening revelations of Photoshop and filters, no one wants to look "overdone." Quinn says "a gradual layered approach builds color and coverage that looks authentic. Swap hybrids that combine skin care, color and blurring technology" for heavy total coverage. (FYI: blurring reflects and scatters light to soften and even out skin texture, like the old Vaseline on the lens trick.) "Using more products but less of them with a lighter touch achieves the best result," Quinn adds. Following that advice, you might start with a tinted skin cream — a primer, balm, a BB or CC cream — for sheer baseline coverage of redness and brown spots as it boosts moisture, corrects skin undertones and brightens. Then add a light-reflecting foundation to enhance color and give skin a creamy luscious texture.

spinner image Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett
Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett

3. Choose a warmer, more luminous foundation

Forget the old rule about finding your perfect skin tone match. Celebs know moving up a notch in color and glow is key. Cohen says "foundation should be warmer than your real skin tone now — one or two shades deeper and more golden — for a healthy look. Every celeb wants that J. Lo glow and it works for every complexion dark to light." Quinn agrees. "Switching to a radiance-boosting liquid foundation or mixing a drop of golden luminizer with your foundation restores warmth and brightness to mature skin immediately. Apply it over your hybrid tint where you need extra coverage or want more vibrant color," he says. So, toss the matte and long-wearing stuff and update your foundation with words like illuminating, light reflecting and luminous on the label. "Don't rush through skin and foundation to get to your eyes or lips!" adds Quinn.

spinner image Jennifer Lopez, Jaclyn Smith
Jennifer Lopez, Jaclyn Smith

4. Swap powders for creams  

Shine, sheen and dewy skin are on the most-wanted list and powders are out, at least for us. That goes for eye shadows, blushers, bronzers and face powder in loose and compact formats. "Powders settle in lines and creases, make dull dry skin look even drier and duller,” explains Cohen. “I use cream eye shadows, which double as eye primers and cream bronzing sticks to add warmth."

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spinner image Jane Seymour, Susan Sarandon
Jane Seymour, Susan Sarandon

5. Reposition your blush and bronzer  

Continue building a healthy energetic look with blush and bronzer. Quinn suggests we "apply a cream blush higher up on the cheeks — along the upper cheekbones rather than on apples for a subtle lift. Add a touch of golden luminizer for extra emphasis on top.” Cohen says "real contouring is for pros and the camera only but you can subtly sculpt your face with a stick bronzer. Apply it in a big 3 shape on either side of the face — curving from forehead to tops of cheekbones and under the jawline before blending.” 

spinner image Taraji P. Henson, Christie Brinkley
Taraji P. Henson, Christie Brinkley

6. Lean toward eyeliner, not shadow

Celebs wear false lashes for the camera and appearances, but they are applied by makeup artists. And those big smoky eyes? They are not necessary either. "I don't know any women — celebs or non-celeb clients — who apply lashes themselves for everyday life, work or evenings out,” says Cohen. “It's far easier and as effective to use a black gel pencil in the waterline top and bottom to give eyes shape and expression without looking overdone. You also use an invisible liner technique by sketching the pencil in tiny back and forth motions between the lashes at the lash line; the effect is thicker dense lashes even before you do mascara." Linter advises using "a bisque pencil to line the lower eye waterline as an instant freshener when eyes are red or tired. It really opens up eyes fast!"

spinner image Jessica Lange, Allison Janney
Jessica Lange, Allison Janney

7. Fill and extend eyebrows for bigger eyes

Brows expand the entire eye area so don't ignore them. Quinn says "filling the eyebrows from the top of the brow and elongating it gives eyes a youthful look." Cohen agrees. He says to "build up your brows with a combo of brow pencil and powder eye shadow one shade lighter than brows — celebs 50+ don't consider microblading or tattoos!" Linter adds that "almost anyone can wear a taupe shade from dirty blondes to highlighted brunettes except for very dark brunettes who can do a lighter brown or smoke color. Never try to make brows an exact match because no two brows are ever exactly the same. It's what gives your face expression and personality." Check brows from the side views, too. If you have short hair or pull your hair back from your face it’s important that brows extend out not down or end in an abrupt smudge. 

spinner image Jennifer Aniston, Alana Stewart
Jennifer Aniston, Alana Stewart

8. Use lip liner that matches your real lip color

Cohen says a neutral “natural toned liner makes it easier to cheat and correct shape, add a little fullness to the top lip. Match lip liner to the color of your lips not your lipstick."  And keep the shape simple. "Sometimes the top lip is uneven or has lost definition and fades into the skin,” says Linter. “A subtle rounded bow instead of two fake peaks looks more realistic."  

spinner image Julianne Moore, Beverly Johnson
Julianne Moore, Beverly Johnson

9. Try a neutral lip that is modern and low-maintenance

For some women red lipstick is a signature look, and they feel naked without it. The rest of us are opting for natural lip-toned lipsticks for smart reasons. Cohen says “a light neutral toned lip is easier to wear since it requires less touch-ups, lets eyes take the focus and makes it easy for lips that are lined, droopy or thin to wear lipstick." If you prefer a "matte lipstick go for the new wand liquid formulas,” says Linter. “They don't feather or bleed at mouth corners or in smoker's lines. Wand mattes are easier to apply than roll-up sticks since they're fluid and precise. The trick is to hold the wand in the middle, not at the ends (wipe if necessary). Then divide the mouth going corner to corner. Avoid mushing lips together and just let it set."

spinner image Iman, Halle Berry
Iman, Halle Berry

10. Keep your face makeup monochromatic and consistent

You can't miss by sticking to a neutral palette whether you prefer warm or cool tones. Just vary the texture and layer shades to change things up. "Celebs are not tempted by color that detracts and distracts from their features," Cohen says. "Staying neutral and monochromatic gives the face, eyes and lips a pulled-together look. Look at yourself closeup and far away. Check makeup in a magnifying mirror near a window in daylight, and also in a full-length mirror two to four feet away at normal distances — the way others see you."

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