The American Beauty Tour kicked off on Sunday, July 22, 2007 in San Francisco at the W Hotel
This past Sunday, July 22, I got up at the crack o’ dawn and headed over to San Francisco for the opening session of The American Beauty Tour.
The speaker, celebrity makeup artist Billy B., offered tips on making it in the competitive world of the makeup industry, makeup application and life in general. Cheesy as it sounds, I was actually really inspired.
Most of the attendees were MAC makeup artists, with a touch of wedding makeup artists and “pedestrians” (like yours truly) in the mix. The seminar lasted for two hours and the crowd had plenty of opportunities to ask questions while Billy demonstrated techniques on a model. Questions varied from application (“How can you cut down sweating? Prep skin with a thin layer of Milk of Magnesia.”) to working in the industry (“Is Beyonce nice? Yes.”)
One key aspect of Billy’s makeup philosophy is that he doesn’t believe in makeup rules. He emphasized that his techniques aren’t the only way to achieve a look, and that there are many pathways in makeup – and in life – to get to a destination. Just because he does things a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to do it. Do what works for you!
Billy provided lots of good information and seemed really genuine. And even though he was clearly on a tight time schedule that day he was nice enough to squeeze in an interview with Makeup and Beauty Blog. I’ll be posting that interview in a few days.
Billy B. in action
I got so much insider information at this seminar, and I highly recommend that you attend if you have the opportunity because you’ll learn a lot.
Below is a summary of some of the tips. Enjoy, and I hope you learn something new!
Foundation and Powder Tips
Prep skin with a greasy moisturizer. You don’t have to use an expensive one – Billy used Eucerin on his model. Rich moisturizer continues to refresh the makeup throughout a long editorial or video shoot.
Billy skipped using concealer on his model, and often skips it during shoots. Instead of traditional concealer, he dabbed Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer underneath the model’s eyes and on her lids with his clean fingers.
He said that he really didn’t think that there is always a need for concealer. And true to his there-are-no-makeup-rules philosophy, he mentioned that during one shoot he found a concealer that matched a model’s skin perfectly and used it all over her entire face instead of foundation.
Silicone-based foundation is great, especially for those with good skin. When applying foundation, Billy prefers using a foundation brush instead of a makeup sponge. Brushes apply the product more evenly, and don’t absorb as much product.
You don’t need to get caught up in purchasing expensive products. One product Billy raved about is True Color Crème Stick Foundation by Black Opal, a drugstore makeup brand geared toward women of color. This stick foundation has a wide color range and at about $9.00 per stick it’s a real steal. Billy recommended to the makeup artists in the group to buy every color possible for their kits!
When applying makeup, step back a few feet throughout the process, so you can get a different angle on your work.
Billy recommends using several different powders to set foundation, not just one powder. Because of the tendency that colored powders have to oxidize, or change colors, he’ll start with a finely milled, colorless translucent powder to set the foundation. Billy applied translucent powder on the model, taking care never to completely matte down her skin. He often uses orange-based and yellow-based powders on women of color (he mentioned Bobbi Brown’s powders.) If you can’t find these colors in your regular retail stores, then head to a beauty supply store.
Another powder to check out – dual powder foundation compacts, like MAC’s Studio Fix, which you can use dry or wet to achieve lots of coverage. Try using different colors for shading and contouring. Billy applied MAC’s Studio Fix with his favorite brush from his brush line, the #13 highlight brush.
Fine details give your makeup that extra “something.” Billy is known for his work with layers, textures and sheen. Multiple layers applied with finesse take your work to that next level.
Billy takes a few steps back to get a different angle
A Few Tips For Eyes
When working with women of color Billy stays away from brown shades with grey undertones because the colors look ashy. He used a matte, red-based brown and applied the color to the model’s crease. He also used the same color underneath her eyes and as a contour color.
In the crease try using mattes rather than frosted or sparkly colors. Also try using mattes on the brow bone, rather than frosts, to achieve a modern look.
Eye pencils are emollient, which means that after you apply the pencil, it always moves around unless you set it with shadow or powder. You don’t have to set your eyeliner with the same color. Try layering it with different colors to get added dimension.
For eye detail work, use a soft-angled brush, like Billy’s #12 brush. Point the angled edge towards the part where you want the most color to be deposited.
Not everybody needs liner. Try starting with powder applied with a soft-angled brush first, and then decide if you want to follow up with liner.
Try this method to curl lashes: put your finger on the lid, gently lift the lid up, and then place the curler as close to the base of the lashes as possible. Place a finger underneath the base of the curler. Pulse – don’t pinch – as you move the curler along the lashes and upwards. Do this on dry lashes a few times to achieve perfectly curled lashes. Billy prefers Shu Uemura, Shiseido, and Kevyn Aucoin lash curlers. He also likes using L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in Carbon because of its color and consistency.
If you have trouble putting mascara on your bottom lash, try ditching the wand and apply mascara with a small nylon brush instead – Billy used his #9. Load up the brush with lots of mascara, and then layer the product on the root of the bottom lashes. Try getting a good density at the base of the lashes.
Use sheen as a way to add texture. Sheen does not mean sparkle. Forgo products with chunks of glitter! Billy used MAC’s Trace Gold and Rice Paper with the #13 brush. He added contour and texture by placing the sheen product on top of the cheekbone, on the apples, and down the bridge of the nose. It’s important to be conservative and careful when applying sheen products! Don’t go crazy!
MAC’s Fix+ is a great way to settle foundation. It takes the edge off to make it look more natural, as well as setting and smoothing all of the colors and layers.
If you love false lashes, try Ardell’s #53 or #70 for a natural, non-draggy look. Use an eyeliner brush to trace black lash glue on the top lash line, and then apply lashes. You can always cut the lashes, or use just a few bits, or even combine different lashes to get the look you want. Break off the end of a Q-tip and then use the stub to settle the lashes into place.
The finished work … beautiful!
One thing that will separate you from other makeup artists/enthusiasts is not always using lipstick – not everybody needs it. Be aware of what’s in front of you. Look at what the lip color is and what the model has to offer before making the decision to use lipstick.
Billy will often outline the lips with a natural-colored lip liner and then soften the line with a lip brush. He then applied clear lip gloss, like MAC Clear Lip Glass, applied with a lip brush.
To keep a look more modern and fashion forward, try to keep the mouth looking soft. A soft mouth will make your look younger and fresher.
Lighting is key when applying makeup. If you don’t have the right lighting during the application process, your makeup is never going to look right. Light is how you see layers, sheen and texture. Billy travels with a TOTA lamp, a personal light with a tri-pod that folds up for easy travel. A quick warning – these lights get very hot so you’ll have to be careful.
Traveling and Makeup
If you travel a lot, one way to minimize the weight of the products you carry is to use palettes. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on them either. For example, to cut down on the weight of his foundations packaging, Billy gets, clear vitamin boxes, and then mashes down his foundations into the boxes to create a foundation palette.