Makeup Artists Are Doing Their Celebrity Clients’ Makeup Virtually

Devon Abelman

Someone touching your face for an extended period of time, even someone you trust, while they wear a mask or protective face covering is not exactly ideal right now. As celebrities do press for their upcoming projects and star in virtual photoshoots, they're keeping this in mind and skipping face-to-face appointments with their favorite makeup artists in favor of FaceTime sessions.

Makeup artists, like Gita Bass, Katey Denno, and Vincent Oquendo, have been lending their knowledge virtually to their celebrity clients instead of their skilled hands for the most hygienic experience possible. "I think it helps clients to have a professional set of eyes to observe their outfit and the lighting and to then suggest different looks and explain how to execute them," Bass, who works with Laura Dern, Julianne Moore, and Olivia Wilde, tells Allure. "I really miss my clients, so this is the next best thing."

Getting his start at makeup counters and working quickly backstage with Pat McGrath at Fashion Week prepared Oquendo for this moment. "If I'm able to simplify these major looks [for models], then it's easy for me to boil down these red carpet looks and be able to teach them to someone else," he says. 

Denno, on the other hand, has been helping her clients, like Naomi Watts, Beanie Feldstein, and Cristin Milioti, green their beauty routines over FaceTime for years, so guiding her clients virtually has long been part of her job.

Preparing for Appointments

Because many makeup artists have built long-standing relationships with their celebrity clients, Bass, Denno, and Oquendo, in particular, know exactly what their clients keep in their makeup bags, what their aesthetics are, and most importantly, what their skills are. Taking all of this into account, the makeup artists often pick out new, unused products and tools from their personal beauty closets to label, pack up, and send over to their clients ahead of their appointments to make sure they're well prepared.

Usually, the products are as easy to use as possible. Oquendo also only picks products he knows he's used on his clients, such as Jurnee Smollett and Jasmine Cephas Jones, before in tried-and-true shades. He names the Shiesedo Kajal Ink Artist as a common inclusion in the custom kits because the crayon is waterproof, easy to blend, comes with a built-in smudger, and has a fun shade range.

Setting Up Lighting

The hardest part of taking virtual appointments comes up right after it starts: setting up lighting, according to Denno. Trying to assess the situation in someone's house through a screen isn't exactly ideal for effective makeup application. She tries to help her clients set up the best lighting as possible, though. 

"Otherwise, it's just not possible for me to see their work (or for them to see) well enough," Denno explains. "We do a lot of stopping mid-application to hold the camera at arm's length for me to evaluate the shape, blend, and shade choice."

Keeping It Simple

"This is not the moment for me to whip out a big, bombass look," Oquendo jokes. Instead, he prefers to keep the look as simple as possible with colored mascaras, one-and-done metallic shadows, and foolproof liner.

Bass tries to not overcomplicate matter, too. For one of her recent appointments, she decided to keep her client's eyes simple and focus on a bold lip, as it was easier for her client to apply herself.

Show and Tell

Because makeup is such a visual experience, it often requires visual guidance. As the makeup artists break down each step, from slathering on skin care to swiping on mascara, they often have all the same products and tools in front of them to show their clients exactly how to use them.

"I can describe the steps until my lips fall off, but I think the other element is to physically show someone how to do it — this is the brushstroke, this is how to hold the tool," Oquendo says.

Baring With Blurriness

For Bass, the hardest part of the process is not having a clear picture — not only as they're creating the look but also of the final look. Through a screen, you can't pick up on all the fine details. 

At the same time, the usual level of perfection doesn't have to apply in these circumstances. No one can look that closely at the final product unless they are in the same room as the celebrity anyway. "Since most appearances are still virtual at this stage, the makeup doesn't have to be as perfect," Bass says.

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Originally Appeared on Allure

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