As far as we know, there’s almost no such thing as effortless beauty. From facial treatments that leave your complexion dewy and luminous to the perfect winged eyeliner, experts reveal their most-trusted, insider hacks for CR‘s series, Beauty Secrets.
“I like to paint my vision out of somebody as opposed to painting it onto them,” makeup artist Beau Nelson tells CR. “Finding an inner facet of the person I’m working on, understanding who they are, and working with them to bring that facet out.” For his bevy of celebrity clients–including Kristen Stewart, Nicole Richie, and Nathalie Emmanuel–this results in classic and glamorous makeup, often vamped up by a statement eye or lip.
Nelson, who began his career at 14 years old, has honed his craft and eye for perfection throughout his decades in the biz. His philosophy of “using minimal makeup for maximum impact” manifests in editorials that feature flawless skin and red carpet looks that are timeless. A photographer and fine artist to boot, Nelson has a keen understanding of the various technical and visual elements that go into capturing stunning beauty moments.
Here, the artist speaks with CR about elevating makeup, the nuances in application, and transforming products.
How does being a photographer inform your approach to makeup?
“Understanding the entire process from start to finish is pretty interesting because it allows you to know if I do this to the skin, I can take it further in the retouching, or I have to fix [this] now because I don’t want to spend hours retouching. Things like shiny skin in places you don’t want are annoying and never really quite right if you’re trying to fix it in Photoshop, so it’s made me even more of a perfectionist than I already was with the makeup. But it’s also allowed me more freedom with that, because I can take the makeup to a different place with the post-process if I want to.”
Much of your work features clean and polished yet natural-looking skin. How do you achieve that?
“My process is leaving the skin bare whenever I can get away with that, and building coverage in incremental steps. I’ll start with a really sheer wash of foundation, and then I’ll build with a more medium coverage or full coverage where I need them. It might take a few minutes longer, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Using different textures of products really helps as well. Most of the time, you want the middle of the face to be semi-matte, and then the outside perimeter to have a bit of a glow. The illusion of moisture or gloss is what makes skin look real again. Even if you do use a lot of makeup, spraying a moisture spray over top or highlighting with something glossy on the cheek bone that’s not metallic will melt the makeup in a way that makes it look more like skin texture again, makes it look more believable.”
How have you evolved as a makeup artist?
“When I was younger, I really was a lot more creative with makeup than I am even now. You’re experimenting, you want to use every product in your kit. Now, instead of using a bunch of different colors, I am more interested in using different textures. I don’t apply makeup the same way any single time. I’m always trying to learn something while I’m doing things. There’s a makeup artist named Frances Hathaway who uses brushes to elevate it to an art form. The way she puts the brush into the products, the way she places it–she makes the brush work for her. That’s something that I think about a lot. Often, the brushes that I choose are not meant for the thing I’m using them for. There’s little things that you pick up along the way from watching the people around you.”
What are some of your favorite products or tools?
“The Real Techniques Setting Brush, it’s a small-ish, round brush, is great for using powder underneath the eyes, but I use it for almost everything. I use it for cream blush, highlighter, contouring, all-over eyeshadow, blending out concealer. It’s the most easy multi-purpose brush. Mascara, I’ve always been loyal to L’Oreal Carbon Black Voluminous. It’s easy, it’s the blackest, I like the brush on it. The Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer, but I have a tip with that one. Makeup artists are constantly taking things out and paletting them, which consumers wouldn’t necessarily do. When I’ve taken [the concealer] out of its original packaging and I rework it into a palette, taking the spatula and moving the product back and forth to redistribute the oils through it, it becomes a totally different product than what you’ve been used to. That concealer can be quite dry and difficult to use, but when you’ve mixed it up it becomes much easier and much more seamless.”
What are some other ways you’ve learned how to transform products to work for you?
“I’m always mixing stuff. Milk makes these bronzing sticks that I like by themselves, but if I want them to be a little more glossy, I’ll rub a bit of the Chanel Baume Essentiel on a powder or blush brush, then I’ll run it over the bronzer and apply it. It gives you more of a glossier, cream bronzy look. You can do that with any cream blush that you’re finding is more matte than glossy. Danessa Myricks ColorFix is another one of my favorite things. I’m a very lazy makeup artist and I love a cream product that can do triple duty and stay in place. They’re great as eyeshadow, blush, lip colors, and eyeshadow bases. Because they’re a liquid formula, they melt into the skin. With a natural skin tone, a taupe or brown, they blend so seamlessly that you’d never know that you’re wearing eyeshadow.”
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createdAt:Thu, 27 Aug 2020 13:48:22 +0000