Category:  pro talk


Pro Talk: Celebrity Hairstylist Mika Fowler

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“I like to create something – and I like girls. I mean, not sexually, but I like to make girls pretty so hair styling was a natural profession for me. I started over 20 years ago in Japan and my boss is like Vidal Sassoon there and he taught me haircutting and American culture. I worked in Japan for ten years and then I moved to LA fifteen years ago.

When I was young, I was very picky and I didn’t like anyone to cut my hair more than what I asked for. I once had a very bad experience and had to leave the chair in the middle of the haircut. I was about 17 years old and I asked for half an inch to be cut but they cut close to two inches. It was really shocking! But hasn’t this happened to all girls? When you cut on dry hair, like me, my clients have the power to control the process. We can create together.

I call the type of cuts I do “freestyle dry haircutting.” Dry haircutting is already very popular in Japan, but I didn’t really start doing this technique until I moved to LA. This country has so many different types of women with different types of hair textures, so dry haircutting is easier to fit with a person’s personality, lifestyle and hair quality. Cutting on dry hair is very precise. I don’t cut a lot from the base. I cut the base but then I go back on very straight hair and I look for the unbalance, what doesn’t appeal to your bone structure. I then adjust it to your bones. I blow dry and straighten with a flat iron before cutting to see how each person’s hair moves and to see the quality of their ends. Sometimes, it is more obvious to see damaged ends this way. I usually see how the hair falls naturally. The key to this haircut is how your hair falls, how your hair moves, and your bone structure. If you ignore the bone structure, the haircut won’t last very long.

Anyone with thin hair should not be so adventurous. You should understand your hair and keep it clean and basic. You don’t want to give it too much texture. For summer, it’s popular to have face line fringe, especially this year. Everyone is going shorter, a shorter version of their current length.

With curly hair, you want to see how the hair is going to “shrink” [editor’s note: shrink refers to the way the curls dry up]. Face line fringe is good for this type of hair, but it should start from lower cheekbones or at the lip. This way, you can enjoy your hair curly or blown out straight.

People with thick hair have more potential, as long as your hair isn’t kinky curly. If you cut too short or too layered, your hair will frizz and end up looking like you have a bowl on your head. As long as you have a good balance though, you can enjoy many possibilities.

I usually convince people with very curly hair to wear their hair natural. I do less layers but extra texture by cutting into the hair, vertically. I don’t cut curly hair in a blunt way, I use the scissors like a laser, cutting up and down, and then blend it together.”

— Celebrity Hairstylist Mika Fowler, who has worked with Olivia Munn, Nina Dobrev, Emma Roberts, Rosario Dawson, and AnaLynne McCord.


Pro Talk: RMS Beauty’s Rose-Marie Swift

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“On my mother’s vanity there was this big round box with these marabou feathers, and I was always fascinated by them. They used to use the feathers to put on powder. She also had a tube of red lipstick beside it and I thought that was the coolest, most elegant thing I have ever seen in my life. I remember putting the feathers into the powder and applying this super thick layer all over my face until I was completely white. Then I tried putting on the lipstick perfectly but I think I ended up looking like a demented geisha girl.

Growing up I would paint my two sisters. I was addicted to the Munsters and The Addams Family and I would copy those haircuts or Spock’s point on “Star Trek”. I once I got into big trouble because I cut the point on my sister’s forehead crooked. It looked ridiculous; I basically cut off all her hair. I was always goofing around, putting makeup on myself and changing my skin tone. I wanted to be like Lily Munster and I would take powder from my mom and add food coloring to make it green and put that on my face. I was obsessed. Not only was I was obsessed with the most beautiful things in makeup but I was really into things that were witchy or gothic looking. In the 70s, punk and goth were in and I went full-on with that whole look.

My sister knew a gentleman who owned a whole bunch of hotels in Vancouver, Canada – where I’m from – and in the hotel there were strip clubs. This was during the early 70s so these were classy clubs, more like burlesque with the costumes and a grand stage. It wasn’t like it is now. I would do really cool makeup on the girls and they would be in costumes and dance around. My sister at the time was learning to be an esthetician and he said, “why don’t you girls come to the strip club and teach these dancers how to take care of their skin and do their makeup.” My sister would do their skin and I would do their makeup, depending on what their costume looked liked. While doing this, a magazine heard about me and my first cover was with a very well known model from Europe who had come to visit her grandmother in Vancouver. I just kept getting work after that.

I never went to school to be a makeup artist and to be honest, if you want to be a really good makeup artist, you have to have the eye. If you don’t have the eye, you can go to school all you want but you won’t get the eye for it. In fact, I’ve never even assisted. I wished I did because I probably would have learned a lot more than I do know now but I definitely have my own style. I’m really into beautiful skin and I work at highlighting the skin, giving glow and texture. Minimal on the eyes and I focus on one feature — luxe lashes or a big brow or a strong contour — but it’s never a full face of glamatron makeup. That’s not my style and that’s not what I’m known for. The natural skin look comes from me growing up in Vancouver with clean air, clean water, and clean food. In a way, I’ve always worshipped that end of beauty in a woman because we’ve really gone overboard in how much makeup we put on ourselves and also what’s in the makeup. We don’t pay enough attention to how toxic some of these ingredients are.

My career started with the Vancouver Magazine cover and I kept getting all of these local jobs from that exposure. Once I got bored of that, I thought, where to next in Canada? So I went to Toronto and did everything there was to do in Toronto and I remember working with Robert Sloon and even Lloyd Simmonds, who is now at YSL. Canadians have a nice little record of doing well for themselves in the beauty department. Then I went to Europe and cruised around in Germany and I used makeup as a way to travel around and not really care about what I was doing. I was literally learning as I went. Depending on the job and whether or not I could grasp the idea, was how I went about learning.

Through my travels and experimenting with different jobs like German catalogues and covers for German Vogue and British Vogue, I kept thinking to myself, I need to continue moving on and that’s when I thought, how about New York? At this point, I started getting sick and it only worsened. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, I had panic and anxiety attacks, I couldn’t sleep at night, I was tossing and turning, I couldn’t digest food, there were a whole slew of symptoms. In all honesty, this could have been anything but I got a hair analysis and a very extensive analysis of my blood work. When I went to pick it up, the technician asked if I worked in the cosmetic industry and I said, “Yes, why?” He said, “I see this a lot. It’s the chemicals in these cosmetics and I’ve seen a few other people with the same results from the cosmetic industry.”

From that point on, I started to really study and research and began asking questions. I ended up starting a website in 2004, talking about the whole cosmetic industry and some of the toxins used. The website was called and I received a lot of press from it. A lot of people were asking me, “What should we use?” and that had me looking at these so-called natural brands. At that point in my life, I was becoming a raw foodist and thought these natural brands weren’t really up to par. I started  playing around making my own formulations. With the help of a friend of mine in Canada who used to work for a paint factory, I began to formulate my own products. I was still experimenting with the models, trying to figure out what was and what wasn’t working, and I finally found a lab that would do a minimum run.

Here in New York, I landed Victoria’s Secret because of Gisele. I would put olive oil on the model’s skin when we were shooting, instead of vaseline and baby oil. Their skin was so soft and it photographed beautifully as well. I started getting known as the Organic Girl. I didn’t want to use harsh chemicals on their faces and the girls started listening to me. I introduced an organic skincare line to some of these girls, so my credibility was becoming better known. Gisele is a big advocate for clean makeup and healthy eating and we would be on set, I would be doing her astrology chart, and she’d be requesting me for jobs. She has stood by me this whole time and I love her to death. She has been very supportive and I have to admit, one of the most supportive people in my life. Miranda Kerr has also been a big advocate of my line. I met Miranda Kerr through Victoria’s Secret. Her and I are inseparable, I take care of her little dog Frankie, and she has her own organic skincare line, which I also promote with RMS Beauty. We have a synergy that works really well. Karoline Kurkova is another one, Evita, Anne V., they’re all using healthy makeup and a lot of these girls will wear my products in their daily lives.

As a makeup artist you still have your synthetic colors and heavy silicones for when you need to make the body really, really shiny — there’s a slew of products you really need to have to be a professional makeup artist, so you can’t go all green in your kit. The green stuff I keep for everyday use for the girls. My products work great for photo shoots but they do have their limitations. If I need to do extra coverage, I’ll use heavier coverage but I’ll add my Un Cover Ups into it so it doesn’t dry out and there’s more of a glow to the skin. It preserves your face better throughout the day. When I do Gisele for the MET, I use all my own makeup except for the mascara. Her skin is beautiful and when you have beautiful skin, you don’t want to cover it up with a mask. Your skin needs to breathe, it’s a living force, and Gisele is the perfect example to go to the MET Ball not completely looking like a made-up mannequin. She looks glowing and makes her relatable to the public. People love her. She’s not threatening, she’s not sculpted to death by contour and highlights. You can do that but it has to be minimal, so your skin looks radiant.

I knew I was doing well when I started working with the big guys, like Mario Sorrenti, Mert and Marcus and Glen Luchford. These people are the best in the business and they have their team, but I find that I’m in the running when a member of their team is missing. That alone has given me a sense of acceptance that I’m good enough to be working with these people. These same people also hire me because they want beautiful makeup and not something way off the wall. I’m pretty good at what I do and Sorrenti, for example, loves how I do skin. There’s never a problem when I work with him because he really likes my style. One of my best jobs was when I did Self Service Magazine with Mario in Fall/Winter 2007, with all the big girls — Edita, Lara Stone, Liya Kebede. A couple different covers came out and that was my first big job with him. It helped my career tremendously. That was my “Aha!” moment.

Everything with RMS came as a surprise because when I started, I had no sales people, no PR, I had nothing. I just wanted to go by word-of-mouth, just to see where the line went organically. I launched the line at the end of 2008 with 18 products — 6 eyeshadows, 6 lip-to-cheek, 3 Un Cover Ups, 2 lip balms, and a luminizer. Hands down, the luminizer is my best selling product and in second, the Un Cover Up. I will be going on QVC with my Un Cover Up. A lot of people don’t realize that I finance all of this myself. If I didn’t, the product wouldn’t be as good as it is today because I obsess over the ingredient quality to perfection. We tried it with cheaper organic ingredients and it doesn’t turn out the same. The quality of these ingredients is like a life or death situation, as to how the end product turns out. It’s unbelievable. We have a new product coming out really, really soon. We just introduced a beauty oil, which is amazing and we have new powders that rival the Make Up For Ever HD Powder coming out too.

I couldn’t not do makeup anymore. I have to do makeup. It inspires me to continue with the line. Every time I work with a model, I try something new and they tell me they want it. So I also have a bronzer coming out and I used it on a model the other day and she wanted to take it home with her. It’s really nice to hear your peers approving what you’re doing and supporting you. It’s an amazing feeling.” – Celebrity makeup artist and founder of RMS Beauty, Rose-Marie Swift

*top image: Model Doutzen Kroes and Rose-Marie Swift; bottom image: Rose-Marie Swift


Pro Talk: Deborah Lippmann

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“I was a nail biter as a kid, to my mid to late teens. It was something I was always ashamed of and I remember this statement my doctor made to me when I was a kid, that not only was nail biting a dirty and unsanitary habit but that it really said a lot about me when I met somebody because your hands are your greeters. When you meet someone, you look them in the eye and then reach for a handshake. In doing so, their eyes will see your hands and nails and it really says a lot about you. I really struggled with it and tried to stop biting my nails and it was something I didn’t recover from for a really long time. When I was in college and pursuing a music degree, I landed a job with a group that did industrial shows and for our first dress rehearsal, I had this beautiful, glamorous Vegas costume with rhinestones and feathers and a head dress. They handed me a microphone and I had these nubbed nails. The director took me to get a manicure the next day, but a manicure wasn’t going to do the job on short notice, so instead, I had artificial nails put on. They were porcelain nails back in the day and later, I instantly felt different about myself. I felt so much more confident, I didn’t even realize how ashamed I’d been of my hands and how I was constantly hiding them by putting them in my pockets. Only then did I start using flowery gestures with my hands. I couldn’t believe how powerful something as small as a fingernail could be.

After I finished college, I was working as a singer and a lot of my jobs were mostly weddings and bat mitzvahs but I really wanted to do theater and jazz clubs. I decided I didn’t want to make my living doing weddings and bat mitzvahs and instead, I wanted a day job like all my friends who waited tables. I started waiting tables and literally, and physically, I dropped a plate of pasta on someone’s head. I thought, “Wow, I’m not talented at this at all and it’s borderline dangerous.” I had to think of something else. I went to my Mom and said, “I know I have a college degree and I know it killed you to get me through this but I want to go to cosmetology school. It’s my other love. I’ll keep singing but I need to find another love as a day job.” So I went to cosmetology school and at the beginning I was much better at hair and makeup than I was at nails. I’d done my makeup and hair my whole life but I’d never given myself a manicure because I had artificial nails. On that note, I had to really, really work at it and it’s been a great life lesson for me – things that you really want and that are important to you, no matter what it is in life, it takes hard work and perseverance to get good at anything.

I did nails locally in Arizona, which is where I grew up, and then I moved to Los Angeles to sing and study more music. I was there for a few years and I worked at the Elizabeth Arden Salon on Rodeo Drive and that was where I had my first taste of holding hands with celebrities. I was just remembering the other day that I did Betty White’s nails every now and then in that salon many, many years ago which was pretty cool. There were celebrities and fashion-forward, high-end ladies that came into the salon, who were very confident and knew what they wanted. It was then I realized that I needed to become really, really good at what I did, because these women knew the difference between a good manicure and a bad manicure. I always loved the holding-hands-with-someone part. Manicuring is such an intimate service. You’re sitting across from each other at a very small table and holding hands with strangers. When doing hair, you’re standing behind the chair and speaking with customers through the mirror, if you’re doing makeup, you’re often close to your customers but there’s a brush in between you. When you’re doing manicures, you’re physically touching somebody, a stranger. It’s a very delicate art form to make somebody feel comfortable, because you’re really in their space. Some of my best girlfriends have come out of my manicure chair, because you spend so much time sitting and talking to them. It was something I learned from one of my first employers, B’Anne. She owned a day spa in Scottsdale and she taught me that manicures are such an intimate experience and that I needed to treat it as such, and treat the customers in a special way because a stranger is coming to you, sitting in close proximity, and you’re going to hold hands with them. That’s something that has always been very important to me – making someone feel comfortable when they sit in my chair. I try to teach people that when I’m training manicurists now, I feel like it’s a really sad, lost art in many of the salons I visit; communicating with your client, that feeling of becoming girlfriends is an opportunity you have. Even if you’re not going to be friends outside of the salon, you should feel like they’re your girlfriends in the 30 minutes or hour that you’re with them.

When I moved to New York in the early 90s, I worked at Frederic Fekkai in Bergdorf Goodman and I had very fancy ladies sitting in my chair, women who worked at Fortune 500 companies who were very high profile and powerful people. What I learned at that time was no matter how famous, wealthy, fancy, or powerful these people were, they were all just girls who needed a little attention and calmness in their lives. Whether it was someone who needed just a manicure or someone to hold their hand and help them breathe a little slower and I know it sounds really deep but that’s why I still love it. It’s a really special career.

I moved to New York to pursue music. To work with better jazz musicians and to get better at my craft. I was singing at night and working at Frederic Fekkai during the day and every week I would be wandering Bergdorf spending my paycheck and when I went to the cosmetics department and if you were really into nails, there wasn’t anywhere to go to get everything you wanted. You couldn’t get cuticle treatments, there were no polish removers, there were no files, or comprehensive nail care lines at all. So these women that came to our salon – we were using Chanel nail polish at the time which was rare – weren’t able to purchase any nail care or polish from the salon, but instead had to go to the cosmetics department and find out then that they couldn’t buy everything they wanted. I thought, “If I was this woman who was totally stressed out, really busy, and wanted a really high quality product all in one place, I couldn’t get it.” As a customer, it wasn’t possible. That was when my idea for the brand came.

Bobbi Brown was one of my clients at Bergdorf’s and her makeup line was also fairly new at the time and she loved the manicure I gave her. She ended up calling Allure magazine to tell them of a new manicurist and that they should come in and check me out. I didn’t know she did this and so they came in undercover and liked what they saw. Next thing I knew, they put me in their beauty directory; I’d only been in New York for a year so it was all so crazy. I had moved to New York with a purpose and that was to sing but after this Allure shoot, celebrity assistants would read about me and people that were traveling would start calling for me and pretty soon, I had a celebrity following. That Allure mention was the beginning of my New York chapter.

I was still singing at the time and even now, Martha Stewart hires me to sing at her parties. I would do her nails and then later, we would go to a party with my band to perform. There are periods where I don’t get to sing as often as I would like but just last week I sang at a event and recently at a big fundraising luncheon, and for the Home Shopping Network, a big black tie gala. Singing is still very much a part of who I am and what I do.

After being recognized by celebrities, an agent called me and I thought he had heard me sing somewhere. He told me he was an agent and that he’d like to represent me. I thought to myself, this is amazing and asked him where he heard me sing. He was confused and said, “Hear you sing?” I just assumed he heard me sing and wanted to represent me as a singer. Instead, he wanted to represent me as a manicurist. I didn’t even know that existed.

Everyone that I work with today – hair, makeup, the stylists and the talent – are famous. I understand the level of detail for what I do is important but I also understand now, that I need to be in and out and not linger when I’m not needed but being there immediately when I am. It’s a lot more than polishing a pretty nail.

When these photo shoots became more frequent in the 90s, I decided to leave the salon and go freelance. It was during this time that I was working with Bobbi, Laura Mercier, that I was being written about in magazines and everybody said to me, “You need to have your own product line.” On sets, I sometimes I had to make shades. I remember working with Polly Mellen, legendary editor at Allure magazine, and I was told to bring yellow polish to the set. I brought 10 bottles of yellow that day and she looked at all of them and none of them were the right shade. She asked me to fix it. I didn’t know how to fix it but under pressure and duress, you do what you have to do. I listened carefully to what she wanted and I started to play with the polish I had, mixing some white, mixing some clear until I came up with a color she liked. I never aspired to make colors, but after that, I thought it was really cool.

Soon after, one of my clients was to attend an award show and I wanted her to have something special so I mixed a color for her. She really loved it and everyone else really liked the colors I would mix. The market for caring for your nails, hands, and feet started to grow, along with all of these salons that started to pop up. One day, a friend of mine, Loretta, and I were at the pharmacy shopping for makeup and I kept saying, “If I were to do a nail polish, I would do..” Loretta looked at me and said, “Stop saying if you would ever. Either do it or stop talking to me about it.” Sometimes you need a girlfriend to look you in the eye and call your bluff. I’ve been thinking about all sorts of ideas for years and and I wanted women to have a full line of nail care products and not just the convenience of the $8 polish change. I also wanted high fashion colors with good ingredients, such as aucoumea which deters ridges from growing in your nails, biotin, and green tea are all infused in all of my color. So a lot of brands put beauty treatments in their base coat or their top coat and I don’t know if any other brands do what we do, so your nails are going to be stronger and the polish is going wear longer.

I told my brother about it when I first started to think more seriously and he agreed to help with my logo and we were looking at different fonts. I was planning my wedding at the time and my husband told me, “You’re going to do this over my dead body.” He’s now the President of the company. It’s a family affair, the 3 of us and now we have an office with 2 floors, 13 years later and a bunch of employees who say they’re Lippmann for life, which we love. Last night was a really exciting for us when we launched our first lip color called Bite Me, in collaboration with HBO inspired by the TV show True Blood. It’s a lip and nail set with great treatments.

When I was in cosmetology school a friend told me, “I know you love hair and makeup but you’re a singer. You stand up all night to perform, do you really want to stand up 8-10 hours a day and then go to a gig? Don’t you want to just sit down?” That was what really guided me towards doing nails and I couldn’t be happier. It’s funny how life works.” – Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann

PD_Ginnifer Goodwin_Young Hollywood

Pro Talk: Celebrity Makeup Artist Pati Dubroff

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“I was 10 years old and I distinctly remember sitting in front of my mother’s makeup mirror and I being totally intrigued by what was going on — the packages, the colors, the textures, the transformational abilities, the womanly mystique of what that whole area was all about. I remember thinking, I want to do this when I grow up. I didn’t really know what “this” was and kids now are so savvy and really have an understanding of what happens behind the scenes and in front of the scenes, and I didn’t put it together that women in magazines and women in film were being painted by makeup artists. It was something I discovered later, in my teens. I was always the girl whose house you would come to to get ready to go to a party or any kind of school function. It was always the girl time that I remember, having more fun getting ready than actually being out. It was inevitable. I love that sense of camaraderie that happened in the getting-ready stages. So, I was always the go-to girl in school and I remained very focused on that.

After I left high school in New Jersey, I moved to Manhattan and I searched out my first makeup job. My first job as a makeup artist was at Bergdorf Goodman at the Yves Saint Laurent counter. I was very young and I think I might have lied to get the job. I was in heaven. I was doing makeup all day long, on all different kinds of faces, and working with a brand that was incredibly prestigious and very makeup driven. I learned a lot about application during that time and I also started to dabble in testing, assisting, and seeing what it would take to do makeup in other environments, other than a department store. I remember I assisted Bobbi Brown, very early on, on a show she was doing and then I had the opportunity to work at MTV as a freelancer. This was during the VJ era, when they were a big deal. Will Smith was a VJ, it was a fun time! So, I was in the studio part-time working with the VJs, like John Levitt. It was such a cool place to be. I was also working on no-budget music videos for Malcolm McLaren and just really cool stuff. I also started to cast, meeting with modeling agencies and hair and makeup agencies, because I was looking to do more. Then I had an opportunity to assist Francois Nars on a big fashion show. He had 15 or 20 assistants, and after the show, he came up to me and asked a little about me. It was a time when his full-time assistant was moving on, and he asked if I wanted to come and work with him. Right away I was his number one assistant. I stayed with him for a year and half and he definitely was my greatest mentor. It was a time when he was doing every single fashion show. We would go to Milan, Paris and New York, and we would also do the Couture. We did everything from Prada, to Gucci, to Valentino, to Calvin, to lots of Versace, and I was on-site with him working with the masters, including [Richard] Avedon and Irving Penn. We would work with the stars of the day — all of the supermodels and also Madonna. It was an incredible training ground and he was such a generous teacher. I still think he should be opening up a makeup school and every time I see him, I ask him when that school is opening because he’s a master teacher. I feel like everything I learned, I learned from him, in regards to technique, set etiquette, and practical things like where to do makeup. It sounds so simple but people don’t know that if they do their makeup in an area where the lighting isn’t ideal, the makeup isn’t going to look good anywhere. Things like that. I learned everything from him.

After a year and half with him, I decided to move to Paris to work on my own career. It was really fortunate that a lot of the people I met through Francois — editors and photographers we worked with, like Peter Lindbergh — were willing to give me a chance to be me. Peter Lindbergh was definitely one of the greatest influences on the style of makeup that I enjoyed doing and the type of women I enjoyed creating. The way Peter likes to capture a woman, and the type of woman Peter is known for capturing so well, is very much in line with my aesthetic. With Peter, he very much likes to see the texture of the skin — it shouldn’t be powdered, it shouldn’t be perfect. It should be very real and vibrant. Not grainy, because there’s a polish and a beauty to it, but it’s not about untouchable. It’s almost so alive, that you feel you can touch it. That’s what I like. I like the skin to look like skin. Even if there’s foundation there, you don’t know it’s there. I like the eyes to draw you in and a sultriness around the eye, and it doesn’t necessarily involve powders. One thing I learned from Francois was to be very good and fast and what I learned from Peter, is that you don’t need to be powder-perfect to be beautiful. He was a great influence and the fact that he was one of the first major photographers that I got to work with on my own, was a really big deal. It continues to be, even after 20 years working with him. Every time I get booked with him, I have the biggest smile on my face.

When I moved back to New York, a lot of the bookings I would get were actor-related, more than model-related. My boyfriend, and now husband, lived in Los Angeles and I lived in New York, and I was really resistant to being an “LA makeup artist”. I had a lot of pride in my New York fashion existence but, for love I started to look more and more into California and practically speaking, I was being booked more for actors. It started to dawn on me that actors were also becoming cover models and why not go to the source, so to speak, and also where my relationship was? I moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and I was on the airplane making my big, official move when I get a phone call from my agent at the time, saying, “Call me right away”. I call back and I remember standing at baggage and they said, “You’ve just been booked for the Vanity Fair Hollywood cover with Annie Leibovitz. It was my first time working with Annie, it was my first time working on a Vanity Fair cover, and I just remember being floored, thinking, “Okay, this is God speaking. I made the right choice.” Here I am, just landed, and I’ve just been booked for this Hollywood cover. I definitely believe in looking for signs and that was a huge sign that I had made the right choice. That was in 2001 and I’m going onto 12 years being in California and it was definitely the wisest choice — for my health, well-being, my life, and my career.

I’ve come into my own, in a way, and working with actors, it’s all about making this one woman her most beautiful version of herself, for whatever the situation is. Whereas with fashion, it’s more about creating a trend. Sometimes the circus of fashion would turn me off a bit, because it wasn’t my thing; whereas working with a celebrity, we can all relate to wanting to look our absolute best. There are some celebrities that I have long-term relationships with, like Kate Bosworth who I’ve been working with since her Blue Crush days. It’s amazing with her, because I’ve watched her grow into this incredibly beautiful, stylish, and smart woman. She’s so inspiring on so many levels and she’s my favorite Barbie, where I can do anything with. I’ve also had long-term relationships with Kirsten Dunst and Julianne Moore. I love the loyal, evolving relationships I have with these really talented women. It’s also really fun to meet new people. I just spent, almost two months of my life, with Charlize [Theron] doing all kinds of press tours, photo shoots, and really enjoying every second of her and making her more beautiful. I’m really inspired by her as a woman and as a talent.

Doing makeup for celebrities, you have to think about the theme and the scenario. Is it day-time, is it evening; is it natural light, is it a studio; what’s the movie about, what is the feel of the movie? If it’s dark and gritty, maybe you don’t want them to look dark and gritty. You need to know what the parameters are, feeling the environment out, and then making choices. Most obviously, what are they wearing and you also need to think what they’ll be most comfortable in all day. Some people don’t like a lipstick on all day. Sometimes for a red carpet event, a woman won’t want to be responsible for maintenance, so you want to do makeup that they don’t have to think about. Other people don’t mind having a really strong look, like Kate Bosworth for the Met Ball, where she would have to make sure that blackberry lipstick wasn’t all over teeth and her face all night. There’s all these different factors in play, but for me it’s about (a). making their skin looking juicy, gorgeous, and natural; and (b). what’s the vibe? Something playful with color? And you don’t need to be young to play with color. For example, Julianne [Moore], I can do a really bright teal eyeliner on her, that I would also use on someone who is 20, but done appropriately to who she is and where she is in her life.

I’ve worked with a few cosmetic brands as a spokesperson and I’ve dabbled in product development with those brands. I’m definitely interested in the world of product development, putting together a brand, and I’ve been in development on my own brand. I naively thought it was going to be something quick and easy, and a few years in, it’s really hard work. Almost like giving birth, but it’s the longest pregnancy I’ve ever had. I hope all the pieces with come into place and it will come to fruition. If that particular concept doesn’t, I know there will be another concept, whether it’s with an existing brand and I’m working with them doing some kind of product development, as an Artistic Director, for example. I love that and that’s what I really want to do next. I love doing makeup day-to-day, but I know I have so much more to offer because it’s really easy for me to communicate to a consumer, to a reader, how to do their makeup, how to feel their best, and how to be empowered by their beauty. I want to continue to educate and inspire using my voice through a brand that makes sense.” – Celebrity Makeup Artist Pati Dubroff

*top image: Pati Dubroff and Ginnifer Goodwin; bottom image: Pati Dubroff


Pro Talk: Tracey Cunningham

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“I first realized I wanted to be a hairdresser when I was 8 or 9 years old and I would do my Mom’s hair like the girls from Charlie’s Angels, Farrah Fawcett or Jaclyn Smith. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and it was in highschool that I met this girl from Norway and she just looked so blah. I looked at her and said, “You need to dye your hair either really dark or really light.” So we picked out a box of dye that we thought would suit her and we colored her hair. The next week at school she was such a huge success and it was at that moment that I realized then how important color was. That was a very Clueless moment; “Oh okay, I get it now. I get why people color their hair.” That was kind of a big deal.

I moved out to California and of course, I got a little lost and I wasn’t doing hair. Instead, I started working for Bette Midler as a nanny to her daughter Sophie and my favorite moments were when Robert Ramos would come over and style her hair. I still think he’s one of the greatest. He just styled her hair so amazingly and I told Bette that I wanted to style her hair in the mornings, every morning. Robert did her hair for all her big events and right away, she let me style her hair in the mornings. My formal training up until that point included doing hair for my Mom and my friends.

Bette paid for me to go to beauty school, which was great. I walked into Estillo Salon where Robert worked and he told me to go to the cheapest school because you have to assist for so long after. Not an expensive school like Vidal Sassoon, just any school will do. And that’s what I did, I went to Marinello’s and it was fine. I realized later that the kids that went to Vidal Sassoon had a much stronger knowledge with hair cutting and were just more knowledgeable overall; but I did assist for a long time after school, so it worked out fine.

When I finished school, I went straight to Art Luna Salon and I assisted Sherry and Art Luna and Sherry decided she was going to start taking Saturdays off, so I would come in and work on Saturdays. It was a bit of a risk because Art didn’t work on Saturdays either, so no one was really watching me. No one was seeing what I could do. One day Art stopped in and he saw me working and he said, “Oh my God, you should be on the floor. You’re really good.” I was really scared because I wasn’t sure if anyone would come and pay me to co their hair, but Art was amazing. For the first six months he was building me and I was doing really well, he gave me Portia de Rossi, Angie Featherstone and Nanci Ryder, who loved my blow dries. Nanci sent me to do Renee Zellweger for the Tonight Show and Renee loved my blow dries, which was good news. Then I started doing her color. At that point I had Portia, Angie, and Renee as clients and then one day Harper’s Bazaar came in and saw me with all these girls because, as luck would have it, I happened to be doing them at the same time. Harper’s Bazaar ended up writing about me and I still have clients that come to me from that interview. That was a long time ago, around 1999 or maybe earlier. Nicky and Sherry Hale, two of my favorite clients, mother and daughter, came to me from that article and I still see them.

After Art Luna, I moved to Sally Hershberger and I was there for quite awhile. I was nervous when I began; I was kind of an outsider and no one knew me, so it was like being the new kid at school and no one wants you to sit at their lunch table. They initially hired me for three days a week and I said, “Well, if I have a client that wants to come in on a Friday, is that okay?” So I thought I would be working three days a week, but I can tell you now, I never worked part-time because people would always call for me — “can I have Tracey on Friday, can I have Tracey on Saturday, can I have Tracey on Thursday?” I was really apprehensive about leaving Art because I  thought I would fail. I also lost a lot of clients too because Art was such good friends with these people that came to his shop. Later, I also gained clients of my own. I worked my butt off. I never said no. Around this time, Allure Magazine did an interview with me, which was so awesome because it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I gained so many clients from it. It was amazing. So I would like to thank Bette Midler, Nanci Ryder,  Harper’s Bazaar and Allure!

When I do color, I try to do what nature would do naturally. I do client requests too, for example, a client said to me yesterday, “I want my hair very, very blond and very chunky.” I said, “Ok,” and she said, “Nothing fine.” Then afterwards, she asked me what this bit of color was and I told her, “That’s the chunk.” So you follow what your clients say but at the same time, you need to put your own spin on it. I spend a lot of time looking at natural hair color, it’s my obsession. How it naturally grows out, how it naturally comes to be. Like when people don’t color their hair, they have natural highlights, natural red heads, natural brunettes, and how the sun would naturally highlight hair.

I used to work with Neil Wiesberg at Art Luna and he and Amanda George had teamed up to form Neil George. They got this space and became partners and I said I was going to leave John Frieda because I wanted something a little more low key, a little less corporate. Neil was telling me about this great new space and I ended up going there. I had a great job, I was the first one there and the last to leave. Then I thought I really wanted to open my own place. I had people begging me to do a salon with them. I had backers for my own salon and then Byron [Williams] had asked me to come over to be a partner. We’ve had Bryon and Tracey for 3.5 years and it’s been a great ride.

I’m opening up my own salon. It’s going to be called MECHE and I’m partnering with Neil Weisberg. Neil and I work really well together and Byron and I work really well together. But I’m really excited because I feel like I should be opening up my own place; This is where I should be. Meche means highlight in French. It could either mean a lock of hair or highlight. For example, if you were to say “I’m going to get my highlights done,” it would be the same as “I’m going to get my meche done.”

Color advice I would give: Less is more, meaning don’t go crazy. Be sure you really, really want to do something before you do it. Highlights are not a big deal. You can go crazy on your highlights because you can always low light them. For example, somebody going from blond, who has always been a blond and people see as a blond, and they themselves see as a blond, decides to go with a trend like ombre, red, dark brown, etc. I need them to make sure they really want to do that because when you’re a blond and you’re a natural blond, they tell me, “Please don’t overlap on my hair, I don’t want it to be damaged.” Well, color correction is basically a big overlap and you really have to make sure that’s what you want.

I used to do a lot of styling and I’ve traveled with Renee Zellweger all over the world and Reese Witherspoon as well. I just did Amanda Peet for the cover of Self Magazine last year. I’ve done a lot of editorial but color is my real passion. I love styling hair but I don’t think I’m a Robert Ramos or an Andy Lecompte. I loved the travel but I also had to make a decision because my own clients would suffer when I’m away for two weeks. Being a colorist, I don’t go on tour, or go on set, or go backstage. Jennifer Lopez had me come to the set to do her video and I was out of mind with excitement. I was so excited. Today I’m going with Kate Beckinsale to the Ellen Show to style her hair and I’m so excited. I’m usually at the salon or in their bathroom. I don’t get to see the glamor of it all. But if you want to build a good business you’re either a salon hairdresser or a set hairdresser. I personally like the security of the salon.” — Tracey Cunningham; @traceycolorist



PRO TALK: Makeup Artist Jillian Dempsey

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“The first memories I have about makeup would have to be when I would “steal” my mother’s makeup products to experiment with as a child. I’ve always admired her sense of style and beauty. When I was very young, I developed an interest in painting. Mixing colors inspired me to create new shades, and that sort of segued into me experimenting with makeup application. I don’t think I realized it could be a profession until I was a teenager – it was just something I genuinely enjoyed. My mother was instrumental in helping feed my creative side.

In the beginning of my career, I worked on a lot of photo shoots where I was assisting other artists. Over time, I graduated from being an assistant to working independently. When I got my first solo credit, I was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was a big moment for me, and a major breakthrough in my career [Editor’s note: this was a Vanity Fair shoot with actress Brooke Shields].

My mother is my beauty mentor. She taught me that the key to looking beautiful is highlighting your natural beauty. She also taught me to always take care of your skin. I get facials religiously and consider skincare to be one of my most important beauty rituals. I’m passionate about helping women recognize and enhance their own beauty, and the way to do so is by creating a natural-looking glow using the right color combinations for your skin tone. A great makeup tip I’ve learned, is to blend! It is so important to properly blend makeup. Avoiding hard lines is the key to soft, natural-looking beauty. The most beautiful thing is when you feel secure about how you look, and I think that wearing makeup that suits you plays a big role in building that confidence. Brigitte Bardot is one of my favorite icons. Even with just a touch of makeup, she always looked undeniably glamorous. It’s an effortless beauty, and that sort of sums up my makeup philosophy. The goal is to play up your features in the most natural-looking, subtle way possible, and sort of just let your natural sex appeal and beauty shine through.

On a day to day basis, I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to applying my own makeup. Typically, I spend no more than five minutes on my face. I think a quick, no fuss routine is key when you’re a working mom. I start by moisturizing my skin, then apply a tinted moisturizer or a light base. Then I dab concealer on problem spots, like under my eyes and around my nose or wherever more coverage is needed. For a more glam look at night, I usually swipe on a shimmery eye shadow and add a touch of highlighter to the inner corners of my eyes to get that wide-eyed, bright look.
When I choose a specific look for a person that I am working with, the most important step is choosing the right colors to match their skin tone and hair color. One of my favorite techniques in picking the right shades is to apply the makeup, and then take a digital picture to make sure it doesn’t look like it’s clashing with the hair color. I like to stick to shades the person is comfortable wearing, but at the same time, I take some risks by trying different shades as often as possible. Another tip for everyone when it comes to choosing your “look” is to study magazines where the model has the same hair color as you and see if you like the makeup tones she is wearing.

Avon is such an iconic beauty brand and I’m a huge supporter of their philosophy that any woman can have great style. This is my first collaboration with Avon and when it came to developing my products, I tried to create shades for every woman and create a palette that includes a range of options. Dual-purpose products are my absolute favorites. Having a go-to, multi-tasking product is a must, because it saves so much time when you’re on the go. For example, My Jillian Dempsey for Avon Professional Perfect Eye Kit is perfect because the palette actually separates the colors into sections that mimic the shape of the eye, so you know exactly where to apply the color. Our consumers are always on the go, so I like to design collections that feature colors that complement one another and are supremely buildable. That way, the palette can help a woman take her look from day to night easily.

The best advice I can offer to anyone is, decide what it is you want out of life, and figure out a way to make it work for you. I can’t imagine what else I’d be doing. I love my job—I get to work with great people and go to exciting events.” –Jillian Dempsey

Jillian Dempsey is Avon’s Global Creative Color Director. Her roster of celebrity clients includes Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst and Chloe Sevigny. 



Pro Talk: Christophe Robin

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“I grew up in a little village with 160 people in the Champagne area. I was supposed to become a farmer in Champagne like my parents, but I left when I was 14 years old. I was ready to escape and I ran to the city close by and I was taken in by a fellow but I could have worked in any other place. I used to see my mother and her friends on Sunday coloring their hair, taking care of themselves so it was always a moment I liked. I loved the smell of the products and everything.

I walked into a salon and I felt a change. I started as an apprentice to a colorist. Domanique was her name. She was a real artisan. She told me, “you should be a very good colorist because they are very rare. There are just a few and your clients will be ten times more loyal if you become an expert.” At the time,a colorist was not trained to be identified by the top models yet, so color was thought of as something you did in a salon to cover gray hair.

After, when I arrived in Paris, I worked for Jean Louis David. I was 17 years old, very tall and I didn’t look too young. They loved me there. They believed I was very talented, so I worked right away at the training center and at the same time I was the one that was creating techniques for the group. I was creating techniques that were short, fast, economic, and easy. They used to say that if you pick up somebody from the street, 3 months after, they can become a colorist for our salon. Jean Louis David had a wonderful team and one of them called me to see if I could do an advertisement for L’Oreal. I was 17 years old but nobody else wanted to do the hair color at that time. It was with a top model; I started to play with the hair color. It was good that I learned to build the hair, because all these girls liked to change their hair color. They liked it because I was not ruining their hair. Right away I did my own product — oil and shampoo.

People who did my formulation, were like, “you’re crazy, you’ll never sell this product, it’s not the trend, it’s not the trend of fashion girls, a fad thing, women are busy now, you can’t do products like that where you have to wash your hair for 20 minutes.” The two first products I did, are still my best products. The lavender oil and the clarifying shampoo.

Usually oil, when it gets inside your hair, it has the tendency to remove the artificial pigments. The liquid ingredient, sylphic, most of the time stay right on your hair, they don’t always get inside. When it gets inside, it removes the color.With my oil there is Vitamin E, so when it gets into the hair, you need to leave it on an hour, minimum. It’s really a basic product that everybody should have and do it once a week.With shampoo, you do it after so your scalp – your hair – feels clean forever and shiny.

After Collette, the trendy store that opened up, wanted to my products and everybody wanted to have what Collette had, I started. I’m very proud of my product to show clients that I don’t do products just to do products. I keep the integrity of doing products and formulations that I really like and that I’ve tried. I’m so happy to see all of the products sell well. There’s not one that doesn’t sell well.

When I started to do all the models, most of the time I had no clue who they were because I was coming from the countryside and fashion for me was another world. Working with Peter [Lindbergh], I was lucky, because working with the biggest one, is always the nicest one. I was so lucky to work with [Jean-Baptiste] Modino. A lot of makeup artists helped me too, telling me, “you can do highlights as a stylist but you will never catch the eye.” There’s no contrast. That’s how I learned to break the technique. At first it was very much for the fashion people, like models Linda Evangelista, Kristen McMenamy, Stephanie Seymour, Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Carla Bruni, and then some actors and actresses came. It was good because I started to work with regular people, I work with fashion – today’s models like Laetitia Casta, Karolina Kourkova, Natasha Poly, Coco Rocha – I work with music, and I work with celebrities. It’s so nice to not only work with just one category.

I made my painting hair technique when they were saying don’t be too technical, you’re going to make it too flat, too fine — during my editorial period. That’s how I managed to do it that way. You have to have to have the technique. To me it is the most beautiful result because you really put the light and the shadow where you want it and you can create real volume and texture. This is my chosen technique. I don’t do foils. When I look at people do it that way, I admire the patience but I don’t know what it gives. It’s flat after.

I do fashion shows. We color before the fashion show,with the inspiration. Lanvin all the time, for Vuitton, Givenchy a lot, some new designer who needs help. I worked with John Galliano ever since he arrived in Paris. For Dior and Galliano.

I have no ambition. The ambition I have is to have peace, to stay true to myself, and to not be pushed. I have a wonderful life, good contracts, good money, I just want to be proud of what I am doing. You don’t have to be sure about what you want to do but if you know that you want to have peace, be happy with yourself and be proud of what you are doing, you could stop working and live in Brittany and have a restaurant by the sea. But I know that’s not going to happen.”

Christophe Robin, colorist

~Lanvin doll trinkets found around the salon.

*All images from


Pro Talk: Gisele Stylist Harry Josh

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Celebrity hair stylist and colorist extraordinaire, Harry Josh, talks bangs (ala Rose Byrne from Sunday’s SAG Awards), red carpet trends, the Oscar bun, hair prep tips for a big night out, and how he gives Gisele that perfect shade of gold.

Sarah Howard: What are the main red carpet hair trends this season? 
Harry Josh:-Keeping it natural. Many women with medium to longer hair are wearing it down and straight. Simple chic hair lets their dress do the talking. You saw a lot of women doing this at the Golden Globes and SAGs (Rose, for example).
-I think a chignon never goes out of style. It’s simple, classic, and keeps hair out of your face—a perfect way to show off gorgeous earrings or makeup.
-“Old Hollywood Glamour” is very in—finger waves with high shine. Especially with a sparkly gown, this hair is the perfect compliment.

SH: How do they differ from seasons past – or are they the same?
HJ: I think chignon’s are a red carpet trend that will always be in style, but I think now more than every stars are embracing their natural texture and cut instead of going for intricate updos.

SH: What can we expect to see on the red carpet come Oscar Sunday?
HJ: I think you’ll see lots of hair pulled back into sleek buns and less hair down, braids, and waves. With exception of the really adventurous actresses (think Tilda Swinton), I wouldn’t expect to see anything avant-garde.

SH: Let’s talk about hair prep. Do you have any tips for how to best prepare your hair for a big event?
HJ: Hair washed a day before is definitely easier to style in the sense that it holds curls and waves better. Freshly washed hair will take more styling product to control and nobody wants hair filled with tons of product. It ends up looking super stiff. Also, get your color done a week in advanced. That’s enough time to correct  if something goes awry but not too long where you’ll get roots. It will look fresh and natural. Finally, make sure to get a trim and a deep treatment as well – dry, damaged ends will make your hair look ragged no matter how gorgeous the style is. John Frieda’s Full Repair Deep Infusion is a great leave-in treatment that targets damaged hair, especially at the ends. It restores silky, full style and provides heat protection during styling.

SH: Forecasting trends to come, what is the “it” style going to be for spring?
HJ: I love bangs and I think they’re going to make a huge comeback (like Rose’s SAG look). Really blunt, straight across looks amazing. Plus, that longer bob looks great – its incredibly low maintenance and strikes a great balance between being youthful but still looking polished.

SJ: And, of course, my life wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t ask, how do you get Gisele’s hair to be that perfect shade of sun-kissed gold? What is your balayage trick?
HJ: Gisele has gorgeous hair to start with, which is a huge help, but I don’t start painting on the color at her root. By starting a little lower, it looks like she has gorgeous natural highlights from the sun that are growing out gracefully.

*Gisele, Cameron Diaz, Rachel Weisz images from / all hair by Harry Josh


About Beauty Banter
Beauty Banter was launched in July of 2006 as a comprehensive beauty blog covering trends, tips and tricks, insider secrets, and weekly must-haves. Beauty Banter has a reputation of being on the cutting edge of emerging trends and product launches so our readers are always the first to know what’s hot and what’s just not.