Makeup Bag: Celebrity Makeup Artist Suzy Gerstein
“I am a big fan of non-toxic beauty. There are so many great things happening in the Green Beauty space that it’s an exciting time to support brands that do good for women and the environment. I also don’t drive myself nuts about being exclusively 100% non-toxic. If can’t find a mascara that lasts through a sad movie (or red carpet) without running, or spot an electric teal eyeliner in Sephora that makes my heart sing, then I shop the mainstream lines without feeling guilty about it. I try and just do my best and bless the rest!
With both my clients and myself I focus on the skin- through skincare and makeup technique. No matter how bold I go with lines or color, I never want there to be the sense of visible concealer, foundation, or powder. I love working to create flawless but believable looking skin- it’s really the basis for all the looks I create (and sometimes it’s all I need to do).
For skincare, I’m a longtime devotee of May Lindstrom Skin. I use her The Clean Dirt just about every other day in the shower to cleanse and exfoliate my skin, which makes makeup apply so much smoother and more evenly so that I end up needing less product. I carry a little vial of her cleanser with me to work in case I need to exfoliate a model before a shoot, and I carry my own tiny vial as well. I prep my skin every day with a mist of Rosewater (SW Basics is my favorite), then apply a mix of Kypris Antioxidant Dew and one of their fabulous Beauty Elixirs. They soak right into the skin and create such a smooth surface for makeup. I also love to rotate in La Bella Figura Modern Radiance Concentrate and Pai Rosehip Bio Regenerate Oil several times a week for brightness. I also love Mūn Aknari Serum under makeup. Whenever I used it on my clients they ooh and ahh over the rose and prickly pear scent, and it’s light so it makes a great primer under makeup. I always use an eye cream; lately I’ve been loving Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Dew It All Eye Gel for how effectively it hydrates and plumps without a trace of residue so it’s great under makeup. And when my skin is feeling in need of that extra layer of moisture and protection after all my oils, I’ll lock in the oil with an application of either Odacité Oleosomes Time Release Delivery Crème or Chuda Healing Hydrating Cream. Both are good and rich.
After skincare, I begin virtually every makeup application by combing up the brows to reveal their shape. Lately I’ve been loving the Tom Ford Brow Sculptor in Taupe. It adds a hint of color and has a great, waxy consistency that gives a really nice weight and strength to the brow. I hold them in place with Lanolips 101 Ointment; I use it everywhere from my lips to cuticles, as well.
Next, I curl my lashes. The Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler is a longtime favorite. It’s got a rounded pad that gives a very gradual curl and a great shape that gets every last lash.
Then I go into foundation and concealer, applying only where I need it on a given day. A current obsession is Gressa’s Serum Foundation. It feels like luxurious skincare going on, gives phenomenal coverage and is super easy to work into the skin until it’s imperceptible. I usually just use my fingers and a damp black BeautyBlender.
It Cosmetics Concealer In A Pot has a great peachy tone that counteracts blue and grey under eye circles. I put it in this little Muji pillbox to cut down on weight in my makeup bag.
I use RMS Un-Cover-Up in 022 for spots: it’s coconut oil-based, so it’s great for drier skin and winter skin. I recently have been getting into the W3LL People Narcissist Foundation Stick. I carry a small sample, again to cut down on space in my bag.
Juice Beauty Photo-Pigments Juice Boost in Bronzing is great for warming up the skin and giving the appearance of having had some sun – without the damage. A little of this product goes a long way, and I’m always sure to check my blending in natural light as it does set after a bit of playtime so you want to be careful that there’s no trace of a line where you applied it. The Beauty Blender helps this.
For cheeks I use a mix of RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Diabolique which I apply with this and synthetic brush from Glossier (it’s meant for powder but I really like it for fanning on cream blush and getting a natural, perfectly diffused looking flush). Olio e Osso Tints (I carry about 5 shades of this grapefruit and olive oil infused salve in my bag on any given day and love them all). My current go-to’s are Currant (no pun intended), Bronze, and Crimson. They are great on lips too and don’t even require a mirror to apply because the formula is so forgiving. L
I’ve never really been a powder blush girl because I prefer the fresh, lived-in finish of a cream. The only downside of creams is that they don’t last as long so I’m always having to reapply. Kosås Contrachroma changed my tune. It’s so soft and finely milled that it’s almost like a cream blush. I use it to set mine and shade the face a bit in a very believable way. I love that I can apply with my fingers as well.
And I don’t always wear them, but I carry two mascaras: a black on from It Cosmetics with a very natural finish and a volumizing one from Chanel in the color Burgundy (not pictured) to bring out the blue-green in my eyes.
I like to have a black and a taupe eyeliner pencil on standby; Chanel and Kjaer Weis, respectively, as well as a shimmery peach cream shadow by Jillian Dempsey so I can basically make any smokey, neutral eyeshadow color I want without carrying a million products. It’s great for last minute evening plans or just when the mood strikes and I feel like intensifying my look. I also love using the Kjaer Weis Lip Pencils mixed in with the lip and cheek tints mentioned above to create my own long wearing lip and cheek color.
Instead of powder, which I don’t generally use on myself, I like to mist with a pure organic Rosewater from SW Basics. I love Tatcha’s beauty papers for blotting up shine in any unwanted areas. And I always carry Biossance 100% Squalane Oil to hydrate everything from my hands to dry skin patches to hair.
I also always carry a mini version of this Pure Nilotica Melt Nourishing Balm-to-Oil from LXMI that’s brilliant for taking off all manner of makeup (even waterproof) in one fell swoop.
I love to play with the transformative effects of makeup at work; to use color and texture to express something creatively with the clients and teams I work with.
On myself, however, I generally just like to wear makeup that balances my features, brings out what I want to bring out, and minimizes what I wish to minimize, and, overall, makes me feel like a more confident, polished version of myself. I have been loving playing up my brows lately, omitting mascara, and throwing on a bold berry lip; it’s fun to switch it up sometimes and play!
Makeup bag from Kosås and cherry blossom scarf a gift from my lovely assistant Arisa from Japan that makes me smile (and gives me wanderlust) when I look at it.”
— Makeup artist Suzy Gerstein, whose clients include Millie Bobby Brown, Leighton Meester, Camilla Belle, and Carrie Brownstein
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