PRO TALK: Makeup Artist Jillian Dempsey

PRO TALK: Makeup Artist Jillian Dempsey

“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. 


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