When I first started working as a freelance makeup artist, it was almost impossible to find books dedicated to makeup artistry. This situation has improved over the years, but there is still a noticeable lack of good and accessible resources on makeup artistry. After scouring countless bookstores in search of the perfect makeup reference, I finally decided to write my own guide. My vision for this book is simple. I wanted it to be filled with complete step-by-step lessons, industry tips, and beautiful pictures. I wanted this book to serve as a complete reference guide for everyone who wants to know about beauty and makeup.
I have found that women are either intrigued with or mystified by cosmetics, but most are interested in learning more about makeup and how it can transform a face.
All women really want the same thing: to look like themselves, only prettier and more confident. That desire is what actually inspired me, at twelve years old, to create the “natural look” for which I’m known. In seventh grade, the coolest thing was to hear how tan you were. So I used my mother’s bronzer, put it on my cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin—until it looked like a real tan. I put on her lipstick and then rubbed it off. I wanted people to say I looked pretty—and not notice the makeup.
Years later, when I worked as a makeup artist, I learned from many of the leading professionals. My early work was a mixture of the natural look with risky bolts of color. I worked with George Newell, who did beautiful pale skin, very 80s red lips, bronze cheeks, and dark eyes. His style was not mine, but he was a great talent who taught me things I could not have learned elsewhere. I also studied under Linda Mason, the artist known for her abstract uses of color on the face. She taught me to go beyond my comfort zone and push myself to the unexpected. Then I met my mentor, Bonnie Maller. I first saw her work in a magazine profile. She did all the makeup for Bruce Weber and all the ads for Perry Ellis, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. Her style was outdoorsy, as you can imagine. She had the same aesthetic as I did, and perfected the look. It changed my life. Her makeup was most instrumental in helping my style emerge. It was clean, natural, and always beautiful.
In the early days, I was like a sponge, learning from others, and then experimenting to see what I liked. I now look back on this time as graduate school. I read and studied every fashion spread. I loved the way light hit the colors on the face and tried to recreate the looks. I began assisting makeup artists and eventually, with that experience, started to lead my own team.
When you are hired to do a show, you meet with the designer, and sometimes the stylist, to discuss the desired look and to possibly try the makeup on a model. The makeup has to be beautiful and work with the clothes. I used to experiment with concealer on lips to make a pale lip color statement while doing Brigitte Bardot– inspired, dark, smoky eyes or the brightest red and pink lips with very little on the eyes. I also remember using brown eye pencil on lips, which started the whole brown lip look.
By the time I started Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, I already had a group of artists who helped me do fashion shows. Early in my career, I couldn’t pay them much, so I hired the ones who were eager to do the work for the experience and training. I started by inviting them to assist me—even if they just held brushes or observed. I watched them do makeup. I watched them watch me do makeup.
I love working with people who soak up information. Everyone has potential. I’ve never met anyone who could not master the skills needed, but many who lacked the confidence. I do believe that there is always more to learn, and I love the process.
I also believe every woman would gain confidence if she understood more about applying her makeup, using the right tools, finding the colors that work for her and perfecting the basic techniques.
I’ve written this book for everyone: my artists, students, friends, and every woman who ever wanted professional instruction. I’ve gone into more detail than ever before and photographed hundreds of step-by-step photos to show you as much detail as possible. I’ve also put the entire “class” into the sequence that I believe works best. Understanding the skin is the best way to start, and then building from foundation and concealer to color, lips, eyes, and everything in between. I believe this will be the most comprehensive makeup lesson you will ever have.
For the makeup artist or those who aspire to be one, I’ve written a section for professionals in the second part of the book. In this section, you’ll find important information on how to pack a professional makeup kit to how to work with photographers.
The best artists continually want to learn. Artists who think they know everything don’t grow. Professional makeup artists must love makeup. They need to be obsessed with the art and the business and cannot be afraid of hard work. Artists have to be able to see, evaluate their work, and take criticism as an opportunity to grow. In makeup that means learning to recognize skin condition and texture, evaluate and effectively use color, and determine when formulation and application choices work and what to do when they don’t.