Where are you from and how did you get into makeup?
I was born and raised in Thailand and then moved to NYC in the 90s to study environmental design at Parsons and now NYC is my home base. Growing up in Thailand is great because it is such a colourful, exotic country that’s rich with inspirations. I drew my inspirations from exotic flowers, classical Asian art, theater… My father had a lot of colourful exotic birds that inspired my use of colours. I grew up with peacocks, colourful pheasants, and parrots around the house.
I grew up with two sisters and a lot of girl cousins that live in the same neighborhood. So growing up for me was playing dress up, putting make up on them, and looking through mom’s fashion magazines. I got inspired by make up masters Tyen and Serge Lutens, and recreated my own fake photo shoots and fashion shows using my cousins and sisters as models. When I moved to NYC to study environmental design, I realized the last year in school it wasn’t for me. At the time I was a club kid too so I used to put on fun make up, costumes on myself to go out to those clubs and experiment with the look. A photographer friend knew I can do make up so he asked me to help with a photo shoot. I loved it and decided to pursue it as a career. My photographer friend Gilbert King (who is now also a Pulitzer Prize winning writer) told me if I wanna be serious about it, I should assist a big make up artist. I love the monthly column by Kevyn Aucoin in Allure. It was before Instagram so that was the insight in to his world. He seemed passionate and always have fun at work so my friend helped me write the letter (it helps when a Pulitzer Prize winner helped write your letter!) and Kevyn called me at home (this also was before cell phone) and I thought I was being punked. He booked me to assist him for NYFW and more jobs. It was like the Yale school of make up. I got to learn on the job and from the best.
How was assisting the legendary Kevyn Aucoin?
He taught me so much not just about make up but the other stuff too that opened my eyes. That was my first professional job and all of a sudden I was working with super models, assisting him on an Irving Penn (my favorite photographer) shoot which he’d do the make up and leave me at the shoot to fly to LA, Revlon beauty campaign with all the big models and actresses I’m inspired by and all of a sudden I was in the same room with them and got to be on set. He taught me to do more. It can’t just be about make up. He was very involved and in charge and not just the make up guy in the back ground. I learned how fashion and celebrity jobs can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. He was so much fun to be around, and that stays with me. It’s just make up. So it should always be fun. Women love him too and it’s not just because of the make up and the transformation, but also the way he made them feel, famous or not famous. He really build them up with confidence when they sat in his chair and by the time the make up was done you can see the inside confidence coming through. The two has to connect in order for the person to throughly shine.
If you were not a makeup artist what would you have become?
I’d probably have a job in theatre. I love theatre, make up and costumes! I’m always fascinated by them. It really inspired me as a make up artist to see the “big picture.” My hobby is also photography. I work on fine art projects like self portraits. I dress up in costumes, portraits of muay thai fighters and flowers I found on the streets after the rain. I’d love to be a photographer too but I love it as a hobby because the camera really gives you the 3rd eye so that you can inspect the world and look at things more carefully through the lens. I find my inspirations from normal every day things that are not that fancy. Sometimes people look up too much at unattainable things high up in the sky that they forget to find beauty right by their feet that they are walking by every day. I like to find my own inspirations.
What is the best makeup/foundation trick to keep spring/summer looking dewy and not too matte?
I love working with liquid foundation and the new formulas and colour ranges are so good right now that you can wear foundation without looking like you’re wearing it. It’s all in prepping. I love a polished skin that glows but not too shiny so mattifying primer on t-zone. Mally Beauty Face Defender is key. Liquid to powder formula like Lancôme Nude Miracle is great because it covers but looks so sheer. I love blending it with a dampening sponge.
So it looks extra seamless, don’t try to cover the whole face. Do spots coverage with concealer. Love Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage palette. Then lightly tone down shine by using mattifying powder just on t-zone such as IMAN Cosmetics Oil Blotting Pressed Powder and mimicking the natural glow in skin using liquid highlighter. Armani Fluid Sheers have great range with skin tones. And keep in mind that it’s make up so it’ll fade or shine. Don’t do too many ‘tricky’ things in order to have it last longer. You’ll look too made up. You’ll need to touch up and maintain through out which make your skin look fresher but plan it in a smart way so you won’t have to touch up too much. I always tell my actresses walking the red carpet to touch up once before coming out of the car and hit the carpet and then before going on stage and/or before another photo op at the end. And don’t always pull out the powder either. Use powder but also use just blotting paper in between as well. Love the Tatcha Japanese Blotting Paper.
What is the biggest trend for makeup in spring 2015?
You’ll definitely see a lot of nudes, but it’s not nude ‘going to the beach’, it’s more glamorous nude. Opt for metallic nude tones eyeshadow paired with dramatic lashes and brows, and nude lips with a hint of metallic (Iman that’s not too washed out but with a hint of peach or pink depending on skin tones also rich bold lips in deep purply plum, IMAN Cosmetics Lipstick in Wild Thing, or cinnamon burgundy shade, Estee Lauder Color Envy Lipstick in Thrilling, which is dramatic but easy to wear because it’s bold but not loud like, say, red or fuschia. I love dark lips with fresh naked face – the perfect drama this spring, the darkness give a bit of femme fatale attitude.
What is one makeup product that every woman should have this spring 2015 to update her look?
Rich tone colour mascara. Loving the new Tom Ford for spring Extreme Mascara in Teal Intense. Mascara doesn’t have to always be black or brown. This is colour, but it doesn’t go on bright green and the colour will make eyes pop in a certain way and not as heavy looking on eyes like black.
What is your fave multitasking product?
My fave multitasking product is Charlotte Tilbury Multi-Miracle Glow, I love using it as body lotion to give skin the glow but it also works as a face mask, cleanser and balm!!! Smells and feel heavenly too!!!
What is the biggest mistake women make in makeup especially for spring/summer?
The mentality of ‘oh, because it’s spring, it has to be “pretty”! It reminds me of my favorite line from Devil Wears Prada, “Florals, for spring? Groundbreaking!” You don’t have to always wear pink and pretty colours. I love juxtaposing it with something tougher like the dark bold lips. And because it’s spring, women think they should wear less make up, but why not have fun with it and be colourful and fun, as long as it’s applied with a light touch and balance.
To contour or not to contour? Do we really need to contour for real life at all?
I love a good contour but it has to be the right techniques. The right moment, contouring on photoshoot and red carpet is different than real life because you’re working with light and angles so you can be ‘tricky’ but in real life, the sun light is cruel so anything ‘tricky’ will look like a bad lie. I love working with easy to use a contouring palette like Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze & Glow Flawless Contouring Palette for medium to fair skin, Laura Mercier flawless contouring palette which is an easy to use cream formula that looks like shadow when you blend under foundation, but all in all, my mantra is, don’t be greedy when it comes to contouring. Do it just enough so your features don’t fall flat but not everybody need small perfect nose and super stripy cheekbones.
Are we living in an age where individualism in makeup is lost?
It’s an interesting time right now. I love social media but I think sometimes it makes people lazy. I hate the word “followers” too because it’s like, yes, follow but do your own thing. If I see one more blog post or tutorial about how to contour I might go to sleep and never wake up (until my next big paying job :-)) The problem with that I find is that it ignores how special every individual face is and instead, just put on this mask, contour your nose to look this way, cheekbones, make your forehead look smaller, etc. I’m a big fan of make up, so I’m not telling people that less is more, but make up can either make you more “you” or “less you”.
I looked at artists like Grace Jones who have such strong features and her make up makes her more her. It was’t like these correcting contour to hide her face, (or Ziggy Stardust :-)) with make up that’s bold, unique and authentic. I always tell people that “when you’re authentic, you’ll never look tacky.” I work with actresses that are interesting and unique like Lupita Nyong’o, Lena Dunham, Gugu Mbatha-raw, Tessa Thompson, Uzo Aduba, etc and I always try to bring them out even more with make up–never hide away.
How did you meet Lupita Nyong’o?
I met Lupita through my publicist friends Becca Sides-Capellan and Annick Muller at ID PR who I work with a lot of their clients. One day Becca texted me a headshot of Lupita with clean make up and told me she has a new client in this new movie coming out “12 Years A Slave” and if I was available. I was supposed to go on vacation but i moved the dates around because when I saw that face, I got excited and inspired! I did her first red carpet and the rest is history – our first red carpet together i put on this blood red lipstick! I love that she’s open minded and not afraid of colour which is so rare. She even put on black lipstick last year and people loved it!
You are hilarious on Instagram… do you worry about alienating people?
I used to worry about it but a lot of my followers are editors of magazines, beauty companies exec and they always told me I’m saying what they’re thinking but they can’t say it. I’m just pointing out the big elephant in the room, and it’s lighthearted. My agent used to say maybe it’s a bad idea but crazy thing is, I got so many jobs from it. Like I’d poke fun at over the top contour and then a major magazine would put me in their story about it and also, I think people in beauty, fashion and showbiz sometimes take themselves waaaaay too seriously and if they’re gonna be offended then those are the people I don’t wanna spend 8-9 hours a day working with when I can have fun at work with people I can laugh with. Lena Dunham told me that when she’s bored at night sometimes she reads my posts and pretend to be me lol! So I think I’m good. And I think because I also made fun of myself so much too so I think people can get over it.
What was the inspiration behind Lupita’s makeup for the Oscars 2015?
Funny, you asked…you were all over our inspiration board as always! When stylist Micaela Erlanger showed me the pearl Calvin Klein dress, it’s all white and with pearl sheen, their fashion inspiration was Prince’s Diamonds & Pearls and for me I had the idea of something 1920s like Josephine Baker and this image of you came to mind as well “I love the idea of metallic pearlized sheen of black grey and white on the eyes to create black pearls effect on eyes.” I used Lancôme color design five color palettes in gris fumee, a palette of shimmery black, silver and pearl that I used wet to create shimmery disco shine the look is dramatic but I always love it when her skin appears bare so it look fresh and not makeup-y. We used the new Miracle Cushion Foundation in 500 coming out soon. On lips, I wanted a hint of colour but nothing bright so we went with a pearly berry shade Lancôme l’absolu rouge in aubergine velvet.
Self portrait by Nick Barose
Flowers After the Rain by Nick Barose
with Lupita Nyong’o