10 beauty lessons we learnt from Beyoncé’s makeup artist


Celebrity makeup artist Sir John is in South Africa for SA Fashion Week in partnership with Woolworths' WBeauty. As a build up to SAFW Woolworths treated local beauty aficionados to two masterclasses (one in Jo'burg and one in Cape Town).

I was lucky enough to attend the Cape Town masterclass which was so packed that I sat cross-legged right at the front throughout the event (shout-out to all those years of sitting through long assemblies at school).

And I didn't mind at all - this is the man who works on Beyoncé’s face after all!

@sirjohnofficial dropping beauty knowledge at the CPT masterclass #SirJohnxWoolworths

A post shared by WOOLWORTHS SA (@woolworths_sa) on

Local blogger Qaanita Orrie was Sir John's canvas for the day.

So what did I learn from Sir John? Grab a pen. You might want to take notes:

Who was your first celebrity client?

Naomi Campbell. I met her during my first Paris Fashion Week and next thing I knew I was getting called to go do her makeup at her hotel!

I remember all of it being so new to me. I was like, ‘Okay, there’s no train back. This is business.'

How do you decide which makeup look to go with for someone like Queen Bey?

It depends on the event. Everything is case by case. For example, I know she has a formula. She just loves beautiful skin and natural beauty so if I know she loves that, I’m going to nail that and everything else is going to be the icing on the cake.

It’s completely collaborative. I’ll go on Pinterest and pull digitals or look at old work I’ve done, and a lot of the times I’ll have this complete idea and then I’ll see the dress and it changes. The makeup is always the last thing. The wardrobe and hair is first and that creates the moment. 

Let's talk about Bey's 2016 Met Gala makeup that became a worldwide meme...

They hated me for it. They draggged me foreverrrr.

So what happened was that Riccardo Tisci, the designer for Givenchy, sent me a picture of Kate Moss in the '90s where her shadow was all messy - it was graphic...

But Beyonce is a superstar, she's not a model. So if it was on a model, it would've looked editorial, so people didn't get it. They're used to her just looking beautiful and not avant-garde.

Oh my god, they were almost like f***n dragging me out of my apartment. I got threats! (pulls out his phone)

If you look at Instagram there are threats; "we gotta find him," and after that at awards they were like "you better not fcuk her up!"

But she (Beyoncé) liked it. Also, day light is harsh - don't ever take red carpet photos in day light. That was the thing.

Sir John pro tip: Take night time photos with the flash on. "It just illuminates your complexion and makes you look va-va-voom."

What's your most requested Beyoncé beauty look?

The 2017 Grammys. Everyone sort of still references that. It got the most eyes for some reason. For me this year, I think that was one of the most impactful things that I did, work-wise.

How does one go about picking the perfect shade of red lipstick?

Whenever you want your skin to pop, you always want to choose an orange-based red. Think ‘50s red or tomato red. Those will always make your skin look healthier. 

On the contrary, if you want your teeth to look really, really white and your smile to illuminate, go for a blue-based red. Anything from raspberry to dark Merlot lips.

Blue-based makes your teeth look really brilliant and an orange-based red makes your skin look healthy.

What would would you say is the best makeup technique when you're in a rush?

I'd say what you (Afika) have on right now - liner and a bold lip. It's the quickest way to add va-va-voom.

If you have to spend time on any one thing, it's your complexion - the right amount of coverage. Do your makeup by your window, where natural light comes in and then do a quick statement lip. 

Read more: 5 makeup tips for sensitive eyes

Must you always complement your lip colour with your eye makeup?

Honestly, there's no rule of thumb.

I've seen summer green eyeliner with a dark merlot lip and [I was] like it's so pretty, oh shit I wouldn't have thought of that. Or a navy eyeliner with a red. There are no rules.

Harmony in the face is important, so it's not about 'can it work', as much as 'is it working?'

Threading or waxing?

Threading is the best option for eyebrow grooming, as waxing is aggressive and it ages your eyes. Waxing can also rip the tender skin around your eyes ever so slightly.

Any mascara tips?

Use waterproof mascara as little as possible. It dries out your lashes, so stop using it if you still wanna have lashes in your 50s. Brands usually have both a waterproof option and a normal mascara, find the [latter].

How do you make your makeup pop in pictures without it looking cakey and overdone face-to-face?

I would invest in small things that make a difference such as a lip colour I can see from across the room. And then a waterproof eyeliner in a navy, a green or a deep purple. That way people can be like "oh, it's a look."

So you want to create a silhouette in your eyes.

People might not be able to see colours and tones, but they can always see shapes, so sharpen those lines and perfect those wings.

Images: Getty & Supplied

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