Beyoncé’s make-up artist Sir John is the king of ‘second skin’ make-up, aka the ‘your skin but better’ finish that’s the secret to Beyoncé’s super-glowy, flawless complexion at her public appearances and in her music videos.
Luckily, with his help, you don’t have to be a global superstar to achieve the look, as Sir John told us exclusively how to achieve a perfect base every single time – by avoiding these common mistakes.
Mistake one: settling for the wrong shade
“I find that everyone is obsessed with buying foundation that is either too light or too dark. Women of colour can particularly struggle because it’s more difficult to find the right undertones and you can get a grey cast that makes you look unhealthy.
“Luckily, in 2019, there are more options to choose, from L’Oreal True Match to Fenty, because there’s been this shift towards inclusivity, helped by social media. It’s also about the industry embracing both the darker and lighter sides of the spectrum, so that even women with albinism can find their shade. You might have to spend a bit more time searching for the perfect one, but the flawless finish is worth it.”
Bazaar’s beauty editor Siân Ranscombe agrees: “You find that people tend to wear a shade or two darker than they should because they don’t want to look washed out, but that’s when their faces don’t match their necks. Instead, find your exact shade and invest in a good bronzer to warm up your complexion if required.”
Mistake two: only owning one foundation
“It’s a myth that we only need one foundation shade everywhere”, continues Sir John. “No woman is the same colour all over her face and that’s particularly true of women of colour who can struggle more with hyper-pigmentation or discolouration.
“It doesn’t matter whether you are from Holland or Hong Kong, you should have two foundations – one for the summer and one for the winter. Then, your summer colour can act like a bronzer in the winter. Having the ability to switch between the two gives your face nuances and highlights, so it doesn’t look flat and monochrome.”
Mistake three: applying foundation everywhere
“I hate foundation that looks heavy or like a mask and it’s so important that you can’t see where your foundation starts and stops. The generation before us would put foundation literally from forehead to chin and that still happens quite a lot on social media. Less is definitely more.”
Sir John recommends L’Oreal’s new Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation because “the full-coverage formula is so long-lasting and you don’t need to apply a lot”. Or, try the skin perfector he reportedly used on Beyoncé during last year’s Coachella performance, Alleven London’s Colour Shield.
SHOP L’Oreal’s new Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation, £7.69
Mistake four: using too much concealer
“I see so many people swiping concealer all across their face in big stripes and it just becomes unnecessary. Instead, use a dotting method so that excess product doesn’t fall into fine lines or accidentally emphasise imperfections.
“Try applying one dot on any blemishes, one under each eye to cover dark circles, and one dot either side of your nose where you tend to have broken capillaries.”
Mistake five: poor lighting
“Bathroom lighting tends to be awful, so you need to question whether it’s actually a flattering place to do your make-up. If the lighting isn’t good enough, invest in a brighter light or even a daytime simulating bulb. Failing that, do you make-up at a window. Then, when you get to true light, check what colour you are on your forehead and on your jawline. Your hands are not a good indicator of what your complexion is.”
SHOP Daylight Simulating Bulb, £4.78
Mistake six: not thinking about your outfit
“Beyoncé is so particular about her hair but when it comes to her make-up she always asks what I have in mind. My advice, I always start with what she is wearing. When I arrive, I give her a hug and a kiss and then I immediately go to see the dress.
“The outfit rules everything because it determines how much of a statement the make-up is going to be. You never want it to look too much. Every woman should be led by one piece of their outfit – whether that’s their dress or hair – because you need a focal point that drives everything forward. Everything else can be harmonised around it.”
Mistake seven: being a slave to trends
“The girls you see doing make-up on social media aren’t necessarily like you – in age and in appearance – and that’s okay. I want people to look at Instagram like you should look at trends – it’s there as a source of inspiration but you don’t have to copy it exactly. Only do what feels organically you. Think back to who you were last year and just work to do you better. The small changes you make to your routine can sometimes have the most impact.”
How to do it right
Sir John’s rules for perfect foundation application:
- Ensure you’re well-lit. You’re much more likely to apply the right amount of foundation if you can see what you are doing.
- Properly moisturise your face.
- When your face is still wet from your moisturiser, take a damp Beautyblender or an egg sponge and gently dab on a tiny amount of foundation at a time for a soft, flawless finish. This application method is a game changer because when your skin dries, it’s going to be the most beautiful, seamless finish.
- If you don’t own a sponge, use your fluffy blush brush, not a traditional stiff foundation brush, to buff the foundation into your skin in a circular motion.
- Next, dial up the coverage where you need it, for example if you have melasma, pregnancy pigmentation or pimples.
- Use the dotted concealer technique and work the product in with your fingers. Your body heat changes the texture of concealer so you’ll achieve a better finish than if you use a brush or sponge.
- Remember that it’s okay to see freckles and redness in some places, because that’s what makes your skin look real.