Saturday, March 14, 2009

Let’s Talk Makeup: Jan, Makeup Artist Extraordinaire, Answers your Questions!

Meet Jan – an exceptional and kind woman and brilliant artist who works her magic and makes brides look absolutely breathtaking on their special day! I had the pleasure of meeting Jan a few months before my wedding. Jan told me that her vision for applying makeup is to enhance a person’s natural beauty, and that was exactly what I had in mind. I was in awe of both my trial and my wedding day makeup application – Jan made me look the best I have ever looked! My friends and family have expressed the same sentiment. Aside from her incredible makeup application skills, her attention to detail, punctiality and professionalism set her apart from the rest!
We have kept in touch since the wedding, and I value Jan’s friendship and wisdom. Today, in addition to working as an independent professional artist, Jan serves as a Certified Volunteer with the ‘Look Good...Feel Better’ program sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Jan teaches women experiencing effects of chemotherapy how to apply makeup and shares skin care tips. To learn more about Jan, view her incredible portfolio and contact her, please visit

In the interview below, Jan shares her tips and advice on all things makeup-related. Get ready, ladies – you are in for a treat! Let’s hear it all, Jan!

1. Your approach to makeup application is to enhance people’s best features – this was attractive to me as your client, because I very much wanted to look like myself (only better :)) on my wedding day. Without having a professional by our side, how can we figure out our best features?

I really do think that everybody knows what their best feature is. I just think they feel it is conceited to declare it. It is not conceit, it is only fact. When we look into the mirror, most of us zone in on the things we dislike. Try doing it the other way.....look away from the things you do not like and voila, there are your best features!!!!

I'm sure, during the course of your lives, people have complimented one or more features on your face. You must start believing this! And, when all else fails, just pick one! Make it your favorite feature and always play it up! If you believe it, so will everyone else.

2. Is there an easy way to figure out how to use the right products and colors that compliment a person’s skin tone, eye color, etc.?

This question can get very complicated: When trying to figure out the proper products and colors to compliment a person's skin tone and eye color... I think the easiest thing to do is first figure out if you are light, fair, medium or dark. The lighter your skin tone, the softer your colors should be. The darker your skin tone, the darker your makeup colors should be.

In order to decide on the texture of products, you need to be honest about your age and condition of your skin and then go for age appropriate products and colors. One item that I would recommend buying in a store where you can try it on, is foundation. Everything else you can buy in a drug store if that is what you want to do.

3. Stacy asks: I'd like to know how to create the very dramatic "smoky eye" look that you see on models and celebrities.

The smokey eye is not as difficult as you may think. The key to the smokey eye is BLENDING. You can use pastel colors and still get a smokey eye. Just Blend, blend, blend. There are no hard lines. Eyeliner should be smudged into your eye shadow. Do not use liquid liners. Use either gels that can be smudged, pencils that can be smudged, or dark eye shadows as your eyeliner. It just takes a little practice.

4. Alison would love to know if you have any tips on using eye liner. For large eye, do you line only the top or the bottom too? Also, how to prevent it from smudging, and what eye liners are best to use?

Using eyeliner is so important to defining your eye shape. If you want to use eyeliner on the upper lids, it is a personal preference whether you put it on your lower lids, though I do think it completes the eye definition. But, please do not just use eyeliner on the lower lids only. This makes your eyes droop, when all we really want to do is lift our eyes up!

If you are using eye pencils for your eyeliner, there is a great chance that they will not stay put unless they are waterproof or long-lasting. The reason for this is because most pencils have wax in them which tends to melt down. That is why I would never use a pencil as my under eye-liner. I use powder eye shadow with a small brush which gives a much softer shadow effect. There are such great products out there. Long -wear gel eyeliners are easy to use and stay put all day. Try Smashbox, M.A.C. or Bobbi Brown. They are all good and there are plenty of colors to choose from. Prescriptives and Tarte have long-wear pencils.

5. Holly’s question is: What's the best way to conceal undereye bags? Do you recommend a particular concealer? What's the best way to use it? I have fair skin and like a natural look, although I do use a little foundation, powder, and blush/bronzer. (The bags are not from stress, water retention, weight issues, or lack of sleep. They always there, worse with bright light or squinting, and could only be removed by plastic surgery. Cucumbers, tea bags, and cold compresses do not make a difference.)

Holly's question about under eye bags. :( If you know for a fact, that your bags can only be surgically removed, then I can only suggest that you use a concealer that it is not too light. The lighter the color, the more pronounced your bags will be. You must obtain a color that will make them recede without making them look like dark bags. This is where you really need professional help. Go to a reputable makeup counter and have them help you. All concealers are not made equal. You really have to feel the texture to decide if it is something you will be comfortable wearing. I actually like Mally Beauty concealer. It is a concealer that comes with a special finishing powder to set the concealer. M.A.C. has a few different texture concealers to choose from. Bobbi Brown has a correct and conceal kit.

In regard to application: make sure you use the concealer all the up under your lower lashes and on the inside of the bridge of the nose. Always tap the product into the pulling or tugging!

6. Let’s talk about sun screen. What is the minimum SPF you recommend? Is it OK to skip it in the winter, or should we apply it daily regardless of the season? Finally, does it go under or on top of the foundation?

SPF is one of my pet peeves!!! SPF 30 EVERY SINGLE DAY. It should be applied under your foundation.

7. I heard that it’s good to stick to the same line of facial care because the products in a given line are developed to compliment each other. What are your thoughts on this? Also, is it important to use the same line for facial care and makeup, or is it OK to switch them up?

About using the same product lines for everything: Unless you are layering products, you can use whatever you want. For instance, if you are using a face serum under your moisturizer, I would suggest sticking with the same line. But, if you only use eye cream and moisturizer, then you do not need to stick with the same line. With makeup - all bets are off! Use whatever you like with whatever you like. Just make sure they work well together.

8. What are your favorite makeup products and/or must-haves that provide a great value?

My favorites! One of my favorites is M.A.C. Mineralize Skin Finish Powder. This product is so amazing for all skin types and gives your skin such a smooth finish without looking dry at all. It comes in many different shades. You can wear this over foundation or alone and it still makes your skin look beautiful.
Another one of favorites is Joey New York Lip Pencil. This is the perfect 'lip color' pencil for lining and filling in the entire lip. Then apply your lipstick and/or gloss and you never need to wear a liner. (One of my least favorites is lip liner).
Another favorite is Smashbox Photofinish Face Primer. Foundation primers keep your makeup from sinking into your skin. If your foundation is not staying on all day, you probably need to use a primer.

Trish McEvoy Eye Base are great primers that will keep your eye makeup on. You can wear these alone or under your shadows and they come in different colors.
Touche Eclat Highlighter by Yves Saint Laurent. This product is expensive but sooo worth it. It banishes shadows and dark circles while softening the look of lines. This is probably my one Must Have!!! Others have tried to duplicate this product, but no one has.
9. I invested in two MAC makeup brushes over a year ago and use a drop or two of shampoo to clean them. It seems to work well. Am I committing makeup brush murder by doing so, or is shampoo acceptable?

Good brushes are the best way to get a great application. I'm glad you made the investment. Clean your brushes with mild shampoo such as Baby Shampoo.

10. Some mornings I am in a rush and only have 2-3 minutes to apply makeup. If you had only a couple of minutes and had to choose where to apply makeup, where would you choose to apply it to have the most effect?

If you have very limited time to put on your morning makeup, here's what I would suggest: Under eye concealer, mascara, blush and tinted lip gloss. This way, your face is balanced.

11. I read in a magazine that $8 moisturizers and $300 ones are made from the same ingredients and work equally well. Is this the case with makeup, or do you get what you pay for?

Lots of makeup products are made in the same labs, there is more emphasis on ingredients. I have no problem with drugstore makeup i.e. Revlon, Maybelline, Almay, etc. etc. My only problem is that I cannot try them on. I cannot see the color or feel the texture, so for me as an artist I prefer buying where I can try on the product. That does not mean that I do not have any drugstore products, but I do prefer spending a little more to have the luxury of not having to toss a product once I got it home, opened the package and did not like it.

12. Finally, if it is worth investing more in quality makeup, are there any particular brands or products you recommend?

I think most makeup lines that your find in Sephora and in the department stores are great, great products. Keep in mind that some lines are makeup lines and some lines are skin care lines. Again, this is a personal preference, but I usually never buy makeup from a skin care line. It's like ordering Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce at a Diner :)

Thanks, Girls!!!

Jan, thank you for this terrific interview! I really appreciate your taking the time to share these great tips with us and looking forward to using your sage advice!


  1. Wonderful information! Thanks so much for answering my question as well as for sharing you knowledge with us Jan and thank you Janna for sharing your friends with us.

  2. This has been very informative. Thanks for addressing my smokey eye question. I've never been able to master that technique but I will keep practicing.

    I'm very impressed with Jan, especially knowing that she is involved with the American Cancer Society. What a dynamic woman!