Meet Sir John, the main makeup man to Queen Bey herself, and the artist behind that glowing from head-to-toe Coachella moment and her shimmer and shade Grammy’s look.
A long-term collaborator on her music videos, concert tours, that Super Bowl appearance and those red-carpet stunners. He’s also a go-to for clients including Chrissie Teigan, Karlie Kloss, Naomi Campbell, who all want his signature makeup magic of smokey ‘Spotlight’ eyes and his highlighter tricks that give skin a luminous 24-carat glow. Looks that have us liking his every makeup brush manoeuvre @sirjohnofficial.
Starting out on a MAC counter in NYC, he learnt his skills in store, going on to assist renowned artists including Pat McGrath and Charlotte Tilbury backstage during fashion weeks. It was at the Tom Ford’s first ever womenswear show in 2010 that he first met and worked with Beyonce, and the rest, as they say, is makeup history. You may also recognise him as an American Beauty Star presenter, on the US reality makeup show alongside Ashley Graham.
GLAMOUR got to step inside Sir John’s world and spent four hours with the L’Oréal Paris Ambassador to create four exclusive looks for GLAMOUR’s first ever digital beauty shoot.
First out, he creates a supernatural base that’s good enough to go filter-free, building up to his signature ’24 Carat’ glow with a soft blush of spring colour on lips and cheeks. Followed by a bright blue wave of colour liner, and a finale of head-turning colour on lips and lids. In his words, “They’ll take you from hero to zero, nine to wine and daytime to disco.”
And believe us, these simple hacks will change your makeup, and maybe even your life! We can also confirm, he’s one mega nice guy.
LOOK 1: Supernatural Nude
The aim is to, “Shake what you’re Moma gave you,” says Sir John, so think your skin, just better. And he means real skin in all its glory with, “The natural contours of the under-eye that add dimensional character and the light-reflective quality you get after a session at the spa or gym or after good sex.” Oh, and let’s not forget the killer brows (his secret is a smudge of glue for stay-put hold).
Shirt, £445 Escada
- “You want to magnify the skin,” says Sir John, who prefers to apply a foundation with a sponge. “Stipple it on with a minimum amount of product. Give yourself coverage where you need it and keep it go sheer where you don’t.” His choice for the shoot, Infallible 24Hr Fresh Wear Foundation,£10.99, L’Oréal Paris. “It doesn’t look like foundation, it looks like skin and that’s the goal to look like you woke up like this. To find your best shade, match to your jaw. It’s a really good indicator of what your true complexion is. It’s not your hand, it’s not your wrist, it’s the face.”
- Go light on under-eye concealer. “I love the skin underneath everyone’s eyes. It gives eyes such a three-dimensional quality. Concealer doesn’t belong here on anyone.” His advice? “Stop maybe a millimetre away from the lash line, you don’t want to and rub all this beautiful texture and colour away. Everyone has it, and it’s ok to see veins; it’s anchored in the moment; it’s real and modern. Blend concealer with your ring finer, it’s weaker than your index finger so picks up the least amount of product. Your fingers and body heat change the texture of makeup, so it melts in.” Here he used Infallible LongWear More Than Concealer, £9.99, L’Oréal Paris
- “Set the concealer with a little bit of powder, but never use pressed powder around the eyes it’ll weigh your eyes down. It has to be a loose powder.” And there’s a Sir John test you need to try. “Drop a little of your loose powder in the air and watch it to see if it drops or cascades. If it cascades into the air, it’s a really lightweight formula. If it drops immediately, it’s too heavy for your eye area.” Also, limit powder to your T-Zone. “If you’ve been to the gym, to the spa or had good sex, your skin is light reflective, so that’s what you want to recreate.” Those are the powder rules!
LOOK 2: 24-Carat Magic
The glow magic doesn’t happen by chance, it takes a serious highlighting strategy, according to Sir John to sculpt, brighten and get that mega-watt glimmer.
Corset Top, £410 Natasha Zinko
- Pick your highlight points accordingly, says Sir John. “Think of it as the right areas that you want to glow and the wrong areas that you don’t. Anything that glows, needs to stop at the eyes, anything shimmery that sits underneath the eyes or on cheeks looks unflattering, like you’ve had your foundation on for 30 hours. Stick to a matte blush then go as glowy as you want on the sides. I love emollient highlighter like the Glow Drops Mon Amour Highlighting Drops in Champagne Drops, £9.99, L’Oréal Paris. I also like to put a little bit of highlighter in the tear ducts on the eyes. It makes the eyes look fresh and really awake, like you’ve had a lot of sleep.”
- For a three-second nose contour. “Start in the sockets of the eyes and go directly along the side of the nose, underneath the tip, and then back around again. That makes a really natural contour. You want to glow on the nose, but only between the eyes. It’s not flattering to shine up the tip of your nose. I know everyone on Instagram and YouTube is telling you to take your shimmer and shine up the tip, but it’s not flattering, so I’m here to tell you, it’s not a good look, it just makes foundation look oily and like you haven’t powdered lately. It’s also one of those things that can make your nose look a little long too.”
- Next up, sculpting and bronzer. “This gives a three-dimensional quality to skin. Start by using a foundation two shades deeper than your complexion to sculpt under the cheekbones, this lays the groundwork and then set it with a matte taupe powder and your contour won’t move. Go up to the temples and don’t be afraid to work into the hairline. Bronzer is the icing on the cake. I love Nars Laguna Bronzing Powder, £31, it’s an old school classic because it’s an olive, not orange, undertone.”
LOOK 3: Waveliner
For a punch of colour and when you want to have more fun, create a wave of colour on the eyes with four shades of liner. “It’s another take on denim-blue liner mixing in turquoise shades. I love this feline look.”
Coat, £345 Tara Jarmon
- “Go directly into the lower waterline to apply the colour, but if your eyes water, I give my client this tip. Take your hand and cover your mouth, then go crazy wagging your tongue all the way around. You can’t produce tears when you’re doing this. First I put this L’Oréal Paris liner Infallible Gel Crayon in Got the Blue, £4.99, L’Oréal Paris on the centre of the eye, then I’m going to have more fun and work different tones on the outer and inner corners. Then if you want to go a little bit extra, take an even lighter blue along the top lash line. Colouring different areas of the eye with different tones creates the beautiful wave of colour.”
- “For the perfect wing guide, I pull out the liner from the outer corner with my finger, it’s my training wheel on where I want my wings to end. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are good and mean you’re in the game. Cottonbuds are my magic erasers to clean up any liner and saliva is your best makeup remover. I’ll also go in with the cottonbuds to smudge, it’s so modern and kind of rockstar.”
LOOK 4: Spotlight Eyes
“I love statement eyes, if you know anything about my work and the people I work with, you’ll know I love light-reflective eyes with massive impact. The way to get really impactful eyes is to layer pencils, shadows and glitters. I love red and purple together, it reminds me of Cabaret.” But be warned. “Don’t do this eye when your Uber is on the way, sit down in front of beautiful lighting and take your time.”
Blazer, £584 Theory
- Step one is the eyeliner. “Use eyeliner as an eyeshadow base. I scribbled on the lid with Rich Purple Chromographic Liner, £15, MAC. The pencil gives so much grab to the eyeshadow and it won’t move. To blend this baby out, use a stiff brush to wash the colour over the lid and along the lash line and it’ll and show every particle of prismatic colour.”
- Step two: “I’ll do put a bit of hot pink shadow in the crease. I never put eyeshadow on the brow as a highlight, its over, done, not cool anymore! Then add a beautiful plum purple shadows, I love layering a nice mosaic of colours using the HudaBeauty Obsessions Palettes in Amethyst. Pack shadow on and blend out along the natural three-dimensional shape of your eye. A short stiff brush gives greater control. Do not use a big floppy brush otherwise all your eyeshadow will fall down.”
- Step three: Master the winning fade. “I’ll put on a little bit of moisturiser directly onto the skin underneath the eyes to keep this area supple and then I always go back in with a little bit of concealer. My magic trick is to take a brush that has no colour on and merge the concealer and eyeshadow into a soft wash, that fade is money in the bank.”
- Step four: glitter. “I love glitter and used the same colour here that I used on Coachella both nights SpacePaste in Violet Haze, £20, Lemonhead LA. We’re going to put this near the tear ducts. Add mascara and you’re done.”
- Step five: “For the red matte lip, go big or go home. I used a blue-based red Rouge Signature in I Don’t, £9.99, L’Oréal Paris and lined the lips and went in on top with this as a stain so it stays put for a long time. And that’s it, time to own it.”
Amen to that!