The Best Actress nominee shares her Oscars night beauty breakdown with exclusive behind-the-scenes photos

By Hanna Flanagan and Reporting By Andrea Lavinthal
April 27, 2021 07:58 PM
Products in this story are independently selected and featured editorially. If you make a purchase using these links we may earn commission.
Advertisement
Andra Day BTS getting ready Oscars 2021 provided by La Mer
Credit: Courtesy La Mer

Andra Day arrived at the 93rd annual Academy Awards red carpet in a gold Vera Wang design inspired by her The United States Vs. Billie Holiday character's affinity for all things sexy. But before the Best Actress nominee shut down the red carpet in her sultry look, makeup artist Porsche Cooper made sure her skin was as radiant as her glittering gold gown — and PEOPLE was lucky enough to get the full beauty breakdown.

"I wanted something that was glowing," Day tells PEOPLE exclusively of her beauty look. "My dress has a glow to it, and so I wanted my skin to match that. I wanted it to be light, just fresh, fun."

Andra Day BTS getting ready Oscars 2021 provided by La Mer
Credit: Courtesy La Mer

Cooper also wanted Day to shine on the carpet. "I wanted her skin to emit a goddess-like glow, so it was super important to have a moisturizer that can do that and has a lightweight texture," the makeup pro — who's been working with the singer and actress for over eight years — tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. So she turned to her trusted hero items from La Mer.

Andra Day BTS getting ready Oscars 2021 provided by La Mer
Credit: Courtesy La Mer

"I believe in moisturizing the entire body. I used the La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream ($345; cremedelamer.com) on her face and brought it down onto her décolletée," Cooper explains. "It gives a healthy, radiant glow upon application. It's literally instant gratification."

To get Day's skin to give off an "otherwordly radiance" Cooper also applied "layers and layers of moisture" with the Concentrate ($200; cremedelamer.com) and Perfecting Primer ($90; cremedelamer.com).

"I want her face to emit this light about her. When she steps on the red carpet and the flash of the camera [hits her], I wanted the light to bounce back so that you really see how ethereal of a goddess she really is in person."

For more on Day, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

Andra Day BTS getting ready Oscars 2021 provided by La Mer
Credit: Courtesy La Mer

Cooper explains that she likes to put a lot of time and effort into skip prep when working with celebrity clients, which is why her kit is always "packed" with La Mer goodies like the Genaissance Infused Lotion ($270; cremedelamer.com) and Eye Concentrate ($235; cremedelamer.com), also used night-of.

Andra Day BTS getting ready Oscars 2021 provided by La Mer
Credit: Courtesy La Mer

Day says she was actually introduced to the "otherworldly" products by Cooper and has been "smitten ever since."

"It just works. It's a high-end line for a reason," Day says of the luxe brand. "It's incredible. Crème de la Mer [$345; cremedelamer.com] was the first thing that I was introduced to and that just changed the texture of my skin altogether."

Andra Day BTS getting ready Oscars 2021 provided by La Mer
Credit: Courtesy La Mer

Another plus? "To be honest with you, I use it because I don't get as much sleep as I should," the Golden Globe winner joked of the magical products. "The last few months have been an incredible whirlwind. We're lacking sleep and exhaustion absolutely shows on your face. Your skin is just drier and more parched. Elasticity's not as good. La Mer products really hydrate my skin and make me look more rested."

Andra Day BTS getting ready Oscars 2021 provided by La Mer
Credit: Courtesy La Mer

To combat the stress of awards season and alleviate some of the pressure, Days says she and her team like to keep the mood light while getting glam. Her pre-red carpet rituals include skincare, prayer and listening to gospel, African dance and West Indie music. The star adds that she "loves" the artists she works with, which makes the entire process that much more enjoyable.

For Cooper, the prep process also includes a brief spa session. "I really love to give them mini facials before glam begins. I feel that gets them into the mood, it relaxes them, it calms them," Cooper shares. "It's super important to prep your skin before makeup, because if you want your makeup to look seamless and flawless your skin needs to be healthy before you even get to that point."

Before Day was whisked off to the carpet, Cooper applied Chanel Rouge Coco Bloom Lip Colour in Dream ($40; chanel.com) and Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss in Excitation ($32; chanel.com) to put the finishing touch on the nominee's look.