From Glowy Skin to Gilded Eyelids, Beyoncé's Makeup Artist Reveals the Secrets of Her VMAs Beauty Look
Everything you're dying to know about her gilded glam
When Beyoncé stepped onto the MTV VMAs red carpet Sunday night, it was as if an actual angel had descended on the white carpet with her feather wings, $12.5 million worth of bling and one Blue Ivy in tow. A day later we’re still swooning over her red carpet glow, which only grew more luminous for her subsequent tweet-worthy performance. So we dialed up her longtime makeup artist, Sir John, to reveal just what went into getting Queen Bey ready for her epic night.
“The punctuation for me for me was glowing skin, a pinkish-nude lip and feline, sort of Sophia Loren eyes,” Sir John says of the star’s red carpet beauty look to PeopleStyle, adding that the winged liner creates “a great silhouette. That linear moment around the ocular area lends to an emotional connection between a woman and her audience.”
He felt this romantic vibe, for which the pro “used a lot of luminizer,” wouldn’t clash with the feathery neckline of her Francesco Scognamiglio gown – and was subtle enough that he could later build on it for her performance look.
“I wanted to make sure that her eyes were just a little softer than what they were going to be for the actual stage, so I used a little bit less black liner and mascara,” explains Sir John, who also opted to use brown eyeliner on her lower lash line to lessen the intensity of the overall eye look. “A lot woman will do black on their top and bottom lash line, but that can be a bit harsh. Using brown on the bottom is like an optical illusion, it reads black, but it’s a lot less aggressive.”
And there was a reason her lip color (from the L’Oréal Paris Infallible range) was so flawless: He’s used it on her numerous times since her Mrs. Carter tour because it never budges.
After the carpet, Sir John spent a mere 15 minutes preparing her for the stage. For those of you who are counting, that’s 46 seconds less than Bey’s Lemonade performance. Yes, he’s that good.
“I just bumped everything up a little. I made the black liner thicker, used a little bit more gold on the lid, and a little bit more bronzer because I wanted her to seem warmer on stage.”
The inspiration? All gold everything. “I remember on the story boards, she had Nefertiti. Going back to the “Sorry” video, there was this Nefertiti reference, all gold, she wanted to go somewhere like that, and make her eyes look larger and more emotive.”
With her eyes an even greater focus, he created Bey’s gilded lids using the same gold liquid that he and 25 artists working along side him painted on all 96 (!) of her backup dancers in order to create their reflective look.
“Gold was a huge theme, I did a lot of gold on the girls, because I wanted to give them that lighted touch. Literally my job was to work with light.”
Another technique Sir John used to highlight Bey’s skin? Strobing. But in order to make it look picture perfect, the placement important.
“Don’t be afraid to strobe,” he advises. “Strobing is great on the sides of the face. If you look at the photos of looks I have created with her, there’s massive amounts of luminizer on the sides of her cheek bones, but if she turns directly to the camera, everything appears matte. You can be as shiny as you want to on the sides of the face, but remaining matte in the center of the face is always key. That’s something that’s life or death when I am working with her.”
Another trick of his trade? Doubling up on makeup formulas to ensure the look withstood her powerhouse performance. “I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to touch her up, so to get a long-wearing base, I used a powder and a cream. [For instance] a liquid foundation and a powder foundation, a cream blush and a powder blush, a gel eyeliner and a powder eye liner. What that does is it gives you a teflon, bullet-proof base.”
To get her skin ready for such a long night of lights, cameras and action, he’d prepped it with a mask.
With his trusted team of pros beside him, Sir John arrived at Madison Square Garden at 9:30 that morning to aid in making Bey’s VMA performance another unforgettable one.
“This was my first VMAs! My agent was there with a clipboard and Gatorade! It was like we were a football team.” But consider Sir John and his team a group of all-stars after prepping for a week for the main event.
If Sir John had one challenge that evening, it was navigating his way back and forth between Mrs. Carter and her crew. “I’d never actually been to Madison Square Garden! But everything went off without a hitch.”
The two spent even less time together on her post-performance makeup look. “She doesn’t like to sit down! So I just literally just refresh and send her on her way.”
And yes, he spent time with Blue Ivy as well. “I gave her a little pink balm,” he shares.
“It was a good time, a good day. Everyone was so passionate,” reflects Sir John, who will ride that of momentum right into his next passion project: the opening of his inaugural Sir John Beauty Gallery, which opens to public September 14 in New York City. The event will kick off with a master class lead by the pro (run, don’t walk to get your tickets) and will also feature art inspired by some of the makeup artist’s most iconic work to date. Given how awe-inspiring we know him to be, this is sure to be a masterpiece.
What was your favorite part of Bey’s look? Sound off below.