Lifetime’s beauty reality competition, American Beauty Star, is back with a second season and for the always-bubbly judge, Christie Brinkley, tapping into her not-so-sunny side to deliver bad news to contestants took some practice.
PEOPLE caught up with the new judge who talked about the difficulties of giving criticism and how she struck a balance between being honest, without hurting anyone’s feelings.
“I was constantly torn between constructive criticism and not wanting to hurt their confidence or cramp their style because I never wanted my criticism to inhibit their originality,” Brinkley, 64, tells PEOPLE.
But it was especially difficult when the looks were less-than spectacular. “There were a couple looks that was hard to find something to like about it and when you are trying to look for something good to say, to find the gem in there to highlight, but it was challenging,” she says.
Brinkley had some experience going into it, after making a guest judge appearance last season. “Being a guest judge you are in and out pretty quickly,” she says. “When you are doing the whole season you become more invested in each person and you get to know their goals, dreams, and hopes and it becomes harder to eliminate anyone, you just want everyone to succeed in their own way.”
American Beauty Star mimics the set-up of Project Runway. Model Ashley Graham is the new host (taking over for Adriana Lima), celebrity makeup artist Sir John is returning as the Tim Gunn-esque mentor, and Brinkley joins the panel of judges which includes Cosmopolitan’s Chief Beauty Director Leah Wyar and fashion photographer Yu Tsai.
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The makeup artists and hairstylists compete by making editorial, runway and trend-based looks throughout the season, until they reach the live finale, where viewers vote for their favorite.
To gear up for the show’s return (on January 2), we caught up with Brinkley to ask her all-things beauty, including tips she’s picked up from the contestants and what her daughters are teaching her about hair and makeup.
PEOPLE: Do you ever do your own red carpet glam?
Christie Brinkley: Yes I do. In the summer I just about always do it myself, it is rare to have it done during that time of year. It is a more casual and relaxed look so it is easier, but if it is a fancy event, that is part of the fun.
P: What’s one beauty thing you do to prep for a red carpet?
CB: I use my Christie Brinkley Thermal Detox Mask. It makes the skin glow.
P: What beauty tips have your daughters taught you?
CB: Sailor is very wash-and-wear and has taught me to get out the door faster. Alexa always says to put as little of foundation on as possible.
P: What beauty tips have you picked up from contestants on American Beauty Star?
CB: I learned different ways of applying fishtail eyeliner.
American Beauty Star airs on Wednesday, January 2 at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime.