Celebrity makeup artist Etienne Ortega breaks down the most striking looks that you can easily recreate yourself at home

By Kaitlyn Frey
February 16, 2017 09:00 AM
Etienne Ortega/Instagram

Makeup artist Etienne Ortega is about to be the best add to your Instagram feed in a while.

With over 460,000 followers already and a roster of high-profile clients including  the Kardashians, Jenners, Eva Longoria and Brittany Snow, Ortega has made a name for himself by creating some of the most iconic celebrity makeup looks (including Kendall Jenner‘s 2015 American Music Awards sultry shadow and all of Christina Aguilera‘s looks for The Voice).

After working on countless stars over the years, Ortega’s done everything from mastering the classic black smoky eye to playing with some of makeup’s most daring trends. The makeup artist picked four of the most standout looks he’s done, and broke down exactly what it takes for you to accomplish them at home – in no time!


The Muse: Kris Jenner

If anyone loves rocking the sultry smoky eye look, it’s none other than KarJenner momager Kris Jenner. “She just loves smoky eyes, period!” Ortega told PeopleStyle. “She’s that girl.”

1. Pick your color palette. The key to mastering a smoky eye is first choosing which color direction you want to go with, he says. “I’ve been using a lot of sultry onyx tones, deep purples and rich browns lately,” he said.

2. Begin with your lids. Ortega preps with an eye shadow primer or concealer “for longer wear and to prevent any kind of creasing.” And with a smoky eye, he suggests perfecting your liner and shadow before getting started on the rest of your face to avoid getting smudges on your perfected skin: “Focus on the eyes, make sure everything is great and then do foundation, concealer, powder and contour later.”

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3. Use the right tools. Take whatever color you want to smoke out (in Kris’ case, a onyx black) and apply it all over the lid using a fluffy blending brush, pulling it out towards the outer corner of the eye so it creates a soft cat eye effect. “I just got a fluffy blending brush from TJ Maxx that I love,” he said. “I love finding new jewels and secret weapons there and also at Marshalls.”

And don’t worry: applying tons of shades isn’t required. “You can create a smoky eye with one color,” Ortega continues. “One layer is your base. If you want to intensify the look, then you start building. Apply more and more in circular motions so it looks really diffused with no harsh lines.”

4. Define your eye. Complete the dramatic look by packing on black eyeliner and mascara to the top and bottom lash lines. “I also usually like to take a darker shadow and focus it with a more precise detailed brush around the lash line for a 3-D effect,” Ortega said.


The Muse: Christina Aguilera

Every time Ortega does The Voice judge and singer Christina Aguilera’s makeup, he knows it’s going to be a good time. “She’s my favorite client because she loves to play,” he said. “You could present her any idea, so she makes it easy.”

1. Get inspired. “For Christina on The Voice, we usually go through wardrobe, hair and makeup to collaborate. That day, she had a lilac wig, so I was like, ‘Why don’t we just do an electric blue cat-liner?'” Ortega said. Or, find inspiration for looks that accentuate your natural features.

2. Focus on one feature: lips or eyes. Ortega will pair a major eye with a neutral lip or vice versa, allowing the highlighted element to have “a pop so it can be dramatic.” And even within that one feature, he keeps things clean, as he did by using a very light shadow against the bright liner.  “You don’t want to mix blue eyeliner with a dark brown shadow because then you’re going to lose it. Make the liner the statement,” Ortega said.

3. Go simple with your skin. “I always tell everyone, in order to get your makeup to look great and have a dewy finish, you have to make sure you’re taking care of your skin,” he said. Before starting any look, the artist starts with moisturizer and a good primer to get the skin prepped. For some extra glow, Ortega dusts a highlight on the high points of the face. “Whatever color of highlighter I use, I take the same one all around,” he said. On Christina, he put some on the tops of her cheekbones and beneath her brow.


The Muse: Hilary Duff

When it comes to doing actress and singer Hilary Duff’s makeup, Ortega doesn’t need much. “She is literally gorgeous without makeup. I just want to keep her skin very, very natural and bump it up [a little],” he said.

1. Use warm, golden tones for day-to-day glam. On Duff, Ortega used a palette from TJ Maxx with champagne, gold and brown shades to make her more natural look amped up. “The golden tones and browns on her eyes, plus the blush and highlight, really made a nice pop,” he said.

2. A little foundation will go a long way. “For an everyday woman, one or two pumps is more than enough,” Ortega said. “Or no foundation, if you take care of your skin and drink water!” If you like a bare face but have a few blemishes, just stick to a creamy concealer to target problem areas.

3. Underdone lips go with the vibe. Opt for a hybrid lip balm/stain instead of a lipstick to keep with the natural makeup vibe. “I used these little tubes that are almost like lip balm, but it’s a stain,” Ortega said. “It’s the most pretty thing ever.”

Which one of Etienne’s makeup looks is your favorite? Tell us below!