Behind every great awards-season look is a crack team of beauty A-listers – the behind-the-scenes experts whose job it is to ensure that every celebrity is camera-ready and Insta-perfect from every angle. But creating these often-iconic looks (and the best will be remembered for years) takes preparation, the perfect kit and even some ‘homework’ from the stars themselves. From the transformational pre-event skin prep to the hairdresser’s secret weapon (a toothbrush), we asked the top hair, skin, makeup and body experts to share their insider red-carpet tips.
For Harry Josh, who is renowned for making women look fabulous (he’s done Gisele’s hair since she was 16), event dressing is about creating a total look. “And when it comes to the red carpet, it all starts with the dress,” he says. “The right hair and makeup can transform a simple dress, but when an outfit is more fashion-forward, like Jodie Comer’s Mary Katrantzou dress at the Golden Globes [pictured above], it’s just about making her look beautiful. This is the same for any woman. It’s not just a case of having a great dress and booking a blow-out; you need to consider how best to finish your whole look.’’ Josh advises using the red carpet for inspiration, seeing how the hair and makeup is used to finish the look of a dress. “If you’re wearing a similar style to someone you've seen on the red carpet, consider the hair and makeup they wore with it. It’s what makes you look expensive and thought through.”
For Josh, it’s the ‘micro details’ that elevate the everyday to event-worthy. “There’s an ordinary pony and there’s an extra-ordinary pony,’ he says. “It’s the detailing of not leaving the brush marks when the hair’s pulled back, making the parting really clean and lowering it an extra inch to add more drama. I use a toothbrush, with hair spray or wax, to tame down fly-aways along the parting, hairline and around the ears.”
Clients may also be given some ‘homework’ to do. “It takes one to two weeks to get hair into incredible condition, so I ask them to use a treatment every night, braid their hair and sleep in it. Olaplex No3 Hair Perfector, used every night for just five days, gives the best results possible.”
The facial esthetician
In the run-up to the Oscars, Sarah Chapman decamps from her eponymous London salon for the San Vicente bungalows in West Hollywood, to give clients her famous ‘light-bulb glow’ before they walk the red carpet. “Ideally, I see clients the day before their event,” she explains. “But they also have to do some work beforehand at home – and it’s amazing how much difference you can make in a short time. For the biggest improvement, the focus is on cleansing, ideally using a steamer, and to really massage in the cleanser, using your knuckles to work it in. Just doing this, for five days, leaves skin ultra-clean and bright – and if there’s time, I also get clients to use my 10-Day Radiance Recharge System ampoule kit. What you eat also has a big effect: cutting out spicy food, salt, processed foods, sugar and diary for three weeks can make a big difference to your skin and body – especially when it comes to bloating. For skin that’s breaking out, I advise clients to cut out sugar, dairy and alcohol and I get them to take The Beauty Chef Inner Beauty Powder to get their skin in a good place.”
Hydrating the skin is key and Chapman also likes to exfoliate before using skincare containing hyaluronic acid, so that it can penetrate the skin properly. “It’s what makes the skin look plump and dewy. If a client’s lost a bit of weight, for example, and their face is looking a bit ‘empty’ and tired, then we can do some radio frequency to tighten the skin. I also like to do microneedling to get more active ingredients into the skin.”
With all the work done beforehand, on the actual day of an event, Chapman advises clients to use a hydrating sheet mask that has been chilled in the refrigerator, which helps get rid of puffiness. “Alternatively,” says Chapman, “you can half-fill a balloon with water and freeze it, then roll it over your face to firm and invigorate skin and reduce puffiness.”
The makeup artist
Sofia Schwarzkopf-Tilbury may have learnt her makeup skills from the best (Charlotte Tilbury is her aunt), but she has honed her own technique to prep, perfect and finish her clients’ looks. “If they haven’t had time for a facial before their event, I send them a clay mask to use that day,” she explains. “It makes the skin look really clean and fresh. And if my client has been traveling, to get rid of puffiness, I have ice packs from the drugstore or a chilled face roller that I use to sculpt the face. It’s amazing how much difference this makes. I usually start with the Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask, but I’ll spend 15 minutes massaging over the mask to work it into the skin, working up and out to lift the face.”
Mini-treatment finished, Schwarzkopf-Tilbury then primes the skin with Magic Cream, the multi-tasking moisturizer that Charlotte Tilbury created to use backstage at the shows. “My makeup always starts with Hollywood Flawless Filter, as it ‘cheats’ that post-facial glowing skin look, without being sparkly. I use it as a primer or mix it with the base, but on an oily skin, I just use it as a highlighter. The Magic Foundation Flawless is perfect for the red carpet, as it gives good coverage, but I buff it out with a brush to make it a little lighter. Then I conceal and always finish with powder – but I only apply this with a small brush, and just where needed, and not on the high points of the face. Before my client leaves, I always put the powder and a brush in their evening bag.”
Creating that red-carpet glamour is down to some subtle but effective touches. “Always elongate your brows and your eyeliner – it also makes your nose look smaller,” says Schwarzkopf-Tilbury. “My winged liner is my secret weapon to transform the face. Use it on the top lid only (on the lower lashes, it closes up the eyes) – I prefer a brown to black and, this season, I’ve been using the new berry brown Pillow Talk Liner, as it works so well if you have amber flecks in brown, blue or green eyes. The secret is to take the liner a little lower down and then do the up-flick – it gives your eye that beautiful almond shape. And I always add false lashes, which lifts a look, even if it’s just the more natural three corner-lashes I do on Sienna Miller, for example. And finally, I always go back with concealer – it gives that really perfected finish to the face.”
The body sculptors
Camila and Lais Perez’s lymphatic massage is known to be so effective and immediate that A-listers come to them on the day of the red carpet for their ‘High Definition’ massage. Unsurprisingly, the award season is one of the busiest times for this Brazilian mother-and-daughter duo, who spilt their time (and appointments) between Miami, New York and LA to tend to their high-profile clients – whom they are far too discreet to name (rumored to be the likes of Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid and J-Lo). Their sought-after technique is based on a tissue-release pressure massage, cupping and specially blended tightening creams from Brazil. “Depending on what the client is wearing on the red carpet, and whether they are showing legs, arms or need a smaller waistline, we customize their treatment to sculpt, ‘de-bloat’ and enhance muscle tone.” But what can you do in the run-up to an event? According to the Perezes, drinking a cup of dandelion, fennel or nettle-leaf tea every day for one week before is particularly transformative for water retention. They also recommend drinking Calms magnesium powder dissolved in warm water, every evening before bed, for a week – especially if you’re feeling bloated.
When you eat, and what not to eat, also play an important part in body prep. The Perezes recommend avoiding vegetables that cause fermentation, such as broccoli and asparagus, which are both known to bloat. They also tell clients not to eat after 6pm. “The lymph is doing its best work at night to clear away toxins from the day and to increase the blood flow. So, say it’s Tuesday and your event is on Saturday, eat lightly before 6pm every night and fast until breakfast the following day – it really does make a difference,” explains Camila. And for an extra boost, the Perezes recommend daily detoxing baths using a cocktail of Epsom salts, rosemary sprigs and fennel seeds – “This increases energy and blood flow, but is also great for the gut when absorbed through the skin.”
The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown