When it comes to makeup, what Sir John says usually goes. That’s how it works when you’re one of the world’s most talented makeup artists and when you’re responsible for Beyoncé’s most slayable beauty looks. But his success didn’t just happen overnight: Sir John has been working as a makeup artist for over 18 years, honing his skills backstage at fashion weeks around the world, experimenting with countless products and techniques, and garnering a growing fanbase and star-studded clientele along the way (which includes the likes of Kim Kardashian and Karlie Kloss, in addition to Queen Bey herself). It’s why Sir John has taken on the role as mentor on Lifetime's American Beauty Star (now in its second season, airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET) where budding makeup artists compete in a series of beauty challenges for the coveted prize of a contract with Revlon (which includes $100,000) and a feature on Cosmopolitan's website.
In each episode, contestants receive Sir John’s advice on everything from how to make a look stand out from the rest (in a good way), to how to trust your intuition and creativity. Ahead, Sir John shares some of that beauty wisdom with Bustle, too.
What do you think are the biggest makeup trends for 2019?
Sir John: I see galaxy-inspired eyes — eyes that have a pearlescent or opalescent hue to them, with sheer washes of color. I also see a resurgence of neon around the eyes in matte form. I see it making a daytime debut with the line starting at the lash line and ending at the crease. Blush draping is big again. Faux freckles are really popular and charming to look at, too. This season on American Beauty Star, we’re seeing a lot of color. Color liners, color shadows, color mascaras. It’s not for the faint of heart!
Are there any indie or up-and-coming beauty brands you're currently a fan of?
Sir John: Brush Beauty Balm is an indie brand of skin care that has amazing products. They have oils that melt right into the skin that don't disrupt oily complexions. Also, Smith Brushes is a really lovely brand that is run by two sisters and their brush quality is through the roof.
What's the one product that you always have in your kit?
Sir John: I always have [MAC] Blacktrack Fluidline. It doesn't budge. It doesn't move. You can sweat, dance, and cry. It is, in my opinion, the best smudge-proof eyeliner in the world.
I also keep the [Infallible] Full Wear Concealers from L'Oreal Paris handy. I love the applicator and whipped shades that they come in.
How do you like to prep your clients' skin before makeup application?
Sir John: I love to use a rose quartz jade roller to stimulate blood flow. I follow that with moisturizer and dab on foundation with a damp beautyblender. When the moisturizer dries, the foundation hugs the skin in an organic way. You don't see product anywhere.
What's the hardest challenge American Beauty Star contestants have had to face on the show?
Sir John: The hardest challenge they would have to face is their own selves with [making sure they push themselves outside of the box with creativity.] This season, we’ve had such a variety of challenges, and some artists have struggled and others have thrived. Overall, it’s exciting to see so many contestants who are emotionally invested in winning, emotionally invested in their craft, emotionally invested in being a better person.
What's your advice for up-and-coming makeup artists and hair stylists? Do you think it's important or necessary to have a large social media following?
Sir John: I don't think it’s necessary to have a large social media following, but you do have to have an engaged following. You need to have a point of view. You need to be speaking with someone and standing for something. My advice to up-and-coming artists would be to learn your craft. The best artists know references from 50 years ago. You can't be a top makeup artist if you don't know the history of beauty. I’ve loved serving as the mentor on the show and seeing all the young talented people are who really hungry, who really want to succeed. It’s rewarding.
The finale of American Beauty Star will air live on Wed., March 27 at 10 p.m. ET on Lifetime. Make sure to place your vote on the website here.