Sir John, Beyoncé's makeup artist, shares the ultimate beauty secrets the superstar swears by and that you *need* to know

Make way for royalty.

03 May 2019

If there's one makeup mastermind that we've been dying to spill their beauty secrets with GLAMOUR, it's Sir John. The ALLEVEN Global Ambassador cut his teeth working on MAC counters in New York City by day, and doing makeup for strip clubs by night, which explains why he knows a thing or two about creating a dramatic glittery eye. Later, he caught his big break while working backstage at Fashion Week for the beauty legends like Pat McGrath and Charlotte Tilbury, who then introduced him to none other than Beyoncé. The rest, as they, is history.

Nowadays, Sir John is best known for creating some of Queen Bey's most iconic looks as her personal makeup artist, as well painting the faces of an all-star client base including Kim Kardashian, Joan Smalls and Ashley Graham. So when we got the chance to sit down with Sir John and get the scoop on his trade secrets, we well and truly paid attention.

Read on for all the tips and tricks you need to keep you looking flawless.

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Always use two foundations

I’m always using two colours. No-one is one colour, so I use two colours to give the perfect colour. For example, when you come back from a vacation you’re going to be a different colour today than you will be in three weeks from now when you lose your tan.

Consider a spray-on formula

The is very sheer, almost like a tinted moisturiser. You just spray it on and it gives you an even, bare-looking complexion that doesn’t look like makeup, but it is foundation. It's buildable, it’s lightweight, and I can put blush or cream concealer on top.

Make A Statement

When it comes to makeup, do a statement. A statement can be an eye, it can be skin. Skin can be a statement. If you have beautiful skin, even if you work it up with a product, it can say so much about where you are. Just don’t do a lot of skin. When I say a lot of skin, don’t take it to a place of the most lacquered foundation possible. When you see someone with a lot of foundation on, it's a sign an amateur choice and very little refinement.

Use body makeup to your advantage

My best body hack is for lengthening legs. I use the , which was used on Beyoncé for her Coachella performance, taking
a darker colour down the sides of the legs, and then using a really soft mist down the centre that’s lighter to create that beautiful, three dimensional quality.
To get rid of redness on the knees, you do a tiny spray but you don’t have to lacquer. You don’t need as much coverage on your knees or elbows as you would everywhere else because you want the definition. It makes your legs look like they’re moving. It keeps it real.
The benefit of Colour Shield is it dries super quick. Within three minutes, it’s completely dry. You can give it the white sheet test. You can sleep in white sheets and it will not move. This is not a self tanner. Self tanner is going to give you colour but it doesn’t cover a bruise, it doesn’t cover a vein, your skin can still look dry whereas this foundation is skin-perfecting, which is completely in another direction.

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Always remember your SPF

As someone who travels a hell of a lot for work, I would say what I’m going to need for my clients is SPF for sure. SPF not just because it’s going to protect you from the sun and not make you look old, but I don’t want their skin to burn, and I don’t have a foundation colour to match. That’s a safety net for myself. If you're going to go in the sun, your skin is going to be more irritated, so you want someone that’s softening and calming to the complexion, so anything aloe based things or softening, refreshing cleansers, moisturising cleansers, you can leave all your alpha-hydroxy’s, anything with chemicals in them at home. You don’t need all of that at this point. Anything that’s goes to make you sun sensitive, even if it’s a vitamin C serum, leave it at home.

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Take a darker bronzer on holiday

The other thing I’d say you want to go for is your bronzers. Go for deeper, golden bronzes that you can mix with your lotion. Don’t be afraid to mix some coco, bronzey situation and even if you use alabass or soap, mix the gold complexion and slather it on everywhere. It’s really sexy and I love the way SPF glows on the skin. It makes you look light reflective and SPF is a beautiful highlighter for the cheekbones. It’s a really luminous highlighter and it doesn’t happen to be sticky.

Don't forget to edit your makeup bag

You want Colour Stay lips that are going to stay anchored to your lips for 8 hours or more. Leave your lip glosses at home. You can leave your colourful eyeshadows at home. Give yourself a really nice pot liner that you can give yourself a beautiful cat eye, a hella lot of mascara, maybe a chunky mascara that'S down to the last bit tO give you Rockstar lashes, waterproof mascara, and also brows. Brows are great. Even if you’re going to the beach or the gym, you want a brow. Give yourself pencil and powder because that sets it in. Also cream blush. The beach is the time you wear cream blush. Besides your highlighters and your cream blush, you’re going to give yourself a cat eye with pot liner, mascara and a colour stay lip - you don’t need anything else.

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Every company has a colour stay lip at this point. Pot liner is MAC, always. I always say MAC black track fluid line. I’m a mascara junkie so I love all mascaras. I love the Marc Jacob’s mascara. He has a nice fibre-rich mascara, also you have lash paradise which is really dope, but also Lancôme Hypnôse Waterproof is my jam. I love Lancôme mascara.

Take your Instagram photos in the afternoon...

I always say to clients, if you can, don’t take the paparazzi photographs in the daytime. If you’re wanting that one special photo to hit the gram, take it in the PM because the flash will luminate your complexion.

And always use a flash

There are so many times I take photos and people are like 'shall we do a flash or not', but always do flash. A flash is like concealer. It’s luminating to the complexion. It picks up all the highlight in the face and make you look young, fresh and poppin'. Always get a flash. Always make sure it’s in the PM, anytime after 7pm, it’s amazing. Your complexion will be glowier, you’re going to look slimmer. The sun on top of your head is never flattering when it comes to photos. You’re always going to look older than you do four hours earlier. I always pray for my girls to have photos that are not in the daytime. Any daytime photo on any celebrity, it doesn’t matter how beautiful they are, how young they are, how slim they are, it’s not flattering.

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Be strategic with your highlighter

For Met Ball prep, I want my girls to glow but it has to be strategic. That means you can be as shiny as you want to on the sides of your face - if you run your finger up your face and down your face, that’s where your glow should stop. It should never go in between your eyeballs. You should never have anything glowy on the front of your cheeks, on your chin, on the tip of your nose, it’s a bad idea. It makes you look like a pornstar.

On your forehead, no glow. You should be void of glow in the centre of the face but glowy everywhere else. When I do shows with Beyonce, I make sure she’s so glowy and luminous and we do highlighter everywhere but as soon as she turns directly to the camera, she’s void of shimmer and I do an apricot blush on the apples. That’s strategically placing your glow. That sets the pros from the beginners and the pedestrians.

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Use Pinterest to perfect your looks

When I’m working with Joan Smalls, she sends me photos and illustrations of the dress. I’ve always liked to see some illustrations because we want to get into a vibe. You want to get into a Pinterest folder or figure something out. You want to have fun with it, especially for the Met Ball which always has a theme. You’re sending your client into a room that has the greatest artwork in history. These faces are going to be next to paintings. This is the moment to really go in and slay. What made my career memorable were Met Ball moments. Joan Smalls with the purple lip seven years ago, or Beyonce when she wore the ponytail and she was wearing a Ricardo Tisci.

Learn from your makeup mistakes

I also had a huge epic fail. One year at The Met Gala with Beyonce, I did this graphic eye and everyone dragged me. It was almost like villagers with pitchforks with flames outside my window. I remember sitting there at dinner and just seeing everyone come for me, like thousands of people being like 'we hate you, we hate you, who are you'. You know what that day told me though, and I hope this speaks to someone, I realise that compliments or criticism, you can’t take either one seriously because if it was better light, like when she took photos in the evening that same night, they were cute but you catch someone on a bad day.

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I saw Beyonce the next day and I was scared, I was scared to see her. She was like 'I liked it, I wouldn’t have left my house if I didn’t like it, it was symmetrical and I was happy, I liked it and I was ok'. If she liked it and I liked it, f*** everyone else. But in that moment, it made me realise I can’t cater to people. The same people who built you up will tear you down instantly. It’s a whole generation of girls who are getting ready for prom and who are getting ready for Coachella or festival season and they’re all looking at their phones and they’re doing all this dressing for people on that platform. When they don’t like your look or what you have to offer, it should not change how you feel about yourself and how you felt about what you did that night.

Always find the light and stand tall

Always know your light. Know where your light source is coming from. It doesn’t matter if it’s a street light or a parking lot. You can be at a table with a candle, pull the table close to you and make sure it’s not under your chin because it will be bad lighting. Know your light.

Also, stand tall and when I say stand tall, it sounds simple and something your mum told you but make sure your jaw is parallel to the ground. I know it sounds really crazy but it’s like old school finishing school. Your ribcage should be over your hips. If you stand taller, you look so much more elegant and your clothes will lay better and you’ll feel sexier.

Amen to that!