What's It Like to Be a Hollywood Makeup Artist?

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Ever wonder what it's like to be one of Hollywood's beauty elite? Meet Molly Stern, a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist. She's painted the faces of some of the entertainment world’s most famous women—Rihanna, Mandy Moore, Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon, and Evan Rachel Wood, to name a few. Most recently, Molly accepted the award for Makeup Artist of the Year at the 2011 Hollywood Style Awards. We caught up with the red-carpet beauty queen for her take on celebrities, winter trends, and favorite products, plus we got her to dish out some advice for beginners!

B: What's it like working with Hollywood stars? Do celebrities like to take risks with their makeup?

I’ve been pretty blessed to work with amazingly creative—and sometimes dramatic—women. But nothing too crazy. Everyone works really hard. Penélope Cruz knows what she likes—smoldering eyes with a nude lip. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a total risk taker—she loves to play with color. And Reese Witherspoon is an open canvas. She loves classic looks but isn't afraid to let me push it a little.

B: Take us through a red-carpet beauty day—what's that experience like?

It’s hectic, but it's really fun. I usually only work on two clients maximum—and that's stretching it. I usually get a sneak peek of the dress a few days before so I can shop for new colors and get inspired. On the day of the event, I sit down with the whole prep team to discuss the total look. Hair and nails usually go first, then I swoop in and do my thing as they finish up. I make sure my clients look and feel gorgeous, and see them out the door. The whole day feels like prom, a wedding, and a fashion show all rolled into one.

B: What are your favorite products and trends right now?

I adore glowing tawny cheeks for winter. I'm totally into Make Up For Ever’s HD Blush and love love love Josie Maran's Argan Moisturizing Stick—together, they make stunning dewy cheeks! Colored mascara is also really fun to use right now, and YSL Shocking Mascara has a great spectrum of shades. While products come and go, I always keep Nars Blush in Sex AppealChantecaille Future Skin Foundation, and Cover Girl Lipslicks Lip Gloss in Daring in my kit.

B: Let's backtrack for a second—how did you get your start in the industry, and what advice do you have for those just starting their career?

I was 16 years old when I started working for Shu Uemura. At 19, I started assisting other makeup artists on music video and commercial shoots. My advice? Start your career working at a brand—you'll get your hands dirty every day! And test with young, creative photographers every free chance you have. Shoot something beautiful that you're proud to share.