Working with clients like Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and Rihanna, celebrity makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff is a red carpet beauty expert. Beautylish caught up with Ashunta while she prepped Gossip Girl's Tika Sumpter (below, wearing a stunning silver Herve Leger dress) at Cover Girl Queen Collection's BET Awards pre-show lounge. Here, Ashunta shares her makeup tips on everything from applying false lashes to looking good in the spotlight.
The term "ethnic" can apply to Asian, Mediterranean, and African-American women. More pigmented makeup, like the Cover Girl Queen Collection, can cater to all ethnic women.
Tika's going to be interviewing people on the red carpet, so I want to make sure to make her eyes look sexy. When people are talking to her, I want them to be hypnotized by their eyes. This advice also works if you're on a date and at a job interview (just tone down the sexiness at the workplace).
Layering makeup helps it stay. Using a shadow that contains a primer (or prepping with a primer as a first step) is especially important if you have oily eyelids.
For smoky eyes, I like to create triangles of color, with a lighter shade like the blue metallic Tika's wearing on the inner corners. This sheer blue will get the eyes popping. After I create the triangles, I'll blend the shadows with a synthetic brush so it's seamless.
After layering on the eye shadows, then I'll go back in with eye pencil at the lash line and in a triangle shape on top of the darkest shadow's triangle. Then I'll go back and use a small brush to blend the pencil out. I'm layering the smoke so that it lasts. I don't want to see any makeup melting.
I like to do a heavy undersmoke with liner. Alicia [Keys] nicknamed me the "eye rapist." Because I like to line the inner rims until you cry. That's the only way to get the intense eye look I want.
I'll bring the eye makeup to an angle for a cat-eye effect by using the foundation that's left over on my foundation brush. I call this my eraser. Just sweep it along below the eye and up the side and you'll clean up any extra shadow and create a cat-eye shape.
If you're wearing false lashes, it's better to do a transparent smoke. Otherwise the look can be overwhelming if you have too much smoke going on.
For great lashes, apply your mascara uptown (from root to tip on the underside of lashes—the way you would typically apply mascara), downtown (from root to tip on the tops of lashes), then crosstown (zig zagging the brush from root to tip) with just one serving of mascara. Crosstown teases the lashes and really gets the volume pumping.
I'll typically do two coats of mascara, apply the false lashes, and then do two more coats of mascara. I hate when they don't marry the lashes together. You need to apply more mascara on top of the false lashes so they look like they're growing from your eyes. You need to merge the hairs together.
I like Ja'Maal Buster Wicked false lashes and Duo black glue. For some reason, the black glue dries faster than the white one. Don't glue the lashes onto your hairs otherwise when you pull of the false lashes, you'll be pulling out your own hairs. Get the strip as close to the lash line as possible, but glue it to the skin, not your actual hairs.
Blush should start on the apple. Using my foundation brush "eraser," I'll taper the edges off so the main color is where I want it to be.
For a sculpted effect, I'll apply bronzer in a three-technique, drawing a big number 3 starting at the forehead, going under then cheekbone, and then across the chin. This immediately slims the face and gives contouring.
I'll also contour the nose using a matte bronzer. I'll start at the brow bone, then go down to the nostrils. You have to contour for the camera, otherwise you'll look flat, especially on HD.
For highlighting, I'll apply pressed powder below the eye, above the cheekbone, and above the brow.
I'll also use matte bronzer to fill in the brows. Just a little bit of pencil on the ends adds definition. I'll use Cover Girl Lip Perfection Lip Liner on the brows and the lips. They have the perfect brown for brown girls. If you can't find a brow pencil or lip pencil in the shade you want, start looking at the other pencils. Makeup artists will use lip pencils on the brows and vice versa—you can too.
Putting a thin line of glue on the lash line after you've applied your false lashes (like you're applying liquid liner) will help ensure the lashes stay in place all night.
As a final step to hydrate the skin after all the makeup has been applied, I'll put a little Josie Maran Argan Oil on my foundation brush and dab it on the skin. Don't worry, it's such a light layer that it won't turn into shine.