Of all the fierce female guitar goddesses and unforgettable women in rock music, Joan Jett has always been the strong one. The rebel. The “Runaway.” The true rocker.
Already an icon at age 16, the gravelly-voiced girl with the leather jacket, sinewy guitar licks, and the most famous eyeliner in the industry looked like she didn’t give a damn.
I grew up hanging out in the bathrooms with the rocker girls while they did their best to imitate Joan’s signature eye shape and style, heating up their kohl pencils with lighters. Now, many years later, I am the makeup artist of the woman herself, and I now know the truth. The perfect Joan Jett eye takes subtlety, persistence, and an innate understanding of what’s sexy. She tells me her legendary look starts with confidence and builds from there. As Joan gets ready to release a new album this year, I shed some light onto how to recreate and adapt that famous Joan Jett look for yourself.
Foundation is key to building a perfect look, so keep the skin glowing and gorgeous. A great moisturizer and a small amount of foundation give us a great canvas, and a little bit of color corrector or concealer under the eyes will give light, luminous natural coverage—and balance out the liner. I finish with a touch of powder to keep the complexion looking perfect all night.
Joan’s eyes are her most famous feature, and she knows exactly what she wants to do to draw attention to them while keeping her look fresh and modern. Brows are a big part of the look; for that, I love Anastasia Eyeliner Pen for drawing in the perfect shape. The eyebrow should stretch from the inner corner to the outer corner of the eye and have a defined arch. To determine where your arch should be, place a ruler against the left side of your nose and angle it so it passes over the outer edge of your pupil. Make a mark, and shape the brow so that the arch lands right there. Sketch in small hairs in short strokes. This technique helps the brow frame the entire eye and readies it for the smokey look.
To create the perfect base, I start with a lighter eye shadow from brow to lash. Then, I’ll sweep a soft matte shade or touch of luminizer across the brow bone for beautiful highlight, and then brush a matte taupe shadow into the crease for cut and depth. Use the same shadow to line along the top and bottom lashes first; this adds dimension and drama and keeps the hard-edged liner that goes on top looking smoky and sexy. Kohl pencils will give you the perfect black—apply inside the eye and along the top and bottom lash lines. Then, add a bit of a warm brown shadow to give richness to the eye to keep it from looking hard and ordinary. Smudge the pencil and set it with black shadow for even more sensual smokiness. Trust me, it works for every occasion. For more drama at night, hit a touch of shimmer shadow right in the center of the eye for additional lift. Give lashes get extra attention with a liberal coating of black mascara. Set the lash curler aside and let the lashes stay straight and spiky for an added touch of rocker realness.
Joan’s classic cheekbones are a type of beautiful you need to be born with, but you can fake it with a little contouring. Hit a matte taupe blush or eyeshadow right below the cheekbone from temple to apple. Then keep the blush natural; avoid strong color, and go for just a touch of peach blush on the apple and bronzer at the highest point of the cheekbone. This gives life and light to the makeup and sets off the strong eye.
Let lips stay nude with a peach gloss and liner, only if necessary. Add in your own smirk and sexy growl and let the world know that with eyes like these, you don't give a damn about your reputation, but you sure do love rock n’ roll!
James' Picks for a Joan Jett Look:
Inglot Freedom System Smoke and Mirrors Palette, which James created exclusively for Beautylish
As Director of Artistry for The Makeup Show, The Powder Group and On Makeup Magazine, makeup artist James Vincent has touched every facet of the industry with his talent. With specialties in film and theatre, television and celebrity work, editorial and runway work, James is foremast a passionate educator, training for brands such as MAC, Stila, CNN and Lancome. He continues to inspire the next wave of artists with his beauty expertise. Follow James on Twitter @JVincentmakeup.