“I was raised by a single mom who was a computer programmer, so the conversation was always around how I could make being creative my job. I thought I was going to work in fashion. I went to college for fashion design and textile development in LA, and worked for a bespoke men’s tailor. To make more money, I got a part-time job working at MAC. I’ve always been product-obsessed, so that was easy. Doing makeup at MAC was really bootcamp, because it filled in the things about skin tone and texture I didn’t learn from art classes. I also got introduced to the work of living legends, like Diane Kendal. I didn’t know that side of beauty existed—there was no Instagram to tell me what was happening.
I moved to New York after school, and then somebody asked me to assist on a shoot. The rate was great, but I thought assisting meant running to get coffee. [Laughs] I let things snowball from there, and ended up assisting full-time for two years. I was saying yes to everything—no ego in the game. Eventually, it became easier to start getting my own clients. I try to be noncontroversial on jobs—mellow, happy to be there, easy to work with. Of course, I still have opinions. If a client is really passionate about a concept, fine. But if it’s something they’re being specific about, like a heavy glitter, and it looks bad, I’ll try to figure out what they want to achieve and approach it differently. In this world, you have to be solution-oriented. What’s moved my career furthest is turning work opportunities into genuine relationships. That’s how I ended up meeting Cierra Sherwin, who at the time was a product developer at Glossier. Two years ago, when Play was just an idea, she brought me in to consult on colors and textures. A lot of people talk about product in the sense of it being something they would use. Makeup artists work on so many different people, so we have a different perspective.
When I was assisting, I was told you don’t get booked on set, you get booked in the retouching room. It’s not necessarily true, but it will stick with me forever. When you use foundation, you have to think about the neck, ears, and scalp matching—I spend a lot of time prepping the skin so I can just spot correct. Using coarser cotton and micellar water, I exfoliate as much as possible without being abrasive. Then, I use one of those K-beauty essences that’s almost like a mucus. If their skin isn’t too oily, I love Vintner’s Daughter because it absorbs quickly. Then I use the really chalky, matte Clé de Peau concealer on the spots. I blend out a full perimeter, and then I’ll use setting powder to mattify just the shiny part of a pimple.
If I still need more coverage, I use Make Up For Ever corrector palettes to help me get the foundation tone right. Mixing foundation is all color theory—my hand and arm are always covered on set. I carry a full range of five different foundations, but my favorite is this oily industry foundation palette from Cinema Secrets. If I need something really sheer I can use Skin Tint, but more often than not I use Chanel Vitalumière Aqua. It’s buildable, it doesn’t ever gray out freckles, and because it’s water-based, it gets tacky as it dries. Ultimately, if you’re keeping the skin looking hydrated and only mattifying where those hot points are, it doesn’t really matter if there’s texture—it’s easy to pull out the shadow of a bump in Photoshop.
On myself, I use Glossier concealer in G8 and Nars Radiant Creamy concealer in Honey. It’s actually too dark on me, but because I have these Sicilian undereyes, I use it to correct the blue. The Charlotte Tilbury cream is a little rich, but I like it for on top of makeup because it prevents makeup from crusting around my nose. I don’t always put on blush, because I feel like that looks very done, but the Cellularose from By Terry is my favorite. It’s in the worst packaging ever, but it’s a fluorescent pink that looks good on anyone. I also have a sunburn blush from Chanel that I love, 320 Rouge Profond. I like to put it way too high on my cheeks, and on my nose, and on my brow bones. If I do lip color it’s Bite’s Mochi Multi Stick, or sometimes I’ll use my old faithful, Agave Lip Mask in Smashed. At night, I’ll throw in some Tom Ford bronzer in Terra. I use the Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Brow in a brown that’s darker than my eyebrows for dimension. Then mascara—I’ve been using MAC Extreme Dimension 3D since I was 18. If I do use liner, it’s Chanel Blue Jean. And I always use Lumify eye drops—they’re so good, I don’t even understand.
A lot of people talk about product in the sense of it being something they would use. Makeup artists work on so many different people, so we have a different perspective.
At 21, acne came on with karmic force—I never used to get pimples, and all of a sudden I had blasts of fat, deep, cystic pimples down my cheeks and under my chin. I went to dermatologists, I cut out dairy, I didn’t wear makeup, I used Retin-A… Typically, cystic acne on your cheeks is hormonal, so ultimately my solution was birth control. The first one I was on was Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, and my acne went away. Then they stopped making it, and I hated the way I felt on the generic, so I went off. It’s been three years now, and I’ve only had one or two flare ups since. I think my body just stabilized itself. To get rid of the scars they left, I did the Aura Laser and the Cool Touch Laser once a month for four months. One is for pigment, and one is for texture—anything pigmented would get darker, and then come off. It was $500 a session at Manhattan Plastic Surgery, but because dermatology isn’t their main focus it was actually a lot cheaper than other places. Everyone compares the feeling to a rubber band, but for me it felt like sharp needles. After four treatments, it had gotten me back to where I was before.
In the morning, I cleanse with SVR Physiopure, which is micellar water. This is controversial, but I think Bioderma leaves a film, and the SVR doesn’t. Then I pat on the Sulwhasoo Ginseng Renewing Water, and the matching Emulsion, which I compare to a really basic lotion. I know some people are over Vintner’s Daughter, but I’ve been using it for almost three years and I’m obsessed. Then I use Clé de Peau’s Intensive Eye Contour. So many eye creams are water-based and roll when you put concealer over them, but this one doesn’t—it’s like lip balm for your eyes. It’s worth the splurge.
I use sunscreen every day, but I’m not particular about it. Right now I use the Everyday Lotion by Supergoop. I had always seen surfers wearing zinc on their lips growing up, but I didn’t think I needed it until I got my first lip sunburn. Usually, SPF lip balm tastes weird, but this Angstrom one doesn’t.
At night, I start with Innisfree Olive Oil Cleansing Tissues. They remove waterproof makeup, and they smell great. Then I wash my face—I change up cleansers every couple of weeks, but only among the very uncontroversial ones. I never want anything too abrasive or any soap products that strip the skin. I am a Milky Jelly loyalist, but I also started using this cleansing balm by Angela Caglia. Another one I have is the Cleansing Milk from Ilike Organics. I got introduced to the brand when I got a facial in La Jolla from a woman named Albina. It’s organic and smells delicious, like sour cherry. Then I use P50. I know everyone says this, but when I started using it, I actually saw a difference in my skin. I don’t feel any crusty parts, and my skin is always supple. Next is Vintner’s Daughter, the same eye cream, and a lip mask. I love Bite Lip Therapy—I think it’s supposed to be their version of the Laneige Lip Mask, which is also amazing. A Dutch model told me about Tromborg lip balm. It looks like an eye cream but disintegrates those dent-like craters on your lips. And I use Lavish Lash on my lashes and brows. I have End-Zit, but I actually use it when I wax my moustache. I’m Jewish and Italian—there’s no running from it, so I wax at home. If I go to sleep with End-Zit on my upper lip, I’ll avoid three days of wax rash.
To get rid of the scars they left, I did the Aura Laser and the Cool Touch Laser once a month for four months. After four treatments, it had gotten me back to where I was before.
I have super curly hair, and I don't know how to do it, so I completely defer to Clara [Leonard, hairstylist] for everything. I got this brush in Milan from a brand called Di Luca. It’s wooden bristles set on a cushion bed of plastic, and it’s so much better for your hair—essentially a Wet Brush, but chic. They’re not cheap, but they’re fantastic. I recently bought Bumble and Bumble Curl Creme, and that has been life-changing. I also use Bumble and Bumble Prep Primer after I wash it. I only wash my hair every three or four days—I try to go as long as possible. For shampoo, I switch between Pure Blends and the Act+Acre Cold Processed Hair Cleanse. The Act+Acre leaves your hair very, very clean, especially with the Scalp Detox. I use that every two weeks. I use the Pure Blends as a toner because I color my hair. It’s better than Shimmer Lights because it smells like vanilla—whatever fragrance they put in Shimmer Lights is gross. I don’t know why more people don’t know about it. It’s really pigmented and beautiful, and I order a huge bottle on Amazon. For conditioner, I alternate between the Olaplex conditioner, Davines Naturaltech, and Christophe Robin Baby Blonde. I mix in their salt scrub when I feel like there’s too much product in my hair.
I go to Giancarlo Carollo at Serge Normant Salon for color. I should do it every six weeks, but I only go every three months. I’ll usually say that I want face-framing highlights, a few to break up the roots, and then ask to make my ends pop. I also learned to say that I want my roots shadowed, which means they won’t put any highlights all the way to your scalp. It looks so fake, and it grows out better this way. Xavier Velasquez, in the same salon, does my cut.
In the shower, I use exfoliating gloves with whatever body wash I have—right now I like either Little Barn Apothecary, or this one I just got in Italy, Goovi Take Me To The Bath. It smells like sweet orange, which is my dream fragrance for all products. I use body serums, which you could argue is just me being super consumer obsessive, but your neck and hands are really what tells your age. I love this Body Intensive because it feels weightless, and it tightens. I’m on my second bottle. Then I put body oil on top of it—never lotion. I like this one from Khus+Khus, which smells like patchouli, and this one from Osea. I’m so dry that it absorbs immediately. I also love the body oil from Omorovicza, and I would actually use it every day if it didn’t have shimmer.
I buy Klorane Polysianes body sunscreen for the fragrance. I also have this great after-sun aloe spray called Positano Essentiae Acqua delle Sirene. It’s wonderful—wonderful. I recently got a weird burn wearing one of those stupid bathing suits, and I thought I was going to peel, but this saved me.
In the morning, I put [The Nue Co.’s] Debloat Food and Defence Drops into my tea or coffee. I think the Debloat would probably taste better in a smoothie, but it actually works. I feel less inflamed. At night I do the Magnesium Ease, but the best are their Sleep Drops. I was formerly a melatonin and wine person on flights, but the Sleep Drops give me an easy, non-groggy sleep and help me not wake up during the night.
I’m always in men’s clothes, I studied menswear, and I wear men’s fragrance—it’s just my dude thing. Loewe is a staple, old faithful men’s fragrance, but it wears so sweet on me. Accord Oud by Byredo is the most masculine and it wears sweet on me, too. Elizabeth and James Nirvana is amazing, and I feel like people don’t really know about it. They put so much into their production and product development to make it a really fine fragrance. Every so often I’ll put on Ylang 49 from Le Labo, but that is a statement. They said it was an aphrodisiac, and it was enough to sell me on the small one.”
—as told to ITG
Shayna Goldberg photographed by Tom Newton in New York on June 12, 2019.