From television shows to New York Fashion Week, makeup artist Cynde Watson has been trusted with the faces of some of the most well known entertainment and fashion names. She has worked with Queen Latifah, Giselle Bundchen, Cynthia Nixon, Lauren Conrad, Tara Reid, and Tyson Beckford to name a few. Cynde started her glamorous career as a model, which led her to winning the title of Miss New Jersey. Two years later, she was a full-time makeup artist and even introduced a makeup line of her own.
Here, Cynde talks about her trajectory from runway to backstage, in addition to a few tips for us mere mortals to look great in front of the camera.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you find your calling as a makeup artist?
While working as a model, I found myself doing my own makeup as well as the makeup for other models. I received a lot of positive feedback and realized I could combine my formal education in fine arts with my understanding of color and love for makeup and beauty. My work as a model led me to the Miss New Jersey Pageant where I won the title in 1992. Two years later, I transitioned from beauty queen to beauty expert.
I’ve been making my mark in the beauty industry full-time for over 20 years. From being crowned Miss New Jersey, I went on to serve as:
- Executive Director of Global Makeup Artistry/Education Development for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
- Lead Makeup Pro for Mark/Avon Cosmetics
- Business and Product Development Consultant for Sephora Collection
- Media Coach for Make Up For Ever & Butter London Cosmetics
- Diversity Makeup Consultant for Lancome Paris
- Strategic Marketing Consultant for BECCA Cosmetics
- Makeup/Beauty Expert: doobop.com as well as
- Creator/Co-Founder of Color by Cynde Watson Cosmetics on HSN 2007-2009 and Rich Makeup Studio
It’s clear that beauty is my calling.
You’ve worked with so many celebrities—are they easy to talk to? What was one of your most fun experiences working on a set?
I try to remain focused while I’m applying their makeup and only get chatty if I’m working with a longtime client and we have plenty of extra time. I always enjoy working with the beautiful designer Rachel Roy. I love Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars and Rachel has been a celebrity guest judge several times on the show and it’s always a blast!!
What makeup trends do you see happening this summer?
Right now, I’m loving flirty lashes, bright orange lips, colorful eye shadows (brights & bronze shades), and natural glowing skin.
What’s the best way to camouflage under eye shadows? Bags?
A common pro makeup artist tip to reduce eye swelling is to apply a dab of Preparation H under the eyes. Completely wash it off after 2 or 3 minutes, then apply eye cream /primer to smooth and ensure that the concealer glides on and stays put.
Choose an under eye corrector (a concealer with peachy/pink tones) before applying a concealer, to conceal any discolorations and puffiness. The peachy/pink tone corrector neutralizes the discoloration/shadows and creates an illusion that camouflages the puffiness. To brighten the under eye, layer a concealer one shade lighter than your foundation.
Please share a tip for our readers about how to look their best in photos?
To look amazing in photos, use a bronzing powder to contour and warm your skin. Bronzer warms the skin and indents or recedes areas.
Choose a bronzer that’s suited for your skin tone, as bronzers can sometimes appear orange or muddy on the skin. For a more natural finish use a bronzer with a bit of a peach and golden tan tones for lighter/medium skin and copper and golden brown tones for dark/deep skin tones. A matte bronzer should be used for contouring, which can take pounds off while defining your cheeks.
Draw in your cheeks to find the hollow part of your cheeks. Using a small angled makeup brush, apply bronzer to the hollow of your cheek in soft sweeping motions. Don’t go too heavy and make sure to buff away the harsh lines … you want subtle contouring, not a hard harsh line.
Other places that you can bronze/contour include your jaw-line, the sides of your nose for a slimmer nose, your temples, as well as cleavage.
What skincare or makeup product would you absolutely have to have if stranded on a desert island?
My desert island beauty product is the no!no! Hair- Pain free Hair Removal System.
You can use no!no! to treat facial hair. It’s amazing to use on peach fuzz, girl stash, and unruly facial hair. no!no! Hair leaves skin soft and smooth and allows skin care and makeup to go on the skin beautifully. It’s also great for legs, underarms, bikini line, etc. Unlike many laser treatments, women with very fair skin and very dark skin can use this product successfully.
A lover of all things mid-century, Lynsey Le Keux founded Le Keux Events after finding it hard to source supplies and accessories for her own vintage wedding in the UK. Since going into the wedding planning business, she has added organizing burlesque and dirty dancing nights for bachelorette and bachelor parties, in addition to other special events. Once again, necessity required the multi-talented Le Keux to teach herself vintage hairstyling for promotional photo shots, and ultimately opened Le Keux Vintage Salon in Birmingham, England, and Sugabillys pin-up model agency in 2010. In 2012, she launched Le Keux Cosmetics, knowing exactly what her customers need to create the vintage looks they so desire.
Your makeup line as well as your events company are inspired by styles of the past. Why do you love vintage so much, and what era particularly speaks to you.
Firstly, it’s the aesthetic of mid century design that I love, whether its kitchenalia, atomic fabric patterns, or perfectly polished hair, I’ve always been drawn to the colors and looks of those eras. The fifties is my absolute favorite era; I love rockabilly music and style and Americana—diners and such like, and the cars! My favorite beauty looks are big victory rolls and curls, think Wanda from Cry Baby meets Bettie Page, with bold eyeliner flicks and red lips.
What eras and hairstyles are popular with your clients at the Le Keux Vintage Salon?
Victory rolls are hugely popular in the salon, along with traditional curl sets such as a Rita Hayworth wave or bombshell curls like Marilyn Monroe. Classic 30s inspired marcel waves are also popular for our bridal customers, its so pretty and glamorous for your big day.
The great thing about the classic vintage look is that its achieved with a simple makeup kit. Matte complexion is essential with a peachy blush. Eyebrows are a key element of vintage looks too, and shaded correctly can really frame your face and polish off the look. Eyeliner flicks are next, focusing color on the top lid only, drawn at an angle toward the edge of your brow is super flattering. And finally red lips of course, pillar box red is best and blue tone reds tend to suit all skin tones and colorings. This was the inspiration for our three products, a bright red, flexible lip color that can be worn matte or glossy for a Hollywood finish, peach lip and cheek paint, and true black liner with staying power and smooth application. Your brushes are also a key part of achieving the look, firm, high quality fibers are best, and look into the types of brushes your need for each product.
My trick is to apply, blot, apply, and then seal with translucent powder. Like all your makeup, sealing it helps with staying power and blotting compacts the color pigment and removes excess moisture which you might “wipe” off.
Any words of wisdom regarding starting a business, and following your passion?
I always say “discover what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” When starting a business, let your love of it lead over a desire to be super rich. Do your research and be honest with yourself about true demand for what you want to offer, and be true to your brand. I wear our makeup range every day so when I sell it to customers I know its something they will love and truly perform for them.
It’s exciting times with new ranges for our makeup and brushes currently in development. We’re also launching into men’s stag parties and grooming, all vintage themed of course. And we’re opening new salons across the UK too!
Although she initially thought she would pursue the corporate side of beauty, Kimara Ahnert’s professional plans changed when she took a post-college summer course in makeup artistry. A childhood love of doing makeup—inspired by her mother’s career as a doll artist—proved to still be a passion, and Kimara gave up her corporate dreams in favor of a career as a makeup artist. After gaining experience by working as an assistant to a makeup artist in New York City, she realized that she wanted to create a makeup studio where the ambiance greatly differed from the department store cosmetic counter—a goal that she achieved in 1997 with the opening of her makeup and skincare studio on Madison Avenue, Kimara Ahnert New York. Today, Kimara’s team of makeup artists and aestheticians are among the top experts in the industry, offering women the opportunity to look their best in a beautiful, fresh, effortless, and natural way.
How does your makeup collection differ from what else is on the shelves today?
My makeup collection differs from others on the shelves today, especially with my eye shadows. The Kimara Ahnert eye shadow collection includes a variety of matte and shimmer shadows, perfect for any season and occasion.
If I had to use one word to describe my makeup collection, it would be “options.” Many other branded lines have eye shadow palettes that are already combined with different shades. The problem with those palettes are that you actually only end up using one of the three or four shades included in the palette. We offer magnetic palettes, called the Kimara Ahnert Custom Eye Shadow Refill, which can be customized with your favorite shade or shades. We also offer a magnetic beauty box that can hold everything you need; including eye shadow, blush, bronzer, foundation and/or powder. Since the Kimara Ahnert Makeup Collection offers so many of these options, you only need a few staple beauty products to look great each day!
What does your own personal beauty regimen consist of?
My beauty routine has gotten quicker and easier, especially since I have become a mother. I have a five-year-old son, so it’s important that I speed up my beauty routine every morning. My look on-the-go always includes concealer under the eyes.
For my face, I use a few of the products in my makeup line; Kimara Ahnert Radiant Glow Tinted Foundation with SPF 30, Kimara Ahnert Mineral Bronzer on my cheekbones and the Kimara Ahnert Cremewear Blush in a pink shade.
For the crease of my eyes, I use the same Kimara Ahnert Mineral Bronzer that I use on my cheekbones; it’s a double-duty product! I then use a blue or white eyeliner pencil on the inside lower rim of my eyes. I finish off by using Dior Show Azure Blue mascara on my eyelashes.
For my lips, I like to use T. Le Clerc’s mini-sized lip glosses. I keep them everywhere, like in my purse, jackets and in the bathroom. They are great for on-the-go and provide the perfect pop of color!
Aside from my makeup routine, I think it’s important to keep my hair routine simple, as well. A friend of mine introduced me to the Denise Richards Volume Extend Collection by Cristophe and now I use the products every day! I like to use the Volumizing Spray at the root of my hair before blow drying to give my locks an instant boost.
What are the most common complaints/concerns you hear about from clients and what advice do you give them?
The most common complaint and concern that I hear from my clients is about their under eye circles. I always give the same advice: they must wear a good concealer to cover up those bags! I recommend crème concealers. Crème concealers can be applied easily by painting the under eye with a brush. After applying, lightly pat the concealer to blend with your finger tip or a damp sponge.
What is your beauty philosophy?
My beauty philosophy is that everyone looks better with makeup, but makeup does not have to look like it is painted on the face. Nowadays, makeup has become so obvious—everyone knows when someone has makeup on. It’s best to go with a more natural look.
What are your favorite looks/styles right now in makeup?
My favorite beauty trend at the moment is matte and I am so thrilled that matte makeup is back! I love the look of clean eyes in a matte shadow accented with a classic black/brown or charcoal liner. For a “wow” factor, apply false lashes. Some of my favorite false lashes are Vincent Longo La Dolce Vita Lash Tips. They look so natural and work well with any matte makeup look.
I also love the look of flawless matte skin with blush applied to the ball of the cheek finished with a matte lipstick in either a red or soft rose brown shade. These looks mimic classic, old Hollywood glamour. The matte makeup trend reminds me of how my grandmother looked, even when she went to the grocery store; classic and simple yet beautiful.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would be the one beauty product you’d have to have?
If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one product, it would be a tinted moisturizer with SPF. My favorite is the tinted moisturizer from my collection, Kimara Ahnert Mineral Tint SPF 20 Foundation. I have very fair skin and need SPF protection each day, so by using a tinted moisturizer with SPF, I hopefully would look as young leaving the deserted island as when I did when I arrived there!