Valerie Sarnelle is a makeup artist who grew her passion for beautifying into a thriving destination in Beverly Hills and a complete line of makeup products. For the past 25 years, the Valerie Beverly Hills salon, now located at the corner of North Canon Drive and Little Santa Monica Blvd., has transformed some of Hollywood’s most famous faces for VIP events, wedding, photo shoots, TV appearances and film premieres. Some of the bold faced names that frequent her salon included Nicole Kidman, Terri Hatcher and Pamela Anderson, as well as scores of local and bicoastal socialites. As a young girl, Valerie’s love of beauty, glamour and femininity coincided with the arrival of her stylish grandmother, a wealthy Greek socialite. Under the loving and watchful eye of her “Ya-Ya,” Valerie’s life was transformed forever. Today, Valerie’s makeup and eyebrow shaping expertise is regularly featured in top fashion glossies like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Allure, while her products are favorites on a throng of television sets.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you discover your gift for makeup?
I was born and raised in a modest home Ohio. As a young child my parents came to learn that I was suffering from polio. Growing up with this ailment I always felt very different from other kids in school. I think this is from where my love for beauty and glamour stemmed; I became obsessed with finding the beauty within every person. I spent a lot of time with my “YaYa” and her impeccable sense of style rubbed off on me. We would design and sew clothes together but my absolute favorite thing to do was sketch beautiful faces in fashion magazines.
My mother recognized my passion for the beauty industry and recommend that I enroll in beauty school. Upon graduation, I got a job working at CBS as their resident makeup artist.
How has your brand evolved since it launched in 1984?
I loved working for an amazing company such as CBS but I felt that I couldn’t be as creative as I had wished. It was in 1984 that I finally decided to go on my own and open my own studio. As things started to take off I had the idea to make my own in-house cosmetic line. This way I was able to create exactly what I thought was the best product for my customer. Slowly by surely I started building up a celebrity clientele. I later moved my studio to the heart of Beverly Hills and I have been there ever since.
When you meet a client for the first time, what is a common complaint and how do you empower women to make the most of their own natural beauty.
Many women feel that after they get their makeup done they look too done up. They feel that often times the makeup artist didn’t listen and try to created the look that they were going for. I try to empower all of my clients to make the most of their natural beauty by talking to them and finding out what makes them feel comfortable.
Does the Valerie of Beverly Hills line have a signature look and/or hero product?
Our signature look at Valerie Beverly Hills is a classic big doe eye and light lips. The hero product at Valerie is definitely our custom blended foundation. I like to say that my foundation is the foundation of my business.
When should a woman splurge on beauty products and when can she save her cash?
A woman should always save on skin care, especially cleanser because those products will not change your skin or make you look any younger then you are. Nivea is just as good as any big brand skin care company. A woman should always splurge on face makeup, more specifically, custom blended foundation and power.
What is your beauty philosophy?
Never leave your home without makeup!
What are your desert island beauty products?
If I was stranded on a desert island I would without a doubt take my tweezers and mascara.