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I was lucky enough to get the chance to sit down with Lijha Stewart, the on-air guest for MAKE UP FOR EVER, last time she was in the studio. As you may know, MAKE UP FOR EVER is admired in the beauty industry and beyond for its long-lasting, high-performance formulas and vivid color cosmetics. I can’t imagine a better representative for the brand than Lijha. She was captivating, warm, down to earth, well-spoken, funny, incredibly knowledgeable, and the definition of cool. Like a work of fine art, I could’ve stared at her all day. Her face looked like it was sculpted out of marble (which is a trend this season!).
Sit back, relax, and read on to learn about her background, foolproof application tips, fall makeup trends anyone can try, how to cover your biggest beauty insecurities, and much more. Enjoy!
Missy: When did you decide you wanted to become a professional makeup artist?
Lijha: I knew by the time I was about 12 years old. I always painted, I always drew, and I definitely always had a passion for the arts. I’ve always been obsessed with the female face, so my mom bought me a face-painting book for little kids. I did three particular looks over and over again: winged eyeliner, a red lip, and a 1920s look. I did them until I became really good at them. My mom would ask, “Are you wearing eyeliner? That looks really good! Can you put some on me?” So, it was something I always knew I wanted to do. I didn’t know how I was going to make money off of it or be successful at it, but it came full circle.
M: I read that in addition to being a makeup artist, you’re also a painter, sculptor, body painter, and special effects artist. What’s your favorite artistic medium?
L: I truly believe that every medium you pick up only strengthens your next medium. As far as my favorite, that’s really hard to say because they all respect bone structure, face shape, and body shape. If you’re working on the body, you’re respecting its curves, whether male or female. If you’re working on the face, you’re respecting its curves and creases and enhancing what’s already there. The thing I like about working on a human vs. a canvas is the three dimensional aspect that’s already there. There’s more to accentuate and enhance. I also think makeup artistry and body painting are very interesting art forms because you remove them immediately. Art usually lives forever, but these go up fast and die fast.
I don’t have a medium that I love more than another, but artistic makeup and making people feel beautiful through makeup is my favorite thing. Whether it’s through outlandish, avant-garde, or natural makeup, I love when I can make someone say, “I’ve never felt this beautiful.” And they might even cry or tell me their story. That’s so special to me. We don’t usually think about makeup as our veil to the world, but it is. It gives us confidence to leave our houses. As women, that’s what we have. I love that about makeup artistry.
M: How long have you been representing MAKE UP FOR EVER on QVC?
L: A little less than a year, but I’ve been with MAKE UP FOR EVER for two, and I’ve always been an educator for the brand. Before that, I did makeup for 10 years. I’m a self-taught artist. I love reading, Googling, and challenges. For example, when I worked in different retail environments, clients came in for help with skin problems. I told them, “Sit down. I want to help to you.” I found that I was able to make them feel really great about themselves while practicing and learning a lot. It was a good environment for me to be in.
M: You’re very outgoing. Is it safe to say you’re comfortable on air?
L: Yes! I’m a ham, I’m not going to lie. Media is a new passion of mine. I didn’t know I’d love it as much as I do, but I really enjoy it. I think it’s incredible to be able to reach masses of people at one time. I love interacting one on one, too, but the fact that I can now connect with millions of people in five minutes is crazy to me. It’s amazing.
M: What do you love about your job?
L: Making women feel beautiful and empowered. It’s about education, too. I love being able to teach others how to make themselves look beautiful and feel confident all the time. It’s about providing those tools. It’s fun when someone sits down in my chair saying, “I can’t do makeup. I don’t know how to use a brush. I don’t even know where to begin,” leaves me saying, “Oh my gosh, I can do this,” and comes back saying, “I want to do a smoky eye now.”
M: Do you have a motto—beauty-related or otherwise—that you live by?
L: I have so many, but my main motto is “respect bone structure and bring out natural beauty,” whether using color or neutral tones. It’s about truly enhancing what’s there, not erasing it.
M: If you can narrow them down, what are your top three makeup-bag essentials?
L: Eyebrows, for sure. I have no eyebrows. They’re fake. I feel so unattractive and unconfident without my eyebrows on. So for me, that’s number one. Number two, blush and lips combined into one. I can use a lipstick for a cheek color and a great lip. And number three, great skin. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman, everyone needs great skin.
M: If I’m in a rush in the morning & only have time to apply one product, what should it be?
L: HD Invisible Cover Foundation. Skin shows health and vitality. It’s universally beautiful. You can go to China, you can go to Spain, you can even go to an alien planet, and they’ll respect beautiful skin. The thing I love about HD is it covers imperfections, but in a natural-looking way. You’re going to get compliments on your skin. You don’t want to hear someone say, “I love your foundation. It’s beautiful, I can see it from here.” You want skin compliments.
M: Are there any makeup misconceptions you’d like to disprove?
L: Some people think you’re only pretty if you have a tan. Some people say you can’t use powder or you have to use bronzer. No, you don’t have to do anything. I truly do believe that. It’s more about what you feel beautiful in. If it’s eyebrows, then it’s eyebrows. If it’s skin, then it’s skin. I have friends who won’t leave the house without bronzer, and I couldn’t care less if I wore it or not. I couldn’t care less if I was tan or not. It’s personal.
M: What are a few makeup tips every woman should know?
L: I think every woman should know how to make their skin look gorgeous. HD Invisible Cover Foundation is the simplest way because it’s easy to use. The formula is so unique. It contains round pigments that don’t give hard lines or edges, so as long as you choose a color that’s close to your own skin tone, it’ll work for you. It’s very forgiving, reflects light, and looks natural. And, of course, your foundation is only as great as how well you take care of your skin, so your skin-care regimen is just as important as your foundation. Skin shows so much about you.
At the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy, we use a three-step technique to make foundation look flawless. We call the first step the “cover” step. We always start applying foundation from the center of the face to get one nice, even, all-over cover. The next step is customizing the coverage. The HD brush is awesome because it’s a professional tool we use on our clients. If you have texture issues, you can build coverage by using the brush to lightly tap on HD Invisible Cover Foundation and it’ll still look natural. The last step is to lightly smooth using the brush in a back-and-forth motion, which gives your skin a buffed, smooth, airbrush finish.
Those steps are always foolproof, but if you want to pump HD Invisible Cover Foundation into your hands, rub them together, and apply it all over your face, who am I to judge? The foundation is that easy to use. In some of the reviews on QVC.com, women have asked if they’re supposed to use a brush, and I wish I could write back and say, “Do what you want! It’s easy!”
I also think all women should be able to make their eye area pop. That could be two products: a little bit of liner and some mascara, or maybe a brow. And I think every woman should wear a lipstick. Get some color on those lips!
M: What are you wearing on your lips right now?
L: This is our Aqua Rouge Lip Gloss Duo and Lip Liner. I’m a long-wear lip junkie and that’s one of the things we do really well at MAKE UP FOR EVER. Aqua Rouge has an opaque lip color on one side and a gloss on the other. You can wear it two ways: you can just apply the opaque lip color and then apply the gloss over top, or you can apply the gloss first with the opaque lip color over top as a soft stain, which I’ve been obsessed with, too.
M: Our biggest trends for fall are “The Red Lip,” “Pops of Purple,” “Natural Beauty,” which is neutrals accentuated with a bold brow, and “The Cat Eye.” Can anyone pull them off? Even “The Red Lip”?
L: Absolutely, especially “The Red Lip.” Going back to our Aqua Rouge colors, the opaque red color really is opaque. If that’s scary to you, I get it, but it looks fabulous on most people. A red lip is classic. If you want more of a sheer formula, you can add the gloss and get more of a light, glossy stain. Remember you can customize the products for you. I definitely think strong lips is the easiest trend to do. It takes the least amount of skill.
Add pops of purple where you feel comfortable. I’m a lip girl and I would wear purple on my lips any day of the week, while most people would probably be more comfortable wearing purple eye shadow. Go for the feature you’re most comfortable bringing out.
If you’re brave when it comes to your makeup, try a bold brow. Do it, wear it somewhere, and see if you like it. I do believe everyone can pull that off, too, but brows are personal. So, if you start wearing a really thick eyebrow because it’s in style, you might think it looks ridiculous. It’s hard to play with things you call your own. It’s like someone saying, “Blue foundation is so in season, I’m going to put it on you right now.”
I think everyone can wear cat eyeliner, but it’s a little bit harder to do and takes practice. I have a three-step technique that makes it really easy. I’m a cat-liner wearer on a daily basis and this technique has changed my life:
1. Start at the center of the eye to establish your width.
2. Pull from the outside of the eye back to the middle point.
3. Connect from the inside of the eye into the middle point.
It makes it so foolproof. Sometimes, you can do one eye and love the way it looks, and then the other side turns out crazy. Go step by step between both eyes: center of one, center of the other; outer corner, outer corner; inside, inside. Then, you’ll have the muscle memory. I definitely think anyone can wear a cat eye, but practice makes perfect with that trend. Before I learned the technique from Dany Sanz, the creator of MAKE UP FOR EVER, at the Academy, I’d have good eyeliner weeks when I was on point for the whole week and then all of the sudden, I’d have a bad eyeliner week the whole next week. Since I learned that technique, every day has been a good eyeliner day.
M: Are there any other important fall trends our shoppers should know about?
L: There’s a really great graphic eyeliner trend happening right now. Sometimes, it’s interpreted as unique liner placement, like on the inside or outside of the eye. We’re seeing that a lot on runways. Matte skin is making a nice comeback. Sculpting is always a trend every season. We see models wearing a bronzer or a darker shade of foundation or concealer to carve out their cheeks. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to have a little better cheekbone or side profile? We see it on the runway every single season in different forms.
M: Are they doable off the runway?
L: Absolutely. A night out with your husband is a great time to try graphic eyeliner and have a little fun with it. Sculpting, though, can be done all the time. That’s the best way to put you in your natural lighting. So, if you’re going to take a Facebook profile picture, you better be sculpted!
M: What’s your personal favorite fall trend?
L: Lips and liner. The thing I prefer doing the most as a makeup artist is eyeliner. I always say I was born with a cream liner and an angle brush in my hand. I love to throw down on liner. They were laughing at me during Fashion’s Night Out because before the show, I said, “I’m doing all of the models’ wing liner. Just send them my way!”
M: In your experience, what beauty insecurities are most common among women?
L: People just don’t think they know how to do makeup. In general, I’ve found that’s the number one thing they’re most insecure about. They don’t feel confident doing it. I don’t think they ever feel like they have the right knowledge or colors, which is why it’s so important to educate. I usually like to tell women to get one look down. I’ll give them one they can practice and feel really great wearing, and then they can work on other looks from there. If I’m getting ready with a friend and I watch her do her makeup, she’ll yell, “Don’t watch me! I don’t know how to do it!” My response is always, “What are you talking about? Your makeup looks great all the time!” For me, I like watching because I think it’s fascinating to see the steps my friends use. It helps me educate consumers like a consumer, not a makeup artist.
M: What about a woman with blemish-prone skin? How could she hide that insecurity?
L: HD Invisible Cover Foundation, using the three-step technique. She should start by applying one smooth, even layer. After that sets, she should go back through to build coverage, which is when the brush comes in handy so much more than your hands or fingers. When you really want to conceal, the brush allows you to first cover, then customize, then smooth by blending.
M: Does that apply to fine lines, wrinkles, and large pores as well?
L: The thing I always explain to people is makeup covers color, not texture. I can’t cover a fine line or a huge pitted scar, but I can give the illusion with a foundation that reflects light and has a smooth formula. If you’re worried about fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, you just want to do that first cover step. I wouldn’t try to press or tap into them because the foundation would just sink in. You really want to focus on less is more for those concerns.
M: Is there anything you’d like to add?
L: As I mentioned earlier, I love special effects, and I’ve actually been a guest judge on the show Face Off twice now. One of the episodes is airing September 25, so that’s really exciting. Dany Sanz and her husband, Jacques, created a MAKE UP FOR EVER special effects line. Dany’s vision has always been for MAKE UP FOR EVER to be a 360 line for pros, and she truly believes that what the pros need is what our consumers need. Pros want long wear, vibrant colors, and something that’s going to stay in place. That’s exactly what every woman wants, too. Plus, we have a great education system that teaches people how to use these professional products themselves. That’s our story.
Be on the lookout for part two of our interview. Hint: It covers MAKE UP FOR EVER's next best foundation, which will be coming soon to QVC. I can't wait!
Until next time,
—Missy, Lijha’s #1 Fan
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