When I first see Jillian Dempsey, one of the most in-demand and talented makeup artists of all time, she was quick to issue a warning. "I just want to point out I'm always wearing black, and today," she gestures to her sleeveless sweater with a laugh, "I'm actually in cream. So if I go down some different avenues with you today, that's why." What immediately followed was one of the most informative and revealing looks at both makeup techniques and her mammoth career — and for this, I will credit the woman, not the sweater.
Dempsey has the talents of an artist and the temperament of a savvy businesswoman, making her something of the ultimate beauty expert. In addition to her eponymous (and ever-expanding) cosmetics line beloved by her A-list clientele, Dempsey's not content to keep all she's learned through her career to herself.
Last year, she launched her app FYFE, a digital beauty collective featuring tutorials, tips, virtual product try-ons, and more. Some come from Jillian herself, while others come courtesy of her wide-ranging influence in every corner of the industry. The result feels like the hair-skin-makeup equivalent to the Library of Congress. In that collaborative spirit of knowledge-sharing, Dempsey gamely agreed to walk us through some of her all-time favorite products, techniques, tips for summer, and beyond. Scroll on for Jillian Dempsey's words of wisdom.
Launch Projects With Intention
I've been doing his [FYFE] for the past four years, working on the app—it's not something that I just decided to do overnight. The intention has always been to bring in industry, professional beauty people, anyone who's in the realm of makeup, hair, skincare, nails, you name it. Even body painting! Whatever it is that's beauty, I'm all about it. And I really wanted to give kind of a different perspective from the people I've worked with who have been on this journey my entire life.
Why Everyone's Embracing Fun Hairstyles This Summer
For summertime fun, Adir Abergel shows how you can do all these little fun twists with your hair and braids. To me, that's kind of the feeling of what everyone's sort of looking to. Like, "Oh, we're out of sweatpants! Now what?!"
How to Make 2021's Bright Eyeliner Trend Your Own
I think a lot of people are gravitating right now towards wanting to have a little bit of brightness but they don't know exactly how to get there. Bright-colored eyeliners are, I feel, a nice expression. Even eyeliners that are a little bit muted, like an off-white but still bright—that's a good way to brighten your eyes with a little bit of color. I think people are looking for happiness right now, and if happiness can be expressed with your face makeup or your hair, then let's do happy.
The Best Sweaty Skin Hack
I always tell everyone to use face-blotting papers—they actually extract and pull oil. I do that all day long when we're working on faces because you don't want to pack makeup on top. Your skin will retaliate and produce more oil—it'll cut through whatever you put on it.
I would say the best thing to do is work with your skin and the oils in your skin—extract using face papers. Anything that has a wax base like a waterproof eyeliner: it's fair game for your brows, for your eyes, for your lips. The wax will stay adhered to your skin; it won't sweat off.
Just don't create a barrier to suffocate your skin—that, I believe, is where everyone goes wrong. If you suffocate your skin by trying to cover it up too much with all of the products, you're gonna have a losing battle. If your skin does shvitz (we all do) try and work with it. Use cream blush—I know that sounds crazy, you're going to think it slides, but it really really won't. Cream blush also has a little bit of a stain powder to adhere to your skin. Creams are great and go wax-based around eyes, eyebrows, and lips.
Her Holy Grail Makeup Product
I'm pretty addicted to my Rich Brown Eyeliner ($20), I'm not going to lie. I actually have anxiety if I feel like I'm running out. I have it pretty much everywhere. You could say, "Oh, that's a rut," but I actually will say it is a rut that I'm very used to working with. I know if I'm in a hurry and I have that one eyeliner, I can do some serious tricks on my eyes, and I feel a little bit more like myself.
The Most Common Makeup Mistake—And How to Avoid It
It really bothers me when people don't match face to neck. If you are wearing foundation—and I will go on record to say this, please stop putting so much foundation on your face, everybody—it clogs your pores. You don't need it, you've got beautiful skin, just work with your beautiful skin. You have to blend it out on your neck, and don't forget your ears. Everybody forgets their ears.
Her Skincare Heroes
I'm obsessed with this company called Vertra. It's a sun sunblock, and we're heading into summer. If you are going to protect your face and you do want some coverage, you might want to check this out. It's thick—I'm not going to lie—but we don't want to damage our skin, especially face and neck, which are the first to go. You need to really pay attention [to your face and neck] because melasma and hyperpigmentation are a real thing that does happen later on in life.
Obviously, I love everything in my line. My Gold Bar ($195) smooths away on my face, I can't live without that. I love my new hydrating mask. And the Split End Serum ($20) from my friend Adir, I love that.
How She Works Through Self-Criticism
I just actually had a cover come out with Anne Hathaway. And I'm super excited because when you're a makeup artist, you cook up your own meals so to speak. So, sometimes you're very critical of your work. And I looked at it, I was like, "Oh, that looks really rad." And Anne Hathaway, by the way? She's really lovely to work with as well.