Scott Barnes isn’t just a makeup artist — he’s a makeup legend. The 49-year-old MUA’s work has been featured on countless magazine covers and runways, in hundreds of music videos, and of course, all over the red carpet on celebs like Kim Kardashian West, Beyonce, and Gwen Stefani. He also happens to be Jennifer Lopez’s go-to makeup guy and has been for the last 20 years straight. This means Barnes is behind some—if not all—of J.Lo’s most iconic makeup looks, including her famous bronzed-all-over skin and pale, pinky-nude lips. Speaking of which, Lopez sported a similar makeup look for her unforgettable Super Bowl performance in 2020, and guess what? It was all Barnes’ doing. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also the creator of Scott Barnes Beauty, his own line of luxury, pro-approved products that includes brushes, palettes, and more.
With this in mind, we tapped Barnes to get the scoop on some of his best tips and tricks that everyday makeup wearers (like you and me) might not know. Keep scrolling to learn Barnes’ best makeup tips and tricks.
Prep with Moisturizer
Believe it or not, Barnes’ best makeup tip, especially for mature skin, has nothing to do with makeup at all. It has to do with skincare, because at the end of the day, if you haven’t properly prepped your complexion, makeup simply isn’t going to sit well on top. “Skin prep is really important because you want to make sure the skin is hydrated and plumped before applying foundation and concealer or it won’t look right,” he explains.
As for his holy grail complexion product, that would be La Mer’s Creme de la Mer, of course. “It’s my absolute favorite moisturizer to use when the skin needs hydration before we start makeup—I love it because it’s light and never makes the foundation react weirdly,” he explains. Team Byrdie loves Moon Juice Cosmic Cream Moisturizer ($58) and Clark's Botanicals Jasmine Vital Cream ($75).
Use a Longwear Base
Aside from skincare, he also suggests using long-wearing products that are less likely to crease or get stuck in fine lines and wrinkles. Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation and Tarte’s Maracuja Creaseless Undereye Concealer ($26) are both foolproof options that work well on all skin types, including mature complexions.
Try Waterproof Concealer
When it comes to long-lasting makeup — as in the kind of beat that will last through sweat, blood, and tears, or you know, the Super Bowl — Barnes relies on two power players: heavy-duty concealer and powder. “[Choose] a concealer like Urban Decay’s All Nighter, which is waterproof, and then use light layers of powders on top,” he explains.
Press on Powder
Barnes also recommends using a powder puff or beauty sponge to press powder into the skin instead of dusting on with a brush, as he says this step is what really helps to ensure its longevity.
Mix Oil with Your Foundation
To get gorgeous glowing skin like our girl J.Lo, Barnes recommends mixing an oil into your foundation to keep the skin super-moisturized and dewy. For this technique, we love lilah b.’s Aglow Priming Oil ($68) and Wander Beauty’s Glow Ahead Illuminating Face Oil, as they’re both lightweight, yet still super nourishing and look beautiful on the skin.
Apply Hydrating Facial Spray
Another trick Barnes swears by for radiant face makeup is finishing the skin with a hydrating facial spray. A few we love: Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist, Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist ($28), and Youth To The People’s Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist ($42). Using a facial spray is a fabulous trick because it instantly injects the skin with moisture and in turn makes it look more luminous — even if you’ve been wearing a full face of makeup for hours.
Add Bonus Glow with Body Makeup
"I also like to build in layers of light by using an illuminating body makeup, like my Body Bling Shimmering Lotion,” adds Barnes. You can either mix it into your foundation or wear it underneath for a lit-from-within effect. He considers the product a must-have in his kit "because it gives the skin a really healthy, radiant glow without being too shiny,” he says. “I developed it specifically for photoshoots and red carpets for this reason.” Barnes has been doing red carpet makeup for more than 20 years now, so it’s safe to say he knows his stuff.
Mix-and-Match for the Right Highlighter Tone
Barnes says he also uses his Glowy & Showy Highlighter Palette on the highest points of the face, as well as over the Body Bling when he wants an out-of-this-world glowy effect. “I created this palette in a way that you can mix shades together so you can make your perfect highlighter tone without overdoing any one color,” he says.
“I also specifically put pink and yellow tones in this palette because highlighter palettes ignore the yellow and pink hue of peoples’ skin and this really limits the ability to correctly hue shift.”
Contour Your Lips
According to Barnes, the key to Lopez’s legendary nude lip is contouring, which you can easily do with lip liner, as well as with whatever contour product suits your skin tone—yes, it’s that easy. “With Jennifer, we use my Sculpting and Contour Palette in the shades Diced and Snatched,” he says, adding that you should typically aim for a color that’s one to three shades darker than your natural lips, as this will help create a natural-looking shadow.
As far as application goes, it’s this simple: “I use a sharp, round or square-shaped brush with the preferred contour color and go right on the edge of the lips to make them look fuller. Then I apply whatever lip color or gloss desired.”