There are few A-list faces that celebrity makeup artist Joyce Bonelli has not painted. The dauntless, platinum-blond figure, known for her affinity for false lashes and red lips, got her start in the mid-2000s working on set at Pamela Anderson's Playboy shoot. From there, she became The Girls Next Door's go-to makeup artist, working with Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt before being introduced to the next era of cohabitating female reality stars: the Kardashians. For the past 10 years, Bonelli has worked intimately with Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, and Kris, helping them shape and fine-tune the iconic sultry makeup aesthetics we see today. She's also picked up a few other clients along the way, like Chrissy Teigen, Salma Hayek, and Cara Delevingne. We know, casual stuff. Oh, and did we mention she's also a mother of three?
Needless to say, when the opportunity came up to hop on the phone with Bonelli and pick her brain, approximately half a second elapsed before we said Mais oui. We knew Bonelli had to have some fascinating makeup tips to spill (as well as a little bit of celebrity beauty gossip—you know how we Byrdie editors like our tea!). Let's just say we weren't wrong. Keep scrolling to read our fascinating conversation with the legendary makeup artist Joyce Bonelli.
BYRDIE: How do you think our definition of "sexy" has evolved from the 2000s when you were working with Pam Anderson and The Girls Next Door versus now with the Kardashians?
JOYCE BONELLI: Huh, that's a cute question now that you ask me. I feel like something that has changed is that now, I think it's sexy to have super-glistening, glowy skin. Back in the day, a director of photography would kill you if someone's face was shining at all on camera. The look was more matte. I still love when there's an old-school DP on set and they're like, "Oh, she is a little shiny on her cheekbones," and it's like, yeah, that's the vibe right now! I just think right now it's so sexy when your skin has a glow.
BYRDIE: Totally. You've also worked with so many unique clients since the '90s—everyone from Cara Delevingne to Kim. Do you think what’s considered sexy has broadened at all?
JB: Oh yeah. Compared to 20 years ago, I can get away with a lot more than what I used to. For instance, makeup is not just about a wash of color on your lid and some mascara anymore. People are experimenting. The sultry eye has now become all about the lash, some cool liner, a smoky smudgy shadow. There are just a lot more layers to what makeup can be now, I think.
BYRDIE: Are there any beauty trends from 20 years ago or techniques that you still love to use on your clients?
JB: Well, I always go for matte browns and plums on the lip. That dark matte lip has always been my jam.
BYRDIE: The Kardashians have obviously kind of taken over the makeup world over the past few years. Are there amazing makeup tricks you've learned from them?
JB: They are like a walking magazine. They just have so many little tips. I've learned all about spray tanning from them, like what exfoliators to use before you go and how you have to moisturize from your toe to your hairline afterward. And I've learned about making sure your smile is white white white, to use your Crest strip or bleach them at the dentist. They are so into hygiene and all that stuff. They are just so cute.
BYRDIE: Yeah, they really have their shit together, don't they?
JB: They are like perfect mannequins from head to toe! Like, if there is one little chip in a manicure, that is not okay. They are so precise with every little detail. I've learned the importance of a mani-pedi, too, for sure. One time I saw Kim get her nails done three times in a row because they just weren't perfect.
BYRDIE: You can tell she's a perfectionist.
JB: Yeah, they all are, but she is—wow, she is wild. [Laughs.]
BYRDIE: So you've obviously been known for rocking an amazing red lip. What are you favorite lip colors right now?
JB: Um, I love Nars Heatwave. That was my everyday jam when I wore red lips every day for five years. But three years ago, I started doing just, like, matte plum and brown.
BYRDIE: Any favorite products?
JB: Honestly, my jam is just like a brown eyeliner! [Laughs.] I still use brown eyeliner. Like a chocolate color. MAC is great. I use a lot of MAC brown eyeliner, but honestly, there are so many products I like. I have a really bad personal makeup situation, just how much makeup is in my house right now. I'll just be at a European pharmacy—they are so fun to shop at; they have the sickest cosmetics stuff—and I always just pick up random eyeliner at the register. So literally you can use any brand, as long as it's a chocolate eyeliner.
BYRDIE: That's so genius. My personal makeup situation is bad too, which actually leads to my next question: Do you experience any stereotypes or judgment in our culture as a woman who loves makeup?
JB: Of course. As a makeup artist, I get a vibe from some people where they think makeup is overrated, or unimportant, I guess. They'll say to me, I can't believe that's your job. Like kind of talking down to me. But honestly, I think we all desire to be beautiful—or desired, actually. Even feminists, even people who have a no-makeup, granola vibe. Those are literally the first people to drop in my chair when no one is looking, by the way. They're like, What can you do to fix me? because they are curious. Everyone is curious.
JB: But I think the stereotype is always going to be there. And listen, I'm seriously a tomboy at heart. And I don't wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis. So I think those type of people are like, Hmmm, she's interesting because I don't run around with 10 pounds of makeup on my face. I don't go around screaming, OH MY GOD, I JUST LOVE MAKEUP! You know what I mean? I'm an artist. Makeup is just one of the mediums I use. It's not like all I do is talk about mascara at dinner with my family or friends. So when people are trying to bring that judgy vibe at me and they don't know me but then suddenly they are sitting in my chair, I love it. It's honestly one of my favorite things.
BYRDIE: One last question: Are there any particularly cool or freaky makeup trends you think (or hope) are going to blow up in the next year?
JB: Yes! Well, 2017 is obviously all about glowing skin, but in a subtle way. And glossy lids. And glitter. I would love to see more gold and silver looks. The next thing that I am going to be doing every day is gold and silver metallic on my lids, just a thin line of it.
BYRDIE: I love it. Very futuristic.
JB: And everything is just really monochromatic. Oh, and I would love to see like a metallic, almost dripping-looking eyebrow. You will see these in my next social media posts for summer. That's going to be my vibe. I'm going to be going to the grocery store with it and everything. Monochromatic skin with a little pop of metallic or glitter. Gloss on your lip, gloss on your lids, maybe a little bit on your cheekbone, and then run out the door.