The B Side
Traditionally, the “B side” refers to the flip side of a record. The A side contains the more front-facing hits—the singles—but on the B side, you can get in a bit deeper with the artist. And quite honestly, there’s no better metaphor we can think of for the creative team behind a beauty look. They pull the references, scour the archives, and paint the picture you see on the big screen. The celebrity, model, or actor is the single with the most airtime. But the glam team? They’re the producers, conductors, friends, and family members. For lack of a less ubiquitous phrase, they make it work.
It has always been our mission to shine a light on the BTS of beauty, as the artistry of hair and makeup is an intricate, detailed exploration at the cross section of aesthetics and culture. Why? Because the origin of a look is just as important as the look itself. The backstory deserves its own hard-earned glory.
This time around, we’re introducing you to Kathy Jeung and Ray Christopher, the masterminds behind the hair and makeup looks for Byrdie’s eighth issue—The Balance Issue—featuring Tiffany Haddish. Below, join us in taking a peek behind the curtain, as their words are fun and empowering in equal measure.
Makeup: Kathy Jeung
“[Tiffany] is delightful: warm, friendly, and wonderfully conscientious,” Kathy Jeung says of her time on set with Haddish. “When I was doing her makeup or touching her up, she would hold still for me, and for a makeup artist, that’s everything!” she exclaims. And though it was Jeung’s first time working with Haddish, she’s been in the business for quite some time—and regaled me with some pretty iconic stories. But her heart wasn’t always set on makeup.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Jeung moved to L.A. a month after graduating high school. “I had a strong feeling my future was there, but I wasn’t sure what that future was,” she tells me. “In my early twenties,” Jeung shares, “I ended up living in London; just being young and enjoying nightlife with no real career goals in mind. Legendary makeup artist and Face Lace creator Phyllis Cohen was also living there. I had been her model for some of her amazing fantasy makeup artistry creations. She gave me a basic lesson and generously loaded me up with a bunch of makeup, which I treasured and obsessively kept organized."
Cohen followed up a few years later when Jeung was back in L.A. and had a hand in her first makeup gig. “I had only very basic knowledge, but I’m a problem solver, so I approached it logistically and tactically. I was fortunate to get patient guidance from a photographer’s point of view, so I learned so much more than just makeup. I learned about lighting, angles, and what makes for good precision makeup for a photograph,” Jeung explains. Because of Cohen’s persistence, Jeung stepped into the unknown and was surprised to find she was positively challenged by and passionately curious about makeup as her career. She was self-taught, and her early days on set became trial-by-fire on-the-job training and ultimately offered an invaluable foundation for her makeup knowledge.
As time passed, Jeung found herself in legendary company. She worked with David Bowie and Tilda Swinton for the “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” music video (which was directed by visionary Floria Sigismondi). “That was the most monumental and memorable experience of my career,” she says, starry-eyed. “What an honor to work with my all-time hero, legend, and creative genius David Bowie and the most mercurial and captivating screen performer of our time, Tilda Swinton.” And, her relationship with Bowie didn’t stop there. Jeung worked with the musician again on his “The Next Day” music video with Marion Cotillard and Gary Oldman.
Our first look of the day was one with abstract graphic lines inspired by Picasso’s illustrations. Jeung took her time perfecting every line, curve, and texture to create the final product. Haddish kept still while she drew freehand with a liquid liner, added gloss to her eyes, and contoured her face. It was both soothing and mind-blowing to watch. Jeung is an obvious perfectionist and a thoughtful artist. The second look was more natural, highlighting Haddish’s bare skin as the star of the show. Jeung applied a sprinkling of faux freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheeks for added freshness. The third and final look was the most playful of the bunch, with a nod to ’90s makeup. She coated Haddish’s top and bottom lashes with pink mascara and finished off with softly lined, glossy lips.
I ask Jeung what beauty means to her, now that she’s had a decades-long career in makeup. “It’s about peaceful confidence,” she tells me. Jeung lists Tina Chow, Patti Hansen, Bianca Jagger, Debbie Harry, and Marisa Berenson as her ultimate beauty icons, and names heavy hitters Serge Lutens, Tyen, Way Bandy, Pat McGrath, Peter Philips, Lucia Pieroni, Francesca Tolot, and Joanne Gair as her mentors in the business. She’s endlessly grateful for each of them, citing how they take chances, have expanded her horizons, and generously shared life experiences.
Before finishing our time together, I asked her about the lessons she’s willing to share. Through all of it, Jeung has learned how to “trust the process.” She says, “Read the room and communicate wisely with kindness.” For those looking to make a career out of makeup, she aptly advises to “be a sponge.” And with that, she packed up her brushes—thoughtfully and meticulously—and I continued to think about her words for the rest of the evening.
Hair: Ray Christopher
“Beauty begins within,” Ray Christopher says, smiling from ear to ear. “If you feel beautiful, you exude beauty. Beauty is a feeling; it’s a vibe.” And vibe we did—all day long and into the night on set that day. Christopher is like a ray of sunshine; he practically sparkles. And it’s no surprise he’s worked with Haddish for so long, as that’s exactly how he describes her. “[Tiffany] is FUN,” he says in what feels like all caps. “The atmosphere is always energetic, and there is never a dull moment. She is supersweet, I love working with her,” he adds.
Like Jeung, Christopher stumbled into beauty as a career. Immediately, though, he says he loved doing hair and knew it was his calling. In fact, after growing up in Lakewood, California, near Los Angeles, Christopher was “blessed” to have had the opportunity to style the legendary Prince. “I learned so much early on in my career, and everything I experienced equipped me with the knowledge necessary to be successful in this industry,” he tells me.
“Tiffany loves to express herself with a natural look,” Christopher says of his longtime client. For the first look, we wanted to showcase her natural hair. “We did some simple finger waves to take it to another level,” he says of Haddish’s platinum crop. The second look was a special one. Christopher created a braided wig with neutral beads, shells, and a special pop of blue for color. “It was Michael Jackson’s ‘Black and White’ video that inspired this look. I watched it as a kid, and it stayed with me. So re-creating it felt simple and fun.” The final look Christopher lovingly calls “The Flip”, as it was one of the most requested and recognizable hairstyles in the ’90s. “It’s so much fun on Tiffany,” he says.
Haddish seems to have a role in a lot of his career highlights, including the time he was informed he was nominated for an Emmy Award. He was on set with Haddish; it'll be forever etched in his memory. “I was on set doing what I love most, getting recognized for what I love doing,” he says, sparkling yet again. Now, Christopher is a two-time Emmy Award–winning hairstylist, and I got to see firsthand why. “Knowing how to pivot is crucial,” Christopher explains when I ask about the biggest lesson he’s learned in the beauty space. He mentions flexibility, availability, and professionalism as the way to hold on to success. “You have to constantly know how to reinvent yourself. You cannot be stagnant in this industry, and consistency is the most important factor in success.”
We finish our conversation with a discussion about his own mentors, including Oribe Canales, César DeLeön Ramîrez, and Jen Atkin. “They set the precedent for artistic hairstyling,” he says. Before leaving, and in a genuine pay-it-forward fashion, Christopher shouts out a few up-and-coming artists he believes will be in the new guard of beauty icons. Remember these names: Jared Henderson and Alexander Armand.