The Hottest Holiday Makeup for Dark Skin Tones with Celeb Makeup Artist Sir John

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Sir John. Photography by Tyren Redd

Holiday parties are a thing again.

As the makeup artist for Beyoncé, Priyanka Chopra and Naomi Campbell — just to name a few — Sir John barely needs an introduction. Since the A-list can’t seem to book him fast enough for their red carpet appearances and other special events, we made sure to ask him all about his top tips for the best holiday makeup for dark skin tones, especially when it comes to making your re-entrance on the party circuit.

Prep your skin for makeup that glows

“This is the best time to start layering. Use an essence to prep the skin and balance your skin’s pH so you can layer on more hydrating products. After that, use an emollient cream or serum depending on your needs. Lock everything in with a face oil. I wasn’t always a huge fan of oils, but I love them now. There are so many ways to use and manipulate them, like with a gua sha for a soothing face massage that can help improve circulation and give you good glow.

“If you’re using a treatment, look for ones with AHAs and BHAs, which will give you your smoothest skin surface for makeup. They can make you sun sensitive, so evenings and winter can be the best time to introduce them into your routine.”

Nars Blush
Nars Full Access Cheek Set. Photography Courtesy of Shoppers Drug Mart

…Unless you’re going out dancing!

“If you’re going out to a holiday party and need your makeup to have major staying power, skip your skincare routine all together and prep your skin with a primer instead. Stay away from super luxurious emollient moisturizers because it will break down your makeup and make it oxidize.

“For extra long-wear you can also use a cream foundation and buff a powder foundation into it with a brush. Same goes for your bronzer or blush: use a cream and buff a powder right on top. You can also set your eyebrow pencil with eyeshadow or a brow powder.”

Choose a red lipstick that will flatter your specific skintone

“A statement lip never goes out of style. Keep in mind, there are two different types of red lipsticks. A retro, ’50s-style red with an orange undertone, and a classic red with a blue undertone. If you have a deep complexion, choose a lipstick with a blue undertone which will make your teeth look really white and brilliant. You can go with any blue-based shade, such as a merlot, berry, or true fire-engine red. If you have a lighter complexion and want your tan or olive-toned skin to come alive, a ’50s, orange-based red always looks really beautiful. Matte shades are also stunning this time of year because they pull in the light. That gorgeous colour saturation makes your lips look so rich.”

Embrace bold colours…that aren’t pastels

“There’s no wrong way of embracing colour when you have dark skin.  It’s just about thinking, ‘How do I ground it and make it look anchored?’ and ‘How do I make it look like myself?’ Having said that, steer clear of pastel makeup colours and lipsticks that are too frosty. If you happen to use a lipstick or gloss with a lot of shimmer, be sure to use a lipliner with it to taper down the edges of your lip line and give you definition. You want to make sure that whatever you’re using doesn’t look costume-y or even too trendy. Instead, you want to make it look like you’ve lived in it and you love it. If you love it, it’ll look good no matter what colour it is…just stay away from those pastels!”

To get more insider tips from the man himself, you can tune into his Instagram Live with Shoppers Drug Mart this Saturday, November 6, from 1 to 1:30 p.m. EST, where he’ll be dishing on more of his best looks and favourite products just in time for your holiday get togethers.