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Interview with Madonna's Make-up Artist

Madonna hits the stage at Oakland’s Oracle Arena this weekend on the Bay Area stop of her Sticky & Sweet world tour. In between unpacking her beauty arsenal and getting the Queen of Pop camera ready, Gina Brooke, Madonna’s longtime make-up artist, will be teaching a master class at the Fillmore Street Shu Uemura boutique on Saturday. We caught up with Brooke, who was still touring in Canada, for the inside scoop of life on the road, how she keeps Madonna looking fine, and her best, stress-free beauty tips.



What is one off-the-runway make-up trend for fall that every woman should try?

A bold, beautiful lip in any color. It can be rose, red, burgundy, or black - any color that makes a statement.

You have the added challenge of making Madonna look great on stage. What are your top three tricks for keeping her look long lasting while she performs?

The key to long-wearing makeup is prepping the skin properly according to skin type. It’s equivalent to priming a wall before you paint it—the surface must be properly prepared before applying the makeup, and once the surface is primed, the makeup and color will last. I use shu uemura’s Depsea Moisture Replenishing Mask and Phyto-Black Lift Firming Anti-Wrinkle Cream to nourish and moisturize her skin before applying makeup. Before I apply powder, I use shu uemura Face Papers to lift oils from the skin, and then I apply powder to set the makeup. Once her skin is prepared, the rest of the night is effortless.

What’s one added step someone could add to their basic make-up routine to spice up her look for the holidays?

Adding a set of full-length false eyelashes will instantly enhance and dramatize the appearance of the eyes. … Smoky Layers add volume and length to one’s natural lashes, while a fantasy style like (shu uemura’s) Flip Color or Dazzling Topaz Diamante adds festive glamour to a holiday look.

What’s one make-up trend you could do without ever seeing again?

All ‘80s makeup. It was all heavy--heavy lips, heavy cheeks and heavy eyes, which only weighed down a person’s look and made her appearance harder.

What’s your favorite look that you created specifically for Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour and how can the average person achieve it for a night out?

There’s only one look for the tour, and it’s all about focusing on Madonna’s best features, which are her eyes and her flawless skin. The look uses lots of liquid eyeliner for a dark, dramatic eye, and flawless, perfect skin. This look would be easy to recreate exactly for a night out, but more importantly, the look highlights Madonna’s best features, which is what every woman should try to do on a special evening. And again, since beautiful makeup begins with beautiful skin, a proper skincare regimen is essential.

When you’re on tour, what’s an average day like for you?

The days morph into each other because it’s the same routine: In the mornings before work, I try to find vintage bookstores or go to museums to absorb as much of the country’s culture as possible. And then I’m off to work. I head to the venue and since I have the first few hours to myself, I devote some time to writing, since I’m in the process of writing a book. Then, it’s straight to work, observing rehearsals before heading into hair and makeup. Once the show starts, I watch the show, and I watch Madonna’s face closely, looking to see how her makeup is holding up, and making note of what might need to be fixed. Because we have such minimal time for touch-ups between segments, I need to be prepared so that when she comes under the stage, I know exactly what to do without contemplating. After the show, I go back to the hotel and straight to bed. And then, I do it all again tomorrow.

How do you stay inspired?


Everything inspires me—my clients, my travels, a photographer on a shoot. In this position, it’s important to be prepared for anything at any time, because you might have to be creative at the drop of a hat. I also do a lot of research. When I’m not working or on tour, you’ll find me in used and vintage bookstores, looking for out-of-print and first edition books to inspire future creations.

Is there anything you have to do differently with Madonna’s skin care or make up application from city to city?

The makeup and the overall look stays the same, but we have to change skincare products every few weeks because our skin becomes immune to products after using them for a long period of time. ... Flying does nothing but dehydrate your skin. Throughout the tour, one of my main goals is to keep Madonna’s skin as hydrated as possible. San Francisco in November will probably be chilly, so we’ll continue to focus on hydration.