“Confidence is the ultimate secret beauty weapon,” Uzo, the veteran makeup artist who currently holds the title of global director of artistry at NARS, tells me. “That said, don’t ever underestimate the power makeup has on your confidence—because ultimately, you’re in control in how you choose to express yourself to the rest of the world.” Without a doubt, Uzo, often hailed by those in the fashion and beauty world as a “talent précieux,” knows her craft inside and out. The prominent artist discovered her own inventive artistry at a young age—so much so that she defied her ultra-strict parents in her native Nigeria, and moved to the United States for what they believed would be a career as a surgeon. Instead, she pursued her passion: being a prominent, in-demand makeup artist.
For over two decades, Uzo has worked behind the scenes at the most prestigious runway shows, editorial covers, and campaigns. The L.A.-based based makeup maven, who has often worked with Tessa Thompson, Naomi Campbell, and Kirsten Dunst, has nothing short of a pristine reputation—she’s known for her calm demeanor just as much as her talent. She’s also, simply put, a really, really nice person.
Who better to break down the most informed, professional makeup directives we should be considering this upcoming season? Uzo gives us a peek at upcoming makeup trends, as well as a logical and user-friendly (thank god) breakdown of flawless skin tips to help keep our complexions fresh.
What are the trends you are seeing on the runways for spring?
It’s really a combination of, I would say, five notes that exemplify the look for spring:
Thanks to the recent nods to wellness and revamped skincare routines, the new trend in complexion calls for a less-is-more approach. Softer, more natural-looking complexions that have a lit-from-within glow are in. Newer foundation formulations (such as NARS Light Reflecting Foundation or Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation) combine updated photochromic and light-reflecting technologies in deceptively lightweight bases that provide undetectable coverage—blurring areas of redness and discoloration. These hybrid formulations instantly make skin look healthy and glowing, and with continued use, improve clarity and even out skin tone thanks to additional skincare benefits.
Naturally Radiant Cheeks
There’s nothing more flattering than a subtle wash of blush to add subtle definition and dimension to the cheek bones. Add a touch of highlighter, and skin looks healthy and radiant. Subtle shimmer that replicates the skin’s natural glow is replacing overly highlighted cheek looks. Shades of soft peach and pink, or bronzed shades for deeper skin tones, in cream or liquid formulations give the best results—but don’t rule out traditional powder blushes that leave skin looking luminous.
Juicy Fruit Lips
Matte lips aren’t going anywhere anytime soon—especially as we’re still in the throes of wearing masks—but there is definitely something new and refreshing about the resurgence of the glossed lip trend. Glossed lips are back with a vengeance: from lip glosses that have a shiny lip balm texture (Makeup by Mario’s Moisture Glow Plumping Lip Serum) to high-voltage, high-shine, lacquer-type formulations (NARS Afterglow Lip Shine).
Graphic eyeliners in vibrant shades are no longer just for the runways. Slashes of precisely applied color, from cobalt blue to violet to icy white, drawn along the upper lash line, or in the crease, or as an underliner, are evolving to become the new eyeliner staple look, alongside the classic black feline flick. NARS High Pigment Longwear Eyeliner in Ocean Blvd., and Shiseido Microeyeliner Ink in Violet offer easy application, superior formulation with hours of smudge-free wear.
Your skin is gorgeous and flawless. Not that there is anything wrong with aging, but it seems like you don’t age. How do you pass that quality along to the faces you work with? What are your tips for make their skin look just as good as yours?
First, let’s talkfoundation, as there are several application techniques. For best results, especially when it comes to full-coverage formulations, warm the foundation on the back of the hand before application—that approach tends to blend more smoothly and evenly. Shaking the bottle is not enough. Use the fingertips to apply a small amount of foundation, starting in the center of the face, and blending outward towards the forehead, temples and jawline, for a fresh finish.
Apply water-based and oil-free matte foundation formulations with a dense foundation brush or a dampened sponge to ensure even coverage, but always go back in with the fingertips to perfect application, especially around the nostrils and under-eye area.
I use a ten point system for foundation that I’ve broken down here:
Always apply concealer after foundation application. Let the foundation do most of the work by evening out the complexion, and that includes around the under-eye area. When it’s time to go in with concealer, you end up using less product. Playing with different foundation formulations that have different levels of coverage in foundation formulations is a great technique when wanting to create a flawless complexion that has dimension. Recently, I’ve been using a tinted moisturizer first, like a primer, for an all-over transparent finish, then layering a small amount of a medium-coverage foundation onto the forehead and cheeks only. One of my all-time favorite techniques to create the appearance of a soft, luminous glow is to applying liquid or cream highlighter along the cheekbones before foundation application.
Blush is such an important part of creating beautiful skin, and it’s a step that I rarely skip. The brush you use for application makes all the difference. Switch out your traditional blush brush for a kabuki-styled brush with looser brush hair (I like NARS’s Yachiyo Brush).
Blush is deposited on the skin more smoothly using this brush shape. For a more natural and flattering ethereal effect, blend blush onto the apples of the cheeks and across the bridge of the nose. Reserve that firmer blush brush for applying blush along the cheekbones for a sculpted cheek look.
Use special toning mists such as Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist for a smoother-looking complexion—but also to bring back the natural luster of the skin, especially after using powder. I love using Evian’s Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray to hydrate drier complexions throughout the day.
Lastly, incorporating the use of a micro-current device (such as NuFace’s facial toning device), facial jade rollers, and Gua Sha stones may seem to some like an unnecessary step in a skincare routine, but the lifting and firming effect, along with a marked boost to the skin’s circulation, helps skin look heathy and radiant, and this advantage cannot be overstated.