Ahead of her role in upcoming movie Free Guy, Jodie Comer is this week’s Stylist cover star. Here, celebrity make-up artist Alex Babsky talks through exactly how he achieved her beauty look.
Every time Alex Babsky begins a celebrity’s make-up, he knows what he wants to achieve.
The celebrity make-up artist has worked with countless stars, from Florence Pugh and Penelope Cruz to Lupita Nyong’o and Elizabeth Olsen. Another regular client is Jodie Comer so, naturally, Babsky was on hand for her big Stylist cover shoot.
“We wanted her to look groomed and polished but we didn’t want to inflict a look on her so much,” explains Babsky. “So really, it was just bringing out the best of her – working with the way she looks and what works on her rather than a trend.”
Showcasing his skills as a true artist, Babsky doesn’t stick to your standard face chart. Instead, he preps for a shoot by creating intricate sketches.
“It’s my way of doing a face chart,” he explains. “When working with a celebrity, for me, a red carpet moment is more than just what’s going to look nice with the outfit.
“If the outfit is monochromatic or a dull colour, I feel part of my role is to try and add a bit of punch with make-up, with something like a pop of lipstick or coloured eye.
“So for me, there’s a bit more planning than just showing up on the day. I like to sketch out an idea beforehand, just to see how it looks really. And if I do that on a sketch of the actual face I’m making up, then I get a feel for how it looks.”
For Comer’s cover, which drops ahead of her role in upcoming movie Free Guy – her first major movie – Babsky created a gorgeous natural make-up look that centres ahead a subtle taupey eye. Comer, who is an ambassador for Noble Panacea, also has glowing skin. Here, he breaks down exactly how he achieved it.
On Jodie’s skincare…
“Skin is the starting point of it all. I take time really polishing her skin before I even begin so it looks its absolute best, before I even start embellishing it. I do a really thorough cleanse, often a couple of times over, depending on how the skin feels under my fingers. I like to use a cream cleanser because, as well as lifting up impurities and actually cleaning the skin, the creaminess gives my fingers enough slip to do a really firm massage. This really wakes the skin up and can define the features even more – I like to really massage under the cheekbones to really make those kind of pop. So I spent a while doing that before we even began.
“I’ll then use a toner to take away all the traces of oil and a tissue to blot the face. It’ll still look and feel plumped up from the cleansing massage. Sometimes that is enough. Generally, I use a moisturiser as well. How much I use is dependent on how that skin feels to me. Then, when I’ve done the moisturiser, again, then I blot skin with a tissue so that there isn’t any moisturiser on the surface – just what’s absorbed into the skin.
“I like the skin to feel a very particular way. Once I finish all the prep before make-up, I want it to feel plump, nourished and moisturised. I also want it to feel kind of tacky but not slippery. So, it’s like a fine balancing act between moisturised enough and not too much.”
On Jodie’s complexion…
“I applied a really fine wash of foundation everywhere – not so much to give coverage but just for a uniform finish when the camera flash went off. Then, in certain areas, I added a little concealer, making a kind of patchwork of coverage. It was really minimal and barely any in some areas so the overall effect is a uniform, even complexion.
“Using powder is a bit of a patchwork as well. I dipped a tiny round and damp sponge in powder and set any areas that had a bit of extra coverage, like just around her eyes and around the nostrils, concentrating on the centre of the face. Then I just brushed over it with a gentle powder brush and left most of the face bare.
“If you’re being photographed with a flash, you don’t want any of those coverage highlights to be anywhere that’s kind of ‘unflattering’. For me, those unflattering areas are pretty much in the middle of the face. You don’t want to have a shiny forehead or for the sides of your nose to be shiny – that looks kind of sweaty. Personally, I don’t like any shine on the chin either, it kind of makes me think of eating KFC. Some people like to be a little more dewy, but personally, I prefer the dewiness to just stay on the sides of the face.”
On Jodie’s eyebrows…
“With eyebrows, it is pretty much Jodie’s own, I added a bit more substance and a slight whisper of a little more shape on top, which I feel suits her face. Not too groomed and just a little bit of unruliness in there, very natural.
“When it comes to filling in your brows, it depends on your shape but for 90% of people, it’s usually best to define your brows from underneath.”
On Jodie’s eyeshadow…
“I generally put some colour under the eye as I feel it balances the eye. It can be a bit top heavy if there’s only colour on the eyelid.
“When I’m doing eye make-up, generally what I’m trying to do is lift up and lengthen the eye. Everyone’s eye shape is different and so, for me, the easiest way to work out what that elevated and lengthened shape is, is by extending the lower lash line.
“So when doing eyeshadow, I normally start [underneath the eye] actually just so I can map out that line. When Jodie was looking straight ahead, I took that taupe colour along her lower lash line and continued it outwards towards her temples from underneath. That gives me a guide for the angle for her eyeshadow and then I fill in the top of the eye.”
On Jodie’s lashes…
I know, for most people, if they can only wear one make-up item, it’s generally mascara but I’m not actually all that fussed about it, if I’m honest. I often leave it off about 50% of the time. So, I don’t pay a huge amount of attention to mascara – in fact, on Jodie, I didn’t put any on her bottom lashes.
When I do use it, I generally favour a formula that’s not too thick. Instead, I prefer something that’s lengthening and defining them rather than thickening. I understand why people would want thicker-looking lashes for their everyday life but in photographs, I prefer to see individual lashes. So, I curl them and then do a fine application of formula.
Before applying, I usually wipe off excess formula on the end of the wand so I don’t get a big clump of it if I’m using it vertically to define lashes. I don’t always wipe it off but if I take out the wand or it’s brand new and there’s a load of formula on there, then I’ll just pat it on the back of my hand or a tissue. Then, I waggle the wand in the roots rather than applying the full whack of product over the entire length of the lash. I like to deposit more on the lash line.
On Jodie’s lipstick…
“When I did skin prep at the beginning, I put a really good amount of lip balm – like really a lot – on the lips so that it stayed on there for the hour that it took to do the rest of Jodie’s make-up. So, by the time I get to the lips, they’re really well moisturised. And if lips do have dry, dead skin, this is then softened and it’s really easy to just almost wipe that away.
“When it comes to finding your perfect nude shade, it differs so much person-to-person and depends on your skin tone, under tones and the pigment in each person’s lips. All I can say really is, you just have to try on because, particularly with any kind of nuanced natural shade, it can look one colour on the back of your hand or in the tube but when it goes on your lips, the colour of your lip pigment can alter that.
“Plus, some people have different tones within their lips. So you might find, particularly on deeper skin tones, the centre of the bottom lip is often a very different colour to say the edge of the top lip. Often in those scenarios, I use a couple of different lipsticks.”
Buy your issue of Stylist, which includes an exclusive shoot and interview with Jodie Comer, here.
Free Guy is in cinemas nationwide from Friday 13 August.
Main image: Danny Kasirye for Stylist