It may be the Oscar dresses that catches everyone's attention, but no Academy Awards look is complete without perfect make-up to compliment an outfit. We asked Neil Young, a backstage fixture and Senior Artist for Mac Cosmetics, and Stylist’s Beauty Director Joanna McGarry to choose their favourite red carpet beauty looks from the Oscars, and to share their top tips for recreating the looks yourself. Discover their picks in the gallery below...
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Neil says: Natalie has really striking features so her face doesn’t need a lot of make-up, I think she knows that and so she always stays true to her look. Even though every feature was enhanced, it’s still really balanced. There are certain characters on the red carpet that you almost expect to do something edgy with their make-up look but not everyone has to go down that road. Plus, Natalie knew she had a strong chance of winning the Oscar and so it’s wise to go with a timeless, classic look.
Jo says: In keeping with their fiery on-screen relationship in Black Swan, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman are red-carpet beauty sisters with their restrained, classic finish that serves to enhance their beauty rather than eclipse it. With a subtle copper hue (the eyeshadow colour of the season) across her lids, retro-Hollywood style false lashes and only the slightest hint of raspberry gloss on her lips, Mila has managed that tricky feat of amping up the glamour factor in honour of the grand occasion whilst still looking appropriately youthful. Bravo.
Neil says: A red lip is very synonymous with Valentino – whose design Anna was wearing on the red-carpet. When I think of Valentino, I automatically think of red lips so she’s perfectly captured the essence of the designer here – and it’s very honourable to do that. Having said that, if she was wearing anything other than Valentino, I’d have said this make-up look is a bit ageing. Anne’s features are quite prominent so her make-up artist has used the trick of lining the inside rim of her eye to minimise them and balance out the face. On the catwalk, we rarely use mascara with a red lip but for the Oscar’s, you need to have that extra touch of glamour with a good set of lashes.
Jo says: What joy to see a flash of colour on an otherwise restrained red-carpet palette. Working seamlessly against her nude tulle dress, Mandy has opted for a soft tangerine lip, clean skin and a lightly defined eye. The brows are fairly flat in tone which detract slightly from Mandy's youthful glow but her apricot-accented cheeks steer the look right back into winning territory.
Neil says: This is a very low-key look for Florence – she’s known for being experimental and playful with her make-up. She has that amazing flame-red hair and against the lemon and her pale skin, it would have been lovely for her to go with a fuscia lip. Compared to her beautiful vintage Valentino dress, the make-up looks a little too down-played. It needed an extra kick and then it would have been taken to a new level.
Jo says: Oh Sandy. How we love you so. After her winning poppy-red lip last year, Sandra returns to her spiritual home - red, only this time, she's cleverly diluted it so it doesn't have that squeaky-clean colour match of lip to dress which can be so overwhelming And continuing this year's theme for super-luminous skin, Sandra's naturally pale complexion simply glows. An interminably class act.
Neil says: I love this look. It’s a really clever combination of colours; the rust, coppery eye which has a yellow base works brilliantly against the deep purple of Scarlett’s dress and the crisp blue of her eyes. As a make-up artist, this is the kind of colour combination I’m always looking to create. It’s great that she hasn’t gone with an overly glossy lip – as her lips are so full, it can so easily dominate her face – it’s great that she’s let all the focus stay on her eyes. Transluscent skin has also been a prominent fixture on the red-carpet, Scarlett’s skin is just glowing. It’s all just a play on textures, lighting the skin on certain points of the face – the cupid’s bow, the apples of the cheeks – so that it shines when the camera flashes hit it. She rocked the look perfectly.
Jo says: You know your make-up artist is doing something right when light seems to positively radiate from you. Such is the case with Gwyneth Paltrow, a past Oscar winner and a red-carpet fixture who rarely puts a foot wrong in the beauty stakes. Here, to set off her dazzling Calvin Klein dress, Gwyneth plays her trump card with gently dressed eyelids in a cream irridescent, taupe-toned shadow with a faintly mauve glossy lips. Too reserved for Oscar's night? Probably. But it's a blueprint that totally works for her - and the cameras adore it too.
Neil says: I’ve seen Jennifer with some incredible make-up but her skin looked a little flat here. It’s a strong matte finish and looks a bit too made up. It’s important when applying make-up for the red-carpet that you use the same product you use on the skin as you do the body. Jennifer has lovely cheekbones and great lips but you lose her eye a little bit – some feathery false lashes would have looked gorgeous. The problem with the Oscars is that because it’s so steeped in history and heritage, it can be instantly ageing for everyone that steps onto the red-carpet. It’s vital to work against that and always be inventive and look as fresh and radiant as possible.
Jo says: With her striking blue-grey eyes and mane of beautiful auburn locks, Amy didn't have far to tread far to affect a vibrant aesthetic to set off her midnight-blue sequin dress. And although this light-handed approach falls slightly short of usual Oscar standards, it works for her and her outfit - as hers is the kind of face that looks infinitely more stunning without stage make-up. Witness her Oscar-nominated performance in The Fighter, which was powerful and stirring enough without a scrap of lipstick or a smear of eyeshadow.