The first thing Nick Barose does after we exchange pleasantries is compliment my lip colour. I say thanks, rather bashfully, and give myself a mental pat on the back — little does he know I picked up the bold red right before our interview. It's not every day that I meet the man responsible for many a celebrity makeup look.
Barose and I sit down and immediately get acquainted. I comment that his strong features and caramel skin tone don't look stereotypically Thai, and he shares his mixed heritage: Indonesian and Dutch on his father's side, while his Thai mother has Arabic and Portuguese roots.
"My mom has impeccable taste," Barose shares about his now 70-year old mother. "Growing up, I always saw her with colour, but in a sophisticated way. Back in the day, she wore bold lipstick and blue mascara. Everytime I come home, I always bring back red, orange and fuschia — she loves her lip colours."
Like any social media-savvy celebrity of this generation, Barose doesn't shy away from sharing snippets of both his personal and professional lives. His Instagram account is peppered with shots of him making up celebrities the likes of Zoë Kravitz, Amy Poehler and Brie Larson, as well as photos of hijab-wearing flower girls at a family wedding. Oh, then there's a shot of him with a croissant in his mouth and an Americano in one hand, en route to a couture show. It's just another day in the life of Barose, one of Hollywood's go-to make-up guys.
Your Instagram account's filled with some straight-talking captions. Are all makeup artists this sassy?
I'm not sure if all makeup artists are sassy, but when you have a job where you have a lot of time to kill, you just have to find a lot of things to laugh at. You have to be at a photoshoot at 8am, but they only come at 9 — so what are you going to do? You just have to entertain yourself, so that's probably why a lot of us are that way. When you work in showbiz, it can become stressful, but then you have to remind yourself it's not that serious. I take my job seriously, but at the end of the day, it's makeup, colour and celebrity. You just have to have fun and find something to laugh about. I make fun of myself a lot too, so maybe that's why I get away with it.
You worked with the legendary Kevyn Aucoin for some time. What was one of the most important things you took away from that experience?
Now, a lot of the time when you get thrown into the business, if you don't have a good role model, people run around like it's so serious. It is serious — I show up to work on time and I don't waste people's time, but you have to be able to have fun and laugh. Because you're working with colour, you have to embrace the artistic side of it and be eccentric. I feel like I learned a lot about that from working with him: To be more than a makeup artist.
What's one mistake people always make with makeup?
The trend right now is strobing and highlighting, but that doesn't really work in daylight because the light changes throughout the day. The office has fluorescent light, but when you're out, you have daylight. For contours or highlights, I'd save it for the evening. It's similar to how you wouldn't wear an evening gown to breakfast. I mean, some people do — but it's more of doing the right thing for the right occasion. Sometimes, you see people on the subway in New York in the day and the highlighter is too shimmery for the daytime. But having said that, I like playing with colour. You can totally have drama, like bold lips with fresh skin — so it's perfect for making a statement, but you're not being tricky with it and it works with every lighting.
You work with a lot of women of colour. In a place as ethnically diverse as Singapore, we ladies want to know — what's the best tip you can share for making us up?
Embrace whatever your skin tone is, instead of trying to fight it. The mistake that people make is not embracing their own beauty. For a long time, somebody like my sister — who is of a darker skin tone — would wear lighter foundation thinking it looks better, but I'm like, it's not. Your foundation should look like your skin, not lighter.
When I was growing up, people would tease me for having darker skin. We had this nanny who was really old school — she would put turmeric all over my body so I would have a yellow tinge. It smelled horrible, I'm still traumatised by it.
Thailand is such a diverse place, in terms of beauty. I try to embrace it and I think that's what people should do. It's more practical, and you look more beautiful anyway.
EMBRACE WHATEVER YOUR SKIN TONE IS INSTEAD OF TRYING TO FIGHT IT. The mistake that people make is not embracing their own beauty
Lastly, what are your top five products for makeup and skin care?
Face peel: Skin Inc Pure Revival Peel. This is something you can use right before an event so you can really get rid of the dead skin. Normally, I wouldn't do the peel right before because the skin can turn red, but this one's really gentle, and you can see the result right away.
Brightening mask: Skin Inc Get Glowin' Brightening Mask. A lot of people hire me in Hollywood because they say I make skin look radiant. The key is that I don't rely on just makeup, I rely on good skincare to create that glow. A brightening mask is great because you can leave it on before an event and add hydration to the skin.
Foundation: Lancôme Miracle Cushion. I like to work with liquid because it looks like skin, so this foundation is liquid but in a compact, making it easy to use. I like skin to look like skin so I always look for a foundation that enhances your glow.
Eyeshadow: Tom Ford Beauty Eye Color Quad in Cognac Sable. It comes in both matte and shimmer textures and the colours are in harmony. What I like about it is that you end up using all four colours instead of just two. You can use it to fill your eyebrows, smoke your eyes and update your look from day to night. You can use the same colours, but you make the textures different. For the day, you use it dry. At night, you wet it and the shimmer colour becomes metallic.
Concealer: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. For under your eyes, you want concealer that gives coverage, but you don't want it too thick because it can get cakey and will make you look even more tired. This reflects a bit of light, with almost a consistency of a thick foundation, so it can blend in the lines to a nice powdery finish.
Highlighter: Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer. It comes in different colours, so you can mix a bit of it in foundation for a bit of a glow, or you can dab it on top of the cheekbones, or on your body as a highlighter.