Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Global Artistry Ambassador, Nam Vo, on mastering coloured liner, glowing skin, and a blinding highlight

Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Global Artistry Ambassador, Nam Vo, on mastering coloured liner, glowing skin, and a blinding highlight

Class of her own

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @namvo

We're hardly the type to fret about the future, but the imminent arrival of a new decade does bring about a whole of questions. Curious minds — and members of the beauty cognoscente — want to know: what are the upcoming trends? When are the hottest products dropping? And, most important of them all, is subdued, subtle makeup dead? In an age where RuPaul's Drag Race and Euphoria are regularly cited as sources of inspiration, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Marc Jacobs Beauty's Global Artistry Ambassador, Nam Vo, however, begs to differ.

The self-proclaimed "queen of glow jobs" is into both: her trademark #DewyDumplings (!) complexion serve up skin that looks exceptionally plump and moist, but still appears natural. It sparked a social media phenomenon. The likes of Chrissy Teigen, Kylie Jenner, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley lined up around the block for the glazed treatment. And that's not all she has up her sleeve, mind — not if her buzzing Instagram feed is any indication. We get the lowdown from the makeup maestro herself on her artistry and technique behind a razor-sharp wing, metallic eye makeup, the iconic #DewyDumpling skin, and more.

When did you discover your passion for makeup?
I have been obsessed with glamour and actresses since I was very young. After school, I would run to the mall to watch the M.A.C Cosmetics girls work their magic. It was the probably the first time I saw true artistry and I was just mesmerized.

So, that was when you knew you wanted to work in the beauty industry?
Yes. I started out working at the Shiseido, MAC and NARS counters back home in San Jose, California, but I knew I needed to make a change. So, I saved up all my money and moved to New York. When I landed, I got a job as a makeup artist at a strip club. It was hard work, and I learned a ton about lighting, makeup for performances, how to work with clients, and so much more. I was looking for a new creative direction when Elle Vietnam reached out and my career took a turn. I started to freelance for magazines and expand my artistry. On set, I was looking at everything- hair, makeup, styling, and lighting. I fell in love!

What is the most disastrous makeup look you've ever attempted on yourself?
I've always loved a fresh and healthy complexion, but about four years ago everyone was into heavy "Instagram" makeup. I tried it out and realized quickly that it wasn't for me!

What sort of makeup did you wear as a teen, and would you wear it in 2019?
I've always been an excessive highlighter, I guess some things never change. Now, I obviously love a good glow, but now know how to use highlighter strategically to emphasize your best features and make you look luminous and radiant, rather than reflective.

If you could steal one makeup product from your mom's stash, what would it be?
Her sunscreen! My mother had sun spots and melasma, so she taught me to be mindful of my skin from a young age. I've been wearing eye cream since I was a child.

What is it like working with Marc Jacobs as their global artistry ambassador?
I have been a fan of Marc Jacobs for years, so I was incredibly excited for this opportunity. It means so much to get to work with a brand that focuses on high performance products and ingredients. It's a makeup artist's dream!

You're known for the glistening, glowing skin (#DewyDumpling) you create for your clients. What is the secret behind making it look as three-dimensional and eye-catching as you do?
No face is flat, and your makeup shouldn't be either. Even if my makeup is natural, I still want to add dimension to my face. I use a lighter foundation and concealer in the center of the face and add warmth and dimension to the hollow areas using a slightly darker shade to lightly contour key facial features.

Then, I use the Accomplice Concealer & Touch-up Stick to spot conceal because it's buildable and has a radiant finish. To finish, I add highlighter to the high points of the face in a "C" shape — temples, browbones, cheekbones. The Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter is one of my highlighting staples in my kit.

What is the biggest highlighting mistake that people often commit?
Using too much highlighter! If you're new, the best way to ease into it is by mixing a liquid highlighter with your primer or foundation for a radiant glow. Marc Jacobs Beauty's Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter is one of the best products for this since it has a hydrating gel formula. Powder formulas are highly pigmented, but they can give you a blinding highlight instead of a dewy finish.

Bold liner looks are back in vogue in 2019. What are some tips and tricks our readers should try to ace their liner game?
I have been loving the new Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Liquid-Gel Eyeliners. The colour range makes it the perfect way to step up your liner game with a double wing. I start with the shade Blacquer, which is super shiny and black, and then layer on a bright metallic like Blitz Coin for a fresh take on a classic cat eye. It's unexpected, but still super wearable.

Personally, which type of liner formulation do you prefer, and why?
It's so hard to choose just one! For versatility, I like a gel pencil formula because you can smudge it out, tight line, or create graphic shapes. Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon is simply the best out there. It glides on so smoothly and you have about 15 seconds of playtime before it sets. For sharper definition, I prefer a liquid liner. The new Highliner Liquid-Gel Eyeliner has a precision applicator that creates razor-sharp lines. It's inspired by the original Highliner, so the formula is super pigmented, waterproof and longwearing.

What are your thoughts on liner stencils?
I think they can help guide your line, but they can also mess up the makeup you've already applied. If you struggle to create the perfect line in one stroke, try making small dashes to build a longer line.

Do you have any tips when it comes to pulling off coloured eyeliner?
If you are nervous about wearing bold colour, start with a more neutral shade that still packs some impact. Highliner Liquid-Gel Eyeliner in Star Magic is my favourite because it is a soft, rose gold, but it's also metallic so it really pops. You can layer it on top of Blacquer, wear it alone or even pop it in the inner corner of your eyes.

What is the one makeup product you wish more people would try?
Liquid liner in shades other than black. You aren't just limited to a standard black cat eye anymore. Mix it up!

Conversely, what is the one makeup product or trend you wish would die out already?
False lashes! They are so much work. I like to use a super-volumizing mascara like Velvet Noir Major Volume for a similar effect without the hassle.