It’s no secret that we’re all about Mary J. Blige’s glow up this awards season; in fact, we’re not sure we’ve stanned this hard for her since What’s the 411? The singer and actress has been nominated for Golden Globe, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards, and now a history-making two Oscar nods for both her performance and original song in Dee Rees’ Mudbound. And she has stunned us on every single red carpet.
But those stunning looks have a secret weapon in a longtime member of Blige’s team: celebrity makeup artist D’Andre Michael. Knowing how much we wanted the 411 on Blige’s super-fly SAG Awards look, Michael let The Glow Up in on a surprisingly low-priced secret: He exclusively used products from Black Opal.
Yes, THAT Black Opal (its Instagram is kind of poppin’, by the way). In Michael’s words:
I’ve been working with Mary J. Blige for years, and I love trying new looks on her. I wanted to create a showstopping look using Black Opal for her first-time appearance at the SAG Awards. Once I saw her gown, I knew I wanted to transform her into an elegant smoked goddess.
Michael, who’s been on Blige’s team for over a decade, complemented her dress and sleek modern hairstyle with a perfect smoky eye atop glowing skin, using Black Opal all the way. He shared with The Glow Up why, after years of working with the superstar, this awards season is such a special one.
The Glow Up: As a longtime member of Mary J. Blige’s team, what’s it like to work with her during this groundbreaking phase of her career?
D’Andre Michael: Having been with Mary J. Blige now for 11 years, we are more like family. I am so proud and honored to be a part of this moment with her. I’m happy and overjoyed with her continued success, but this is like the stepping-stone to something I know she has been passionate [about]. It’s amazing to see the acknowledgment and praise she is receiving for her work as an actress. I’m like a proud brother.
TGU: Mary’s looks have been phenomenal at every event. How are you able to keep her looks so fresh?
DM: I have been with her every step of the way: Every award show, every red carpet, press junket, television show, etc. It’s always been my thing to make her look good every time.
Maybe because she’s on a different platform now, a broader audience is taking note, but nothing has changed much with what we do. It’s being there as a support for her in all that she’s going through personally, making sure her spirits are up and she feels good about herself and comfortable with how she looks, what she’s wearing, etc. So I think what shines through mostly is her “happy”—and when you feel good internally, it shows externally.
TGU: You used exclusively Black Opal for Mary’s SAG Awards look. Tell us why we should be checking for drugstore brands, and why Black Opal works so well for our tones?
DM: I have never been one to follow trends or fads, mainly because trends come and go, and fads fade away. However, staying true to myself as an artist and finding things that work for me to use on my clients is most important. That’s above any brand—whether it is department store, drugstore or specialty store.
I have learned just because something has a name brand on it doesn’t mean it’s suitable for what I need to use it for. Therefore, it is all about the quality of a product, and sometimes the most expensive product isn’t necessarily the best. A lot of my favorite go-to products are drugstore brands.
My friend Sam Fine worked with Black Opal years ago and helped them with their colors and palettes. Even then, I realized It was a brand that I could trust, because he’s an amazing artist that I respect and call a friend. So if Sam trusts them, I know I can.
DM: Black Opal has always been a staple for having a great color range for women of color; from the fairest of women to the darkest, you could trust you are in good hands with the Black Opal brand, and the formula is great. It gives great coverage that you could work with, whether you need a light coverage to a complete coverage. The Black Opal True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation is amazing! It is great to see they are still around and providing women of color and us professionals with great colors and a great formula.
TGU: At 47, Mary looks incredible. Can you talk about how makeup differs for women in her age group?
DM: The only difference is probably the fads and trends you may want to stay away from with a more mature woman. In terms of looks, you definitely want to use less powder and more products that enhance a dewier look.
For eyes, most to all women can carry a smoky eye. Many think “smoky eye,” and they think black or dark. But you can smoke your eyes with almost any color.
In terms of skin, I like to do my concealer, then apply my foundation, next set with a powder, and maybe spritz your face with a mister or the Evian mist spray to infuse the powder and foundation. Next, let it air-dry to take away the powdered look so you have more of a dewy skin appearance.
Illuminators work as well, but know that sometimes these can come across drab and chalky looking if you use the wrong color. For women of color, I recommend an illuminator in the flesh-tone range (bronzy or mauve, etc.), and stay away from pearl color or yellows or orange-based colors.
Of course, even after all that great advice, we couldn’t let Michael go without getting his step-by-step for creating Blige’s SAG look, and all the products he used. How else are we going to plan for our next shopping trip?
For the Face
- On freshly cleansed and moisturized skin, Michael applied Black Opal Invisible Oil Blocking Gel Primer to prepare the skin for Blige’s makeup application.
- Next, using a foundation brush, Michael applied Black Opal Even True Flawless Liquid Foundation in Nutmeg and Beautiful Bronze. He then built upon the liquid foundation with Black Opal Total Coverage Concealing Foundation in Truly Topaz, making sure to use a moist blending sponge to create a smooth, even finish.
- Michael then contoured Blige’s face with Black Opal Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF15 in Suede Mocha. A perennial makeup artist favorite, the Stick Foundation effectively conceals imperfections and provides seamless full coverage.
- Lastly, he set Blige’s face with the Black Opal Soft Velvet Finishing Powder in Deep, which helps to absorb excess oil.
On the Eyes
- To sculpt and define Blige’s eyes, Michael used the Black Opal Aurora Eyeshadow Palette. First, he used the Brazen Copper shade on her entire eyelid. Next, he added Brazen Bronze on her crease, adding the Bordeaux Beige shade along the brow bone as a highlight.
- Michael then finished the eye look with Black Opal Color Splurge Automatic Eye Lining Pencil in Licorice, adding it along the lash line and inner lid and smudging to create a smoky look. Note: This eye pencil is formulated with aloe vera and chamomile extracts that help to soothe the delicate eye area as you define it.
A Lasting Lip
- For the finishing touches to Blige’s look, Michael used Black Opal Lip Color Splurge Stick Lip in Purr, a soft, pale-pink color enriched with emollient butters and vitamins C&E. This lipstick provides a bright, pigment-rich color that provides a smooth, creamy, nondrying finish.
No word yet on what Blige’s look will be for the 90th Academy Awards on March 4. But even after Michael works his magic, we know the finishing touch will really be Mary J. Blige’s happiness. The Glow Up gang will be watching on our live Facebook group thread and rooting for her—and everybody black!