After two hours and 24 songs, the queen commonly known as Beyoncé still stepped offstage Saturday night looking as fresh as a member of an HBCU freshman class. How did she do it? While we’re tempted to believe she really does wakes up like that, her glowing, glittery-eyed makeup look was created by longtime makeup artist Sir John—and was apparently created on a very college-friendly budget.
In an interview with style site Refinery29, Sir John gave the scoop on how he created Beyoncé’s indelible—and versatile—glamour for the evening. And much to our surprise, he drew on a classic black film for inspiration:
She wanted to look young, fresh, and like she wasn’t trying too hard. I was really inspired by the dress rehearsal, I didn’t want to take her out of the element of the show by making her too girly or too minimal or sleek, I wanted her to look like a college girl on campus. Remember the movie School Daze by Spike Lee? That was my inspiration.
Come to think of it, we can definitely see some Wannabee realness in Bey’s Saturday-night hair and makeup. But how did Sir John create the dazzling eye effect that transitioned so effortlessly from Egyptian-inspired goddess to homecoming hottie? He dished on his multilayered technique—which included several brands available in the drugstore aisle!
I created a glittery lid by mixing a few different glitters. I started with a warm, terracotta base, mixed in an iridescent purple then applied glitter on the center of the eye. For eyeliner, I used Mac’s Brownborder on the bottom and a black liner on the top. I always tell women, even though you make your wing with black, coffee eyeliner on the bottom is the best finisher because it doesn’t weigh down the eyes. Then I used the Lash Paradise mascara by L’Oréal and the brand’s Infallible Chocolate Lip Color on her lips.
But of course, what we really want to know is how Sir John built a look to last the entirety of such a powerhouse performance. While we know Beyoncé never met a fan she didn’t like (except maybe this one), keeping your cool through hours of choreography is another matter entirely. Sir John sprays AllEven body makeup on his star’s arms, legs and decolletage to keep them looking flawless and nontransferable on all those Balmain-designed costumes, but he told Refinery29 the secret to lasting makeup is layering:
It’s basically like keeping your makeup on through two hours of cardio [laughs]. Layering is the key, so you want to use a liquid foundation, then set it with bronzer; a cream blush, then set it with powder blush; eyeliner, then set it with shadow. No matter what part of the face, it has a double application.
But the most impressive part of Bey’s glam squad? The sheer speed with which they work, creating entirely new looks between momentary musical interludes. Sir John admits that sometimes it happens on a wing and a prayer:
You literally have about 45 or 50 seconds to touch her up [during a wardrobe change]—if you have a full minute, that’s a dream. Someone is also pulling off a dress, or a zipper breaks, or something doesn’t work, so I am basically holding her face still with one hand and then applying powder or blotting off sweat with the other. The funny thing is, you have to stay really, really calm—when the energy is going up, you have to go down and just chill. The best thing I can do is offer her zen vibes and usher her back out onto the stage.