Luminous, beautiful, ethereal ... Makeup artist Susan Giordano's work is all of that and more. Her makeup artistry has appeared in Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan -- and on famous faces including Katie Holmes and Isabella Rossellini. Read on to discover the makeup artist who first inspired her, her secret to getting the curliest eyelashes ever and so much more.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Manhattan. It was a wonderful childhood, filled with parks and museums and tree lined streets. As I got older, I enjoyed window shopping on Madison Avenue and makeup shopping in Bloomingdale's. The secondhand stores on the Upper East Side were a goldmine for a young kid with a keen eye. It was inevitable that I would someday wind up in the fashion industry.
How did you first become interested in makeup, and what led you to become a makeup artist?
As a kid, I was always fascinated with makeup and fashion. In high school, I conducted a makeup class and did demonstrations. I had my first paying makeup job at the age of 14. My next door neighbor loved the makeup I did for my aunt’s wedding so she hired me to do hers. I charged her $35 bucks (the price has gone up considerably since then).
I was also buying Vogue with my allowance. To me, this magazine world was a glamorous world that I wanted to be a part of. It was many years later, working as a Wall Street stockbroker, that I finally figured out how to make that transition from reading magazines to working for them. Through one of my Wall Street friends, I was introduced to a booker at the Elite Modeling Agency. She set me up on my first test shoot and I was hooked. I tested almost every night after work and every single weekend. I put together a pathetic little book which I was very proud of at the time (I still have it, it’s hilarious!). I quit my well-paying Wall Street job and started peddling my book around town. It took awhile, but I finally caught my “Big Break.” I landed a beauty story in Harper's Bazaar and as if it wasn’t enough to have gorgeous “this close” pictures taken by Patrick Demarchelier, there was an article attached and my name was mentioned no less than five times. Things started taking off from there.
Have you worked with any makeup artists who inspired you? What did they teach you?
Early on in my career, I had the privilege of working with Dick Page. From him I learned the art of restraint and how simple things can make a big impact.
What are some of the moments that have stood out as highlights in your career?
I love to travel. Doing this job has taken me around the world where I have been exposed to so many different cultures and beautiful things. A big highlight for me was my first trip to India. I worked with Indian movie stars on Bollywood movie sets and I fell in love with Indian culture.
What are your beauty essentials?
Satin Skin -- My work is known for having a soft, glowing quality. Satin Skin is a liquid moisturizer I have been using for many years and it’s the first thing to go on anyone who sits in my chair. I make it myself from six natural ingredients. It imparts an immediate glow to the skin and has rejuvenating properties to keep skin looking young and lovely.
M.A.C Face and Body Foundation has a beautiful sheer texture and always leaves skin looking touchable.
Alcone Non-Latex Sponges. You can’t beat them for blending. I don’t know if I could work without them!
Shu Uemura Mini Eyelash Curler -- It’s amusing when someone in my chair will say “Oh, my lashes don’t curl.” Without saying a word, I’ll go about my business and then hand them a mirror. The look is usually priceless.
Dior Diorshow Mascara in Black. The big, fat brush will give you big, fat lashes. And it’s really black.
NARS Lipsticks. I love them all! There is a color and texture for everyone.
What are your top 3 makeup tips?
1) Blend, blend, blend! I can’t say that enough times. Makeup should have a seamless quality. It should never look like it’s sitting on top of your face.
2) Work with what you have. But be positive -- with a little cosmetic slight of hand, what you have will look like a whole lot more!
3) When you find a look that works, stick with it. Think of your iconic beauties like Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly. They found the one look that made the most of their beauty and they stuck with it.
Being a makeup artist must be fun -- but what do you do in your spare time?
Being a makeup artist is fun. Work rarely feels like work to me. Seriously, I get paid to play dress up! I have many interests and hobbies. My home is always filled with plants and fresh flowers. My husband and I recently moved to Westchester, where I am able to indulge my passion for gardening. I enjoy painting as well (flowers are my favorite subject). In addition to Satin Skin, I make natural creams, lotions and perfumes. I just recently learned to make shampoo and conditioner. I also enjoy cooking and entertaining. And I love flea markets and yard sales –- you just never know what you might find.
For more information about Susan Giordano, visit giordanobeauty.com.