Updated: Jan 11, 2019
Elysian Cosmetics sat down for a one-on-one interview with celebrity makeup artist Tommy and spoke about all things New York, beauty, and where the industry is headed after a whirlwind 2018.
E: WHAT GOT YOU STARTED IN MAKEUP?
T: I’ve always been horribly creative and in the fine and performing arts practically since I was born. I wanted to do something big and make my mark, but I didn’t “discover” makeup until my sophomore year of HS. A friend of mine was popular and loved her makeup, particularly colored eyeliner, and I noticed how it added sparkle to her eye color, and also her face, her mood, personality, life…. I wanted what she had. My eureka moment was getting ready for homecoming when I asked to line her eyes— I’m lucky I was good and she was trusting, so thank you to her!
I had nightmare, acneic skin in HS, so after that I started wearing gobs of makeup to do not-fun things, like cover it, but also wore fun things, like mascara to bring out my eyelashes. I’d sneak into my mom’s makeup drawer to ‘swirl, tap, buff’ until I looked like a 🤡 (not on purpose). I practiced until my idea of fun was to make smokey eyes and nude lips my everyday look: daytime, classroom, sunshine or rain. Sometimes with purple eyeliner if I was feeling particularly bold (to go with my Hello Kitty sweater collection). Highlighter everywhere. All my phases were stepping stones.
E: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST BEAUTY MEMORY?
T: My earliest beauty memories are of my mom at the salon, getting her hair or nails done. She worked at Telemundo when I was little and I loved getting ready for work with her. She’s Brazilian, and wore these fabulous dry cleaned power-shouldered suits to work, with high heels, blonde hair and makeup always done— very glamorous. I loved the process of Mommy in her moomoo to Mommy the the Brazilian bombshell picking me up at the carpool. Sometimes you’re lucky like I am when beauty is in your blood.
E: WHAT'S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
T: I like to think my career highlight is making this my full-time thing. But that said, starting a career in makeup is not easy at all, and almost nothing worthwhile is, so sticking with it has been one of my greatest accomplishments. I’m super grateful to this career, where all the wonderful people and experiences are a gift (good and bad). I like to live in the moment, but everything is a step forward when you take a step back.
E: WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2019? DO YOU HAVE ANY RESOLUTIONS THAT YOU'VE COMMITTED TO?
T: No resolutions, can’t stand rules. More fun. More glitter. Diana Vreeland once said, “There’s only one very good life and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself,” so that mantra will be carrying into the New Year as it always does.
E: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT DOING MAKEUP IN NEW YORK CITY?
T: You can live five different lifetimes in one day in New York City.
E: WHAT WAS IT LIKE GETTING TO MEET AND GROOM DESIGNER JASON WU?
T; Fab: Jason loves skincare and is not afraid of being fabulous.
E: WHAT'S YOUR ONE BEAUTY STAPLE YOU WOULDN'T BE CAUGHT STRANDED WITHOUT
T: Just one? Neogen sunscreen. Or Paula’s Choice BHA Toner.
read about Tommy's experience using CONTINUUM Finishing Treatment in his kit
E: HOW HAS CONTINUUM ENHANCED YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL ROUTINES?
T: Oh my god… it’s revolutionized it. It’s elevated my makeup in ways I couldn’t imagine. With it every day is a good skin day. My clients adore it. I mean it blurs, what could be better?
E: WHO WOULD YOU RECOMMEND CONTINUUM TO?
T: Everyone and anyone, I would pass it out on the street if I could. Like “You need CONTINUUM, you need CONTINUUM” etc.
E: WHAT PERSON (DEAD OR ALIVE) WOULD YOU WANT TO BEAUTIFY?
T: The intelligent, beautiful, and kind Michelle Obama.
E: WHAT BEAUTY TREND DO YOU HOPE STAYS BEHIND IN 2018?
T; I wish we would all stop making our eyebrows look like everyone else’s. It’s our most unique feature. That said, I just can’t seem to put down the brow pencil…
E: WHAT DO YOU FORESEE BEING THE BIGGEST UP-AND-COMING TRENDS IN BEAUTY?
T: Coral. “Pretty girl” colors. Simplification versus superfluity or superfluousness. It’s all happening in the East, and I think their innovations will continue to inspire us overseas. But making that simple feature it’s most beautiful: a brightened complexion, a winged eyeliner. I also think #instafilterskin makeup will become a thing: people want to look good in selfies, period. There’s no time to settle. In this economy, I think cosmetics with “extra perks” will continue to be a trend.
E: BOLD LIP OR BOLD EYE?
T: Bold everything. Life’s too short to play yourself down.
E: WHERE IN NYC CAN YOU USUALLY BE FOUND?
T: Club Roku. I’m their favorite patron, and they’re so close to home (i.e. my bed).
E: WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED AND ARTISTICALLY MOTIVATED?
T: I draw inspiration from the world around me, not just makeup and art: people (friends and family, culture) and nature. Motivation comes from living in the moment.
E: DO YOU HAVE A MUSE?
T: Big Red: Kathy Griffin.
E: WITH CONSUMERS BECOMING EVER MORE INGREDIENT-CONSCIOUS, HOW HAS THIS IMPACTED WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO KEEP YOUR KIT STOCKED WITH?
T: Well, I think we’re all getting tired of liars; transparency is key, and so is knowing your chops (stay savvy). I think the age of cosmetic feudalism— nameless corporate employees deciding trends from their tower— will continue to decline. Consumers like me are telling them (the beauty industry) what we want want: we want what works, the best and the ‘right now’. We also want what we can trust, what makes our lives better, and what empowers us. As an expert, the items in my kit are stocked the same. Products like CONTINUUM are a joy because they are so easy to say ‘yes’ too.
E: MAKEUP SPONGES, BRUSHES, OR FINGERS?
T: Finger always, brush sometimes, makeup sponges almost never.
E: WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO SEE COME FROM THE INDUSTRY AS WE ENTER 2019?
T: More inclusivity. More diversity. More honesty. More glitter.
E: WALK US THROUGH YOUR DAILY GROOMING RITUAL.
T: I do the process without fail every day. The ritual stays the same, the products change, I don’t like “routines”. No one sees me without skincare and makeup.
I’ll start getting ready usually two or three hours before my call time. In the morning, I’ll make tea with honey and coconut cream, I’ll eat breakfast in between doing it. No matter what I always remove my SPF and makeup with a double cleanse. I don’t do harsh or sulfates, but I do thorough, so right now it’s Acwell’s foam cleanser. I’ll pour micellar water onto a Face Halo and go to town on pores, it gives me dolphin skin.
Next, I’ll apply a liquid exfoliant, which changes (as should yours). However, I will always apply a Paula’s Choice BHA toner, since consistency is key with that acid. I’ll treat with an essence, serum, and oil— in the AM, often Sunday Riley Good Genes and Moroccan Oil’s organ for the winter. Then, I’ll nourish and protect with moisturizer, like Zelen’s 3t cream and Neogen SPF. Every routine on myself or my clients gets an occlusive last layer with CONTINUUM.
Makeup goes on: I follow the Tilbury MO and skin first and everything second, sometimes color after I know what I’m wearing. Music is always playing, my neighbors hate that I sing and get ready in my underwear (could be worse for them). I’ll check my kit and head out the door, or into my Chococat sleep mask and silk pillow cases.