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Beauty MacGyver: Fingerpainting, Making Lashes Out of Your Hair, and Bedazzling à la Celebrity Makeup Artist Joanna Schlip

What happens when assistants to a well-known celebrity makeup artist forget to pack her makeup brushes for a gig with a famous client? Or the false eyelashes you need for a shoot don't show up? Cue Beauty MacGyver.
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MacGyver_Frances_Elmer Olsen_backstage Toronto Fashion Week

If you've ever sprinkled baby powder on your roots as substitute dry shampoo or shaved your legs with conditioner instead of aerosol foam, you can call yourself a Beauty MacGyver. But it's the makeup artists under the gun at a fashion show or on-set that create the most innovative Beauty MacGyver moments. These are the frontline heroes of the beauty world and we salute them. And then we copy their moves.

First up -- Beauty MacGyver Master Class with LA-based celebrity makeup pro Joanna Schlip:


If you're a makeup artist on location a million miles from anywhere and your assistants neglected to bring your brushes, what do you do?

Do you throw a celebrity-sized tantrum and hurl your Blackberry against the wall hoping the shattered plastic will divert attention from the screw-up? Or perhaps you make everyone empty their purses and take their weensy foam brushes that come in eye shadows and blushes?

If you're Joanna Schlip, legendary for her lengthy and impressive credit list and serious chops, you do neither. Instead, you turn those same forgetful assistants into impromptu actors.

"My assistants forgot to pack my brushes one time, so I had them go in there and talk in front of the celebrity (whose makeup she was applying that day) and got her to believe that I was really famous for not using brushes. As if that's my schtick."

Schlip elaborates on the impromptu ruse: "I made them talk amongst themselves: 'Isn't it weird how she doesn't use brushes? It's kind of awesome, actually."

"They'd go back and forth and build it up, build it up, so when I arrived to work with her (and sadly, Schlip will not tell us who "her" is -- suffice it to say, it was someone big) I did her whole face with my hands, even liner -- eye liner, everything with my fingers. Everything. Eye shadow. Eyebrows. The whole nine. Crazy." And the thing you should know is that this (pre-planned) look was a stylized Marilyn Monroe -- all precise black eyeliner and razor sharp lip lines -- not a smudgy sheer and natural makeup.

Joanna Schlip_celebrity makeup artist and beauty MacGyver

Schlip, who has worked with everyone from Scarlett Johansson to Juliana Margulies and is in demand for her glowy, never overdone red carpet looks (she's a favourite of Laura Linney, Christina Applegate and Ellen Pompeo) is used to thinking on her feet. She's even faked her way as a hair stylist on a cover shoot for Elle magazine.

"We were in Brazil and the British hairdresser didn't get his visa and wasn't allowed into the country, so the girl got a slicked-back pony tail -- the most basic hair move in the world. It looked great. It was the cover," she laughs, clearly tickled by the result.

And she's even sacrificed her own hair for the job. "I've had lashes not arrive and so you cut the ends of your own hair and then you just literally glue them on (the client) one by one. Then you curl and then apply mascara and you have false lashes."

Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Season-to-Season Bronzer

An advocate of everyday Beauty MacGyvering, earlier this year she showed a table full of rapt beauty editors how to make the new Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Season-to-Season Bronzer($19.99, drugstores) her multi-tasking bitch. "For eye, for contour, for highlight, for eyeshadow, for lips, anything. I don't really abide by any rules as to what's for what. I'll use anything anywhere." She'll even transform bronzer into a lip colour.

"To do a really cool bronze shade, mix the Fall and Summer quarters of the Medium to Dark Season to Season bronzer, pat it down, and then gloss over it. It's pretty gorgeous and with all those nudes for spring it looks amazing." (See more of Joanna's bronzer techniques at the end of this post.)

And the forgetful assistants? As comic punishment for their slip-up, she had them create this wonder:

Joanna Schlip_bedazzled Vaseline jar

Yup -- they had to bedazzle a Vaseline jar meticulously with Swarovski crystals, creating the most glamourous-looking but down-to-earth beauty product ever. In other words, perfect for Joanna Schlip.

Addendum: The universe works in mysterious, sparkly ways.

Vaseline Mother's Day jar

If you want your own crystalized Vaseline jar (and we didn't know we did until Joanna told us her story) a limited number of Swarovski Crystal-ized Vaseline Lip Therapy Minis will be available on May 10th just in time for Mother's Day. Anyone wishing to win can log on to on May 10th at 1 p.m. for a chance to score one of only 100 of these teensy beauties.

Model(s) in opening photo: Richard Dean Anderson as Angus MacGyver; Frances/Elite.