It feels like every time you read a story about a celebrity’s red-carpet makeup, the how-to is filled with expensive, high-end lipsticks and foundations from France or a tiny boutique in Guam. And though fancy makeup does have its very excellent place in the world (primarily on any of Gwyneth Paltrow’s must-have lists), it’s not always a realistic staple in the life of someone who doesn’t want to spend three figures on concealer. So when we found out that Ashley Graham’s ridiculously luminous VMAs skin (which we may or may not have pawed at from our television screens at home) was the result of a drugstore product, we basically lost our shit.
“Ashley’s whole VMA look was this oily, sweaty, sexy thing, like she just sprinted through a hot summer street to get to the awards show on time,” says makeup artist Vincent Oquendo, who drew inspiration for Graham’s look from “Jessica Rabbit’s hourglass curves” and “Britney Spears’s sweaty, shiny skin in her ‘Slave for You’ music video.” (By the way, hell yes to both of those references.) But instead of just loading up her cheekbones with a highlighter and calling it a day, Oquendo turned to the most obvious, yet surprising, product in his kit: Johnson’s Baby Oil.
At the very end of Graham’s makeup routine, Oquendo mixed a few drops of baby oil with a drop of foundation, then used a fluffy blush brush to gently stipple the mixture over her whole face. “Since I layered it over her foundation, bronzer, and blush, it gave her this really hot, bronzy flush that looked like it was coming from within,” he says. Then, to keep her foundation from sliding off her face by the end of Kanye’s four-hour-long speech, Oquendo dipped a fluffy kabuki brush in loose powder and swirled it around her nostrils, the tips of her nose, along her jawline, and between her eyes. The result: Well, you saw it. Perfection. And now you can get it, too, without selling your limbs or kidneys, first. Huzzah!