Uzo, NARS International Lead Makeup Stylist, is accustomed to the high stress, palpable energy, and surging creativity that is part of the backstage beauty experience. She takes us through her fashion week routines, which include yoga, cosmetic alphabetizing, egg whites, and a trip to the chiropractor once the action has died down. Read on for our Q&A with Uzo, which includes the NARS products she is most looking forward to using this season.
How do you mentally prepare, and what is your personal beauty regimen for the long hours under constant time constraint, the onslaught of interviews, and just general whirlwind?
I’m just learning the value of de-stressing as my form of mental preparation. Yoga before the onslaught of Fashion Week is my calm before the storm. There really isn’t much downtime between shows so I pretty much use the NARS mud mask or Shiseido’s cleansing massage brush and cleanser everyday to keep my skin meticulously clean and free from breakout. Worst case scenario, I’ll hassle a friend (one of my fellow New York-based makeup artists) who lives here in NYC and we’ll squeeze in an appointment with his favorite facialist.
Do you make a checklist of your kit and all the items you need each day?
Yes! At the start of every day, I will pull all the product I need for a certain show(s) from my giant-size makeup box and carry a smaller customized kit particularly for the show. I have a big makeup box with just NARS color…every single eye shadow, blush, lipstick, etc known to man. It’s a lot of product, and it’s all in alphabetical order, so I can find what I need. That’s the fun thing about NARS the names are so unforgettable, so alphabetizing is a lot more fun.
What are three things that you must have on you, on a daily basis during fashion week?
NARS Sheer Glow: works wonders to create the perfect flawless canvas before creating any look whether at a makeup test with a designer or backstage behind the scenes before a show.
Technology/Gadgets: iPhone and Blackberry! I love the iPhone technology but still have an affinity for the ‘old-fashioned keyboard’ for typing e-mail for work purposes — keeps me informed, in touch, up-to-date and for follow-ups.
NARS LTL Lipgloss in Tiber: Keeps me looking and feeling fabulous.
If a model shows up extremely late to the backstage, are there any makeup steps that you can generally skip (like the moisturizer and facial massage), or do you just work at record speed to do the full look?
You do a little skipping, and a lot of combining. You can’t do a complete 3-step skin care routine but you always need to start with a clean, hydrated face. Using a remover with soothing botanicals and hydrators starts the job (like our new Makeup Removing Water), even if just on the cheeks. Then, race through the look at lightening speed, all hands on deck (while a hairstylist and manicurist all work simultaneously on the same girl).
What new products from NARS might you be looking forward to using backstage this season?
Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, Undress Me Multiple and More Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil (both from Fall 2012).
Do you have a number one weapon for combating exhaustion?
Green tea with caffeine, and egg whites. At the start of my day. Every day.
What is the one thing that brings you back, season after season, to backstage?
Experience. The more you immerse yourself in this environment, the more you learn and love everything beauty and fashion even when you need to strategically apply three strips of eyelashes to each eye.
Can you tell us what footwear you rely on during the New York Fashion Week?
I love my black leather riding boots. They have flat heels and leather soles and are not only shock absorbers for the feet but also for the mind. The last thing you want is to have aching feet it is an instant energy-drainer and can sabotage your focus.
After fashion week is through, what do you usually do, or where do you go, to decompress and de-stress? Or is it off to Europe usually for more shows?
This season I’m off to Europe for London Fashion Week; upon my return, it’s off to the chiropractor. I learned from one of my trips to Japan the importance of seeing a chiropractor to help re-align the back (after hours of hunching over doing makeup) and then 30 minutes of some sort of electric node stimulation to the back muscles. Amazing! I feel instantly rejuvenated and 5 inches taller. After that, since I’m on the west coast, I’ll indulge in the weather.
Over the years, what is the most important thing you’ve learned from this process?
To be able to work in a very high pressure, high stress, and volatile environment without having a nervous breakdown. All while having fun throughout every moment.