A conversation with makeup artist Rick Bancroft
By Janice Carter Levitch
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson
Rick Bancroft is a renowned makeup artist who has worked with several celebrities and oodles of local notables. Over the years, he developed a skin care and makeup philosophy for women over the age of 40 who have what he calls “sophisticated skin.” Well versed in the art of conversation, Bancroft has the ability to help clients relax as he leads them through private makeup application and skin care lessons.
We got up close and personal with the expert to get his input on how best to address sophisticated skin.
Do you recommend powder or no powder?
“Yes, but it should be used carefully. What worked when you were 20 or in your 30s isn’t going to work in your 40s, 50s or 60s. I have clients who are 70 and older who wear a full face of makeup and look fantastic as long as they use the correct blending and powdering techniques. I think you should pick a formulation that works for your skin type. If you have oily skin, lightly powder the oily areas. If you have dry skin, avoid powdering those areas unless you have used a good moisturizer and hydrating foundation prior to applying powder. Even then, powder sparingly so that it doesn’t become too thick and unflattering.
“You don’t need to set your entire face with powder because it can settle in the fine lines and can actually accentuate areas you would rather soften. I believe as we age that less is more, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should wear nothing. The main thing is making sure you don’t try to follow the trends too much.”
Which trends should be avoided?
“The trends that should be avoided are those highlighters that have a solid coverage or are heavy looking. (They) actually have an aging effect and do not look good on the fine lines around the eyes and the texture lines on the cheek. I highlight with a liquid foundation or concealer that is lighter in color than the natural skin tone color. That brings out the more natural highlights and the result looks just as nice without all that heavy frost and intense look. I think sometimes the frosty-looking highlighters have the opposite effect: Rather than smoothing out and having a more natural look, it can age the skin because of the way the light reflects off of it.
What are the techniques clients need the most help with?
“Most of the time, it really is a technique issue and not what someone wears. A lot of time it’s not a color issue; it’s actually placement. So where someone places eyeshadow can make their eyes look heavier and weighed down versus if they place it in a different way that can make their eyes look more open. You really want to have an upward, softer look instead of a heavy (one). And, of course, the more open your shadow makes your eyes appear, the younger you will look.”
What are some of the common mistakes made?
“Mistakes can be made in several areas. One issue is that people follow trends too much, and that has an aging effect. Usually the trends are for a much younger face. Another issue is that far too many people believe they can’t wear any color and they go straight for the matte finishes in neutrals and brown tones. I see that all the time: a lack of color and a lack of a soft shimmer. On the cheek area, just the right shade of color can make such a positive difference. What we need to stay away from is the thicker, more solid frost application.”
What is the difference between a frost and a shimmer?
“Frost is a silvery, metallic-looking shade that takes on an almost solid-looking foil quality. A gold, silver, white or pearl tone doesn’t allow the natural light to pass through easily and reveal some of the surface of the skin. Shimmer is more refined, super soft with tiny flecks of a reflective glitter. It has to be ever so tiny. The shimmer looks more like a subtle glow where frost or metallic is more like a gold foil and is too shiny. A refined shimmer allows natural light to reflect off of the skin with a more transparent, softer, youthful and healthy-looking quality.”
How do you select a foundation for clients?
“Many people make the mistake of choosing a foundation that is actually too light. A lot of people match the skin tone on their face when choosing a color, but they also need to be aware of the neck and chest area. If someone has been wearing sunscreen just on their face and not other areas, they are going to have different skin tones. The best solution is to warm up the foundation a little for the face so it has a more youthful look about it.
“Take the foundation up at least one shade darker and start by applying it in the center of the face. Blend it up and out with a buffing brush or beauty blender. Be sure to continue buffing and blending lightly on down the neck area as well. Sunscreen doesn’t stop at the face, and it should be applied to the neck and chest area. If the skin on your face is lighter, remember to select a foundation shade that is slightly darker. It will blend and won’t create such a stark difference between the skin tones. It will definitely add a more youthful glow.”
What are the rules for lip color?
“Rules are meant to be broken and that certainly goes for lip color. I don’t think people play enough with lip color and it should be fun. Everyone should have a red lipstick, even if you think you can’t wear red lip color. You can put it on with a white shirt, a pair of jeans and heels and you’ll be surprised how stylish you will look. It can change your entire look.
“People are afraid to do that because some may think it looks garish when it gets too bright and bold. The truth of the matter is that you want to wear the lipstick; you don’t want the lipstick to wear you. Make sure the lipstick is a bold color that you can handle according to your skin tone and overall coloring. One of my famous sayings is, ‘Get out of your box and get out of your comfort zone because after this life, you’re in a box for a very long time.’ I just think lip color should be fun. There are rules but they can be broken.”
How should we treat our eyebrows?
“I have found that most women do not fill their brows in enough and use a shade that is too light, which actually ages them. They start going too soft because their brow is naturally getting lighter and thinner. Don’t be afraid of being too dark or too strong when filling in the brows. It can make you look five years older if the brows are left too light or thin. They don’t have to be extremely dark, but fill them in with a shade that complements your natural color. Taupe or medium brown is always a good color to start with if you don’t know which one to choose.
“Measure your brow accurately to complement the shape of your eye. Start at the inner corner of the eye. Up from there is where the brow should begin. The highest arch of the brow should be over the outer edge of the iris and toward the outer edge of the eyelid. If you use a makeup brush with a thin handle, you can angle it from the outer corner of the eye to the outer edge of the brow. With one end of it resting on the lower edge of the nose, that is where the brow should end. It is amazing how much it can change your look by filling in your brows.”
What are your thoughts on eyeliner?
“Don’t use liner on what we call the waterline, which is the area under the lash line near the eye, unless you’re going for a smokey look. This can close the eye up and it won’t look as bright. I prefer the top to be lined with a black pencil. You can brush in and blend after you apply it. Then on the bottom, just line the outer edge because it opens the eye up the most.”
How important is a good skin care routine?
“Your makeup will look awful if your skin isn’t cared for. If you don’t exfoliate bi-weekly, apply daily moisturizer and a use good sunscreen, the most expensive makeup won’t help.”
How do your step-by-step lessons work?
“I have a face chart that is used and everything is written down on it as I go through the lesson. The client does one side of the face as I do the other side. I watch the clients through the lesson and offer a list of products. I also help my clients with the products they currently use and find out ways they need to improve. Step-by-step instructions arm them with a little more information, and it helps them be more open to trying new things. I find that clients walk away from my lessons with a new attitude. Sometimes, I will run into someone that had a lesson with me and they have more eyeshadow color on. And let’s face it, makeup can be washed off and it goes down the drain. Who cares if it was just one day that you wore red lipstick? That’s why I am passionate about what I do. I love to help clients discover something new that they love too.” V
To contact professional makeup artist Rick Bancroft, visit makeupbyrickbancroft.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.