On any given weekday, you can find Mika Brzezinski at 6 a.m. on the set of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” diving into the news and having important discussions about the latest headlines.
But before she appears on television screens across America, she’s in Wilbert Ramos’ chair for hair and makeup beginning at 5:15 a.m.
Ramos, who has worked with Brzezinski for 11 years, has about half an hour to get her camera-ready. And while Brzezinski always looks sharp and energized on television, she frequently jokes that her face is “all one color” without Ramos’ skills.
Here’s how Ramos does it:
Start with the eyes
“Always, always, always do your eyes first,” Ramos told Know Your Value.“If you do your foundation first, the eyeshadow will drop on your cheekbones and ruin everything.”
Eye primer: Ramos’ first step is applying a layer of Laura Mercier’s Primer for Eyelid and Eyeshadow. “Primer stops your makeup from creasing and your eyes from getting oily, and this one is the best on the market,” he said. “I do Mika’s makeup at 5 a.m., and at 7 p.m. it’s still perfect.”
Shadow and liner: Ramos is a fan of MAC eyeshadows, and he tends to prefer a lighter color on the eyelid with darker tones in the corners. To further define the eyes, he uses a soft brown eyeliner from Bobbi Brown and a “really thin line” of black liner on the lash line to make it more prominent. “I want people to connect with Mika through her eyes, so this is the area of focus — this is where we go more dramatic,” Ramos said
Lashes: Brzezinski’s eyelashes are small and pale, so Ramos “is looking for super black, super volume.” He loves Dior’s mascara, and to amp up the volume, he adds four to five individual lashes in the outer corner of each eye.
Brows: As with the lashes, Brzezinski’s eyebrows are very pale. Ramos fills them in with an affordable powder from drugstore brand Milani Cosmetics, which is applied with an angled Bobbi Brown brow brush. He prefers brow powder over a pencil, he said, because powder absorbs oil from the hair. He finishes the brow look with Tarte’s brow mascara in taupe for an added punch of color and staying power.
Before moving to the rest of the face, Ramos uses a clean Q-tip to gently clear any residue below the eyes from eyeshadow fallout.
Perfecting the skin — TV style
Prepping the face and the tools: Ramos quenches Brzezinski’s skin with a moisturizer from Sicily Cosmetics formulated for dry skin, and he prepares a Beauty Blender by drenching it in water and squeezing it out so it’s damp.
Concealer and foundation: Ramos begins Brzezinski’s face by concealing with Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer. “It’s kind of dewy rather than matte, but it still doesn’t move from your skin,” he said.
Next he applies Georgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation. “This is my No. 1, especially for pictures or other situations with a lot of lighting,” Ramos said. “It helps to minimize open pores and lines, and your skin looks flawless even on an HD camera.” Then he “blends, blends, blends” with the damp Beauty Blender.
But in this case, Ramos isn’t looking for the traditional perfect match to the skin. “In TV you go two or three shades darker because the lights are so, so bright. If you do your exact color, you look super pale.” He finishes the foundation with a light, brush-applied coating of MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish powder to “keep a healthy, dewy finish that looks fresh.”
Bronzer and blush: Next he applies a bronzer from Make Up For Ever around Brzezinski’s jawline, hairline and nose for contouring and a fresh glow. “I love this bronzer because you don’t look orange or brown, just healthy,” he said.
Ramos brings out Brzezinski’s cheeks with Nars blush in the color Orgasm, applying only in the apple of the cheek with a fan brush. “That color is just magic,” he said. “It’s between pink and peach or orange, and it looks good on anyone, with any lipstick, with any dress. Plus it has a hint of glow, which is very ‘in’ right now.”
Finish with the lips
Liner — and concealer! — for volume: Brzezinski prefers a lighter lip color, which Ramos likes as it keeps the focus on the eyes. He uses Make Up For Ever lipliner to define the mouth, and then he adds Tarte Creaseless Undereye Concealer on the lips. “Blend it, and it gives the illusion of bigger lips while making your color last longer.
Lipstick and a touch of gloss: Ramos typically applies a lipstick from Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent, both of which offer several shades in the lighter range. He tops off the lips — and the entire look — with just a little bit of Armani gloss.
“Because again, the whole point is to have people connect with Mika through her eyes,” Ramos said. “I love that with makeup you can play around and switch up the focus the way you want to that day.”
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