A Celebrity Makeup Artist Reveals Her Simple Trick for Getting Makeup to Look More Natural

Celebrity makeup artist Michelle Radow is the head of the Big Little Lies makeup department. And as the woman behind the team that glams up Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and more, it’s safe to say she has more than a few tricks in her (makeup) bag.

Like what? Well, she knows some of the best products on the market don’t pack a hefty price tag and can tell you exactly how BLL star Zoë Kravitz gets her on-screen glow. When PureWow chatted exclusively with Radow about her work on the hit HBO series, you better believe we asked her to teach us her ways, one beauty hack at a time.

With years as an industry vet under her belt, we were specifically curious to know what simple trick Radow uses on clients that people are usually surprised by. Her answer? Just add water.

“Something that always seems to surprise clients is I mix water into everything—yes, everything,” Radow explained.

She went on to say that by everything she even means—wait for it—concealer and foundation, two things that are supposed to be full coverage. How?

When it comes to foundation and concealer application, Radow says she uses “very damp… white non-latex triangle white sponges and beauty blenders. They both serve different purposes for me in the application process. My favorites brands for the white triangle sponges are Sally’s Beauty ($6), Stilazzi ($2), and Alcone ($2) because you can saturate them in a water cup, squeeze them out and they expand into a fluffy soft applicator. If I need more moisture I’ll spray right into the foundation, cream, or skincare on my palette and then apply with my damp brush or sponge.”

Radow keeps a cute ice cream dish (like this Crate & Barrel one) full of fresh filtered water at her station and swaps it out with each client so she always has more moisture at the ready.

For blush application, Radow sprays a short dome brush with one or two spritzes of water before applying cream or powder blush. Some of her favorite brushes are the Senna airbrush cheek ($25) and the Makeup Forever Highlighter brush ($37). Although she loves the Evian Brumistaeur facial spray ($19) for this, she says it “can get pricey.” So, alternatively she pours filtered water into an “aluminum spray bottle that gives a fine mist.”

But she doesn’t stop there. “I even apply eye primer and shadow with a damp brush. I infuse water into almost every step,” she shared.

For eye primers she sprays a small fluffy shadow brush with water and gets it relatively damp because it “really helps the product melt into the lid.” In regards to powder shadows, she douses the brush in a light mist with “just enough to help it blend and buff onto the lid.” And if she’s applying shadow as a liner then she’ll spray enough to make a puddle form on her palette and dip into it.

But why all the water, you might wonder? Radow says adding a little bit of water “helps everything settle and cook into the skin, leaving a more natural appearance,” which is what we’re always looking for.

So next time you’re tempted to pack on the foundation and highlighter for a no-makeup makeup look, just remember: Water is your best friend.


Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.