Fashion Visual Arts

Expert Advice from Celebrity Makeup Artist Zara Kaplan: Tips and Tricks for Achieving Flawless, Natural Makeup Looks

Zara Kaplan is a talented British celebrity makeup artist who has made a name for herself in the industry with her natural, breathable makeup looks. Her signature style is all about enhancing natural beauty rather than masking it and incorporating fun pops of color or accents to create stunning makeup looks. 

Zara has worked with globally renowned brands such as Chanel, La Mer, Louis Vuitton, Nike, and many more, and her work has been featured in leading publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vanity Fair Italia. Zara’s work has also caught the attention of many celebrity clients such as Alessia Cara, Stephanie Sheperd, and Iskra Lawrence, among others. Despite the challenges that come with the job, Zara always delivers stunning makeup looks that have set her apart from other artists in the industry.

Today, we are honored to have Zara as she speaks about her journey as a makeup artist, her creative process, and her tips and tricks for achieving flawless, natural makeup looks.

Hi Zara! We’d love for our readers to get to know you better. Can you tell us about your background and how you first became interested in makeup artistry?

I started my makeup journey at the end of 2012 after going to university and deciding it wasn’t for me. I always wanted to be my own boss and my mum actually was the one who suggested I try out makeup artistry. She knew I’d experimented with makeup a lot growing up, and I’m so grateful to her for helping me find my passion.

Your signature style as a makeup artist is known for the “less is more” approach to complexion makeup, which focuses on enhancing natural beauty rather than masking it. How did you develop this approach, and how do you incorporate it into your work with celebrity clients and high-end brands?

I think it all comes down to personal taste, and I’ve just always been fascinated at the ability makeup has to naturally enhance someone’s features – it’s such a beautiful thing to see someone’s confidence go up instantly while still recognizing themselves in the mirror.

I’ve always been really focused on creating a very specific aesthetic for my artistry. I don’t post anything on my page or website that could put me in any other box but “natural,” so when I’m hired by a celebrity or brand, it’s mostly because they’ve seen my work and really feel that my style aligns with theirs.

Can you walk us through your process for creating a makeup look for a celebrity client?

When working with a celebrity client, there’s a whole team of people contributing to their look. First, I touch base with the stylist and find out what the outfit choices are or if there are any pops of color I can pick up on, for example. Then, I’ll generally come up with a look in collaboration with the hairstylist so that both hair and makeup pair well together and everything feels cohesive. More often than not, a celebrity client has a specific vibe and has a lot of input toward the creative direction of the whole look.

What do you believe sets you apart from other makeup artists in the industry?

I think every successful makeup artist has honed in on an aesthetic that sets them apart from anyone else. When it comes to my favorite makeup artists, I know exactly whose work I’m looking at just by seeing an image. I’d like to hope that my work has the same effect for some people.

How do you stay current with the latest makeup trends and techniques?

There’s so many ways to keep on top of the latest trends and techniques. Although I’m not a big TikTok person myself, whenever there’s a new trend alert, it’s the first place you’ll see it – as well as a million new ways to apply makeup! 

TV shows have also become a big source of inspiration for setting makeup trends – Euphoria being one of the most notable, which launched us into a much more playful era of makeup. Trends pop up everywhere!

You are known for creating breathable makeup looks and adding pops of color or accents to your creations. Can you share some tips for achieving a flawless complexion while still maintaining a natural, breathable look? How do you go about adding those fun pops of color or accents to your makeup looks?

I think the most important step of any makeup application process is skin prep. I go through a lengthy process when prepping my client’s skin. It involves face rolling, eye patches, moisturizer, and some other things which really help create the perfect base for makeup. The next step is to apply foundation but to keep the areas of your skin that are blemish-free as lightweight as possible and only go in with more coverage on problem areas. This technique will keep your skin looking so breathable and fresh.

Generally, I’ll get inspiration from any colors that may be in the clothing to tie a look together. If I’m working on a photoshoot, we will create a mood board beforehand to draw inspiration from. The best part of adding fun pops of color to a makeup look is that there aren’t really any rules. If it makes sense in the moment, I just go for it!

How do you approach creating a makeup look for a red carpet event versus a photoshoot or music video?

Each circumstance requires a different makeup technique. When a client is on the red carpet, you have to make sure their makeup pops enough under bright lights or on TV and lasts all day, as once I send them off, most of the time, that’s when my job ends. When you’re working in a studio, whether it be for a music video or photoshoot, I have the opportunity to see the makeup in real time and make any amendments as and when I need to. I have different products that I reach for depending on the circumstance.

Can you describe a particularly challenging makeup job you’ve had and how you overcame any obstacles during the process?

I think one of the most challenging parts of my job is time management. If a production is running behind schedule, it’s up to the glam team to hurry up the process and ensure that whoever’s in the makeup chair gets done much quicker than originally intended. We have to work fast and still deliver the results they’ve hired us for. I love the challenge but it’s definitely a lot of pressure when you’ve got multiple models and very little time!