Already have an account?
Get back to the

Academy Awards Lead Makeup Artist Bruce Grayson Shares His No. 1 Product and Other Behind-the-Scenes Secrets (Exclusive)

Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, and Danai Gurira Lead Makeup Artist for the Academy Awards, Bruce Grayson, Shares His Number One Product and Other Behind-the-Scenes Se
(L-R) Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, and Danai Gurira attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood Getty Images

The 2019 Oscar countdown continues! The 91st annual award show will take place this Sunday, February 24, meaning celebrities are going in for their last dress fittings while glam squads prep and finalize the stars’ looks. But once the celebs hit the red carpet, what happens from there to all their hard work is out of their hands.

So who makes sure all those A-listers look their best for the cameras the rest of the night? That would Bruce Grayson, lead makeup artist for the Academy Awards for over 15 years.

Lead Makeup Artist for the Academy Awards, Bruce Grayson, Shares His Number One Product and Other Behind-the-Scenes Se
Bruce Grayson Bruce Grayson

Related: The 17 Hottest Oscars Duos, Dates and Couples of All Time

As head makeup artist for Hollywood’s biggest event of the year, Grayson has a few tricks up his sleeve. “Working backstage as a makeup artist on award shows is about staying in the moment, being prepared and making sure that celebrities look and feel fantastic,” he told Us. To ensure that they do he plans with the celebrities’ personal makeup artists. They share the products that they use on their clients ahead of time so he can have them on hand for touch ups throughout the night.

But when it comes to color matching, there’s one trick he always recommends. “One trick that I tell artists to do is dab a Beauty Blender with the shade of foundation used on their client and keep it in a Ziploc bag in their cocktail bag along with their lipstick,” he said. Then he’ll just reactivate the cover-up with Evian water to make sure the shade flawlessly matches.

This little trick is one of the reasons a Beauty Blender is his must-have product for each show. “For me it’s is the quickest way to make a face look flawless for camera,” he said.

But it isn’t the only product he relies on. He also swears by a hydrating serum like SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier to absorb quickly for smooth application. A moisturizer or a foundation primer are also key to what he calls “rapid-fire makeup.” The reason? “The more glide the skin has, the quicker it is to use a brush or a Beauty Blender to speed dial foundation on skin.”

Lead Makeup Artist for the Academy Awards, Bruce Grayson, Shares His Number One Product and Other Behind-the-Scenes Se
Bruce Grayson Bruce Grayson

But with so many camera close ups, it’s important that this extra-hydrated skin doesn’t end up looking greasy. So he’ll use a finely milled translucent powder that blurs imperfections but maintains a touch of luminosity like Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder. And for a naturally pink flush, he combines a peach and pink shade.

As prepped and ready as he makes sure to be, beauty emergencies are still a reality, especially for such a highly emotional event. This means lots and lots of tears. How does he handle it? “There’s nothing discrete when a celebrity sheds tears,” he told Us. “When it does happen I have to act fast to fix foundation under eyes and then some.” He starts by wiping away tears and smeared makeup with a soft cotton pad soaked in Bioderma Crealine H20 because it’s gentle enough not to irritate the skin. Then he pats a matching foundation shade under the eyes with a Beauty Blender. He’ll put a bit of concealer overtop before going in to repair eyeliner and swipe on a touch of mascara. “It is a drill that I’ve had a lot of practice mastering.”

Other backstage hiccups include losing contact lenses — which is why they always have a bottle of lens solution in the green room — and shaving nicks that reopen — which he says have to be, “finessed shut with a septic powder and a blow drier to quickly stop the bleeding.”

So as glamorous as the Academy Awards appear from the comfort of your couch, it isn’t all ball gowns and bling. It takes a lot of work not only before, but also during the show. Because no matter if there are tears or blood, the show must always must go on.