Celebrity makeup artist Romy Soleimani is known for her radiant beauty looks (her Instagram handle is, after all, @romyglow), and the complexions of her A-list clients like Alicia Vikander, Tracee Ellis Ross, Cara Delevingne and Natalie Portman seem to exist in a perpetually perfectly dewy state. So you can imagine our delight when we had a chance to attend Soleimani’s masterclass with Korean skincare brand Whal Myung in NYC and see firsthand how she uses techniques like massaging, pressing and rolling to bring even the tiredest faces to life before ever applying so much as a drop of makeup.
“Skincare is the most important step in makeup. It’s a primer. It’s everything,” she tells Us. “You’re not going to have that glow that people talk about without skincare. I do a lot of prep, a lot a pampering. It’s part of my makeup. It’s essential.”
It should come as no surprise then, that Soleimani’s first step with every. single. client. is to thoroughly massage the skin with a cleaning balm (like Whal Myung’s ultra-gentle, plant-based formula). She uses firm pressure to work the product into the skin in upward strokes to help with lymphatic drainage and pays special attention to pressure points to create a head-to-toe calming effect.
“That’s how I prep everyone I work with,” she says of the ritual. “I love to massage. It’s something that I’ve been doing forever. It gives vitality to the skin. It’s great for circulation. It’s how you get that glow.”
And you better believe the pro takes as much care in removing the product as she does applying it. Using warm water (she even travels with a “mini teakettle” to ensure she always has access to it) and a muslin cloth, she takes off whatever is left of the cleansing balm before moving on to skincare.
Well hydrated skin has a plump, supple appearance that even the best makeup can’t fake, and Soleimani explains that she is currently obsessed with the nourishing and glow-inducing properties of the Whal Myung Skin Elixir (an brightening herbal essence based on a 120-year-old Korean medicinal formula).
“It makes the skin feel soft, hydrated and cushiony, but it’s not sticky,” she says. “The finish is not a kind of glowy that just sits on top of the skin. It’s a glowy that makes the skin look healthy and hydrated.”
Rather than spray it directly onto the face, she deposits a bit into her hands and then presses it into the complexion. But she doesn’t just use it on bare skin.
“You can put it on a Beautyblender after you apply makeup and dab it on the high points of the face,” she explains. “It’s great to use after foundation to wake up the foundation. It makes it look like skin as opposed to makeup. It just looks like that perfect skin that we’re all going for — without a filter, in real life.”
Oh, and it can have a similarly transformative effect on your favorite highlighter or luminizer. She says pressing it directly on top of the makeup will create that illusive lit-from-within glow.
“If you put on highlighter, this is the kind of product that just makes it look wet, dewy and amazing — not like, ‘oh, she put glitter on her face,’” Soleimani says. “I never want it to look like I put blush or highlighter on top of someone’s face. I want it to look like they are glowing from the inside out and they look amazing but you’re not sure why or how.”
The artist says that she’ll also apply a sheet mask (and use a jade roller on top to help the active ingredients further penetrate) depending on how much time she has and finishes off the routine with moisturizing serums and creams before moving on to makeup. Often times, she doesn’t need all that much thanks to all the pre-gaming.
“I am not a fan of masks of makeup. I love to use concealer only where needed,” she concludes. “If someone has perfect skin, I want to let that shine through. I air on the side of less is more, so skincare is even more important to me.”
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