How to Become a Beauty Boss, According to a Celeb Makeup Artist

Lori Taylor is the genius behind Smashbox's impactful looks

By Alanah Joseph Sep 04, 2017 1:04 PMTags
ESC: Trendsetters at Work, SmashboxJacqueline Lee/E!

Have you ever wondered who's responsible for those high-fashion beauty editorials or runway looks that make you stare? 

For Smashbox Cosmetics, it's Global Lead Makeup Artist Lori Taylor. The company is both a makeup brand and photo studio, making Lori's job vital. The California-born beauty professional plays a major role in the brand's product development, campaigns and shoots. She's also the behind-the-scenes guru responsible runway looks (like Rebecca Minkoff's SS17 show) and a consultant to other makeup artists—she's a boss.

When it comes to the beauty industry, the artist is a veteran. Now, she's sharing just how she became the beauty boss she is today.

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes
Jacqueline Lee/E!

What was your first job?
My first job was a bank teller at Bank of America in the ‘80s. There was no internet, and it was a very archaic, basic system. You just needed to know how to count money and open safety deposit boxes—nothing like the world of finance now.
Why makeup?
I always knew that I wanted to do something in makeup because Boy George was my original makeup muse. This was like in ‘80s on MTV and Boy George was this man in makeup. He was crazy and fierce. And, I thought ‘I just want to do whatever that is.' Back then, a makeup artist wasn't a job. There was no one to tell you how to become a makeup artist.

How did you break into the beauty industry?
I stopped going to college. I almost got thrown out of my house. They were like ‘You have to go to school.' I didn't want to go to school. I wanted to get a job at a makeup counter and save up enough money to move to New York (There weren't any big makeup schools here in LA).

Lancome was my very first job in the industry....There was a makeup artist that used to come in and buy Chanel and Lancome, and he worked on one of the morning news shows. I used to hound him: ‘I'll do anything. I'll work for free, whatever!' I'd hound him so much, he let me clean his brushes. He would teach me things and I'd test them out at the counter. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. But, I knew I wanted to do this because it seemed like the coolest thing in the world.

Jacqueline Lee/E!

Who are your career heroes?
Oprah Winfrey, for sure, because you just look at her and say ‘She's so incredible.' Viola Davis. Or, someone like Pat McGrath who is just so amazing. Her background is in art, which was not my background. Then, she became a makeup goddess. Kevyn Aucoin because he transforms women into these beautiful creatures that they never thought they could be. He started at a makeup counter, too. When I heard that when I was younger, I knew I was on the right path.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
One of my first times on set, someone told me ‘As a makeup artist you're there to provide a service. Your job is to not only make someone look beautiful, but feel beautiful. Be the most quiet and positive person in the room. Someone is trusting you to create a beautiful image of themselves, always show up and do that.' I'm so thankful for that.

What's the most daring career risk you've taken?
I feel like I never really wanted to be in front of the camera. That was never my deal, but now I'm always in front of the camera. Not freezing, but instead going with it, I think that was one of the most daring things that I've done.

Jacqueline Lee/E!

What's a typical day like for you?
Well, I feel like none of my days are super typical. Some days, I'm sitting at my desk answering emails from other makeup artists looking for products for their projects or answering beauty questions. Other days, I'm on a photo shoot. Then, there are video days, when I'm in front of the camera. We do a lot of in-store content for all of our retailers, like training content. Some days, it's just meeting after meeting about new products or concepts.

Smashbox recently opened a store and moved offices! Tell us about your office décor.
We recently moved into this space. We call these the PR and beauty den. This actually used to be one of our working studios. I love the fact that I'm working inside of a studio, whether I'm doing makeup or not. It's girly, beautiful and hip.

Jacqueline Lee/E!

What is Smashbox best known for?
We do skin better than any other brand, simply because that's the base for any great makeup application. If you can do skin right, everything else looks better on top of it. Our primer and foundation gives you coverage without heaviness.

Plus, in the age of the selfie, we're all about being camera-ready. It's nice when you don't need a filter because you're wearing our products.

What's your favorite makeup trend right now?
Radiant, glowing skin. I hope it never goes away.

Finish the below sentences.

Today for lunch I had… the best blue crab handroll.
The first website I log onto every day is… Snapchat
My usual coffee order is… an iced, no sugar, green tea lemonade
If I wasn't doing this job, I'd… own a rum bar in St. Thomas.
My favorite place to visit is… Bolivia
List five things on your desk right now… cell phones chargers, a water bottle that keep everything super cold, a rose gold writing instrument, headphones and magazines.