When the TV Land series “Younger” premiered last year, I found in Sutton Foster’s character Liza Miller my small-screen alter ego. Sure, I’m not as tall as her or as svelte and I’m thankfully not coping with a divorce, but her professional struggles resonated profoundly with me. Getting older in a media business increasingly dominated by Millennials, not to mention Generation Z up-and-comers, sometimes totally sucks. There’s continually another social-media platform to figure out, and there is the constant predicament of trying to appear fresh and young so as not too broadcast you’re too ancient to grasp modern-day digital realities while gray hairs are sprouting and wrinkles are forming. In the hands of makeup artist Eldo Ray Estes , Foster’s look deftly – and stunningly – negotiates the challenges of a woman in the contemporary corporate world with the unusual twist that Miller is living and laboring both as a feigned Twentysomething and as an actual Fortysomething. With the third season of “Younger” starting today, I decided to check in with Estes, whose enviable list of credits also includes “Orange Is the New Black,” “Broadwalk Empire” and “Blue Bloods,” to discuss his work on the show and makeup for those of us no longer entry-level.
BBTA: When you first came on board “Younger,” what was your approach to the makeup for Foster’s character?
ERE: First of all, it’s a show by Darren Star, creator of “Sex and the City, “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose.” Everything is a little heightened, and everyone is beautiful on his shows, which is one of the things that appealed to me. Everyone always looks their best on the show, and we have a great time doing it. It was really important when we were figuring things out for Sutton Foster’s character is for her to not only to necessarily look younger, but to look very different in her 26-year-old persona versus her persona when she is at home or when she is out with her ex-husband or with her teenage daughter, so the character does something different to give this illusion of being younger. The analogy Sutton made when we started was the movie “Tootsie” because she is in a costume. She’s being someone else.
BBTA: How would you compare Foster’s makeup to the makeup you do for Hilary Duff’s character Kelsey Peters?
ERE: Hilary Duff is actually in her Twenties, which is hard to believe because we have known Hilary for so long, but she is still very much a young lady and a very beautiful one. Hillary’s makeup is all beige brown, and Sutton has got pink, shimmer and gold frost and different elements like that. I wanted Liza’s makeup when she is her younger self to have a brightness to it. If I were to do the same makeup on Sutton that Hillary is wearing it would not give the illusion that there is something else going on with this character.
BBTA: When you develop the makeup for a character, what do you consider?
ERE: On any project I’m on, I like to think the character has done their own makeup, both when she is trying to make herself look professional and presentable at work, and when you see her out in parties and she’s all decked out. We entertained the idea of Liza combing through magazines and seeing a palette with green in it and wanting to try it.
BBTA: What makeup products do you use on Foster for the show?
ERE: I use a lot of things on her that make the light bounce off her face like amazing highlighter powder from Becca. It makes the skin look more moist and smoother, which translates to being younger. I use a fan brush because you want to be careful. You don’t want to use too much. I dust it very lightly over her cheek area and on her forehead. That’s the very last thing we do. I never put eyeliner underneath her eyes. That’s another thing that helps. She has her concealer, but, other than that, we always have the under-eye totally clean. I use a concealer that is a little bit lighter than what she uses in real life to really highlight the under-eye area. The concealer is a Chanel concealer.
BBTA: Other than Chanel, what other brand did you depend on for the makeup on “Younger”?
ERE: I work very closely with Christian Dior, and they are incredibly good to us. I pretty much exclusively use their products on the show. Their eye shadows are phenomenal for this. We used over 25 Christian Dior eye-shadow palettes over the course of the first two seasons and, basically with every outfit, we used a different Dior palette. We made a point to always use the Candy Choc palette that has pink, green, orange and yellow. It might be hard for a novice to use it and make it look great, but it gives the Liza character a sense of fun and youth, and it gives a lightness to her. If I just put her in a smoky, smudgy eye that Hilary would wear, it wouldn’t have the same effect on her that it has on Hilary. There is a sense of fun and fantasy to Liza’s makeup.
BBTA: Could a woman sport the vibrant colors you apply on Foster in real life?
ERE: Debi Mazar, who is an icon in every way, commented one day, ‘I see you with all this purple and pink, and I could never imagine putting it on myself, but it looks gorgeous in the mirror.’ It is about knowing how to use them, and blending and having great tools. I don’t know if I can stress to ladies enough that they have to invest in brushes. The first thing is put those little applicators that come makeup right into the garbage. You can’t really get what you want with them. My very favorite makeup brushes come from Claudio Riaz Brush Set. They are sold in Barneys. I was turned onto those brushes by Sharon Stone. She got me a few of those when I was working on a project with her, and I have used them ever since. They are perfectly balanced in my hand. Sometimes a brush is too short, and you can’t use it property because I tis not balanced properly. The cut of the brushes are really great. They have some specific brushes, so you can put just a little dab of that color. If you are afraid to use a little purple, blue, red and pink, you can just add that little touch as a accent when you have the right tools.
BBTA: What’s a simple makeup tip for a woman in their Forties?
ERE: If you are still drawing liner underneath your eye or putting black pencil on the inside like you have been doing for 20 years, you might think about not doing that and keep it cleaner. That keeps the focus of a person on you upward instead of looking underneath your eyes.
BBTA: Is there anything on the face that you feel women don’t pay enough attention to?
ERE: Eyebrows are key. You’ve got to have impeccable brows. You have got to groom them and fill them in. A lot of ladies might put eyeliner under the eye and put mascara on, but they might ignore the eyebrows. The most important thing is the eyebrows because they lift the face up. It keeps the focus up as things start to move down as we get older. Christian Dior makes the best eyebrow pencil. It is the Diorshow Brow Styler. It comes in universal brown, and it basically works for everyone. If you use it really lightly, it works for blonde. If you press it harder, it works for brunettes.
BBTA: On “Younger,” what do you tend to put on the lips?
ERE: We use a lot of lip glosses both from MAC and Dior. We use purple, pink and occasional we move into coral. There is really no color that we won’t use. Dior has a ton of great glosses, and many of them have a little bit of sparkle in them that is really beautiful. I use Rouge Dior Brilliante in Times Square, Bonheur and 999. I also use MAC Patentpolish Lip Pencil in Hopelessly Devoted, PatentPink and Teen Dream. You can swipe them on super easy. They have bright colors, but the consistency is very sheer, so you’re not going to get super matte obnoxious brightness. I am not a big fan of matte lips unless you are really gorgeous and have perfect lips. If you have more of a smallish mouth, matte tends to make the matte looks smaller. The gloss makes the lip look fuller because the light bounces off of it.
BBTA: Can you give me a hint about what to expect from the makeup in season three?
ERE: There is definitely a bit of a transitional thing going on with Liza’s makeup in season three. Where there were very deliberate differences between 26 and 40 in the earlier seasons, we find her slowly melding her two worlds together. Subtly, of course. The overall look is softer. However, we had a lot of fun with the new Rouge Dior lipsticks this season in many different lip colors.