Los Angeles makeup artist Brett Freedman says "making up a face and nailing it the first time is like hitting a hole in one on the moon."
He has made up Reba McEntire's face many, many times and, as he puts it, now he "nails it." He did just that Feb. 19 when Reba rocked the house at a concert at Intrust Bank Arena.
It's one thing to make someone look good up close and personal, but put that face on an enormous video screen and it's a real test of talent. I was at the concert and thought Reba looked great. When I looked up her age, 56 next month, I couldn't believe it. She even has good arms!
"The first time I met Reba I did her makeup for the cover of TV Guide," Brett said. "I had never worked with a country star and I decided to go sort of light and natural. It didn't work. She needed more wattage, higher voltage."
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Luckily he got another chance when she was on the cover again and this time he didn't go the subtle route. Both he and the star loved her makeup for the shoot.
But Brett says you have to be careful about going too high-voltage.
"The biggest mistake women make is wearing too much makeup," he said. "Wearing the wrong shade of foundation and lipstick that is too dark are common mistakes, too."
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa., Brett would watch his father draw makeup on women pictured in the local newspapers. Later, he did the same thing. "It was like giving them a makeover," he said.
He went to art school, has worked in photography and commercial art, and at one point was a Glamour Shots photographer. "That's where I learned a lot about hair and makeup," he said.
He worked in a makeup store in Miami, then decided he needed to work in Los Angeles. "I wanted to work with actresses," he said. And after reading about Francois Nars, the founder of NARS cosmetics, he decided his own brand also was a good idea.
He developed the Vanitymark Brett Freedman line of cosmetics. The line is available at some boutiques in the United States and in Europe and online at www.vanitymark.com.
His specialty for a long time has been brows, another area where mistakes are made. "Women need a nice arch in their brows but it shouldn't be too exaggerated. It needs to look natural," he said.
"Today, women are talking a lot about lashes. They're using a lot of mascara and products like Latisse."
And speaking of lashes and Latisse, I asked him if he had ever done makeup for Brooke Shields, the Latisse spokeswoman. Latisse is the drug that will make your lashes grow.
Brett said he has several times and that she does have great lashes. He also said she was one of the prettiest women he's ever worked with.
I'm not surprised he'd say that. When I was in New York recently, she was sitting on the front row at a fashion show. After a herd of photographers moved, I asked to shoot her photo.
She is truly beautiful in person. And nice. Go figure.
Brett says it's not surprising there are so many beauty products on the market. I agreed, saying that I would try almost any product if it would help me fight aging.
Even though he's young he understands. As he says, "No one wants to be an old car. They want to be a vintage car in mint condition."