If the name Quinn Murphy sounds familiar, it’s probably because he’s created some of the most polished no-makeup makeup looks you’ve saved on Instagram, from Amandla Stenberg to Alison Brie. And while he may not be a household name, he’s one beauty insiders, celebs, and fellow makeup artist know well.
After graduating college, moving to New York, and working in product development for M.A.C. and Estée Lauder, Murphy had what he calls “a lightbulb moment.” He knew the corporate life wasn’t for him, but still loved being around makeup. “I wasn’t thriving,” he tells us. “I thought, maybe I’ll be a makeup artist instead.”
Four years and countless assistant jobs later, Murphy got the big break he never saw coming: doing Mariah Carey’s makeup. “My mentor, Brigitte Reiss-Andersen, couldn’t do Mariah for something, so I filled in,” Murphy recalls. “That was kind of my first break.” As luck would have it, Carey and Murphy hit it off and he soon found himself on the road with one of the biggest stars in music. “That was the time I realized I was no longer an assistant…I was my own artist,” he says.
Now he’s the man behind some of Hollywood’s biggest faces, including TV darling Kiernan Shipka. Naturally, we knew he’d be a wealth of makeup knowledge, so we asked him to share his biggest beauty secrets, ahead.
Modern Makeup Is Light & Sheer
“The main thing to remember is you can quickly separate current and modern makeup from a look that seems dated by how transparent the makeup is. You can create something strong and impactful without making it opaque and heavy.
“I try to go as sheer as I can with foundation. For example, on Kiernan I just spot conceal because she’s 18 and has beautiful skin. If I’m doing makeup on someone who needs more coverage, I’ll spend my time putting the coverage where necessary, not creating just a big mask over her whole face.
A post shared by Quinn Murphy (@quinnmurphy) on Oct 22, 2018 at 9:39am PDT
“Skin should look unfussy and unworked. The people you know who have the best skin make it look effortless, like it’s a gift from God. It really is the unsung hero of any makeup look. It’s that luminosity that makes any makeup look cool.”
Don’t Overwork Bushy Brows
“Sometimes gel really is enough. If you do need to fill in sparser areas, use a lighter pencil color. Not matching the actual eyebrow color can give the brows depth without making them look heavy. Sometimes I’ll use a little powder on Kiernan’s brows, but in a very light color to accentuate her arch and add depth for a photo, but I’m never recreating something that’s not already there.”
Falsies Are A Prerequisite
“You have to be really good at doing individual eyelashes — and doing them quickly — to work for Mariah Carey. I was already good, but I got really good at applying a large amount of them in a short amount of time and doing them in various locations. I did them on private planes, on yachts, in the makeup chair. To this day, I can do any kind of lash, I honed that skill very early on with her. If you want to work with celebrities, you have to know how to do lashes. It’s like a prerequisite. I always tell people starting out that they should learn how to do that because 90% of celebrities are going to want them, at least at some point.”
A post shared by Quinn Murphy (@quinnmurphy) on Jun 1, 2018 at 10:33am PDT
Instagram Isn’t Just For Makeup
“I didn’t start out being as vocal as I am now [about politics and voting], but things have gotten worse [in this country]. I once was nervous about posting [on Instagram] about my personal politics because I’ve definitely been told that if I’d want to make endorsement deals that I’d have to stay neutral, but I think there are brands who might appreciate that someone is multifaceted. I’m more than just a makeup artist applying mascara — I’m a whole person.
A post shared by Quinn Murphy (@quinnmurphy) on Mar 24, 2018 at 9:09am PDT
“As time goes on, I have to ask what’s really important to me. I don’t want to look back and think, What didn’t I do? What didn’t I say? There are people out there who don’t get to do what I do or have the same opportunities that I have. I don’t want to suddenly be 90 and know that all that time I only looked out for myself. To me, it feels like my duty to not sit by. Having the privilege of freedom of speech, being able to express myself and post like I do is a gift — and I want to preserve it.”
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