Beauty Secrets We Learned From Carolina Gonzalez


In high fashion, there’s almost no such thing as effortless beauty. From facial treatments that leave your complexion dewy and luminous to the perfect winged eyeliner, experts reveal their most-trusted, insider hacks for CR‘s series, Beauty Secrets.

When Carolina Gonzalez was studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology and working as a receptionist for Carolina Herrera, she used to skim through all of books for makeup and hair photoshoots. Gonzalez had loved the arts ever since she was young, coming from a family of sketchers, artists, painters, and musicians, but never considered makeup as a career option up until that point. Through her job at Herrera, Gonzalez met makeup artist Francisco Valera, who offered to take her on an assistant. From there, she quit her job, moved back home to Long Island, and began working with photographer Terry Richardson. One day, when Valera was unavailable for a job, Gonzalez stepped in, doing the makeup for a magazine cover of Fiona Apple back in 1997. Everything else snowballed from there.

Gonzalez didn’t have an agent until she started working with photographer Ben Watts, who called his own agent and set up a meeting. “They wanted to commercialize me and I was like, ‘Fuck no.’ I still wanted to do the creative side until I was broke and needed to eat, so I was like I have to commercialize myself somehow,” she tells CR. “It’s word-of-mouth in the business.”

Here, CR caught up with the makeup artist about what she’d like to see change in the beauty industry and her favorite photoshoot from the ’90s.

What’s your skincare routine like?
“I do a nice foaming cleanser. I love the one from Shiseido, La Mer, and 111Skin. Everyone’s skin is different, it could be dry from the weather or super oily. I do a lot of moisture, even when I do makeup on anyone else. I do the Celestial Black Diamond eye cream from 111SKIN and the SK-II eye cream. As far as serums, my favorite at the moment is the Obal Oil from Walter Obal. He’s a makeup artist, he’s been selling it on his own, and it’s really great. It has no fragrance and I think that’s important. It’s very earthy and natural. I also like the Aqua Booster from 111Skin because you can add it as a booster to a moisturizer and it just makes it even more concentrated. I find that those don’t clog pores throughout the day. If the girls just came off a flight or they’ve had a hard night, I use an eye de-puffer, like the 111Skin and SK-II eye masks.”

Five makeup products you’re loving?
“I’m always open to trying new things and trying whatever people send me because there’s so much going on. I love the limited-edition Nars Hot Nights Face Palette and Pat McGrath’s MatteTrance Lipstick. I love a matte. I can’t live without Laura Mercier’s To-Go Contour and any of the Laura Mercier cream blushes. They’re matte and have no shimmer. I don’t always like a luminizer. I love the Milk Makeup Kush mascara and the PatMcGrath FetishEyes mascara.”

Do you have a favorite look you’ve done?
“I loved transforming Jamil GS back in the day. We used to go really hardcore like black lip liner, tattoo initials, very hip-hop kind of makeup, and very ’90s. I love when we turn people into characters, like when we did Martha [Hunt] as Catwoman last year for Halloween. Then, making Devon Aoki and Kate Moss into strippers for a photoshoot [by David LaChapelle in 1999]. Those were some of my favorite moments. What I really like is when everyone collaborates. Back in the day, we’d be like, ‘This is the story of this and the inspiration behind it.’ I miss that. There was a story we did it was called Hotel Chelsea where we turned Raquel Zimmermann into Jerry Hall.”

Anything you’d like to see change in beauty?
“I think right now, everything is so makeup intensive and so covered. I want to see skin again. I want to see the rawness of the skin; everything is so painted. I appreciate all of it, but right now I am in the mood to see the ‘90s where the skin would come through and it’s a bit rock ‘n’ roll, with no brow but an intense eye and a lip too. I miss that. I miss real costume, like the Steven Meisel stories, or the shows where John Galliano had a whole story. There are spurts here and there, but when it was really all out I’d love to see that.”

I wonder if social media has something to do with that.
“Everyone wants everything so perfect. I like the flaws. I like the realness of makeup on the face. It’s fine and dandy to make someone into another character, but it’s the undone-ness of things that I miss.”

How has your artistry changed over the years?
“Elsa Hosk said to me once, ‘Carolina, I see you doing what you’re doing and it makes no sense, but then I look in the mirror and I’m like ‘Oh my god.’ I just basically make everything work. You learn from everybody. You learn from the pickiest and from the people who don’t want much. I still look at things from when I was younger and think ‘That’s pretty brilliant.’ What’s changed throughout the years is that in the fashion business, there’s a lot of celebrity whereas back in the day it was models and more about giving this girl a story. I was kind of forced to try to make it as perfect as I can, but every now and then, I get back to playing around. One thing also with the red carpet, you can’t hide anything. What’s on the carpet is on the carpet, it’s going to be on Getty, which will be everywhere. I think that’s made me a better artist because if a girl will take a selfie and I’m like, ‘Hm, I would fix that in FaceTune. I better fix that in real life.’ I think I’ve improved in that way.”


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