Confessions Of Jennifer Lopez's Longtime Makeup Artist

Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images.
Makeup artist Scott Barnes on the red carpet with Jennifer Lopez.
Scott Barnes is a celebrity makeup artist with 26 years of experience in the beauty industry. Among his many celebrity clients, including Julianne Moore, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Celine Dion, he is widely regarded as the man behind J. Lo's glow. This story was told to Kelsey Castañon and edited for length and clarity.
When I first started in makeup, I didn't want to do celebrities. At that time, it was all about Cindy and Linda and Christy. I was like, Ugh! Celebrities keep calling me. It was boring. They would be like, "I just want to look pretty," and that's not exciting for an artist. My opinion changed completely when I met Jennifer.
It was 2000, and we were shooting an InStyle cover. This was before the J. Lo boom really took off. So she walks in, and she's got on jeans, a turtleneck, and aviator sunglasses. She had her hair pulled back in a bun and not a stitch of makeup on, and she looked stunning. I was like, How am I going to make this girl look prettier? We tried something new: a glow-y skin look. Everyone loved it.
Jennifer Lopez on her first InStyle cover.
It was one of those weird photoshoot days. Nothing was working — the lights broke on set and everyone was running around trying to fix them. Meanwhile we were sitting on the white floor in the studio. We were just kind of staring at each other, because there was nothing else to do, and listening to her new album, J. Lo. She just goes, "I like you." I said, "I like you too." Then she was like, "What are you doing on Friday?" This was a Wednesday. Even though I was supposed to be working with Kim Cattrall, I said, "Nothing," because I just thought, This woman is so beautiful, I have to work with her. She said, "I'm shooting my album cover. Wanna do it?" Two days later, we're on a plane to Stockholm. Eighteen years later, here we are.
The Day-To-Day Hustle
At the beginning of her fame, it was exhausting. It was the perfect storm of the most beautiful woman in the world, who's on the rise to superstardom, and a makeup artist who's also on the rise. We were constantly on the go, but it was fun. She would pull references from old Liz Taylor moments, and we would just create. It was like playing dress up. We lived in our own fantasy world in the dressing room and everyone else would watch what we came up with.
But it's just as exhausting now. In the last 48 hours, we did her All I Have show in Vegas, got on a private flight to Los Angeles after the show at 1 AM, got in at 2 AM, started a music video at 8 AM, shot until 3 AM, then went home and slept for three hours before we got up and drove to Vegas before she flew in so I could have her glam room ready by the time she arrived.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
My job doesn't stop when the show starts either. Jennifer does 12 costume changes, and she does makeup changes, too. A minute and 30 seconds is the longest we have. Backstage, it looks like we're on speed — I'm running after her and reapplying her makeup really fast or blotting away any sweat or oil. But Jennifer is a showman; she loves the art of entertaining and taking you out of your reality. For two hours, you are watching this woman work. She gives her all to everything she does, whether it's beauty, clothing, a movie, music, anything.
Creating A Beauty Icon
Jennifer has always been beautiful, but when she first came to me, her makeup wasn't amazing. It's like anyone first starting out — we were trying to establish her signature look. I used light, oils, and moisture to let her skin shine through, almost like watercolour. I treated makeup like a stain; you didn't see where things started or where they stopped. It wasn't harsh and it wasn't heavy. That became her signature.
Not every moment in the beginning was good. Every time I see her makeup at the Angel Eyes premiere [in 2001], I cringe. I made her eyes white because I was thinking "angel" and Oribe made her hair really curly... it was just bad. Jennifer still says, "I think it's pretty." That's what's so great about her: She allows you to take risks and trusts the process.
Jennifer has worked with some of the most amazing makeup artists in the world — Kevyn Aucoin, Pat McGrath — so she knows beauty. That's what makes her makeup collection with Inglot different from other celebrity makeup brands. She's not just slapping her name on a product. I asked her the other day, "Why did you create this cosmetics line?" And she said, "I don't like makeup that feels like a mask. I find Instagram interesting, but it doesn't look real. Real women don't look like that." Her message has always been to love yourself the way you are, and that's what she's doing with her beauty line.
Photo courtesy of Kelsey Castau00f1on.
Makeup scattered on the vanity in J. Lo's dressing room in Las Vegas.
Owning Her Glow
Everyone wanted to stick the Latin girl in a red lip; it was so tired. So we stuck to the bronzed look. The first time I did a red on her was for the Met Gala in 2004. She went with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana and wore this gorgeous black gown. Oribe created a Frida Kahlo-looking braid and I did a bold red lip with a naked eye, and that was an exciting moment for us — no one had ever seen her in a red lip before.
Courtesy of TIME.
Jennifer Lopez on Time's 100 Most Influential cover.
Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images.
Jennifer Lopez at the Met Gala with Dolce & Gabbana.
Fashion has changed a bit since then, so we don't shy away from the red lip anymore. For the TIME 100 Most Influential People cover, I chose to use the Inglot lipstick in the shade Besame. Her dress was white; her hair was very blond. There was something so ethereal about it, but I was like, Not all angels are flouncy. She is more like a powerful angel. There was something strong about it, and it tied in nicely with the red TIME border.
Beyond The Makeup Chair
Jennifer is more than a client to me; she is my friend. In the last 18 years, we've been through marriages, divorces, and babies together. Just the other day, I was at [her kids] Emme and Max's 10th birthday party. I said to Emme, "It's so funny, I did your first magazine cover." I pulled up the People cover I did with Jennifer when she was one year old. It's been amazing to see them grow up. But Jennifer doesn't let them get caught up in this weird celebrity world. She never loses perspective on what's important. And that is a beautiful thing.
Travel and accommodations were provided to the author by Inglot for the purpose of writing this story.

More from Celebs & Influencers

R29 Original Series