Sir John is perhaps most famous for being in charge of none other than Beyoncé's makeup, but it wasn't always that glamorous for him. Years ago, he worked on New York MAC counters by day and did the makeup in strip clubs by night, before catching his break assisting beauty legends like Pat McGrath and Charlotte Tilbury backstage at some of the biggest fashion week shows. In other words, he knows a thing or two about nailing great makeup. From using Pritt Stick as brow gel (really) to the best concealer blending technique, here's everything we learned from the L'Oréal Paris Makeup ambassador when we met him in London.
Apply foundation straight after your moisturiser
According to Sir John, the best time to apply foundation is right after your moisturiser. He rates L'Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Aloe Moisturiser, £9.99, and we spotted Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Nourishing Moisturiser, £13, in his kit, too. "I prefer to apply foundation on wet skin because once your moisturiser dries, the foundation adheres to your skin in a really organic way," he said. "Also, don’t be afraid to give your face a little bit of a massage to increase circulation. Blood flow is what you need for great skin. I like using a jade roller as it really helps to kickstart blood flow."
These are the only foundation tools you need
"I like to apply foundation in two separate ways," Sir John told us. "I like using a wet BeautyBlender but also a big fluffy blush brush. I don’t use foundation brushes because I feel like the application doesn’t look as seamless. This way, the product dissipates and looks really organic. The goal is not to be lacquered from forehead to chin. It’s okay to see an area that isn’t covered in product. I like seeing texture and dark circles and veins on eyelids – that’s sexy to me. It’s 2019 and it’s cool to see texture, especially freckles."
How to make your makeup last
It's all about duality. "I use a cream blush and then I use a powder blush. I use a cream foundation and then I buff a powder foundation on top of it. This duality creates a Teflon face. Even if you’re using brow pencils, they’re oily and waxy and will become shiny by lunchtime, so always set that product with powder."
How to apply concealer the right way
"There are two kinds of concealer you should have," said Sir John. "One concealer for a spot, and this should be spot on to your complexion, then one for brightening and elevating your bone structure. I take the concealer and do a tribal spot situation under the eye – one, two, three, four dots. On Instagram, the first thing people do is slather it everywhere, but I cringe when I see that. You don’t need that much product!"
But it might be worth ditching your flat concealer brush. "I blend concealer with a fluffy eyeshadow brush like the MAC 224s Tapered Blending Brush, £23.50. If you blend with a fluffy brush, you can really get in there and it almost airbrushes you. A stiff brush won’t give you a soft colour – all you want to do is lift and sculpt."
...and how to stop concealer from creasing
"I only use powder to set the T-zone – I don’t 'bake'," said Sir John. "Firstly, don’t use too much concealer, otherwise it’ll always crease, and I never use pressed powder around the eyes. It’s so heavy and drying and it’s really counterproductive. I use a loose, soft brush and translucent powder."
There's a right and a wrong way to hold your makeup brushes
Yes, really. Sir John suggests not holding your brush with your hand or fingers sitting on top of the brush. Why? "This will only make you look streaky," he said. "Always get into a habit of holding the brush as far away from the top as you can and application will be super easy and light."
But don't be scared of using your fingers. "Body heat changes the texture of makeup. It warms everything up and makes it look organic. Use your ring finger to tap makeup into the skin because your index finger is too aggressive. Your ring finger is the weakest and picks up the least amount of product for a soft look."
How to keep your eyebrows in place
It might sound absurd, but Sir John ditches brow gel for... Pritt Stick. Of course, if you do want to try this at home, it pays to be very careful. Exercise extreme caution and don't put anything near or inside your eyes.
"It’s the best brow gel in the world. After you put your brows on take a little bit of Pritt on a brush and brush the brow. It won’t clog your pores and it won’t take your hair off. I know it’s glue, but it’s going to keep them there all day, even if you sweat. It also allows you to draw hair on top of it. When it dries, it creates a base for actual hair-like strokes."
How to stop mascara from ruining your eyeshadow
"I always use my finger as a shield," said Sir John, who likes to use a cool-toned matte bronzer on the lids. "I use my finger to lift the eyelid and whack the mascara on, so then it transfers on to your finger instead. It also holds your lid in place at the same time."
How to apply highlighter without looking greasy
Blinding highlights are done, according to Sir John, and when applying highlighter it pays to stop at the centre of the eye for a subtle effect. "If you bring it down the cheek too much, it’ll appear as though your foundation is greasy and that looks unflattering, especially in photos. Keep your glowy products more on the outside because it'll change the whole dynamic of your face. One thing I don’t like is brow highlights. They’re so played out. Leave the skin up there – it’s kinda sexy and modern."
His top product pick? "I love a luminous, creamy highlighter – nothing with a large particle." Try L'Oréal Paris Glow Mon Amour Highlighting Drops, £9.99, or Sleek MakeUP Highlighting Elixir Illuminating Drops, £6.99. "Sometimes, your SPF is the best highlighter," he continued. "That glycerin effect on top of your foundation is flattering. You can also use night cream for the same effect."