Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Courtesy of Jillian Dempsey, Retailers
On the Beauty Group, a Facebook community co-founded by the Cut and the Strategist, people chat all day long about the products they love — the ones so good they’ll make you hit that little “auto-refill” box at checkout. Below, we asked one of our favorite beauty pros to share her own selections.
If you were keeping a close eye on Kristen Stewart as she made the rounds to promote her latest film Spencer — who wasn’t? — you probably noticed a silver necklace dangling around her neck. Maybe you thought that chunky silver chain with a square pendant was made by Chanel, for whom the actress is an ambassador, but Stewart’s locket was actually designed by the actress’s longtime makeup artist, Jillian Dempsey, who has always had a passion for jewelry and created the necklace to house lipstick. (Each pendant comes with four shades: Maryl Mulberry, Royce Red, Knownothing Nude, and Quando Pink.)
The makeup artist herself wore a gold version of the Lip Locket (whose design was inspired by a “Punk Lock” necklace she made for Stewart almost a decade ago, according to Vogue) on a recent Zoom call with the Cut. Like everything Dempsey makes, it was created with both style and substance in mind — and she expects the same from all of her go-to beauty products, especially those in her makeup kit.
Dempsey explains, “If I’ve grown accustomed to using something, and it’s never failed me, it’s never dropped dust on the eyes or flaked or settled into strange crevices on my face or my clients’ faces, for example, that’s what I’ll gravitate to.”
Below, the makeup artist gave us a look at 11 products that have never let her down. Read on for the “perfect” contour powder, the powder foundation she calls “magic,” and the thick — but never greasy — lip balm she buys over and over again.
“My whole family is aware that if there’s a cup of coffee, there’s also a Gold Bar. It helps lift, tighten, tone, and contour all at once, and it’s the way I start my day because I definitely want blood circulation. It also relaxes my face.
It also performs very well with my clients. I don’t do any jobs or red carpets without my Gold Bar because of the way that I can contour and sculpt and define faces with; you can really go in with it. I’m actually going to do a mini masterclass for when people wear ski goggles and get the crazy marks along their face; you can use the bar to iron out your face. It’s magical.
Just note: It should be used on clean skin. Put your favorite moisturizer on, turn the bar on, and let it vibrate. It really is mind-blowing.”
“For my skin and with my coloring, the Cocoa Dusk 7 shade works perfectly as a powder bronzer. It has no iridescence, which I really like. It’s especially great if you use it with a dense brush and go along your hairline, your temples, the sides of your cheeks, and your jaw to define it. It’s just a very natural tone for me.”
“I know people think that these crayons are expensive — and they are — but they’re just so easy to use. They guide you with a chubby pointed tip so you can do a really fast application and get the right amount of payoff. To me, the cost is worth it. I especially love the ‘Litchi’ color.”
“I love something for my ends, and I switch off between pomades and creams. My hair is so over-processed — by choice by the way — and it really loves something that makes it able to bend. It has the typical Virtue scent, which is a little bit on the sweeter side of things.”
“I love this pencil, but it makes you work for it. You have to use a little exacto knife to carve it. My friend [makeup artist] Ruby Hammer told me to get a sharpener for it, but I was too lazy to do that, and I just prefer the old method of whittling away. True to its name, the formula is very ‘hard,’ and it doesn’t move. It’s just one of those things that if you’re in the know, you know.”
“‘Sunny’ is probably the warmest tone of all my Cheek Tints. I’ve never been a huge blush person, and I know that for a lot of my clients, if they feel like they already have big cheeks, they don’t want to emphasize them with a color. But ‘Sunny’ is a non-bright blush that adds warmth to your skin tone without necessarily highlighting them. I’m obsessed with it. I wear it all the time, and I probably need to bust out of my own rut with it, but it’s great to mix, too; if I want to go for something brighter, I can mix it with ‘Poppy,’ which is a brighter orange.”
“Not enough people make a good contour powder — they take it to an extreme or they add iridescence or they put too much pigment in it. But if you’re talking about truly contouring a face, you’re basically drawing a shadow. That is an art right there because the minute that you over-contour, it’s very recognizable.
If I need to cut some cheeks, this is my go-to shade because it doesn’t have any red tones, it doesn’t turn orange, it blends out really easily, and it stays put.”
“The question here is, ‘What do I not like about this highlighter?’ Milk Makeup nailed it. The mica particles aren’t too large or too small, so the highlight isn’t overwhelming. It’s so creamy.
I have a highlighter in my own line called ‘Shell,’ and I use that when I want a little more punch. But when I want a little less — just a really nice shimmer — this is what I grab.”
“Whatever city I go to, I try to dip into every single beauty-supply house, and this is the best lip balm I’ve found. I like something that has a shelf life on my lips, and this doesn’t eat away; you can put it on at night, wake up in the morning, and it’s still on your lips. And it’s thick, but it’s not greasy or slippery.”
“I am kind of addicted to this toothpaste. I don’t like to ever run out of it — my husband likes it, too. It just tastes really good.”
“I wear a little ‘Peach’ and a little ‘Camel,’ but these powder foundations will probably be a staple in my kit for the rest of my life as a makeup artist. There’s a magic to them. I don’t know what it is exactly, but the brand uses some kind of special formula that distributes just the right amount of color. Like with the ‘Peach’ one, it doesn’t turn you pink; it just looks like you’re glowing and pretty.”