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Celebrity Makeup Artist Gita Bass on How to Get Your Makeup to Look Natural, Her Favourite Products and More

She's known for fresh-faced looks with beautiful skin.

If you were admiring Elizabeth Olsen's makeup at TIFF this year—and weren't we all?!—then you're familiar with the fresh-faced style of celebrity makeup artist Gita Bass.

Born in Australia but now based in New York City, Gita has prepped countless celebrities for the red carpet. Besides Elizabeth Olsen, some of her famous clients include Keira Knightley, Cate Blanchett, Bryce Dallas Howard, Tina Fey and Katie Holmes, to name a few. She has also worked on fashion editorials, advertising campaigns and runway shows.

From The Styling Edit Archives

I am a HUGE fan. Gita has done so many of my favourite celebrity makeup looks that I've talked about on this website, and always makes her clients look so pretty and natural.

A while back, I got the chance to meet her at a Simple event—and have her do MY makeup!—which was super-exciting. (She usedNARS Satin Lip Pencil in Hyde Park on me.)

With Gita in town for TIFF, I caught up with her again to find out her top makeup secrets and favourite products. 

Celebrity makeup artist Gita Bass.

How did you become a makeup artist?

I fell into this. I always loved fashion and beauty, and was obsessed with it. I went to law school briefly, but I couldn't stand it and dropped out. I started doing makeup for fun—my sister is a photographer—and I realized I loved it. So I started assisting other artists, and then moved to New York and reached out to agencies. 

How did you start working with celebrities?

It kind of all happened organically. I was doing a lot of fashion and smaller jobs. Then an agency in LA needed someone to work on Minnie Driver. They had met me at a photo shoot. 

I didn't think celebrity was my thing. I wasn't sure if I would like working with celebrities; I really just didn't know. But I worked with Minnie—she was my first celeb—and we're still great friends. We just hit it off and that was it. 

Then I started working with more and more celebrities. Once you meet a few publicists, your name gets out there.

Who are some of your celebrity clients now?

I work with Selena Gomez and I love her, because she's just beautiful and really into trying things. Everything you do on her looks amazing. 

Selena Gomez at a 2015 appearance on 'Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.' Makeup by Gita Bass.

I work with Elizabeth Olsen a lot, and she's another one—she's just so gorgeous and she hardly needs any help. They're all great in different ways.

Elizabeth Olsen at the 2015 Toronto premiere of 'I Saw the Light.' Makeup by Gita Bass.

Who did you work with for TIFF?

I was with Elizabeth Olsen and Toni Collette, and I did Rachel McAdams and Jessica Chastain. 

Rachel McAdams at the 2015 Toronto photocall for 'The Princess Bride' Live Read. Makeup by Gita Bass.

Jess was just a little fill-in because Kristofer Buckle couldn't make it, so I did her for the day. It was busy. I was definitely spent at the end, but it was fantastic.

Jessica Chastain at the 2015 Toronto photocall for 'The Martian.' Makeup by Gita Bass.

Where do you get the inspiration for each makeup look?

Every client is different. Sometimes it's a total collaboration and we sit and talk about the makeup, the dress and the hair. It just depends on what they want. Sometimes I look at a dress and I'll say, "I know exactly what to do." 

Sometimes I'll have no idea. Like, "I don't know, it's not coming to me." Most of the time, it comes to you. The actress usually has an idea of how she wants to look and you take it from there.

What type of makeup are you known for?

I think I'm definitely known for skin and more natural makeup. I'm not known for being dramatic. I mean, I do like it, but it's not my thing. I just like things to be pretty. 

Emma Roberts at the 2013 premiere of 'Adult World.' Makeup by Gita Bass.

How would you describe your makeup philosophy?

I think less is more—that's my personal taste and my aesthetic. I want people to notice the actress and her beauty, rather than her makeup. "So-and-so looks beautiful"—that's the key for me and what I'm trying to do. I really love to focus on skin and don't want to cover anything up. I hate piling on the foundation.

Lots of my clients definitely like to experiment and have fun, but they know with me that they will never look overdone, too costumey, or too crazy. We definitely have fun and experiment, and I can do a statement that people will notice, like a cat eye, but I don't want the makeup to take over. That can make you look older. Rather than trying to leave my mark on them, I just want them to look as beautiful as possible.

Emmy Rossum at the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards. Makeup by Gita Bass.

How do you prepare the skin for makeup?

I use my new favourite product that I'm obsessed with, the Simple Micellar Make-Up Remover Wipes

Simple Micellar Make-Up Remover Wipes

They basically took micellar technology and mixed it with their beautiful wipes. They're fantastic. They really clean the skin and leave it so hydrated. It really just creates the perfect base for makeup. 

After that, I apply Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer and it creates this clean, hydrated base that makeup will glide onto so seamlessly. 

Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer

For me, skin is like 50 percent of makeup. If your skin looks good, you're halfway done, and you won't need a lot. So you really need to prep it correctly.

What are your tips for getting great skin?

I think you absolutely need a great skincare routine. But you definitely have to look at your lifestyle as well. Your skincare routine is important, but it can only do so much. 

There are lot of lifestyle factors that impact your skin—your diet, exercise, stress levels. We all know what stress can do to our skin. Taking a holistic approach is the best way to get amazing skin.

I started juicing recently, just in the mornings, and the effect it had on my skin was amazing. Your skin is an organ, and it's filled with cells, so it's about feeding it in the correct way. I do green juices and it makes such a difference. It also helps to balance your hormones when you exercise, and hormones are the number one culprit in causing skin issues for women. 

Do you have a favourite foundation for natural-looking skin?

I am very obsessed with the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

It gives a really nice glow, and the colours are amazing. I put it in my own little pots.

Often, I'll mix it with one or two drops of the Physicians Formula Argan Wear Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil, which I love. 

Physicians Formula Argan Wear Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil

It is amazing. The combination of those two products creates this gorgeous glow to the skin. Depending on how oily someone's skin is, I will use less or more oil. If someone is really dry, I prep the skin with it as well.

For concealer, I use Clé de Peau and a bit of Touche Éclat.

Clé de Peau Concealer

Yves Saint Laurent Touch Éclat Radiant Touch

What are your thoughts on the face oil trend?

I think we've been taught for so long not to use oils on our faces because they're going to cause breakouts. Well, that's absolutely not true. Maybe mineral oils will, but botanical oils don't cause breakouts at all. They're what the skin naturally produces to protect against bacteria and to keep the skin supple. 

Often we want to strip our faces of the oil, but once we do that, our bodies just create more oil to compensate and that can often be the problem.

I like to give a little massage first with the oil. It's great for lymphatic system drainage and gets rid of puffiness. It really gets the circulation going, which is what we need to keep the skin young and vibrant—to keep that glow, that natural flush.

How do you apply foundation so it looks natural?

I love using a damp Beautyblender sponge to blend foundation. 

Beautyblender Makeup Sponge Applicator

I apply the foundation with a brush or my fingers, and then I get a damp Beautyblender and go over it. That will remove any excess product and gives the face a very seamless finish. It makes the foundation look undetectable. 

I also use the Beautyblender with blush and bronzer. I apply cream blush with a brush, and then to really make it look seamless, I take the same sponge that I used on the foundation, just to blend the edges. That way, you don't see any harsh lines. Everything looks very lived-in and just so natural. Like you are naturally flawless. I love that. 

How do you find the right shade of foundation?

It depends how much skin is showing. If your décolletage is showing, that's what I'm matching to. But usually, I try to look at the jawline and do it that way. If you're all one colour, then you definitely want to match the jaw. 

You always want to look at your makeup in natural daylight. That’s the best way to really see.

If you find that the shade is not exactly right for you and is not working for you, then absolutely mix two together. Be your own painter. 

Even if you wear SPF 50, you do still get colour in the summer. So in the summer, you might be little darker than in the winter. It just happens that way, and there's not a lot you can do about it. 

So definitely mix them. We're all individuals, so we definitely do need to customize our foundations for ourselves. I can't help myself, I have to mix. 

There can be 1,000 different shades. That's what I love about Armani; it has a great shade range. 

Mindy Kaling at the 2014 Glamour Women of the Year Awards. Makeup by Gita Bass.

What are your thoughts on contouring?

Contouring is becoming my nemesis. We're seeing these totally contoured, crazy-highlighted pictures. I feel like girls are going a little nuts and wearing way too much makeup. They're trying to look their best for Instagram photos, but we all see each other face to face. I'm hoping it's a phase and it will go away at some point. 

There's definitely a time and place for contouring, in a photo shoot for specific lighting. It's fine if you are on camera, but for every day, it's too much. It ages people. I think we need to steer away from that.

But I'm glad people are talking about highlighting lately more than contouring. Highlighting is beautiful, as long as it's not overdone. You can definitely achieve a similar result to contouring, without that harsh effect. 

I love natural skin. You should be able to see the skin. It should never look suffocated. Skin should look like it glows and can breathe. When you overly contour and pile on the makeup, it definitely looks suffocated.

Do you ever contour your clients?

We do like to contour Lizzie [Elizabeth Olsen] a little bit, in a very subtle way. I use the Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base

Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base

It's basically a powdery cream, and you can dab it in the hollows of the cheeks and temples, and even bit on the nose. It gives a really nice contour, but doubles as bronzing powder. 

Instead of doing it the harsh way under the cheekbones, I apply it there with a soft brush and blend it up on the cheeks, so it's not as harsh. That way it just looks really seamless, and gives a really nice warm tone to the skin as well. You can even blend it with your fingers.