Location: New York, NY
Marital Status: Single
Education: Licensed makeup artist
And now, this open book has written a book: The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age is Sandy and her co-author Lois Joy Johnson’s no-nonsense, spare-no-details beauty guide for FOFs. It’s chock-full of product recommendations, step-by-step tutorials and cosmetic solutions (surgical and non-surgical).
So you can whisper and wonder all you want about how she looks so good… Or just let Sandy tell you, herself.
“I’m not better than you,” says Sandy. “I’m just a girl who does makeup and I’m going to teach you how.”
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Brooklyn in 1947, and I grew up in Staten Island. I left Staten Island as soon as I could and moved to Manhattan. I lived in a tiny five-floor walk-up. My roommate and I paid $145 per month.
Wow, things have changed. What did you do when you first moved to New York?
I was a secretary. I would do all the employees’ makeup in the bathroom during lunch because I was unhappy with my job. My husband at the time convinced me to go to beauty school. I got my license and landed a job at a beauty counter of Bloomingdales, owned by a man named Mr. Kenneth. He ran a salon on Madison Avenue with clients such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O. and Barbara Walters. One day when he was in, I said to him, ‘Next time you need a makeup artist, would you consider me please?’ And he did. He hired me.
What confidence you had!
Women would stop at that counter all day and ask me what I was doing with my own makeup, which gave me so much confidence. I thought I was fabulous.
Was your mother into makeup?
She filled our bathroom with magazines and makeup but she had no makeup skills at all. I did her makeup every day before she went to work. I was very accustomed to working on her age group even though I was young. I really feel badly for young makeup artists. How are they supposed to know how to makeup a 50-60 year-old woman? It’s really not that simple.
Did you do makeup for any celebs at Mr. Kenneth’s salon?
Jackie O’s when she was in her early 40s. I was terrified even though she was so sweet and charming. She put her head back on the reclining chair and I took out an eye pencil, drew across her lid and she screamed. I had forgotten to sharpen it.
Was she upset?
Nope. I went back to my desk, sharpened it, and she just put her head back like nothing happened. I did her makeup and she looked beautiful. I gave her a big smokey eyes. She looked at herself in the mirror and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. She said, “Oh Sandy! It’s so beautiful—thank you.”
Did you do her makeup often?
A handful of times at Kenneth, and when I left she asked me where I was going, but in those days, I didn’t know how to network. I never networked her back into my clientele.
Are you still married to the same husband who told you to go to beauty school?
No, we were divorced a few years later and I went my way and he went his way.
Did you marry again?
After working at Kenneth Salon, what did you do?
While at Kenneth, I was discovered by a beauty editor at Vogue. I worked for that magazine every single day for three years. That kind of career doesn’t exist anymore. In those days there were like four or five makeup artists in New York City that did editorial work. Now there are hundreds. I thought my life was always going to be like that. I never knew I was going to have all this competition ten years later.
You’ve seen many makeup trends come and go over the years. What do you think is the biggest change?
In the late 70s and early 80s, makeup became really popular. But when I started, nobody even sold makeup brushes! I had to go to one little store called Boyd’s Chemist on Madison Avenue to find brushes that they imported from Paris.
What’s a major makeup fear for women over 50?
Color. The younger you are, the easier it is to play around with color, but you can still work with it when you are older. You just have to know the techniques. I did a client the other day who is in her 70s. She’s gorgeous. I did her with blue gel liner and a forest green shadow and she rocked it.
People say when you get older, less is more with makeup. Do you believe that?
No, that translates into using nothing. I see a lot of older women in their 50s, 60s and 70s with no makeup on. That just makes you look old and washed out.
Do you think they’re afraid?
Yes. They’re afraid because they’ve seen inappropriately applied makeup done by other makeup artists or women who do it themselves. You can get away with it when you’re younger, but not when you’re older.
The chapter in Makeup Wakeup about your plastic surgery was one of the most straight-forward, informative descriptions we’ve ever read.
Thank you. In the book, I tell all about my own [cosmetic] surgeries and that is to help other women. It’s a personal issue. There’s no right, there’s no wrong. I had my eyes done at 37 by Dr. Frederick Marks to remove under-eye bags when I realized the fortune I’d been spending on eye creams wasn’t working. The results of the procedure lasted until I turned sixty. When I was 44, Dr. Patricia Wexler filled my lips with collagen which looked natural. It took away the dryness and made my lipstick last longer. She’s been doing my lip injections since the 90s. I’m really lucky I found her. I never have to worry about my lips looking weird because she understands what I want and need. I had a facelift at 48 with Dr. Alan Matarasso, before the need for one became noticeable. At 62 I felt it was time to refresh and address the skin laxity in my neck so I had a second facelift, which was more intensive, with Dr. David Rosenberg.
Do you ever recommend plastic surgery to people if they say, “I hate my double chin.”
No never. I never bring that up. But if someone asks me, I’ll recommend my doctor. A good doctor is the secret.
What else are you working on now?
I’m the spokeswoman for Lancome’s ‘Beauty at Any Age’ campaign. They understand that I really know how to make up girls from their 20s to their 70s and it’s because I’ve lived almost all those ages. I’ve toured their stores and teach women how to use their product.
When you are at these stores, what’s the most common thing women over 50 ask you?
I get women who never learned to do their makeup in their 20s and 30s. They still down know how to line their eyes or what moisturizer or foundation to use. They missed the boat entirely. Then I get women who are really into it. They want to know the newest and the latest and the tricks.
What’s your beauty routine?
Would you say being a makeup artist over fifty is easier or harder?
Its physically harder. I didn’t realize that until a few years ago when I got my first back ache. When i was younger, I’d work on the road, in campers, even sitting in the dirt in Morocco. Today I prefer making my clients up in a chair with perfect lighting. But, I’m better at makeup now then I’ve ever been. You don’t lose the skill.
Do you face age discrimination in the business?
Yes, of course. But it’s to be expected. I’m not going to be hired to do Victoria’s Secret models on the beach. It just isn’t going to happen. And that’s fine.