When Bravo viewers turn on their favorite shows, they know what to expect: cat fights, backstabbing and stars so spackled and shellacked, they appear almost otherworldly. Frosted, sculpted cheeks, glossy lips, enhanced cleavage and glistening gams are all part of this high-drama, over-the-top world, where the shade is real and the contour is definitely not.
“It’s a definite specific look,” makeup artist Caroline Blanchard tells The Post backstage at “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” of the network’s now-classic makeup aesthetic. “Would you wear it on the street, to do your food shopping or for happy hour? Maybe not, but if you’re going to be on TV, absolutely!”
Blanchard, 47, is the show’s lead makeup artist and has been Cohen’s personal makeup artist for 10 years. She says that she’s been working with him for so long she could “mold his face from clay.” She’s also responsible for painting the faces of many “Bravolebs” who come on the show as guests.
“I always do what I’d call a ‘superglam’ look,” Blanchard says. The makeup on Cohen’s show is “probably closer to drag” than natural, she says, to accommodate today’s unforgiving high-definition cameras. “If you watch an early season of the original ‘Real Housewives of Orange County,’ there is such a huge difference.”
One of Blanchard’s hero skin products is the Mally Face Defender ($40).
“I love the Mally!” Cohen shouts between spritzes of hair spray backstage.
“It smooths out the look of pores and removes shine,” Blanchard says. “He takes it with him when I’m not there.”
Then there are the to-the-nines beauty looks on the network’s reunion shows — and each show’s behind-the-scenes “confessionals” — which have become as much a reason for viewers to tune in as the drama. Makeup artists to Housewives and “Vanderpump Rules” stars rack up thousands of Instagram followers in their own right, and field dozens of messages from fans requesting specifics on products used on their clients.
“I get tons of messages on Instagram like, ‘OMG what type of highlighter is she wearing?’ ” says Katie Nova, 33, who’s worked as the makeup artist to Housewife Ramona Singer and former Housewife Carole Radziwill. Nova says her secret is to use “serums, face oils and creams to prepare the skin for makeup application” so that she can use “a dab of cream blush instead of a drying powder.”
Probably the most important step to achieving Bravo’s hallmark look is to start with a flawless foundation — especially one that can withstand thrown drinks and rivers of tears.
On shows like “Vanderpump Rules,” in which cast members mostly do their own makeup while filming their daily lives, artist Jared Lipscomb, 30, says the women rely on aerosol foundations. Dior Airflash Spray Foundation ($62) is particularly popular because it gives such a smoothed-out appearance and looks natural against the busy, jewel-covered backdrop of SUR Restaurant, the main set of the show. On his “Pump Rules” client, Brittany Cartwright, 29, Lipscomb uses Shape Tape concealer from Tarte and luminizing products from Becca.
And, when things get emotional, setting spray and waterproof mascara are there to keep makeup from melting off.
After the foundation is set, it’s time to work magic on the eyes.
“False lashes are a gift to television makeup,” Blanchard says. “[Lashes] give the eye extra definition. Right now, I’m loving lashes by Lavaa [starting at $20]. If you have no time for lipstick or blush, having good brows and lashes are all you need.”
And while contoured cheekbones are a Bravo signature, the beauty trend is slowing down, or so Lipscomb believes.
“Two or three years ago, it was all about bronzer and highlighter and contour,” he says. “Now, I’m very into blush. Blush is finally having a comeback! I think it’s more important than contour.”
Sexiness doesn’t stop at the face, either: Blanchard says makeup artists often enhance whatever skin is shown on the body with makeup.
She applies coconut oil to add “a high shine” — especially on the legs, provided the talent isn’t wearing silk. Another trick: “Mixing some foundation with any body cream will add a little bit of color and shimmer to legs and arms,” she says.
“For the chest, if I want to accentuate the collar bones or shoulders, I use a highlight powder that leaves a smooth, shiny texture on the skin. You want shimmer and not glitter,” she says. “Unless glitter is a specific request. It happens!” Her go-to is Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Amrezy highlighter ($28). “It’s an epic product. I use it on everyone.”
And when the ladies all return to the real, no-cameras world, how do they get all of that makeup off?
“Our wipes are like gold to us,” says Blanchard. “We get them from Alcone, a store in the city that caters to the Broadway community.”
After all the tea that’s spilled on “WWHL,” they definitely need them.
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