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Hollywood Makeup Artist Reveals Glam Secrets of Reality TV Stars

California beach-inspired hair is relaxed glam
California beach-inspired hair is relaxed glam | © Chelsea Fern/Unsplash
Hollywood makeup artist Michelle Quaranta speaks to Culture Trip about how to create glamorous hair and makeup looks for some of reality TV’s most popular personalities.

In 2010, Michelle Quaranta moved to Los Angeles with the goal of creating hair and makeup looks in film and television. From humble beginnings working at a Smashbox cosmetics counter to her current gig at Bravo TV, Quaranta persevered to distinguish herself in a competitive field, in which beauty is the name of the game.

“I auditioned for [hair and makeup on] Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and after a test shoot, was asked to stay on for the entire season,” Quaranta recalled. From this first big break into reality television, the makeup artist soon received referrals—a cornerstone of success in the crowded Hollywood hair and makeup field.

Michelle Quaranta and Bravo's Andy Cohen Courtesy of Michelle Quaranta

Following Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in 2011, Quaranta found a home at the Bravo TV network. There, she works on the series Vanderpump Rules, a reality show about 20- and 30-something aspiring models and actors who moonlight at SUR and Pump, two of Los Angeles’ hottest restaurants, both owned by Lisa Vanderpump of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

“It’s been really fun to see the cast grow up,” she says of the SUR staffers. “They evolved to wear less makeup,” a Hollywood trend, she notes, that allows for more skin and less coverage.

Michelle Quaranta's makeup kit Courtesy of Michelle Quaranta

“When they first started, [the cast members of Vanderpump Rules] were young and having fun,” Quaranta said. “They didn’t have worries. As they got older, they started to realize the importance of hydrating, or getting a facial. As a result, makeup goes on more flawlessly. These days, they’re all about letting their natural skin come through.”

Trend watch: Moisturize now, less coverage later

Quaranta adds that investing in a good moisturizer and taking care of your lips—”you need to exfoliate and hydrate your lips, especially if you wear matte lip gloss, which dries them out,” she advises—are two major trends she’s seeing right now in Hollywood makeup.

California's on-trend natural, glossy lip © Anna Sastre/Unsplash

Trend watch: Boy brow

Another trend on Quaranta’s radar is a strong brow. “As we age, brow hairs disappear and your brows lose the shape and color that enhance the eye and shape of the face.” To counter this effect, Quaranta suggests a treatment you can book at your local spa.

“Microblading for brows is very popular right now,” she says. Microblading, a process by which an aesthetician uses a tool to hand-draw little hairs onto your brow area as a semi-permanent tattoo, is the preferred method of brow enhancement because “you can overdraw [brows] if you do it yourself with a pencil.”

Brow tinting is another, less expensive option. “It’s an inexpensive way to maintain a brow and lasts up to three weeks,” says Quaranta. “It’s great for those who change their hair color often.”

Makeup artist Michelle Quaranta applies makeup to Vanderpump Rules' Tom Sandoval Courtesy of Michelle Quaranta

Trend watch: Textured hair

It’s no surprise that beachy waves are on-trend in California, where a laid-back vibe dominates all non-red carpet events. “Braids, beachy waves, and any kind of texturized hair that looks unfinished is popular in Hollywood right now,” says Quaranta.

Texturized hair backstage at Bravo Courtesy of Michelle Quaranta

Trend Watch: Paraben-free products

Clean beauty is having a major moment in the international beauty scene, but organic skincare and makeup don’t often end up in an artist’s kit, according to Quaranta. “Organic products have a short shelf life, so they expire quickly. It’s really expensive to carry all organic products on set.” However, she does work mostly with paraben-free cosmetics (that don’t contain chemical preservatives).

Makeup artist Michelle Quaranta applies makeup to Vanderpump Rules' Ariana Madix Courtesy of Michelle Quaranta

Trend Watch: Lashes

No matter how light the coverage is, bold lashes are a must. “Lashes and more lashes are it,” says Quaranta. “As long as you have a good set, you’re cool.” From easy-to-apply falsies to extensions you can have applied at a spa, investing in dark, prominent lashes will give you a Hollywood look. Quaranta also likes any L’Oreal mascara, for your drugstore budget.

California's love affair with lashes isn't over © Haley Rivera/Unsplash

Quaranta works on Vanderpump Rules and is currently working on a new Bravo project set to launch this August. She also does hair and makeup for the E! series Botched.