When we interviewed Sandy Linter not long ago, we were fascinated by her story, her career, her vintage, yet modern and sometimes trendsetting photos. Sandy Linter is the makeup artist who made the history of makeup in New York, of which she is the undisputed queen.
For us it was simple, we wanted to find out everything about her: the products in her kit, the ones she prefers to use on herself, and the ones she prefers for her clients, her skincare routine and some tricks that only those who have experienced the “boom of makeup” would know.
We met her in New York, of course, and we talked with her about how the industry has changed over the years, we peeked through her products and spoke about her great passion for a certain person, named Pat. Tips, live tutorials, and some surprises; don’t miss our feature with one of the best makeup artists of the past, present and most likely the future: Sandy Linter.
Picking up from our first interview…
The last time I told you I was going to teach a class in Portland, Oregon, and I did that. And I was asked back, so I did it twice and it was very fulfilling for me.
And then I did a 100-people class at Industria for Mac Cosmetics, on Washington Street, downtown in Tribeca: it’s an old classic studio from the 90s, and I used to work there from time to time and every supermodel worked there in the 90s. It was that kind of place, all the photographers shot there, Steven Meisel shot there, everyone used the Industria. I was given a class for a hundred people and I said, “who are the people that will be in the class?” and they said “people who love Mac.”
I love Mac because in the 90s it was really the go-to brand of every makeup artist, they were the first brand to give makeup artists discounts, huge and important discounts, and that’s important. You can’t buy all the stuff, it’s constantly replenishing and constantly about getting the first ones, so they gave out a card that proves you’re a makeup artist.
Can you tell us something about it?
I talked about my life experiences, about what it was like at the beginning of my career and how I walked through all four decades, it’s a long time. Almost fifty years!
And are you still happy?
I still enjoy doing this!
And then I still work with Christie Brinkley, my clients are now in their sixties. As long as I keep getting booked, I’ll keep going to work.
“As long as I keep getting booked, I’ll keep going to work.”
And how do you think the industry has changed over the years, what is the main change you have seen?
So many changes! I can only talk about that for me personally. In the beginning, the industry was so small. The makeup artists, the hairdressers, the photographers and the models, I knew every single one in the world. You open up an issue of Vogue and look through it these days and I don’t know anybody. I know that Rihanna is on the cover but inside I don’t know the photographer, I don’t know the stylist, I don’t know anyone.
So, it’s a huge, huge, huge industry and it’s fabulous. I carved out a little tiny niche for myself by making up women over fifty, for which I did “The Makeup Wakeup” book. And my first book, of course, it’s called “Disco Beauty: Night-time Makeup” for all the young, fun people. It’s just a small niche but now everyone wants the makeup even over fifty. Even I kept saying to the woman I did work with, Lois Joy Johnson, “isn’t fifty too old? Shouldn’t we say only over forty?” And she said, “oh no, no, it’s fine.” So, I do have to give her credit for that.
“…my first book it’s called “Disco Beauty: Night-time Makeup” for all the young, fun people.”
Can you tell me what’s your skincare routine?
Well, it changes.
I’m very lazy about skincare, I’m coming from the generation of using makeup, so makeup was my go-to: if I wanted to make my skin look healthy, I’d use this makeup; if I wanted to give myself a blush, I would use that makeup. I never focused as much as I should have on skincare. But I have been using over the last twenty years, maybe, the La Mer products. And they are all that they say they are.
So, I use either the Liquid La Mer during the day or the La Mer’s Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream at night, but I’m not that fussy. I don’t use a special cream for my eyes, and I know I should, but I don’t.
And recently I found this product, the La Mer Cleansing Micellar Water. Because, as of me, I used to use the makeup wipes to take off lots and lots of makeup, but something happened: my eyes became sensitive. Not to the product: I just, in general, have got sensitive eyes. That stuff is the bomb, it removes all the eye makeup. I have never found something that removes all the eye makeup, something would always be left in the morning, that wasn’t good for me because I have dry eyes.
And then I like the Luminous Dewy Skin Mist from Tatcha, too. This is a new product and they have great night creams as well: I guess it’s a cream that you could use day or night, but this is something else I added to my routine. Before I do makeup, you give a little moist to the skin with the Luminous dewy skin mist, followed by the moisturizer and then by foundation.
And during the day you could use it as a touch-up. It’s a very fine mist. Some of them squirt or spit, but this one is just lovely.
“I’m very lazy about skincare, I’m coming from the generation of using makeup, so makeup was my go-to… But I have been using over the last twenty years, maybe, the La Mer products. And they are all that they say they are.”
Tatcha is famous for the primer, too, which is like a balm.
I have an issue with primers: if your moisturizer works well and your foundation, which I’m using now on myself, the Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish in Light Medium 10 – the colors and the textures of Pat McGrath are all great – is great, you don’t need it.
There’s only one that I’ve ever used and that I like and that works, and it’s from Dermablend: the Insta-Grip Jelly Face Primer. And the only reason I use it is because some women tell me, “no matter what moisturizer I use, if I have oily skin, my makeup disappears.” So, I use this, and it sets the makeup. It’s kind of a sticky jelly, you spread it on the skin and it keeps the makeup on for those very, very long days.
The texture looks a bit weird, but what it does is, it makes the foundation grip onto your skin without making you look old.
Now there are so many other primers that are just confusing to me, they’re too white, they lighten up and they change the color of the foundation. I just don’t like them, I only use this primer from Dermablend, you spread it and the stickiness goes away.
What about facials?
Well, living in New York City you do have to bear facials from time to time because it’s a gritty city. But I’m not a very well maintenance on that either.
What’s your go-to makeup look?
This morning I was wondering if I could figure out what you were going to ask me, and this is what I did today. I don’t know if it’s a go-to because I change it every day, but here is everything I used this morning.
This is my lash curler, this is my eye pencil, this is my eyeshadow box for today, this is my mascara. The Ever Ez Trio lashes from Kiss are my lashes for today, I always wear fake eyelashes, I’m addicted to them! These are very expensive, and I wore it only for you, I usually use cheap ones. [laugh]
And this is a highlighter that I love, the Glass Glow Face by Kevyn Aucoin, and this is the color for today: nude. The mascara is MAC, this is a really good one. Eyeshadow base by Mac and this, by Pat McGrath, is kind of fabulous. Have you tried the single shadows? She sells the single shadows and the kits: the kits are fine, but these are so good.
She has a blue and a gold that are way too good. The first time I put it on, it was so heavy because a little bit goes a long way.
“Pat McGrath, is kind of fabulous. Have you tried the single shadows? She sells the single shadows and the kits: the kits are fine, but these are so good.”
And this is the blush I use, the MAC’s powder blush in Prism, and then the concealer. The thing about concealers is that, if you have good-quality skin, you could use a strong concealer if you have to. But once you’ve got wrinkles, you can’t use a strong one, you’ll have to use something very lightweight. The Armani High-Precision Retouch Concealer is excellent, you could kind of pinpoint where you want to put it.
And then, naturally, brushes are important. Every so often I come up with a favorite brush. This Kevyn Aucoin brush I’m using blends the concealer and it goes in beautifully where it gets really dark and my finger can’t get in.
Some people’s eyeshadows fan out during the day, especially in the corner of the eye. Laura Mercier made this little powder, the Secret Blurring Powder for Under Eye, and you can put them on very well with this brush.
You are so young, you won’t have to do it for another fifty years [laugh], but sometimes eyeshadows break up. So, you can use this as an eyeshadow base or on top of the shadow if you want.
“The Armani High-Precision Retouch Concealer is excellent, you could kind of pinpoint where you want to put it.”
What do you use to prime the eye?
Every day I use on myself and most of my clients this Mac shadow called Painterly: it goes directly on the lid and it sorts of sucks up any extra oil that you might have on it. And I use the brush, too. But the eyeshadow I used today is kind of interesting because I don’t know if you can tell but I used a brown on the inside and a brown on the outside. And like old fashion days, you’d put the highlighter in the center.
That’s how I used to do it and then drag the shadow out on the side: it’s dark on the inner, dark on the outer and light in the center. That would be like 1972.
What about contouring?
Contour is also big right now. You know, I did it incorrectly my whole life and I still do it incorrectly. I just look at a face and under the check I put a little bit of deeper color and right there a little bit of cheek color, but a lot of the times I don’t do that, I just take and use a bronzer – this is a good one by Serge Lutens: the Complexion Perfector in medium, everyone could wear this.
So, sometimes, instead of doing a contour, I use just the bronzer. Then I make sure I go to the temples and maybe down the side of the nose. But this is a good one, an excellent shade that works on a lot of different people, and it’s bronzer as contouring.
“…it’s dark on the inner, dark on the outer and light in the center. That would be like 1972.”
What are the must-haves in your kit?
This is it! I’ll pack it up and use it.
Charlotte Tilbury has great shadows. I probably love all of them and my clients do too. And the Make Up For Ever Artist Color Pencils are the best: they are all so good, I have every single color.
Charlotte Tilbury’s stuff is easy to work with, it works well on everybody! She really did figure out the game: I have used her foundation and bronzer and they are both lovely. She has created products that are for the masses and they work well on everybody, Pat McGrath upped it, took that up. She said, “oh you think that’s good? Check this out.”
Charlotte just did it perfect and safe: she was too safe, while Pat just went in for the kill. Oh my God, she’s just great. The difference between Pat McGrath and Charlotte Tilbury is pigment. Charlotte made a pigment that for people is easy to work with, while with Pat you have to be careful, but that’s exactly everything that makeup artists want. So, they can regulate how much, how heavy it’s gonna be.
Have you ever thought about creating your own makeup line?
No, I didn’t. Years ago, there was a suggestion that I’d do that, but I think I’d have blown it. You have to be a businessperson; I never was a businesswoman. I took the easy way out.
What about eyebrows?
I like very natural eyebrows; I don’t think I’ve ever changed them. Oh, no, I did! When I had just started in the early 70s, the look was to have no eyebrows, so I bleached mine out white. And everyone would have blonde or white eyebrows and the look was fabulous but if you keep putting bleach on top of eyebrows, the hair disappears: all of them ended up without eyebrows and that was horrifying.
The eyebrow pencil that I use now is by Troy Surratt, the Expressioniste.
And do you have a jet lag beauty cure?
The only thing that cures jet lag is sleep. They say you’re not supposed to drink, I mean, I do everything all wrong. I’ll have a drink when I get up. You’re not supposed to drink on the plane, either.
“The eyebrow pencil that I use now is by Troy Surratt, the Expressioniste.”
What do you think you have too many of in your kit?
Eyeshadows! I love eyeshadows. Actually, when I was putting all this stuff out, I was like, “I have too many shadows.” [laughs].
Have you always lived in New York?
Yes, I was born in Brooklyn; as a kid, I lived on Staten Island and then I moved here when I was about 17 years old.
Was the city inspiring, also, during your career? Maybe it’s only a feeling, but New York is full of energy.
Yeah. I couldn’t have done it anywhere else in the world, there is nowhere else. Because the photographers, the models, and the whole business was here in New York. It wasn’t in LA, nobody was in LA. I couldn’t even earn a living in LA.
All the actresses would be here, the only thing they had in LA was the movie industry. But not photography, it was here. Nothing was going on in LA.
“I couldn’t have done it anywhere else in the world, there is nowhere else.”
Your favorite fragrance?
Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle.
Bath or Shower?
I have a small-ish one-bedroom apartment, I’ve been living there for thirty years so I kind of like it. I like the idea of taking a bath, but I can count on a hand how many times I did it. You have to have the time, you have to be in the right frame of mind. That lifestyle just never happened.
What does “feeling comfortable in your own skin” mean to you now?
Well, because of my age, I guess it’s being true to myself. Recently I went to Bloomingdale’s and I bought an Alice + Olivia’s leopard pantsuit. I saw it and I knew right away, “yes, I’m going to wear that when I teach my class at Industria for Mac.” So, I put it on and it fit like a glove. When I bought it, it never occurred to me what the guy at the cash register might have been thinking, like, “where the hell is this lady gonna wear this?”
The thing is, I didn’t look at it as being age-inappropriate. I looked upon it as being something that is going to be great where I’m going, and I don’t care, you see what I mean? Because it can be.
This morning I just put false eyelashes on a woman who is in her sixties: it was to camouflage the fact that her eyes looked tired, and I said to her, “if I put those eyelashes on, you’re gonna look happier, you’re gonna look brighter and your eyes are gonna be bigger.” She was worried because she’s in her sixties, and she was worried it wasn’t fully something for her age, but she went for it and it worked.
If it doesn’t work, then that’s a different story. But if it works, it doesn’t matter.