Beauty Lessons From An A-List Make-Up Artist
Beauty Lessons From An A-List Make-Up Artist

Beauty Lessons From An A-List Make-Up Artist

Lady Gaga, Priyanka Chopra, Sydney Sweeney and Paris Hilton... These are just a few of the A-listers who turn to make-up artist and Haus Labs global artistry director Sarah Tanno when they want to look their best. Her on-screen and red-carpet looks are legendary, so we jumped at the chance to talk to her about everything from favourite products to the one step she’d never skip.
By Rebecca Hull

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Make-up has always been my passion. I’ve said before that it isn’t just a part of my job; it’s a part of me. I think about it all the time and it’s certainly what’s led me to where I am today. I started my beauty career at Sephora when I was 16. From there, I worked at several beauty counters before heading to cosmetology school. It was there that I learnt everything about make-up – for television, film, special effects and photography.

I am fascinated by the transformative power of make-up. I’ve always seen it as a way to be who you are or want to be. You can use products to help you escape a little, and to help you to feel like a better version of yourself. That’s very empowering.

My first beauty memory was watching Kevyn Aucoin on TV. It was the 90s, he was working backstage, and I was fascinated. It was the first time I understood that make-up artistry could be a real job. I knew immediately that I needed to pursue a similar path. 

Lady Gaga is MY MUSE. I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to collaborate with her for over ten years – she really CHAMPIONS ARTISTS from all walks of life.

My route to success hasn’t all been plain sailing. Often people assume it happens overnight but I didn’t make money for a long time. I was constantly working different jobs to help fund my progression – but I knew it was worth it if I wanted to end up in my chosen career. If you want to be a make-up artist at a high level, you have to really grind. 

Lady Gaga is very much my muse. She inspires me all the time and is the best creative partner you could ask for. I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to collaborate with her for over ten years – she really champions artists from all walks of life. That’s important to me and certainly something I’ll be doing myself as my career evolves. 


Trusting your instincts is essential. Whenever I am in a time crunch, I go back to my initial vision. There’s a lot to be said for trusting your gut – both in your career and personal life. I actually have ‘live my eyeliner and breathe my lipstick’ tattooed to my arm – it’s a reminder to trust myself. All that said, it’s important to put trust in your team too – the looks require teamwork and I’ll never forget that. 

Sephora is my favourite place to shop. I guess I am biased because of my start there, but I really recommend it if you’re looking for guidance around products – the experts are unrivalled. It’s the best place to discover the latest trends in any beauty category and find new, niche brands that you might not see in your typical stores – I love having a play with Marc Jacobs Beauty and also the likes of Josie Maran. You can’t beat Sephora’s fun face masks either.

Winning an Emmy for American Horror Story was a standout moment. I’ve had so many career highs, but that was a real moment for me. Similarly, the first time Gaga introduced me as her make-up artist to a group was a pinch-me moment. 

Skin prep is the best beauty tip of all. If there’s one thing I think everyone should do, it’s take the time to prep and exfoliate your skin – and lips. A flawless complexion is the star of the show – no matter what make-up look you’re creating. If you can nail that, you will always manage to get a great look. Use a liquid exfoliator – often these are gentler – to whisk away dead cells and brighten skin, but also use a good mask. I love the ones by 111SKIN and try to keep them in the fridge as, when they are cold, they help to give the skin that tighter look and feel.

Skin tools can make a big difference. I swear by LYMA light red therapy. It helps to smooth and plump the skin, while also dealing with breakouts. It’s great for stimulating collagen, and boosting overall firmness. I also swear by Face Gym’s Gua Sha for stimulating muscles and improving lymphatic drainage – it’s perfect before the red carpet.

Other tools I rate are good old-fashioned make-up brushes. Some of my favourites for foundation are by Haus Labs – they are so versatile – but I also love Ray Morris and Hakuhodo for eye make-up. They are so precise and easy to work. I also recommend the original Beautyblender. If I want to refresh make-up or give it a dewy, luminous effect, I’ll dampen my sponge and dab it over the foundation. It’s so versatile and can be used with powder too, which helps to set everything in place. Use the ‘blend and bounce’ technique, bouncing it gently across the skin rather than sweeping or dragging it.

I don’t have a signature style. I believe in shaking things up. One day I love doing super-creative looks, on another I like a slick of moisturiser and some lip balm. It’s important to know when to walk away.

Skin prep is the best beauty tip of all time. USE A LIQUID EXFOLIATOR to whisk away dead skin cells & BRIGHTEN YOUR COMPLEXION. You'll always get a great look if your SKIN LOOKS FRESH.

A matching foundation and concealer is essential. That might sound obvious, but it’s something a lot of us get wrong – they need to work together and match your undertone. At Haus Labs, this was a big consideration when developing the products. We tested and validated our foundation on over 350 faces to ensure we got it right for every single undertone. There are six shade families and several different undertones in each section. It can be trial and error, but a good way to find your own undertones is to look to your veins. Those with cool undertones tend to have blue/purple veins, while deeper skin tones with cool undertones will have less warmth in their skin. Those with a neutral undertone will have a mix of blue and green veins. This is a very loose guide, but it sets you on the right course when shopping for your make-up.

The Haus Labs Lip Oil is my desert island product. Why? There’s nothing worse than that dry, tight, chapped feeling – and this is the best for boosting hydration, while giving lips a subtle plumpness. 

Make-up should make you feel comfortable and confident. When doing your make-up and shopping for products, my advice is to wear the look and not let the look wear you. It should make you feel great – if it doesn’t, things may need switching up. Often, I am asked how people should get out of their comfort zone, but really, if you don’t want to, you don’t need to. Make simple tweaks instead – wear a tiny bit more colour or mix up your blush and lip placement. It doesn’t need to be extreme to be playful.

Shop Haus Labs by Lady Gaga, exclusively available at Sephora.

Follow @SarahTannoMakeUp for more inspiration & beauty tips.

Rayan Ayash


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