When most people think of Jay Manuel, they think of Mr Jay, Creative Director from America’s Next Top Model, but you’re actually a makeup artist. How did you get into beauty?
I was attending NYU as a classically trained singer, but dabbled in makeup for fun. My voice teacher at the time was being photographed for a shoot, so asked me to do her makeup. On the shoot, the photograher asked me to work with him on some other shoots and I just thought it would be a good way to make some extra money. I never thought it would grow into what it's become.
You started working really closely with the model Iman and doing her makeup on a regular basis, what was that like?
Iman and I have been friends for 18 and a half years and she's been a mentor throughout my career. I’d been working with so many different celebrities, but she was truly an icon in the industry. It was crazy, because I had stuck one of her Revlon ads on my bedroom wall as a teenager and then I started working closely with her. She helped take my career to the next level. I remember it so well, I was getting her ready for an event and Iman and David (Bowie) both suggested that I should move into creative direction, so I started working with clients, hosting shoots and helping to cast models.
Your beauty line, Jay Manuel Beauty, launches very soon on QVC. Which product do you recommend everyone invest in?
Definitely my Skin Perfector Foundation, £38. It does two things; the silicone creates a smooth surface and doesn’t settle into large pores and fine lines, then the micronized silk absorbs unwanted oil without stripping and drying the skin. It creates an immeditate soft focus effect. Everybody will love it.
We can’t not talk about America’s Next Top Model. Most of us have grown up with it on our screens. Straight to it: who’s been your favourite girl?
Oh my goodness, are you really asking me that? There have been so many great girls. I will say though, that I used Anne from Cycle 2 in the campaign imagery for Jay Manuel Beauty.
What was your favourite shoot for the series? You did so many amazing ones at the end of each episode, which one was the best?
That’s 18 seasons of work! I think my favourites were from Cycle 2. Tyra, the producers and I were talking after the first season, and I just knew that the first shoot of the new season had to be in water – something that people would talk about. My other favourite is the Adam and Eve shoot where the models were completely nude. Their bodies had been painted to represent different types of Eve. It ended up being really controversial.
Let’s chat about your hair. It’s the perfect silver hue. How do maintain it?
Originally, I was inspired by a comic strip of Flash Gordon. His hair was silver and I thought that was so cool, so I just went with it. Everyone would ask me why I was dying my hair grey and now everyone wants to be grey! I have a great colourist who does it every 12 to 14 days. I actually have a salon in my home – I had to because it’s not fun trying to do your hair in your own bathroom – rinsing it out, washing and drying it.
What are your top three beauty tips?
1. A lot of women want that beautiful thick lash that requires a lot of application, but don’t want to get it on their skin, so my tip is grab a plastic spoon, cup it outwards so it squeezes right down to your skin, wedge it underneath your lashes and then go to town. You’ll have the lashes you want, without any residue on your top or bottom lid.
2. If you only have 15 minutes to do your makeup, grab your bronzer and start at the top over your temple, follow your hairline and then around your cheekbones and then down onto your jawbone. It creates a 3 shape on one side and an E on the other. It brings instant dimension to your skin.
3. If you’re trying to give your face a little bit of colour, take you lipstick or a lipstain and blend it right onto the apples of the cheek. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.