August 22 2014

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Beauty 411: Troy Surratt



Makeup artist Troy Surratt’s résumé is the stuff of beauty legend. His first big break: assisting makeup icon Kevyn Aucoin. “I worked with him exclusively for the last three and a half years of his life and I took such pride in assisting him. I would read letters from young people everywhere who would express their dreams of working with him…I still feel like the luckiest guy in the world to have had that experience.” Add to that Tarte, the cult-favorite brand he teamed up with Maureen Kelly to launch, plus stints as a consulting makeup artist for, followed by drugstore giant Maybelline New York—credentials that make Surratt eminently qualified to launch his own beauty line. Well, the day that many a beauty insider has dreamed of arriving finally has; Surratt’s eponymous luxury makeup line launched exclusively in Barneys this month (an aside, it’s going fast!). Inspiration for the hyper-modern products came from repeat visits to Japan: “Right after Kevyn’s death, I took my first trip to Tokyo, and the things I discovered were so inspiring we started going [annually]. I’ve been going back for ten years now.” Combing the beauty aisles in Japan convinced Surratt that there was no better place to birth his line. “One of the things I was so taken with was their attention to detail, quality, care, and cleanliness, so the cosmetics are so pure.” The resulting products are elegant studies in innovation: Powders and shadows are slurry-processed (poured as a liquid that then evaporates, leaving powder behind) instead of packed forcefully into tins, to impart a velvety texture; mosaic-style color palettes are entirely customizable; an auto eyeliner based on Japanese calligraphy brushes is super-sharp and resists bleeding, making it a must for graphic eyes. And a clever eyebrow pomade lifts and holds brows, drying to a matte finish with no sticky residue. All of them are worthy additions to your beauty trove. Here, the makeup maestro himself shares some of his own favorites.


“Of course I love all of the classic beauty icons any other gay guy would name: Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren. Being a child of the seventies, the beauty icons I noticed first were Cher, Farrah Fawcett, Linda Carter, Bo Derek, Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, and Olivia Newton-John, then in my early teens I became obsessed with Boy George, Annie Lennox, Duran Duran, and ultimately, Madonna. The new romantic and new wave movements taught me a lot about the power of hair and makeup to reinvent and express oneself creatively.”


“I am so lucky that my partner in life and business is the extraordinary hairdresser Nathaniel Hawkins. But as the old saying goes, ‘The cobbler’s kids have no shoes’—it seems sometimes that I’m the last client to get on his schedule and my haircuts almost always end in a squabble because I don’t sit still enough. The hair products I use are all by Oribe; I love the way they work, smell, and look sitting in my bathroom.”



“I am obsessed with fragrance! I recently sat on a panel at Barneys with Frédéric Malle and I was so honored and nervous. I must admit that I geeked out and gushed a bit, but he was incredibly kind. One of my personal Malle favorites is Dans Tes Bras, and I love Lipstick Rose because it smells like makeup. I also have quite a few fragrances by Serge Lutens and Byredo. I joke that I’m a like a little old lady because I love white florals. Lily of the valley, rose, and violet are some of my favorite notes. Those three flowers just seem so quintessentially French to me!”



“I love to go for massages at Great Jones Spa. It’s great because they give you access to their sauna, jacuzzi, steam room, and cold plunge pool, before and after your massage. You can make a whole afternoon of it. My only complaint is that living in New York City, I sometimes feel like I’m stressed out again by the time I arrive home.”

29 Great Jones St., NYC, (212) 505-3185,


“I always try to take good care of my nails and hands. I consider it a necessity because I am constantly touching people’s faces. My ultimate luxury is having a manicure by my dear friend, celebrity manicurist Elle, whenever possible. She does an exceptionally perfect job.”


“I love yoga, but I find that many yoga classes in New York City are too athletic or competitive. I go to hatha yoga at Integral Yoga Institute. Yoga is a practice that connects body, mind, and spirit, and going there feels more spiritual to me than yoga classes given at most gyms.”

227 W. 13th St., NYC, (212) 929-0585,


“For a recent significant birthday of mine, Nathaniel and I traveled to the south of France with a couple of our dearest friends. One of our stops was Avignon, where we stayed at a hotel called La Mirande. It was truly beautiful and magical. I highly recommend it…I can’t wait to go back there one day.”

4 Place de l’Amirande, Avignon, France, 33-4-90-14-20-20,


“I visit my dear friend and client Dr. Lisa Airan; she is a true aesthete who has such an appreciation and understanding of beauty, so I completely trust her. She gives me regular peels and I often do Gentle Waves treatments; it’s a light therapy that stimulates collagen production. As for products, I am a longtime devotee of Crème de la Mer. I have used their products both personally and on my clients for years. My very favorite is The Concentrate. It leaves skin feeling amazing, and is a great prep/primer for makeup application.”

910 Fifth Ave., NYC, (212) 400-0999, See


“I try to have at least one green juice or green smoothie a day. I love the Green Monkey from Organic Avenue. And I take vitamin B12 drops that I buy at Whole Body under my tongue for extra energy when I’m traveling a lot for work.”


Photo: Courtesy of Troy Surratt; Barneys New York

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