16 Time-Saving Products the Grammys' Head Makeup Artist Has in His Kit


(Image credit: Getty Images)

We all know the feeling—the sheer panic of waking up and realizing A) we slept through our alarm, and B) we now have exactly seven minutes to brush our teeth, get dressed, slap on some makeup, and pray today's traffic situation doesn't have a personal vendetta against our fast-approaching 9 a.m. meeting. Stressful, right? Now, multiply that chaos by, oh, about a million. Then maybe, just maybe, you'll understand the pressure and excited frenzy of celebrity makeup artist Bruce Grayson's job. He's been the head makeup artist at the Oscars for 17 years running, and this year, he'll also lead the beauty department at this Sunday's Grammy Awards.

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Having had the privilege last year of meeting Grayson in person (and learning 10 really cool backstage beauty secrets), I know what a phenomenal talent Grayson is when it comes to A+ makeup application while remaining calm, cool, and collected during a hectic award show. As the head makeup artist, he leads a 20-to-40-person team each year that's collectively in charge of managing the makeup looks and potential beauty mayhem (tears, sweat, the like) of performers, presenters, and anyone else gracing the stage that evening. It's a big job, but if anyone is qualified, it's Grayson.

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Having practically grown up backstage in Hollywood while his legendary makeup artist father, Dave Grayson, tended to the iconic likes of John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, and more, Hollywood glamour is woven into Grayson's DNA—a blessing considering the amazing amount of know-how it takes to prep, repair, and ready celebrities to flawlessness in record-breaking time. In an effort to familiarize ourselves with the Grayson's process, his favorite go-to products, and his last-second under-five-minute makeup application tips, we decided to pick his mind. Ahead, the time-saving makeup items Grayson swears by during award season, how he uses them, plus more interesting tips we learned from the man behind the dazzle of the shows. Keep reading!

The Products He Uses Over and Over Again

The Products He Uses on Every Skin Type and Texture

What You Won't Find in Grayson's Kit


(Image credit: Courtesy of Bruce Grayson for Who What Wear)

"For the most part, you won't find heavy, full-coverage foundations or ultra-matte foundations in my kit," Grayson tells us. "There are so many ways to achieve transformational makeup. I like using products that allow a bit more flexibility, are buildable, and which allow a gradual dramatic appearance as opposed to laying it on heavy from the get-go and then having to add highlighters and shimmer to pump glow back into skin."

That being said, Grayson explains that not all award shows are created equally, and what he packs for this Sunday's Grammys will differ greatly from his Oscars stash. "The Oscars is a different makeup creature from the Grammys," he starts. "I use more audacious eye shadow colors, bolder lashes, and brighter lip colors at the Grammys. You have to be ready to move from ultra-dramatic or super-funky, or maybe something edgy or goth."

The Products He's Carrying That Weren't in His Kit Last Year

His 5-Minute Makeup Application Process

Step 1: Apply Moisturizer, Not Primer

Step 2: Eyes

Step 3: Concealer, Powder, and Blush

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.