Chat with a Pro: Makeup Artist Favorites

Earlier this month I asked a few of my favorite makeup artists and hair stylists from Tokyo and San Francisco a question: On set, what’s the one hair or skin product you absolutely cannot live without?

From classic to obscure, here are the absolute must-have, makeup artist favorites– straight from the mouths of the pros.

Creme de la Mer moisturizer and Smashbox Light Photo Finish primer.”- Rona De Castro Basa

SF based MUA Rona De Castro Basa is the beauty genius behind this super femme wedding shoot. (P.S. Her eyelash work is truly stunning…)

La Mer is synonymous with soft skin. Before moving to Tokyo I used in for years and loved it as an eye cream, or an all-over night cream during the drier months.

Smashbox is a long time cult favorite, and after launching 14 years ago, still remains a top choice for photoshoot skin smoothing. The founders are the great grandsons of Hollywood legend Max Factor, and their Smashbox Studios remain a mainstay in the L.A. fashion/editorial shoot scene.

You can see Rona’s work and find out more about her here. 

“I love Temptu SB. It’s amazing, especially for base make up.”- Yuki Haba



Yuki Haba is a Tokyo-based fashion MUA and Temptu master. When he’s working, his level of precision is off the charts, yet he still manages to be super fun to work with.

IMG_0113-682x1024 10348206_543444885764834_3849937696814059992_n We did a job for BeautyWorld last year where he took his mad Temptu skills to the next level. His love for edgy, sexy shoots shows in his creative choices.

Straight up: When it comes to pro-beauty, Maria Lee can do anything.

“Powder or blotting papers for makeup and thick styling cream for hair to get the flyaways.”- Maria Lee

Literally ANYTHING. Super vamp sexy? Yep. Gory special effects? Oh yes. Bridal? It’s what she’s famous for.


Victory rolls and matte flawlessness. The girl’s got talent…

Her organic spray tans are the stuff of legends in San Francisco, and everyone I know who’s worked with her absolutely adores her. Why? She’s super pro (her home studio is every girl’s makeup dream) and has that coveted MUA gift of pushing beauty boundaries and still making it look perfect.

Blotting papers are everywhere, but lately I’ve been digging these ones from Kyoto-based Chidoriya– Nars’ head of global artistry James Boehmer loves them.


For loose powder Chidoriya also makes a colorless setting powder that reminds me of Koh Gen Doh. Natural, Japanese, classic. And hey if it’s good enough for geisha…

Luna Yoshikawa is part of the Tokyo dream team at No. 3 , the top creative agency in town. A sought-after hair stylist (read: book her waaaaay in advance) Luna’s done countless shoots for fashion, TV, and editorial. Communication wasn’t an issue for us on our test shoot with Yuki because the girl speaks fluent Beauty.

“I love Prejume styling wax by Milbon. For straight hair, I use a polish spray, like Silky Fog Nigelle LaFusion.”- Luna Yoshikawa



Harder to get in the States, but you can find them here and here.

Sarah Dean is not only a super amazing MUA but a total girls’ girl. I love her Instagram for product tips and general life inspiration. She’s a wife, mom, and full-on beauty junkie. 

Her pick? Fix It spray.  It’s a setting and hydrating mist. Makes makeup feel like a second skin..and sets makeup too!”

Atsuko Ohtsu is the Tokyo MUA responsible for the pretty on countless TV and film projects, as well as the beauty lead for the commercial we did last year. 




Her answer?

“It’s difficult to choose… but for hair it’s Elnette satin.”- Atsuko Ohtsu

I think this one gets nods from around the table. Some things are just universal. 😉


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