Emir’s Camera-Ready Beauty Secrets

Emir headshot

Emir Pehilj

Beauty / / October 21, 2013

2013 08 17 14.29.52
Emir's Beauty Secrets - 2013 Breakout Session at Camp Reveille

Many of you met Joan’s makeup artist Emir Pehilj at Reveille, and some of you might have even attended or participated in his popular “Joan’s Beauty Secrets” session. 

Emir is a hair, makeup, and eyebrow artist to the stars. He launched his career in New York, as a makeup artist and eyebrow specialist at Bergdorf Goodman’s John Barrett Salon and studied under celebrity makeup artists Laura Mercier and Linda Cantello.  Emir’s resume is vast, from his personal celebrity clients like Joan, Mariska Hargitay, & Debra Messing – to his Magazine work in Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, & NY Bride – to his runway styling for designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, Christian Dior, & Ralph Lauren – to his personal clients.  Emir has done hundreds of makeovers for real women and is famous in New York City for his eyebrow shaping.  Clients have joked that eyebrows done by Emir are the most cost-effective facelift… and there’s no anesthesia necessary!

By popular request, Emir has shared some of his favorite “beauty secrets” with our Reveille community:

Years Away “facelift” tapes

Before we get started with our make-up application, I’ll let you in on a great trade secret to looking like you got a quick face-lift.  It’s called Years Away. All of the celebs that I work with absolutely love this secret beauty weapon! It consists of a set of tapes that adhere to the sides of your face (behind the hairline) and connect with a small adjustable cord that goes around the back of your head, hiding under your hair. Nobody knows you are wearing it, but everyone will say “You look great!”

Start by applying the Years Away tapes to each side of your head just behind your hairline, above the ears. If you have long hair, you can also apply them right behind your ears to tighten the skin on your neck.  Then you attach the Years Away Ears Bands to each tape and connect them at the back of your head. You can tighten the bands as much as you like, just not too tight as you want to achieve a natural look.

A Note - I advise that you put on your Years Away tapes before you apply your moisturizer so that you can handle the tapes easily, without slippery moisturizer on your hands.  This will also ensure that the tapes stay sticky so they will adhere and hold for a long time. Also, make sure when you do apply your moisturizer, not to get it near the tapes because it might loosen them up and they will not hold as tight to give you that instant lift that you desire.
The number to call for Years Away is 866-274-2797

The Foundation of your makeup

Now let’s talk about how to make your skin look as beautiful as possible. Whether you decide to wear makeup or not, you should always start and finish your day by cleansing your face and applying a moisturizer. I like a tinted moisturizer for some even color to start off with.

After applying a light moisturizer on the face and eye cream around the eyes, proceed with a primer on top of moisturizer.  On Joan, I use Murad’s Skin Perfecting Primer, which comes in glossy or matte depending on your preference.  I also like the Sephora brand primer. This will help your makeup from getting absorbed into your skin and it will last longer.

Another product I like is something called Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, which tightens the pores and brightens the skin.  You can use this before your primer, or even instead of it.

The secret to applying any foundation, tinted moisturizer, primer, or balm, is never to rub it on too hard. Apply foundation or tinted moisturizer on large areas of your face, cheeks and forehead. Blend it towards hairline, and don’t forget your neck. Make sure to blend it into your neck and chest area to avoid a demarcation line. If you’re looking for a good foundation, everyone's talking about the new Touche Éclat foundation by Yves Saint Laurent.  I always love Armani HD Luminous Silk, it provides great coverage.  For everyday wear Joan often wears Lancôme Renergie Lift Makeup with SPF.

To give some color and extra glow to your skin (depending on your desired shade) I like to mix foundation with a great product by Murad called Bronzing Boost.  Stila has a nice one too called One Step Bronze, however if you choose that product, be sure to exfoliate and moisturize your skin prior to application since it is a stain (the Murad product is not a stain). Bronzing products can stain your skin so make sure your hands are moist before you use it and wash them immediately after application.


When the foundation/tinted moisturizer is blended into your skin, then apply a concealer as needed. Concealer is used in the inside corner of your eyes from the bridge of the nose, following the under eye area and concentrating on the circles or puffiness under the eyes. (A tip to prevent this puffiness is to avoid sodium or spicy food as well as excessive alcohol consumption. Joan always avoids these things a few days before a big shoot.) Avoid using concealer on the outer corner of eye area above the cheek, otherwise it might settle into lines when you are smiling.

Make sure to use a concealer that's no more than one shade lighter than your skin to prevent from having a light "raccoon eye" look. I use Secret Camouflage by Laura Mercier on Joan. Don't cake the concealer on facial marks; just gently apply it on those areas without a lot of pressure, if you rub too much it will actually remove the concealer. Blend it gently with a clean finger around the spot you want to conceal. Again, make sure to blend it by dabbing and rolling and not smearing.

To determine what other areas on your face you should apply concealer - look at yourself in front of a big mirror and wherever you see shadows on your face, created by indentations or curves of your face - apply concealer in these areas in order to brighten them and give a flawless appearance to your complexion.  These areas will usually be around the nose, lips, between the eyebrows and under the eyelashes.

My picks:  For brightening use try Touche Éclat by YSL, this is one of Joan’s favorite products in her makeup bag. Generally the shade number 3 is the most common choice however again, I recommend going one shade darker than your skin.  Laura Mercier Secret Camoflage is good for really hiding dark spots as it provides full coverage.  Secret Concealer Anti-Cernes comes in a pot and provides a slightly less dense coverage for on the go - you shouldn’t leave home without it!  Joan uses #2 but again, this will depend on your skin color.


Now it is time to apply a cream blush.  A favorite of Joan's is Stila’s Convertible Color blush she uses a shade called Peony.  Use this on the upper part of the cheek apple, following the line of cheekbone all the way to the hairline. To find the cheek apple, smile and don't be afraid to apply it near the nose area. Make sure to dab it in -- not smear -- and use a clean finger for blending.

Follow up after the cream blush by applying a powder blush in light circular movements.  I like Nar’s Orgasm or a Laura Mercier eye protector in pink as a blush, it’s a powder texture and is not greasy.  Hold the blush brush towards the end of the handle allowing your wrist to move more fluidly and without a lot of pressure. Invest in a good blush brush with natural hair like Blue Squirrel and make sure to wash it once at least once a month with gentle shampoo (Johnson's Baby Shampoo) or an alcohol based makeup brush cleaner (try Trish McEvoy).

Set it all in place

Now you want to set your makeup. Use a translucent pressed or loose powder (Try Laura Mercier) on the T zone area (forehead, bridge and the side of nose, around lips and chin). Use a bronzer (Try Benefit’s Hoola) for defining the contour of your face (under jaw line and on the jaw, under the cheek bone, the outskirts of your face and the lightly over your nose).

Your eyes

One of my most important steps in getting ready is curling your eyelashes! Get a good eyelash curler, I like one by Shu Uemura, and make sure to be gentle.  You don’t want to pull the curler away from your eye too hard or it will pull your eyelashes out. Make sure to angle it towards the outside and inside corner allowing the eyelash curler to curl corner eye lashes from the roots.

Next comes mascara. I always apply waterproof mascara when doing Joan’s makeup so I can feel confident that it will never run.  Most make-up artists rely on Maybelline Waterproof Mascara in "Very Black". Concentrate on the roots of your eyelashes, making sure it's on the skin between the eyelashes. This will help your eyes “pop,” creating the contrast against the whites of your eyes. Finish by pulling the mascara through to the ends, also concentrating on your lash tips to give your eyes fullness.

Now we’re ready for eye shadow. Apply an eye base primer (Joan likes one by Laura Mercier) all over your lids to camouflage the darkness and start with an even palette. If you don't have darkness, you can also use a cream eye shadow (try Benefit creaseless cream eye shadow), concentrating next to your eyelashes. If you smeared any mascara on your eyelid while applying mascara at the roots, use the cream eye shadow to clean and cover it. The moisture from the cream eye shadow will help the mascara to blend in with the eye shadow. Use your finger to blend the edges of your eye shadow so you don’t see an abrupt line. When applying cream eye shadow, I recommend using a nylon brush.

For Joan's eyes I add the powder eye shadow (Laura Mercier"Matte") on the outside corner above the eye crease, which opens up her eyes.  I also smudge some underneath her eyelashes like an eyeliner.  To give more definition, I add a liquid eyeliner above the eyelashes (le Métier deBeaute - Precision Liquid Eyeliner Black) I also use Laura Mercier cavier eyeliner in Midnight blue (almost black but a littler softer look) or in Chestnut Brown.

Pucker Up!

Before you apply lipstick, stain or gloss, you might want to use a product like Estee Lauder Lip Zone just above the lip to fill in any tiny lines.  This will make your lipstick stay in place and not bleed onto your skin.  If you want to try to get rid of these lines forever, I recommend using Murad’s Time Release Retinol Concentrate daily.  It really helps get rid of them!

Finally add a stain on the lips.  I like Tart "Nectar".  I like stain because it won’t disappear every time you lick your lips. For more color add more layers of a lip stain. Continue with a lip primer (Sephora makes a nice one) and then light sheer lipstick or lip-gloss. I love Georgio Armani’s sheer lipsticks, also Sephora and Avon have less expensive versions of the sheer lipsticks that are great.

Emir’s Other Do’s and Don’t

  • Stay away from frosted lipsticks, frosted lip-glosses and frosted eye shadows, it’s not flattering or chic.
  • When using shimmer powders, avoid the T-zone area because it tends to stick out and you will look overly shiny or oily.
  • To avoid a smeared look I like to use Andrea pre dipped wands to clean up, especially around the eyes after applying mascara. Clean makeup is attractive makeup.
  • Always make sure your eyebrows are groomed to perfection without looking over plucked. Just follow your natural shape and use small correction to give yourself more lift by arching your eyebrows. Avoid waxing your eyebrows as over time it will speed up the loss of elasticity of your skin.

Source: Emir Pehilj,

Categories: Beauty, Beauty Tips
About The Author
Emir headshot

Joan’s go-to hair and make-up artist, she jokes that she “doesn’t leave home without him!”  Born in what was then called Yugoslavia, Emir Pehilj comes from a small town near Dubrovnik. After completing his education in Europe as a hair stylist, Emir launched his career in New York, assisting Serge Norman and Gavin Harwin. Emir has also worked as a makeup artist and eyebrow specialist at Bergdorf Goodman’s John Barrett Salon. He studied under celebrity makeup artist Laura Mercier and worked with the famed Linda Cantello. With the guidance of these beauty professionals, Emir developed his own techniques. His talent and experience catapulted him into the world of haute couture. Emir has done hundreds of makeovers for real women. He is most renowned for his eyebrow shaping. Clients have joked that eyebrows done by Emir are the most cost-effective facelift…and there’s no anesthesia necessary! “I find inspiration in the women I work with.  A client will find that I’m able to enhance her look while staying true to who she is.” –Emir

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