Why None of the Victoria’s Secret Angels Wore Highlighter on the Runway

Backstage at the Victoria’s Secret 2018 fashion show, there was a lot of pink (the rug, the chairs, the tablecloths). There was a lot of bling and a lot of hair extensions (more on that in a minute) but what was decidedly missing from makeup tables and the models’ faces was highlighter. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, however, found a way to get the models’ skin to glow without the sparkly stuff.

“The stylist for the show, Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, wanted the girls to glow and their skin to look fresh, but she said she hates glitter,” Tilbury told me backstage before the taping of the show. So the makeup artist had to devise a way to make the girls look radiant without any obvious-looking shimmer on the skin.

She did that with a mix of skin-care products and creamy, sheer makeup, all of which came from Tilbury’s own line. (Her product line was basically made for the Victoria’s Secret show. No, really, Gisele was the inspiration behind her Wonderglow product.)

Candice Swanepoel prepares backstage for the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8 2018 in New...

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Tilbury sent each of the models walking the show her Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask to use the week leading up to the show, then slapped one on their face the minute they sat in the makeup chair. “The mask really gives them a dew and then we put the Magic Cream on top of that,” Tilbury explained. After that came a strategic layering of lots of sheer, liquidy-type base products: Wonderglow, which is luminizing primer, followed by a bit of foundation and concealer where needed, and finished off with her Hollywood Flawless Filter, which she either mixed with Magic Cream and applyied all over the face, or applied it only where needed. “Flawless Filter was perfect for getting the effect we wanted because there’s no shimmer, it’s just this smooth complexion booster,” said Tilbury. “It looks a bit metallic in the tube, but the way it reads, it just makes you look glowy and healthy.”

British model Stella Maxwell prepares for the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in hair and makeup backstage on...

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Final touches to the skin included a bit of contour courtesy of Charlotte’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow Contour Duo and cream blush, which was a combination of her Beach Lip & Cheek Sticks in Las Salinas (a medium rose pink) and Ibiza (gilded bronze) that, when mixed together and applied on the cheeks and across the bridge of the nose, gave a sun-kissed effect. “I want it to look like an Ibiza sunset on their faces,” Tilbury mused.

A model gets prepped backs

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As for the lips, Tilbury applied the Victoria’s Secret Velvet Matte Cream in Showstopper, a shade quite close to her famous Pillow Talk hue, and topped with gloss.

Liu Wen poses before the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8 2018 in New York City.

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“The casting is the most diverse casting that they’ve ever had at Victoria’s Secret show,” said hairstylist Anthony Turner (who’s done the hair backstage at the show for several seasons now). Because of that he wanted to keep the models’ hair as natural-looking as possible, regardless of texture, but still make sure the various styles felt right to coming down a high-octane runway like this one. “As always, all the models’ hair looks very, very luxurious and quality, but it still has a cool factor,” added Turner.

Model Sara Sampaio prepares backstage for hair and makeup at 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November...

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The styling process depended entirely on the models’ hair types. Spirals were giving extra spring with the help of small-sized curling irons, short styles and natural textures were zhuzhed up and topped with product to shine, while long, straight and wavy hair was given the bouncy Victoria’s Secret blowout. “We’re putting product in the hair, blow-drying it smooth, and then using the largest curling iron that Conair has,” explained Turner, who was supplied with loads of hot tools from the brand just for the show. “We want more of a wave instead of a curl so we’re going diagonally — taking our sections diagonally and then going back, away from the face because of the fans at the end of the runway so we want everything to go back easily.”

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