Known for his innovative, playful use of colour and creating beautiful complexions with a few swipes of a beauty blender, Hung Vanngo has seen a meteoric rise in the make-up industry in recent years, crafting looks very few beauty virtuosos could pull off (case in point: Selena Gomez‘s statement-making hot pink smokey eye at last year’s Met Gala.)
Born in Vietnam, Vanngo and his family re-located to Cambodia and Thailand before settling in Canada, where he honed his skills and eventually became a household name in Toronto. Influenced by ’90s make-up great Kevyn Aucoin, Vanngo then moved to New York, where he began working with leading brands like Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs, as well as A-list clientele and models, including Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bündchen and Bella Hadid.
We caught up with Vanngo to discuss everything from his daily skincare routine, to his best advice for adult acne-prone skin, and the make-up trend he’ll always love.
What’s on your bathroom shelf?
“I’m a product junkie. I love Creme de la Mer, Lancer Face Polish, Lancome Genifique Serum, and the Lancer Radiance Awakening Mask. If I just want a quick mask, I have the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial for sunscreen. I also love Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Eye Cream, Tatcha Luminous Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate, Murad Invisiblur, and Dr. Brandt Pores No More Primer.”
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Your daily routine?
“My skin is prone to acne, I travel at least a few times a week, and I get breakouts easily, so skincare is so important. I wash my face twice a day and then throughout the day, if my skin feels dehydrated, I will spray the Tatcha Luminous Mist or the Midday Essence from SKII. It just gives my skin a little hydration and I always use eye cream, face cream, and serum. At night, I’ll use the iS Clinical Active Serum. It feels like you have a little burn, but actually, it’s really great for people with acne.”
You’re known for your use of colour. How do you decide on a make-up look?
“Years ago when I first started, the client always told you what they want, but in the past six, seven years, I think the client trusts me. I usually present the idea and they go for it. I always try to use the clothes as a reference and if they just wear black, that’s when we have more freedom to do what we want with colour.
“The shape of the eye shadow or the lips, it has to work in the favour of the client. Sometimes I create these crazy eye shadow shapes, but they have to enhance the beauty and I’m not doing a dramatic eye for no reason. You can go avant-garde with the make-up, but at the end of the day, the client has to feel beautiful and that’s always the aesthetic I’m trying to do. People still look at the face and they still have to recognise who it is.”
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Five make-up products you’re loving right now?
“Velvet Noir Mascara from Marc Jacobs. I love the bronzer from Tom Ford, the big one with two different shades. I tend to use the darker one because my clients like to look a more tan. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil because it’s really fine and easy to use. The new Dior Backstage Highlight palette and the Shameless Foundation from Marc Jacobs. They have a great range of shades, it has SPF, and it’s flashback-free so I think it’s great for everyone to use.”
Do you like doing natural make-up, too? We’ve seen a few bronzed looks on Emily Ratajkowski, for instance.
“I think 99 per cent of women want to look bronzed, and sexy. Emily’s quite open to make-up and I’ve done red eyeshadow and blue eyeshadow before. She is actually so beautiful and a little bronzer enhances everything right away.”
What tip would you give a beauty novice?
“One thing that a lot of people forget to do is exfoliation. It’s important to do that at least twice a week and it makes a huge difference with skin texture. Women who wear a lot of make-up and cleanse their face, it’s never cleansed enough.
“Treat yourself here and there and go for a mask. If people can’t afford serum, all of these fancy things, go with a good cleanser and moisturiser. I gave you more expensive ones but there’s one from St. Ives that I used to use years ago when I didn’t have any money. There are a lot of low-budget face scrubs.”
What’s a make-up trend you aren’t fond of?
“It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just not my aesthetic, but the stencil brow. People overdraw the brow and I’m not dissing it, but it’s something you wouldn’t see me do on one of my celebrity clients.”
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What about one you love?
“I always love bronzy, warm colours that are flattering on every skin tone. In general, most women want to feel healthy, beautiful, and sexy, so for me, I think that trend is never going to be out.”
Do you have a beauty philosophy?
“I always believe in less is more. I think taking care of the skin is the best thing for yourself. A lot of women tend to do make-up without prepping the skin and if the skin is great, everything looks better after. For me, no make-up will look great on bad skin so you have to take care of it first. That’s the key.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.