Talking with Gina Brooke, makeup artist to the stars (like Madonna and Katy Perry)
Earlier this month Intraceuticals held a launch event at Carasoin Spa on Robertson Boulevard for its new Rejuvenate Daily Serum and Atoxelene Daily Serum, which will be available in November for $189 each at Intraceuticals.com and other retail partners. Used in tandem, the serums are said to lift, tone, hydrate and reduce the appearance of wrinkles via key ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed hibiscus esculentus extract and a peptide called acetyl octapeptide-3.
The serums were created in part to prolong the effects of Intraceuticals’ signature oxygen-powered Infusion spa treatments -- wildly popular with celebs during award season. In L.A. several Intraceuticals' Infusions including the Red Carpet Quintessential facial for $250, are available at Carasoin Spa (www.carasoin.com,  855-0105) located in the heart of Robertson’s shopping district.
But an added bonus at the event was an opportunity to chat with Intraceuticals ambassador, the delightful and down-to-earth Gina Brooke -- who also just happens to be Madonna’s makeup artist. Brooke introduced Madonna, Katy Perry and other celebrities to Intraceuticals Infusions. “Madonna flipped when I did a treatment on her,” says Brooke. “She said ‘this has transformed my skin.’”
Brooke’s trajectory into the ranks of super successful makeup artists was a fairy tale come to life. She studied fashion design and photography in New York but when her fit model, admiring Brooke’s own makeup, asked Brooke to do her makeup for a test shoot. “I loved it!” says Brooke. After the test photos took off, Brooke says, “I realized that I had an opportunity to change my destiny.” And a professional makeup artist was born.
But a move from NYC to L.A. in 2001 proved challenging: movers lost all of her portfolio photos (they weren’t supposed to even touch the box to begin with), “I was devastated,” says Brooke. “It was like beginning all over again.” People who promised jobs flaked out, agencies weren’t overly responsive and eventually came financial difficulty, “I even lost my furniture in storage because I couldn’t afford the storage!” says Brooke. But while doing laundry in her building, and planning to move back to NYC, Brooke talked with a neighbor who referred her to a young woman who was just starting an agency.
Reinvigorated, Brooke started testing with Herb Ritts’ assistant. Then the agent showed Madonna Brooke’s portfolio and Madonna called Brooke in. “My agent told me ‘Don’t act nervous when you work with her, just be yourself.’ We totally hit it off and I’ve been with [Madonna] for eight years.”
Brooke went on to invent the infamous diamond-bejeweled mink lashes Madonna wore during her disco-themed Confessions Tour (the lashes were made from hair shed by minks). Next Oprah Winfrey called and ordered 200 pairs of a version of those lashes at $1,000 each; then Neiman Marcus sold a version for $10,000. “The lashes, called Diamante lashes, became a media phenomenon,” says Brooke. Shu Uemura made Brooke artistic director and opened lash bars across the globe.
Brooke is now the artistic director for Hourglass Cosmetics, works with A-list magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair and with some of the world’s most noted photographers. “I went from totally rock bottom to everything completely changing in a day. I do believe in the power of the mind,” says Brooke. “When I started thinking that good things can really happen rather than focusing on all of those bad things that happened when I first moved to L.A. -- it all changed.”
-- Alene Dawson
Photo: Gina Brooke in action. Credit: Gina Brooke