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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Two of Hollywood’s most sought after make-up artists join forces in Dubai

Rea Ann Silva and Mario Dedivanovic are in the UAE to introduce cult beauty product Beautyblender to the Middle East market.
Rea Ann Silva, the founder of beauty blender with celebrity make-up artist, Mario Dedivanovic, in front of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Courtesy Anna Nielsen for The National
Rea Ann Silva, the founder of beauty blender with celebrity make-up artist, Mario Dedivanovic, in front of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Courtesy Anna Nielsen for The National

“Welcome to the pink palace,” says Rea Ann Silva, who is decked out in a black mermaid gown and signature black cat-eye glasses, as she approaches guests at a function near Jumeirah Beach in Dubai.

The restaurant is backlit with bright pink lights, and the Burj Al Arab is lit pink for the occasion, a sign of this woman’s influence perhaps?

Silva is one of Hollywood’s most sought after make-up artists and the founder of cult beauty product Beautyblender, and she is in town with make-up artist to the stars Mario Dedivanovic to share her Beautyblender Pro collection with the Middle East.

Dedivanovic and Silva share a similar story — both entered the beauty industry working with fragrances: Silva as a perfume model and Dedivanovic as a perfume consultant. Then they found their calling: make-up artistry.

Silva went on to achieve entrepreneurial success with a product line that has earned her more than Dh400 million in sales, while Dedivanovic is one of the most popular celebrity make-up artists worldwide. He is the make-up artist of choice for Kim Kardashian, and hosts masterclasses, like the one that took place last month in Dubai, around the world.

The two are notably humble and grounded. Despite being linked with reality-star royalty, Dedivanovic is softly-spoken and gracious, and Silva repeatedly expresses how grateful she is for her success.

The inspiration for Silva’s Beautyblender was born out of necessity — as a make-up artist working for film and television when HD was just launching, she was forced to come up with a way to adapt the make-up application for the high-definition screens.

“I was using the triangular pie wedge — the plain white generic disposable ones. When you do make-up for film and television they teach you to cut the edges, because the sharp edge leaves a line of demarcation so when you bevel it, it softens it up. So I just took it way further and was cutting those bevels into teardrops.”

So, when did Silva realise she could make a business out of her sponges? “When they started sprouting legs and walking away,” she says, explaining that they’d disappear off sets, into the pockets of actors and other make-up artists.

“So, the idea to sell them to other make-up artists — I never thought at that point that it would be a consumer product.”

Beauty enthusiasts worldwide have become loyal customers, especially since the product has been endorsed by celebrities including the Kardashians, the Jenners and Selena Gomez to name just a few.

They’re intended for foundation application and are known to help achieve a flawless, airbrushed look. “It’s a combination of the shape being edgeless and the material that’s hydrophilic, it gets softer and bigger when you wet it. And it’s that softness combined with the shape and the pore structure of the sponge that really mimics the perfect skin,” says Silva.

While her original Beautyblender was produced in a hot pink colour, Silva’s latest Beautyblender Pro range is black — partly, as homage to her make-up artist peers, who are known to always dress in black.

“One of my challenges was that some men that felt funny about a pink sponge being used on their face, I know it sounds crazy, but I would get feedback saying can you make one in a masculine colour? Also, long-wear make-up stains and leaves little stain marks on you pink sponge even after cleaning,” she says. “Being a make-up artist everything has to be clean and hygienic, and black kind of absorbs all of the colours.”

She tells me that the beautyblender is a very organic tool – there’s no wrong way to use it (as long as it’s wet), and that it’s helpful for women who may be intimidated by make-up application.

This is when I tell the pair, meekly, that though I’ve purchased the peaked, egg-shaped tool from Sephora, I’ve never actually used it. Dedivanovic seems incredulous, and proceeds to guide me through the process.

He says to wet it, and once it’s big and soft, squeeze the excess water out, towel-dry it, dip the point into my foundation and then pat it onto my face. “It’s not going to look as natural if you just apply your foundation with a brush,” he says.

Dedivanovic reveals one of his beauty tricks, which uses the device to help achieve a natural glow. “I’ll often spray it with a dewy product and apply it just to the areas where I want them to shine.”

The makeup artist says that at his masterclasses in the UAE, women often reveal that they like a heavy makeup look, and as the hot day wears on, they keep piling on more product. “A great thing for women here is the Beautyblender Blotterazzi,” adds Dedivanovic. “Instead of adding more powder throughout the day, use this to absorb oil and your make-up will remain fresh.”

“We call it the great refinisher,” pipes in Silva, whose range is available at Sephora stores across the Middle East.

hlodi@thenational.ae