Your Life your connection to The Boston Globe

Interview with Gina Brooke

She's the creative director of Shu Uemura and Madonna's personal make-up artist.

Gina Brooke, creative director of Shu Uemura and Madonna's personal make-up artist is about tour with the iconic pop diva -- making sure that she's always ready for her close-up on the Jumbotron. Before hitting the road, we asked Brooke for some make-up tips, and, of course, about Madonna's pores.

Were the mink and diamond lashes your idea, or did Madonna request them?
She's the queen of reinvention, so for me, I have to step up all the time and come up with something new. Personally, when I do her makeup, I like to keep it soft because I think she looks most beautiful when she wears softer colors. Sometimes when I put something darker on her face, it can harden her face. But at this point I wanted I do something to crown her latest achievement. I needed to come up with something new, and I didn't want to change anything about how her face looked because I thought she was beautiful. She never wore lashes until I started working with her.

I'll bet she loved the idea of mink and diamonds.
Oh yes, she did.

Were you beside yourself when you saw Madonna wearing the lashes so prominently on the cover of the new single? It's like an advertisement for you.
What's really amazing is that she is really into wearing the lashes all the time. She has two pairs with diamonds that I made her. There are stage lashes, and there are lashes for the interviews. The stage lashes are one carat, which is the one Shu Uemura and I made together. And the ones for stage are a carat-and-a-half, or something like that. She wore them on Letterman. Whenever I try to take them off she says 'Oh know, they're sticking around. We're leaving them on.'

How much can make-up transform someone into becoming an entirely different, glamourous being? Can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse with a little blush and eye shadow?
My philosophy is to enhance and define their features, not to make them look like a completely different person. Obviously, wearing make-up does help a tremendous amount. But there are very subtle things you can do to really transform and enhance a face without having to do your make-up really heavy. I'm not a heavy-handed make-up artist. For me, I always thought that less is more. If you contour in a certain way underneath their brow bone, or cheek bone, it's amazing how different a person can look.

What's one of the most common mistake that you see with make-up?
The most common mistake would be when they put foundation on their skin, they don't match their actual skin tone, so they look like their wearing a mask. And the worst part -- and the part that kills me -- is that they don't blend it into their neck, so they look a little bit like a Kabuki but with darker make-up. Also, women that wear really dark lipstick... I just don't know why some women think that looks beautiful. That can look really Gothic, and really make the face look hard. It can just bring down a woman's features. I just don't like this dark, dark brown lipstick. Black women can wear it and look great, but you can't do it on others.

I know that Oprah bought 200 pairs of your lashes after she saw them on Madonna, I'm wondering if she bought the mink version, or the synthetic?
Oh mink, honey. She's Oprah. she would never cheat herself with synthetics. I just want to let you know that at no point are animals harmed to make the lashes.

That's a relief, because I wouldn't want a bunch of minks walking around naked for the benefit of Oprah and Madonna's lashes.
We're totally against animal cruelty. The animals shed during the winter months, so we take the sheddings and we hand-make the lashes. I just want to stress that.

You probably can't answer this because she's your client, but does Madonna have huge pores?
Oh my god, you are so funny. No, she's flawless, honey. No, I'm serious. She gorgeous. She takes care of her skin. Your face is a reflection of what's going into your body and what's going on inside your body. You're talking about a person who works out every day. She drinks tons of water. She eats so healthy, and she rests, and that reflects on her skin.

I'm glad to hear she's as flawless as she seems. Oh honey, she's incredible.