MUA Ryan Whitney talks trends, highlights celebs who ‘always’ have great makeup

MUA Ryan Whitney talks trends, highlights celebs who 'always' have great makeup
Ryan Whitney (Photo Credit: Gethin Taos Photography)

Makeup artistry is just one of the many talents that Ryan Whitney possesses. Hailing from Chicago, Whitney has been in the professional makeup industry for over 15 years.

Whitney has worked as a makeup and hair stylist for McDonald’s corporation and her work has graced faces for Vogue Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and the Met Gala. She is currently a training executive and makeup artist for Laura Mercier cosmetics. She is a skin therapist and esthetician as well as the beauty blogger for

You’ve worked with Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and the MET Gala in the last year. Do you find any differences between real-life makeup application and popular Instagram makeup blogger techniques?
You know, I love looking at a client and letting her features speak to me and guide my inspiration. In real life, very rarely do you have a photographer or event producer give you a look that is hard core trending on IG (i.e. cut crease, super contour, etc.). IG blogger makeup typically looks the same to me. Everyone has the same eyebrows, everyone has created the same eye shape. Creating a slew of looks that are exactly the same doesn’t embrace the unique features of a real person.

The smokey eye was a popular trend a couple years back. What new look(s) will the take center stage this spring and summer?
A good smokey eye will always be on trend with a little tweak here and there. The way we are transforming this look for today’s trend is by using more color beyond the blacks and greys. Beautiful blues, greens, purples and even reds have been turning this long-lived trend into a more modern look.

What makeup looks will be in vogue this summer?
All things glittering gold will be in for the summer. Whether it’s glowing golden skin, lips or eyes, that golden glow will shine brightly. Another trend that will be making a strong comeback will be metallic lips. Frosted pouts will be what’s keeping the ladies “cool” on those hot summer days.

Tell us about some Black celebs who always have great makeup. 
Traces Ellis Ross — Skin is always so amazing.

Zoe Kravitz — Skin is surely kissed by the gawds. I love her natural looks.

Janelle Monae — Her cheekbones, her lips, eyes … her whole face is an artist’s dream canvas. She always has such a classic look, and it always complements her best features.

Yara Shahidi — Skin and brows on point … Always. Her makeup artist Emily Cheng knows how to keep her eye looks young, fun and trendy.

June Ambrose — Now talk about slaying a smokey eye … as she would say “#Chicisimo!”

It’s Black History Month, so we have to ask: if you could beat any face in history, who would you choose?
My grandmother was a huge fan of the ’80’s TV show “Dynasty.” We would always watch the late night re-runs. Every time I would see Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll) make her entrance on the scene, it was always a treat. Her perfect skin, her deep eyes that would pierce your soul and her perfect pout. Always so classic. Even seeing the young Diahann Carroll who is equally as striking … so much innocence with such perfect brows, lips and cheekbones. A true beauty and legend in Black Hollywood.

Looking at makeup over the years, which decade do you think had the flyest looks?
I loved the ’80s for its creativity in color, but my personal favorite has to be the ’60s. A good liner with extra lashes was always on the menu. Topping this look off with a bold red lip has truly made us deem this look as a “classic.” These staple trends from the ’60s have certainly transcended across many future decades.

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