Lady Gaga’s longtime makeup artist Sarah Tanno has revealed some of the singer’s most-loved behind-the-scenes beauty secrets while opening up about how they incorporated these tips and tricks into their newly-launched cosmetics brand.
In celebration of the official launch of Haus Laboratories, a makeup brand on which Gaga and Tanno have spent years collaborating on, the 38-year-old beauty pro opened up about the inspiration behind the ‘life-changing’ products, while sharing the poignant message that they hope to share with fans.
‘Makeup is kind of this really important way that we can be brave,’ Tanno told DailyMail.com. ‘It might be superficial to some at surface level, but it goes way deeper than that.’
Partners in crime: Lady Gaga’s longtime makeup artist Sarah Tanno has opened up about what it was like to work with the singer on Haus Laboratories, their new beauty brand
Unique: Tanno, 38, said that both she and Gaga, 33, wanted to use the tips and tricks they have learned throughout their years in the industry in the creation of their products
Much like Gaga, who has spoken out about how important makeup was in her life, both as a means of creating her on-stage persona, and as a kind of shield to help her face the world when she was at her lowest, Tanno believes that cosmetics have the ability to change a person’s life.
‘Even for me, when I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of friends, I never grew into my face, to be honest, so my way of finding my way was I had this sacred time that I would spend on myself to really play with makeup,’ she shared.
‘I didn’t really have a lot of friends, so that’s where I spent my time. And that’s how I discovered that [makeup] might be something for me.
‘And I know that sounds cliche but that’s the reality of it.
‘I had one eyeshadow palette from Covergirl and one black eyeliner, and I would do my makeup differently every day, and then people started to notice, and ask me to do theirs.’
When I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of friends… my way of finding myself was having sacred time that I would spend on makeup
In a recent interview with Allure, Gaga recalled how Tanno would ‘pick her up off the floor’ when she was at her lowest, and then provide her with a face of makeup that gave her the courage to go out and face the world.
‘That is the power of glam for me. Not everybody has a Sarah, but I’m very lucky that I do. And I want this line to be for the person at home who needs that pick-me-up,’ Gaga said of her inspiration to create Haus Laboratories, which is available on its own website, and on Amazon.
Tanno has also had similar experiences, when makeup helped to give her the strength to overcome whatever brutal obstacles she was facing in her life – allowing her to get up and go on with her job.
‘I had a lot of moments in my life when makeup was transformative,’ she said. ‘And many times, me having this job of being a makeup artist has picked me up off the floor when it was too hard to go on, or I was going through something really really deep and tragic in my life.
‘I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have this in my life. Changing someone else’s life and making them feel better… that feeling of someone that you’re working with, having them look in the mirror the very first time they see themselves after you’ve done their makeup, there is nothing that replaces that feeling for me.
Drama: Tanno noted that the products can be used on anyone in any way they so choose, whether it’s to create the kinds of dramatic looks Gaga is famed for, or for something low-key
Experience: The mask was inspired by Gaga’s tour with Tony Bennett, during which Tanno had to come up with a way to do quick eyeliner changes in a matter of seconds
Easy as can be: Tanno described the products as ‘fool proof’, explaining that Gaga’s own quick and efficient beauty routine inspired many products, like their stick-on wing tips (right)
‘To know that you made someone else’s day, that you got them ready, not just physically as far as they look, but you’ve also been emotionally there for them.
‘And that’s what being a makeup artist is, more times than less, you’re not just there to apply their makeup, you’re also there to get them ready for the day, or whatever they are [getting] ready to face.’
The close bond that Tanno formed with Gaga over the years certainly helped when it came to launching their makeup brand, both in terms of the ease of their working relationship, and the collaborative process of putting products together.
Tanno, who has worked with Gaga for ‘almost ten years now’ says that the pair were almost always on the same page when it came to collaborating on the brand – and in the instances that they weren’t, Tanno insists she had no problem trusting Gaga’s instincts.
‘I trust her, through and through,’ she said. ‘Even if I really sometimes may not agree, she usually proves me wrong, and she’s right. So I just have really learned to trust her. If her instincts tell her, “This is going to be the thing,” then it’s going to be the thing. I believe her.
‘[Gaga] is so hands-on, and I don’t just mean that in [that] she comes and checks in and approves something. She pours her heart and soul into everything, and that’s the way she is with every product she has ever done.
‘It was definitely an incredible process. I taught her how to make mood boards, which was a blessing and a curse. It’s kind of fun, for every job now, we’re testing colors on things, or we’re trying to name products, and we make a mood board for everything.
‘She named every single product by herself, she loves that part. It all has to make sense.’
One of the first things that the women agreed on was the ethos behind the brand – the idea that anyone and everyone could use the products, in whatever way they wanted, and still experience a feeling of empowerment and bravery.
Side by side: Tanno, pictured on the red carpet at the 2019 Met Gala with the singer, has been working with Gaga for nearly ten years
Inspiration: Gaga and Tanno’s personal makeup preferences helped to inspire all of the products, from the liquid-to-powder shimmer to the soft and buttery lip liners
‘I really want [Haus Laboratories makeup] to transform the life of anyone who touches it, because this is for everybody,’ Tanno said.
‘And honestly that’s why we wanted to do direct-to-consumer first, because we really wanted people from all over the world to be able to experience the same things, and not just the people who had a retailer to go to. We wanted it to reach as many people as we could, and we really want to change the lives of anyone who comes into contact with it.’
When it came to thinking up ideas for products, the pair were also in complete agreement that they wanted to implement all of the ‘tips and tricks’ that they have learned during their time in the industry into their own makeup – thereby eliminating the need for the pro techniques in the first place.
Born this way: Both Gaga and Tanno have been open about their desire to spread positivity through their beauty brand
‘[Gaga] felt it was really on brand to do a matte eyeliner first,’ Tanno shared. ‘And a trick she taught me a really long time ago, [that she learned] from a stage makeup artist, was that if you take a black eyeshadow and you press it in on top of your liquid liner, it will not only set it, but – because it’s matte – it will read better from far away.
‘So I thought we would incorporate that kind of a trick into our eyeliner.
‘A lot of people will ask me, tell us some tips and tricks, but what we really tried to do with this makeup is put the tips and tricks in the makeup.
‘So it’s full of the things that we’ve learned all on the countless different kinds of jobs we’ve had, the ‘no time’ that I ever have to do makeup, and really make it excellent.’
Gaga’s love of performing in a wide variety of diverse beauty looks – and the stress that this can cause backstage – also helped to inspire a very special selection of stick-on products, which Tanno attributes to an experience she had while working on Gaga’s tour with Tony Bennett.
‘She wanted all this quick change makeup. Seriously, she wanted me to do eyeliner change in like 30 seconds with a wig being put on, [while she was] trying to breathe, drink, change mics, the whole thing,’ Tanno recalled.
‘And I was standing [there, thinking], “I’m going to poke this girl in the eye! I can’t…!” I was freaking out, but I didn’t want to fail… I didn’t know what to do.’
Tanno reached out to a fellow makeup artist, Phyllis Cohen, the founder of Face Lace, a collection of unique beauty stickers.
‘I called Phyllis Cohen, and I said, “Phyllis, here is the situation, I want to give her these really fly different looks,” and we decided to do really cool stick-on jeweled shapes of eyeliners, and we used to do jeweled eyebrows and twenties eyebrows.
‘I didn’t have time to draw those on, they were all stickers, and I did them in the quick change.’
Candid: Gaga appears on the cover of this month’s Allure in which she opens up about the life-changing power of makeup in her life
Tanno used a similar stick-on mask when Gaga performed at the Super Bowl – so when it came to launching their own collection, the pair knew that a collaboration with Face Lace was something that had to happen.
‘When we did this line, it was really important to Gaga to bring some of those tips or things that she has just fallen in love with to a consumer in a different kind of way,’ she noted.
And the mask is not the only stick-on item in the Haus Laboratories range; Gaga and Tanno also created a cat eye sticker that can be used to create a perfectly symmetrical eyeliner look without all the muss and fuss that is usually required.
‘We did two different sizes, we went through a ton of different submissions trying to figure out what works great on different eye shapes, and we wanted to do something a little longer that was a flick, and something a little bit more straight,’ Tanno said.
‘We wanted it to be easy, and I don’t know about you, but sometimes with liner, it’s like you get this side right, and then this side gets bigger and bigger, and then you’re wonky…
‘This way, you really just look in the mirror, place it where you want to, connect it with your eyeliner, and it’s completely symmetrical, [and] you can re-use them.’
Tanno admits that all of their on-stage experience only served to create more stress for the Haus Laboratories development team however, explaining that she and Gaga were determined that any product to make it into the line-up could stand up to the strain and stress of a Lady Gaga concert.
‘[The development team would say that] most people aren’t sweating and dancing when they’re wearing their eyeliner, it’s just not reality. And I was like, “Well if we’re going to be using our eyeliner, it’s going to have to work! Sorry!’ Tanno shared.
‘But “Lady Gaga approved” is a claim for us. We can’t put that on the box, but it’s true.
‘It was a hard process when I was testing things, because I did test a lot of products during the Enigma show, whether it was on her dancers, or on her.
Stripped down: Both Gaga and Tanno have been very open and honest about how makeup has helped them through the toughest times in their lives
High praise: In her Allure interview, Gaga praised Tanno for being a source of comfort and support, saying that she ‘picked her off the floor’ when she was at her lowest point
Costume: The singer (pictured in 2009) has always used makeup to transform herself into Lady Gaga for a performance, or an event
‘You would never know it, but they were on there, and that was part of my process. Because if it lives through a show of that intensity, then I know the products are going to last for an everyday woman in the heat, and running up long streets, and going to a party after work.
‘And that’s important. For me, as a makeup artist, in all of the things that I have in my kit, the most important, number one thing, is that I can trust a product. If I can’t trust a product that we’re making, then it’s not going to go in the kit. It’s rigorous, rigorous testing. It’s probably the most trial and error thing that I learned in this process.’
Unsurprisingly, Gaga’s dynamic and varied stage performances not only served as the ultimate testing forum, they also helped to inspire the products and formulas that ended up in the Haus Laboratories line-up.
For example, Gaga and Tanno’s shared love of glitter makeup for any kind of public event, as well as their hatred of its removal process, is what led to the creation of the Glam Attack Liquid Shimmer Powder ($20), which can be used anywhere on the face, be it a lid, a lip, or a cheek.
This is really about you, and what makes you feel kinder, braver, whatever that is. I think it will change people’s lives, that’s what we’re here to do
But while the dazzling product, which comes in six shades, has all of the wow factor of a traditional glitter, it has none of the irritation, or the fall-out that usually comes with that kind of product.
‘It stays on when you want it to, and then it comes right off when you need it to,’ Tanno said, noting that both she and Gaga despised the lengthy, and often irritating, process of removing other glittery products from the singer’s skin.
‘Gaga and I have learned a lot together,’ Tanno added. ‘We mixed every pigment together, we tested every product together… our hand prints are all over this, and we’re really proud of it.’
One thing that both women want to make clear however, is that the makeup products in their collection are not intended only for those people who want to recreate a Gaga-style stage look. Quite the opposite in fact.
‘This makeup is really meant for everybody and I think, even more important that the makeup to Gaga is that it feels like you could really feel how much love we put into it and maybe you could love yourself a little bit more,’ Tanno shared.
‘We want you to know that this makeup is to empower you, and not just to tell you to wear as much makeup as you can, or to look like a cookie cutter of another person on Instagram.
‘This is really about you, and what makes you feel kinder, braver, whatever that is. I think it will change people’s lives, that’s what we’re here to do.’