Behind the spotless and bright faces of the silver screen, there are the talent and the expert hands of Simone Belli, the make-up artist of internationally renowned stars. Originally from Valmontone, in the province of Roma, since 2007 Simone has been National Make-up designer with L’Oreal Paris and since 2010, with his team of experts, he has been incessantly travelling from set to set, to festivals, events and backstage of the shows. Academy trainer, but also beauty tutor in the afternoon show Detto Fatto, broadcast by Rai2. MANINTOWN has tried to snatch some precious advice and rituals for an impeccable beauty routine for men.
Throughout your professional path you have studied art, do you apply it in your profession?
I have always drawn, since I was six. I became familiar with art since a very young age, through the encyclopaedia “I Quindici” and I still remember one of the volumes focussing on painting. When I was around eight I approached that world, which I then rediscovered in my professional life. When an art expert looks at how I use my brushes and mix shades, and the first thing they ask me is whether I paint, without even knowing anything about me or my background, this is my biggest satisfaction. Even the international artist Piero Casentini defined my profession as painting, owing to the elegance and harmony of the make-up I created for his sister, featuring a chromatic contrast between red-purple and acid green, which may be regarded as risky by some. I have always stated that all that has to do with colour, with art, with sensitivity, is inborn. A gift that no one can give you. You cannot become what you are not. In my academy (Simone Belli Makeup Academy, Rome), we invest a lot on the artistic development and awareness of the students, also through exhibitions, fashion films, music, etc. It is hard to say how much this actually works, as, unfortunately, 70% of those who approach this universe only seek fast revenues, which I regret, because there is a mistaken understanding of this sphere, it is not merely about applying an eye-shadow or contouring the lips with a pencil, or colouring them, it is an art, just like dancing or singing, so one ought to have a natural penchant for it. One more thing that taught me a lot is university, not so much from a cultural perspective, but as a life lesson that taught me sacrifice and method.
Is there a timeless beauty canon?
Beauty is timeless. Fashion changes our perception of beauty. In the past there were the famous “icons” to be emulated. Today we are more focused on finding ourselves, making the most of our assets. The biggest mistake one can make is to always hold the classicism canons as a benchmark, hence perfect harmony, which do not suit everybody. Men, today, tend to be the copy of women. When a man approaches beauty, he often does so obsessively: the eyebrows are impeccably, excessively, outlined, the same goes for the beard, while hair is super polished. All this leads to a loss in masculinity, hence charisma, sensuality and, ultimately, sex appeal. Which does not mean that man should not treat their skin with care, but that we should not fall into excesses. Timeless beauty is never too artificial, on the contrary it involves enhancing a specific feature, which could even be a flaw. We often tend to relate to magazine covers, where everything is very fake, the people we see on a cover are not like that in everyday life. There’s a lot of confusion between real life and glossy covers.
Your daily beauty routine?
Above all, as far as men are concerned, I can say that today we get much more help to camouflage little flaws, the effect can be a 80%, sometimes even a 100% camouflage. There’s more skin-care and beauty-awareness among men nowadays, and there are many more specific products for men. My personal face-skin-care is painstaking, while I tend to neglect the body. For the face, I often chance my personal skin-care routine, but what needs to be done properly and on a regular basis is a good cleansing. In this period, I am alternating two treatments, a morning and an evening one. In the morning, I use Clarisonic, a cleanser that reduces excess sebum, which I have chosen owing to its handiness; a serum by Kiehl’s, which I alternate with Crème De the Mer or a light vitamin fluid and a retinol eye balm. Without a good cleansing ritual, which removes the most superficial layers of the skin, applying a moisturizer, even the costliest, is pointless, as they cannot act in depth. At night, I prefer to use richer products. The absolute must-haves for me are by a line, Gernetic, that is exclusively sold in specialized skin care centers, consisting of two lotions: one is called Synchro, with a very thick and greasy texture, to be used with Immuno, as, together, they become active and their healing properties, as well as thickness, are boosted. These two combined-action products sooth and totally regenerate the skin, indeed they are also recommended to treat burns. I apply them at night, at times as a compress, leaving them on all night long. While I can alternate the other products, these two have been part of my skin-care ritual for ten years. Once a month, for a week, I apply a powerful vitamin serum cocktail by SkinCeuticals and a laser treatment that boosts skin brightness, treats enlarged skin pores, softens little wrinkles, stimulates the fibroblasts, though without transforming the face as Botox does. At home I have a do-it-yourself kit, which I take with me when I travel and use before important events: a mandelic acid peeling, with a light formula. I recommend it to all the men, but also women, with dull skin, and also after sunbathing. Then I have a ritual for when I am travelling: in my beauty case I always keep the Kiehl’s Cactus Flower face mist, and a lip balm. Last but not least, I use a wealth of integrators, under the guidance of a naturopath.
A must-have product for a man
The mandelic acid, because it stimulates the collagen production, it also eliminates the perception of enlarged pores, it reduces skin dullness, softens the wrinkles, and gives superbly glowing skin.
The key steps to look great, also when in a rush?
Every day I apply a primer mousse, which I have developed in the laboratory, which is a lightly coloured perfecting skin product with a natural look, after that a sort of marker, which I use for the eyebrows, absolutely natural and imperceptible, to emphasize the contrast of eyebrows and eyelashes, then I apply Blistex on my lips and I’m ready go out.
Are there any new, innovative and absolute go-to products?
The products that I prefer are the Kiehl’s serums, they include a range of outstanding products for men, among which those for beard care, very trendy nowadays. For men who want to spend a bit less, the line Men Expert by L’Oréal Paris is a really interesting alternative. Market research has shown that the men prefer products that are easily applied and high-performance, yet I make no distinction between man and women in terms of moisturizer, it is important to choose the right one, according to one’s skin type.
A beauty secret you snatched from the backstage?
As crazy at it may sound, but it is often used for face compresses, a cream for intimate areas, which is highly moisturizing: these products are very hydrating, hence they hydrate the face skin very deeply, especially the wrinkles. Another thing, which in my opinion does not work, is the Preparation H under the eyes. We use the Ageless pink clay vials with an active ingredient that acts as a tensor and instantly removes bags under the eyes, dark circles and wrinkles. I wet the face with water and then I dab the content of this vial on the area to be treated. One ought to learn to handle it, as, being clay, it tends to turns white. Also the anti-perspiring foot lotion is frequently used on the face, only for special occasions, like fashion shows, so that the models’ face does not sweat under the spotlights. These are last-minute secrets for special occurrences, not to be used on a regular basis. Another product that is used is the soothing Fissan Paste for children, which is just amazing for after-sun compresses, or to sooth irritated skin.
If you were to create your own line, which would be your main ingredient?
I am actually developing my on line in the lab. The choice of ingredients is the hardest thing to do, as some ingredients are not legal in Italy, hence they cannot be used. In terms of moisturizers, I’d never relinquish the vitamins (A, C, E) concept, which can be extrapolated and developed in many ways. As regards the make-up, things are more complex. In general, I don’t like strong fragrances and I like Made in Italy products. What I am trying to achieve with my line, both in terms of make-up and skincare, is the WOW-effect. Two new masks have just been launched on the market: a commercial one, the black one, and a white one. The latter is a highly-hydrating alginate to be left on for 5 minutes and, when it is about to dry, I have prepared a minerals cocktail to be sprayed on the face, that forms a film and interacts on the skin hydrating it and minimizing the enlarged pores. Once you remove the mask, the skin is gorgeous, compact and dazzling.
Who would you NEVER make-up, and why?
I don’t like to apply make-up on people who don’t like make-up. When I apply make-up on someone, there is an exchange of energy. As crazy at it may seem, when a person does not enjoy being made up, she/he can be annihilating, so I prefer not to do that. In general, I don’t like to apply make-up on tanned skin, as I don’t get a chance to create all my shade contrasts.
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