Octavia Spencer's Makeup Secrets for the Oscars

How does a famous actress prepare for the Academy Awards? She did win her first Oscar Spencer for the Best Supporting Actress from The Help. You'ld think she have everyone all over her picking the dress, make-up design, and more. Yet, six year makeup guru, Valerie Noble, says otherwise- "She picks everything I just need to execute it." Fortunately, Essence picked up an interview from the makeup artist to explain her secrets to have makeup last joyful tears and hugs and kisses.

"Sunday night will be an evening Octavia Spencer will never forget. The Help star nabbed her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and while the whole world saw her teary-eyed acceptance speech from the Academy Awards stage, what we didn't see is her makeup budge one bit. That's because her makeup guru of six years,Valerie Noble, applied a flawless finish to Spencer's Oscar look that would stand up to tears of joy and lots of hugs and kisses. 

"It's been a whirlwind working with Octavia this season. It's been bigger than we ever expected," said Noble from her LA home as last night's Oscar broadcast began.

While she sat in awe of her superstar client, Noble took the time to share Spencer's makeup secrets, step-by-step notes on Spencer's Oscar look and why this awards season will be one for the record books." When you were with Octavia getting ready for the Oscars, what was that like for you?

VALERIE NOBLE: There was so much going on and so many people in the room. She looked great though. She looked really good. It's been quite a nice ride and I can't believe this is the last big awards show. It's been a long season and she's won everything. Winning tonight is the icing on the cake. It's even more spectacular because everyone loves how she looks and she's the one who designed everything. She picks her own clothes, her hairstyles, her makeup - she knows exactly what she wants. All I have to do is execute it. Walk us through the look you created for Octavia at the Oscars.



  • For the foundation I used two tones because almost everybody is lighter on the T-zone and a little bit darker around the outside of the face.
  • We used two different foundations and just blended it. I do the same with the power-I use one that's a little bit lighter on the T-zone and darker around the jaw line.


  • For the eyes, I used a little foundation to create a nude base on the lid.
  • On the inside corner of the eye, I used a copper-colored eye shadow
  • On the outer corner of the lid, I used a shimmery, smoky, dark shadow with flecks of burgundy.
  • After that, I added eyeliner and false lashes.
  • I cleaned up and filled in her brows with a dark brown eye shadow with an angled brush just to make them look extra perfect.
  • To finish off the eye, I used just a hint of light, frosty shadow right under the brow line. We never add anything under the eye-only  on the top lids.
  • Octavia has really thick eyelashes so it looks like she's wearing eyeliner underneath her eye but she's not.


  • There are three colors on the cheek-a dark brown to sculpt underneath, a red tone on the cheek and then a highlight color on top of the cheekbone.
  • In order to get the contour, I ask Octavia to suck her cheeks like a "fish face" and I swipe the darker color where the cheek is hollow.
  • Then I have her smile and I put the lighter color right up top.
  • This was a big occasion so she let me use a little shimmer on the top cheekbone but normally we keep her face pretty matte.


  • The lip is just a brown liner and we pop it with a brown, neutral lip gloss.
  • She's not going to wear flashy lipsticks. She loves a nude lip. Once the makeup is done, is there anything that you put over it to set it?

NOBLE: I apply loose powder with a brush as I go. I use two different shades of powder to match the two shades of foundation I mentioned earlier. I didn't use a translucent power because under the bright lights and in front of the camera, it can make brown skin look ashy. So after I lay the foundation, I powder and then I powder again after I do the eye shadow. Once I do the blush, I put powder over that. Right before she walked out the door, I did one last sweep with my brush. I never powder with a sponge. It puts too much product on and gives a cakey look. I always use very light layers with my brush and by the time her natural oils come through, she has a nice, natural look. When Octavia heads off to the awards shows and after-parties, does she carry a touch-up kit in her purse for last-minute fixes?

NOBLE: Yes, she takes some power and a powder puff and her own lip liner for her lips. But normally when I do her makeup, it will last for up six hours with no touch-up. 

ESSENCE: Overall, how would you describe Octavia's makeup personality?

NOBLE: She likes to make it clean and fresh. My philosophy is to make people look natural and beautiful and that's what she likes. She likes to look pretty but doesn't want to wear a whole lot of makeup. She doesn't like a whole lot of shimmer either. She knows which colors look good on her skin and that's what we go with.

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