A swipe of cobalt blue mascara and braided Mohawk are the norm when it comes to Dakota Johnson's red carpet beauty repertoire. It's this fearless attitude, both onscreen and off, that makes her one of the most highly anticipated talents, and one we look to for endless beauty inspiration. The actress, now starring in a little film called Fifty Shades of Grey, counts two of the most in-demand beauty veterans, hair stylist Mark Townsend and makeup artist Pati Dubroff (alongside legendary fashion stylist Kate Young), as regular members of her glam squad. The team's collaborated with the actress to bring about some of the most show-stopping red carpet moments in recent memory. In the days leading up to the film's release we spoke with Dubroff and Townsend to glean insight on their genius plans for the US. leg of the Fifty Shades tour. Unsurprisingly, it's momentous.
How long have you been working with Dakota?
Pati Dubroff (PD): I started working with Dakota about 8 months ago. I met her briefly when she was 3 years old! Long story...
Mark Townsend (MT): We’ve been working together for a little over a year.
PD: The look for the Golden Globes was really beautiful and I also love the bright lip we did for The TODAY Show first fan screening when she wore the fuzzy white sweater. More to come!!
MT: I think my favorite look would be from the Gucci event from November. It was kind of like a braided Mohawk. She showed me two reference pictures that she liked and we just kind of picked apart what we liked of each one and created that crazy braided Mohawk. She’s a very visual person, which I love.
What have been your beauty inspirations for the press tour (so far)?
PD: Dakota's beauty is the inspiration. Her skin is flawless so we always keep that clean and minimal and then put emphasis on a feature. She can do all about eyes (but we NEVER blank out her lips when doing eyes, always keeping the lips no lighter than their natural rosy tone) or do a strong vibrant lip.
MT: Kate Young, her stylist, has the greatest wardrobe I’ve ever seen. There is a real theme to it, so I don’t want to do anything to even influence anyone from picking it up!
PD: I do tend to go for the "grey" eye pencil, forgoing a brown or black.
MT: Anyone who read the books knows that she gets her hair braided. I had no idea about that, but now I feel bad that I didn’t read the books. I only realized after the fact, when somebody pointed it out, but her braid from The TODAY Show wasn’t intentional at all. It really was what we all thought would look best with the outfit.
It looks like she could’ve even done it herself.
MT: Exactly! It’s just one step up. I tend to go towards what a girl can do. My favorite part of my job is taking what I see on the runways and interpreting it for how that would look great on my clients, and it's easy enough for girls to try it out at home. So I love that.
What designer inspired this look?
MT: Chanel! I loved that Chanel braid from the couture collection. That braid started very very low, but I wanted to show off a little bit of her neck, so I wanted it to be a little tighter in the back, so I just lifted it up. I think braids are such a trend that they’re not even a trend anymore—they really are a mainstay in hairstyling because it’s something women can do on themselves.
PD: I have been fortunate to see it TWICE already. The first time was thrilling and titillating, the second time I could really appreciate the beauty, the sets, the lighting, the bodies—so beautiful. The movie is funnier than I imagined, much more real that I thought knowing the books. The biggest revelation is what a HUGE TALENT Dakota is. She is going to blow people away!!
PD: I think the important thing for Dakota is fresh skin, a healthy flush of blush, and defining eyes in a way that opens them. We are really loving elongated cat eyes like we did for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Dakota likes to forgo lipstick for a bit of balm and a lip pencil that matches her lipcolor (Kevyn Aucoin medium ($25; nordstrom.com) is a perfect shade). This way the lips are defined, filled in, and hold without lots of waxy layers.
MT: I always start with her damp hair and use a volumizing spray (Townsend prefers Dove Oxygen Moisture Root Lift Spray, $7; drugstore.com), all over her hair and then I blow dry with a round brush or a Mason Pearson. I always, always, always apply dry shampoo for finishing instead of hairspray, especially in her bangs. Any woman with bangs knows that that hair just gets touched all the time, and even moisturizer can sometimes make your bangs look not so fresh. Dry shampoo is a must with her.
Dakota is an effortless kind of beauty—she’s drop dead gorgeous—and her hair’s never really fussy. I’d always rather show Dakota’s beauty than have her be super on-trend with a hairstyle. I’m so inspired by Jane Birkin. She pulled off that fringe so beautifully, and it kind of always inspires Dakota’s hair, I mean, at least for me. I don’t know if I’ve even discussed it with her or not! She also has a really great haircut—a fringe and she’s got amazing face-framing layers that open up her face in a really great way.
Once the press tour’s over, do you think she’ll go back to blonde?
MT: I don’t know! She did just lighten her hair. In the movie it’s quite dark, so Tracey Cunningham just gave her gorgeous highlights for the press tour, and they’re not super chunky. They look really natural. I think it kind of brightens her up a little bit. I don’t know if she’d ever go back to blonde though.