With more than a decade of experience working in Hollywood, Olivia Munn knows her angles, her skin, and her makeup. The 37-year-old has spoken before about her struggles with acne and her journey to good skin health. In a new interview with Byrdie, she opens up about how her ethnicity has steered her makeup choices.
Munn’s striking features come from her white and Chinese background, and she goes out of her way to work with makeup artists who understand the best looks for her. Recently, she started working with Asian-American makeup artist Patrick Ta, who understands how to customize Munn’s beauty routine.
Working with Ta, Munn explains, is when she “really appreciated how makeup can transform you in different ways.” Munn says, “Being multi-ethnic has always been difficult with makeup artists and hair artists because one little thing can drastically change my face. I had one makeup artist for the Entertainment Weekly Pop Fest, but then I worked Patrick a week later at the CFDA dinner in New York; and if you put those pictures side to side, I look drastically different.”
Growing up, Munn says, it took time to understand and appreciate her looks. As a child, she didn’t understand why she didn’t have blond hair or why her eyes were almond-shaped. As an adult, she’s learned how different makeup tricks transform her features in different ways.
“Putting shimmer in the corner of my eyes can make me look cross-eyed,” she says. “There are some people who can wear any makeup style, and they will look beautiful. But for me, I can see drastic changes. Like when I work with other makeup artists, sometimes they’ll do the same thing to me that they’ve done to a lot of white girls, and it doesn’t work. They don’t understand that rimming my eye in black will just make it smaller.”
Working with Ta has changed all that, and given Munn a deeper understanding of what works for her. “I’ve felt so much more beautiful when I have been able to work with someone like Patrick who accentuates my features and does something unique, as opposed to doing the same thing he would do on Gigi Hadid,” she says. Now I understand what works for me — the almond shape of my eye, the way to open it up, the different technique.”
What works on Hadid may not work on Munn, but they both end up looking fabulous — with or without shimmer.
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Does working with multi-ethnic makeup artists really matter?
Actress Olivia Munn believes so. In the photo on the left, she says, her features are “white-washed,” while in the image on the right, her stunning freckles and “Chinese bone structure,” are accentuated. (Photos: Getty Images)
Olivia Munn arrives at the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on Oct. 27, 2015 in Beverly Hills. (Photo: Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images)
Olivia Munn attends T-Mobile Un-carrier X Launch Celebration at The Shrine Auditorium on Nov. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo: John Sciulli/Getty Images for T-Mobile)
In the nude
Olivia Munn poses backstage at the Michael Kors Fall 2016 Runway Show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Spring Studios on Feb. 17, 2016, in New York City. (Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Cool in coral
Olivia Munn attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on Feb. 28, 2016, in Hollywood. (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
A little shimmer
Olivia Munn attends a Global Fan Screening of X-Men Apocalypse at BFI IMAX on May 9, 2016, in London. (Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Pretty in pink
Olivia Munn attends The Spike TV Guys Choice at the Sony Pictures Studios, in Culver City, Calif., on June 4, 2016. (Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images)
Olivia Munn attends 13th Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards at Spring Studios on Nov. 7, 2016, in New York City. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Red-y or not
Olivia Munn attends the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 26 in Beverly Hills. (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Olivia Munn arrives on T-Mobile’s magenta carpet duirng the Showtime, WME IME and Mayweather Promotions VIP Pre-Fight Party for Mayweather vs. McGregor at T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 26, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for Showtime)
Olivia Munn attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Aug. 27, 2017, in Inglewood, California. (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)