Lissette Waugh, founder of L Makeup Institute, on putting your best face forward

Lissette Waugh always has been drawn to the art of beauty. As a young girl growing up in Las Vegas, she brought her makeup obsession to a not-so-glam spot called Smith’s and Vons. “Back then, there was no social media. All you had were the magazines like Vogue,” Waugh says. “Every month, I’d go to the grocery store and purchase every single fashion magazine.”

“I’d tear out all of the beautiful images of Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista — women I loved so much — and hang them on my bedroom walls,” she says. “Cindy Crawford was a big influence. I was born in Cuba and related to her dark hair and skin tone.”

Waugh, 47, says her obsession with beauty has never faded. In fact, she’s made a career and business
out of it as the owner and education director of L Makeup Institute and L Makeup Cosmetic Store, located in Tivoli Village. Her mission? “Everybody loves makeup. It crosses all demographics,” she says. “We want to look and feel beautiful, especially in a glitz and glam city like Las Vegas.”

Her beauty-guru journey began at home with her mother, who encouraged Waugh to pick up a blush brush. “My mom never took her makeup away from me when I was a little girl trying it out. We were always experimenting and doing hair,” she says.

“I loved how it transformed you into a different person and, yes, made you feel older.”

The only problem in those days was makeup was created mostly for white women. “The women on those (magazine) covers were an inspiration, but it was very hard to find makeup to match ethnic skin tones. It was mostly for those with fair skin with pink undertones,” she says. “I’m proud that the industry has come so far where ethnic women don’t have to look pink or ashy anymore. It’s changed to where now there are a full range of colors.”

Waugh attended Chaparral High School and later became an aesthetician and makeup artist at Neiman Marcus, making sure the models were camera-ready for trunk shows. She also did stints as a makeup artist at salons inside Bellagio, the Palms and Hard Rock Hotel, where she gave plenty of famous faces — including Paris Hilton, Salma Hayek and TLC- their Vegas look.

L Makeup Institute, which Waugh founded in 2010, teaches what she calls “makeup artistry. We teach all the different styles of makeup, from airbrushing the body to special effects makeup to just plain glam and beauty. There are so many different shows and needs in Vegas. It’s such a glamour town.”

As for what’s trending in 2019? “It’s all about a dewy and shimmering look,” she says. “The other key will be pulling the makeup back a bit.”

Get those mascara wands out and prepare to do some magic, as Waugh shares a few more tips for upping your beauty game.

A new line on eyeliner

“We’re avoiding eyeliner and using shadow as a liner on the lid,” she said. “You use the same shadow that you use on your lids — just one color — and create a thin line on the upper and lower lash. It’s a beautiful look especially if you use a glowing, copper bronze on your lid and then bring it underneath the eyelashes.”

What’s age got to do with it?

If you’re younger, Waugh says you can go with a brighter shadow, including the more vibrant pastels. “A lot of younger women will wear bright turquoise,” she says. “When you’re younger, you’re able to get away with trendy looks. If you’re a bit older, skip them and go for what works.” As for blush, she says to figure age into it, too. “If you’re older, don’t go toward a shimmer blush, which makes wrinkles and pores look more pronounced. But if you are younger, do the shimmer glow blush right above the cheekbones in pretty colors such as peach. Older women can do the same with a more matte tone that doesn’t have the shimmer. Remember that with blush, your goal is for your cheeks to have that just pinched look.”

Gloss over those kissers

“Gloss is making a comeback because everything has been matte,” Waugh says. “I also like a nice, cream lipstick, especially in the desert, so your lips don’t get chapped. Almost every line has amazing colors in creams, but also wonderful nudes and reds. Becca just came out with a whole new line of reds that are amazing. It also has wonderful nudes in a wide range of colors, such as pink nude or true beige nude.”

Know when to go nude 

“The rule with nude lips is you should have another part of your face as the focal point. If you do a nude gloss, then make sure your eyes pop, so you don’t look like you’re dead!” Waugh adds, “If you do red lips,
then do light eyes.”

Cool it with the mega lash
“Lash extensions are still in,” she says, “but don’t glop on the mascara. The shadow-with-shadow as liner is such a pretty look that it just needs a bit of mascara. You don’t want a harsh look.”

Don’t leave home without it
A busy mom of two sons, ages 17 and 22, and grandmother to a 1-year-old, Waugh says she never leaves home without a little color.

Her favorite brands include Becca, Nars and Makeup 4Ever. “I always put something on my face,” she says. “I don’t ever leave home without makeup on. I’ll have a lightweight foundation that I’ll wear on the weekends and I always put something on my eyes, plus a little mascara,” she says. “I usually do a lip tint or gloss with a tint. It makes my lips look nice and soft. “I wish I could go out without anything on my face, but I never could or will,” she says. “I always have that fear I’ll see that one person, which is why I put nude blush on my cheeks.”