Yes, the moments just as the envelopes open, revealing the award winners, are undeniably exciting. As the cameras pan to capture every celebrity nominee’s hopeful expression, the anticipation palpably heightens and the room holds its collective breath. But for beauty and pop culture lovers, that moment happens a bit earlier in the evening, right as the red carpet opens. One of those regular award show nominees keeping the events exciting is Kaley Cuoco, whose versatile style and openness to experimentation means she could arrive in just about anything. Sunday night’s show was no exception, with Cuoco’s 2021 Emmys beauty look a romantic homage to the just-ended summer.
Cuoco’s look for the evening was centered around her vibrant, neon yellow-green Vera Wang Haute dress — a custom gown embellished with puffy floral straps, a billowing skirt, and a fitted bodice. It’s an ideal choice for the literal final few days of summer (fall officially kicks off September 22), and the complementary bangs and subtle shimmery makeup only drive the vision home further. Celebrity hairstylist Christine Symonds, who routinely works with clients like Jessica Simpson and Kristen Bell, is responsible for nearly all of Cuoco’s show-stopping moments but this artfully rumpled ponytail might be the best of them all.
Working with a team of Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights products (she’s an ambassador for the stylist-adored brand) to help style and tease out the purest blonde in Cuoco’s hair, Symonds used a clip-in hairpiece by Hidden Crown Hair for added volume, length, and shape as she formed the casual-glam ponytail inspired by the gown itself. “We didn’t know exactly what the straps on the dress were going to be until the day of, so depending on how elaborate the detail was, we knew it was either going to be a beautiful blowout or some sort of pulled back look,” Symonds explains to TZR. “We had originally thought about a low bun because a high bun would have leaned too literal towards Tinker Bell. Once I pulled back her hair in a ponytail, we all took a beat and knew that was it.”
Symonds credits much of the style to time spent on proper prep work, which she calls key for the dreamy pony. Using a combination of Clairol Shimmer Lights Thermal Shine Spray and the Clairol Shimmer Lights Leave-in Styling Treatment for heat protection and styling ease, Symonds says Cuoco’s product-infused blowout looked so good on its own, it was almost hard to follow through with the updo idea — “it gives hair such a beautiful finish.”
To add in Cuoco’s subtle extensions, Symonds backcombed the spots where she planned to clip in the seamless extensions for infallible grip and hold — even through the afterparties. But as anyone who’s ever had bangs knows, extensions are easy-peasy compared the how complicated styling fringe can be. Luckily, Symonds has a failsafe hack for that, too. “With bangs, you want to tackle them when they are freshly wet,” she explains to TZR.
“The more they dry, the more they have a mind of their own. You want to make sure to re-wet the hair if you want to control them.” For Cuoco’s own fluttery bangs, Symonds used a paddle brush to sweep hair down, then back and forth across the forehead to shape natural bends — the technique, called wrap drying, keeps bangs looking as natural as possible, too. A bit of dry shampoo is sprayed at the roots for freshness, and the fringe is flawless.
As for Cuoco’s makeup, airy and clean were the operative words for celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg, who also counts Tracee Ellis Ross and Mindy Kaling as clients. “We knew that the dress was electric,” she explains to TZR in a call breaking down the lush look. “We didn't want to compete with the dress, we wanted to just be another element in the storm. So we went for just more subtlety, really, and more of a polished, clean look.”
Greenberg is quick to mention skin prep as a key factor in Cuoco’s dewy makeup, starting with an extensive, multistep routine to get the skin smooth, soft, and primed for makeup. “I made her relax for 15 minutes,” Greenberg shares, before having Cuoco wear a CurrentBody Skin Dr. Harris Anti-Wrinkle Mask, coveted for its stress-relieving shape that unfurls tension wrinkles and relaxes the wearer. “It’s very odd but it works,” Greenberg declares, and the chilled-out shots of Cuoco, wearing the mask as Greenberg smooths on body makeup, seem to be in agreement.
Finally, with skin cleansed and moisturized, Greenberg was free to start on the fresh-faced makeup look using a horde of best-selling products and recent releases from Charlotte Tilbury. Greenberg says she was so inspired by the colors in the brand new Nudegasm Face Palette that she used the shades on Cuoco’s eyes as well as her cheeks and contour. “We used the light shade for her eyes and on the heights of her cheek,” Greenberg explains, “and then we use that peachy color also on her cheeks, and then we use the browns to contour and to shade.” The most shimmery shade was applied to the star’s decolletage and even down her legs to catch a bit more light and sheen.
Cuoco’s liner was a standout feature on the glimmery eyeshadow look, which Greenberg credits to the Charlotte Tilbury Super Nudes Duo Liner, which she says glides on with a creamy ease eyeliner beginners would really appreciate. For the lips, Greenberg opted for a new Charlotte Tilbury lip color, Matte Revolution Lipstick in Catwalking, to capitalize on its peachy tones. “I’m such a fan of the Pillow Talk collection but this had just a little bit more peach to it,” she says. “Again, we were just trying to blend in with Kaley’s natural hues and tones.”
With the makeup complete, all that Greenberg had left was to lock it all in — and she can’t sing the praises of a solid setting spray highly enough. “People don't realize setting spray makes such a big difference,” she explains, adding that she counts skin prep, proper product layering, time (about four hours, to be exact), and setting spray all play the biggest factors in determining how long makeup will last. With a few spritzes of the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray, Cuoco’s shimmery look was locked into place for a full evening of celebration.
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