About 111 million people watched the Super Bowl this year in America. I’m not American, and I don’t like football, but I did tune in for the halftime performance by Lady Gaga, and can safely presume I was not the only one to do so. The makeup artist responsible for crafting the singer’s look – which, in addition to being watched in HD by millions, needed to hold up through an aerial show – was Marc Jacobs Beauty ambassador Sarah Tanno. In an exclusive Canadian interview, she tells us about the process for deciding on the makeup direction, what it was like backstage and the exact products she used beneath that crystal mask. 


How did you come to decide on the makeup looks for the show?

We wanted everything to feel of the moment yet timeless — we have been dreaming of this moment for years. My inspiration for Gaga’s makeup look was…Gaga. I looked at every era from her career and created something that felt iconic to Gaga and just elevated it into something new. I wanted her to be able to look back at this 10 years from now and have it feel timeless. Also, after seeing the custom embellished Atelier Versace looks, I focused on a colour palette that would complement the iridescent and pearly pieces.


What direction did Lady Gaga provide about the makeup look?

We’re usually on the same page. It was a casual conversation that started with agreeing we wanted a red lip. Next I just started trying things on her in rehearsals to see how it looked on stage and with her choreography. Sometimes the way she moves can inspire me to go in a different direction.


How long before the performance was the look first discussed, and then how long before was it finalized? 

It was during a rehearsal that I first shared my vision with Gaga. I started doing her makeup as I usually do, and I wanted to do the Super Bowl look I had in my mind, but I didn’t tell her. But as soon as I started, she totally knew! So we discussed and tweaked the look from there.


The crystal eye mask – how was that made? How did it not fall off during that leap?!

For the Swarovski crystal design adorning Gaga’s eyes, I worked with a friend at Face Lace in London.  We collaborate often. It was a really wild process to determine the shape, where to place it and most importantly what tape to adhere it with that wouldn’t ruin the integrity of the makeup underneath. It was made with a decal made out of crystals that Gaga was able to peel off quickly and gracefully go on with the show.

For the eyes, I applied a shimmery pewter cream shadow using the Marc Jacobs Beauty Twinkle Pop Stick Eyeshadow as a base, then blended a vibrant lavender liner from the Highliner Eyeliner collection (in Violet Femme 82) and a range of purple shades from the Style Eye Con No 7 Plush Eyeshadow Palette to make her lids really stand out. I also layered two black eyeliners (Marc Jacobs Beauty Magic Marc’er Precision Pen Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner and the Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in Blacquer) to ensure the winged liner was bold and budge-proof. I also used two mascaras, Velvet Noir Mascara, and Feather Noir Mascara, to create insane amounts of volume and drama. And voila! The eyes aren’t going anywhere, even after ripping a rhinestone mask off mid-performance. 


#ladygaga I love you ???

A photo posted by Sarah Nicole Tanno (@sarahtannomakeup) on


How did that quick-change makeup magic happen in the middle of the set?

Gaga and I figured out how to do quick change make-up a while ago. We love a challenge. There’s nothing like a quick switch in the middle of the world’s biggest stage!


What techniques did you use to ensure her makeup would stay on throughout the whole performance? 

It’s a different process from red carpet and television. It takes several calculated steps to create a look for stage that’s seamless and weightless — plus budge-and-sweat-proof. Gaga and I joked as I was doing her make-up that it’s a “million layers!”


What was the vibe like backstage before the show?

It was very zen for the most part. Gaga had her best friends there as we got glammed and we just hung out and watched the game!