'Not Too Much': Burlington Makeup Artist Shares Sanders' Makeup Routine

Apr 12, 2016

At the start of Sen. Bernie Sanders' Democratic presidential campaign, there was lots of talk in the media about his appearance. Reporters liked to talk about his "rumpled" suits and "disheveled" hair.

But Sanders' look has gotten more polished as the campaign has progressed.

Jacquelyn Perron has been a professional makeup artist for eight years and is the manager at Mac Cosmetics on Church Street in Burlington. Recently, she added another item to her resume: Sen. Bernie Sanders' makeup artist.

On her start as a makeup artist:

"Makeup has always been my jam," Perron says. "When I was in high school, I grew up in Vermont, so not a lot of people wore makeup, but I spent all my money on it."

"I'd go to CVS, Wal-Mart, wherever, and I'd just like load up," she explains. "And then when I was having a rough day, I'd go home, I'd wash my face and I'd do my makeup and feel better."

On how she got her start with the campaign:

Perron says she first heard about the opportunity to work with Sen. Sanders from a friend.

"It was late at night and I was sitting at home contemplating going to bed and I got a message from the friend of mine who works for the Church Street Marketplace," Perron says. "And she said, 'Can you do Bernie Sanders' makeup tomorrow morning?' And I was like, is this real life? Are you serious?"

Perron says there are two steps to the senator's routine: prime the skin and powder to remove shine.
Credit Annie Russell / VPR

"But I said yes, and I put my kit together and met the senator for the first time," she says. "He's always really nice, very cool guy."

On her first time doing Sen. Sanders' makeup:

"The first time he came in we chatted a little bit ... He asked me about what I do and how long I'd been in Burlington, so he was really kind," Perron said.

"Bernie comes in and literally sits down first thing [and says], 'Not too much!'" — Jacquelyn Perron

Perron says she's done the senator's makeup for about a dozen appearances thus far.

"Normally ... he sit down in the chair, he closes his eyes and he works on whatever he's about to talk about in the interview, sometimes under his breath a little bit," Perron explained. "He's preparing because he doesn't have notes or anything when he's doing the interviews. He just wings it."

Perron doing VPR's Alex Keefe's makeup in the style of Sen. Sanders.
Credit Annie Russell / VPR

On the differences between makeup for a political event and other styles of makeup:

Perron says she spends most of her time doing makeup applications on women, so applying Sen. Sanders' makeup is a "totally different creature."

"Bernie comes in and literally sits down first thing [and says], 'Not too much!'" Perron says, mimicking Sen. Sanders' tone slightly.

"I just do a little prepping the skin, throwing some powder on. One time I tried to put some brow gel on and he stopped me there, so don't push too much." — Jacquelyn Perron

On her usual routine for Sen. Sanders:

Perron says because the senator is wary of looking overdone, her usual routine only takes a minute or two.

"He doesn't want a lot, and he doesn't need a lot," Perron explains. "He doesn't want to look like he's painted up."

Perron gave VPR's Alex Keefe the Bernie Sanders treatment, at Polaris Mediaworks in Burlington. Perron likes to check the senator's makeup under studio lights before he goes on air for an interview.
Credit Annie Russell / VPR

First, Perron applies a primer — "a matte gel, keep the shine down" — all over the face.

Next, Perron uses a powder with a very natural finish to "get rid of extra redness," around the face.

And that's it.

"I just do a little prepping the skin, throwing some powder on," Perron explains. "One time I tried to put some brow gel on and he stopped me there, so I don't push it too much." 

Once Sanders is under the studio lights, immediately before an interview, Perron does a quick touch up and makes a few tweaks.

"Powder the top of his head," Perron explains, "lint roll, maybe."

Perron (right) says one of the coolest parts of working with the campaign is getting to watch the senator's interview after doing his makeup.
Credit Annie Russell / VPR

On getting to work with the Sanders campaign:

"It's a total honor," says Perron. "The star-struck thing doesn't really go away. You keep it together, you hold it in, but every single time I get to see him I'm glad that I've been able to be a part of history in a very small way."

"I don't think that Bernie's going to remember his makeup artist when he's in the White House," she says, "but I like to joke that they'll move me in there to be the White House makeup artist."

"I'm very, very proud and I'm happy to see how it's affected Burlington, Vermont, really brings people together," says Perron.