Fashion / Beauty

Beauty Guru Falls in Love with Dallas’ Hot New Downtown Store

Japan Wonder, Smokey Eyes and Prom Makeup All Play In

BY // 03.29.17

“This store is world class,” Troy Surratt says as we meet in the cosmetics room on the first floor of the new Forty Five Ten on Main in downtown Dallas. “It could be in Tokyo or Hong Kong or New York. This is the most beautiful store I’ve been to in years.”

Surratt, founder of his eponymous brand Surratt Beauty, is in town for an appearance at the downtown store and to promote the launch of his collaboration with fine jewelry designer Eva Zuckerman. With a formal background in painting, Zuckerman hand painted custom Surratt compacts; at $100 each, no two are alike, and the proceeds directly benefit the MTV Staying Alive Foundation.

Growing up on a farm in Kansas, Surratt longed to move to New York and be a designer. At 19, he got his first job selling cosmetics at a department store in Kansas City before heading to the East Coast to work in fashion. Finding the environment a bit too harsh for his liking, he returned to beauty, working for big names like Maybelline. After co-founding Tarte Cosmetics, he launched his own brand, which took a painstaking 10 years of research and development.

Here, Surratt chats about his collection, details why Japan is like his second home (all of his products and packaging are made there), and teaches us how to really get the perfect smokey eye.

What is the significance of Japan in your life?
Japan was a very important place to Kevyn Aucoin, my mentor. I went there shortly after his death, wanting to see what about it so inspired him. It was Pandora’s box to me, the Japanese beauty market. This was 15 years ago, so it was before globalization — these companies didn’t have websites. It felt as though I had landed on a new planet with beautiful things I had never seen before. I was completely taken with it and started going every year, at least once a quarter.

What I also love about Japan is their commitment to mastery. Whether they’re making sushi, the perfect soba noodle, calligraphy brushes, or makeup brushes, an individual will dedicate his or her entire life to mastering one thing. I feel like we’re so ADD in America; as a child, I tried gymnastics, then I tried dance, I did piano, I jumped all over. I have committed later in life to makeup artistry and tried to be a master at that.

Your products can easily be customized and refilled. How did that idea come about?
The customizeable aspect was inspired by my study of luxury. I wanted to have a better understanding of why I loved and appreciated it. The luxury consumer wants to interact with the product they’re taking home with them. They want to feel part of the creative process of what they’re going to bring into their life.

Usually when you buy palettes, you use one color all the way down to nothingness and then it looks shabby. My concept allows you to pop out and replace the colors that you love more. There’s a reduce and reuse aspect — things are what we call rechargeable, like the loose powder and liquid eyeliner.

Talk about how they differ from other brands.
The blushes and eyeshadows use “slurry,” a patented Japanese technology that starts out as a liquid before it becomes a powder. It’s the texture of a milkshake or cake batter and is poured into resin pans. Traditionally, makeup is most often pressed into little aluminum pans using force and pressure, slamming all the pigments together. With [slurry], they pour it, gently press it, and then the moisture evaporates out of the product. It results in a much creamier texture and is way more blendable.

What are some of your most coveted products?
I’m always asked how to do a smokey eye. The smokey eye baton has a creamy eyeliner on one end to line the perimeter of the lash line and water line (it’s not waterproof but stays on the water line). It doesn’t need to be perfect because you’re going to blend it out.

On the other end [of the baton] is a spring-loaded complementary shadow. Working from the outside in, you’re going to blend and diffuse them together, creating that ombré effect. It’s the fastest, easiest smokey eye. The baton comes in five colors, and we’re launching three new colors in the spring — burgundy, a gunmetal gray, and a warm coppery brown.

Eva Zuckerman says you did her makeup for her prom?
We’ve known each other since she was 16, and I was probably 26. When I was assisting Kevyn Aucoin, Eva’s business partner Ann Gorga was our intern. She and I became friendly, and she’s now one of my best friends. They were teenagers, and I did their makeup for their senior prom.

Eva’s father used to be in the beauty industry as well, so I’ve known him for a long time — New York is a small island. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Surratt Beauty, available at Forty Five Ten on Main, 1615 Main St., 214.559.4510.

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