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A Tribute to Makeup Artist Edgar Portillo

Updated: Sep 21, 2020


By Sandy Rodriguez

I was against wearing makeup, at least noticeable makeup, for the longest time. Firstly, my personal brand is about authenticity and not following the herd. It’s about attracting people (for love, friendship, or work collaboration) through uniqueness of personality, not through looks. And certainly not through artifice!

When I was starting my career in journalism, I edited the fashion and beauty section of one of the most influential newspapers in Latin America, and even had my own makeover column for our readers. Still, makeup seemed like outright deception. Go to any party and you are likely to see more good-looking women than good-looking men. It’s not that more beautiful females are born into this world than males, it’s just that a far greater number of women tap into the power of enhancement by way of cosmetics.

Even when I became a video host for Heart of Hollywood, and started spending time in front of a camera often, I found makeup unnecessary for myself. Fine for others in the industry, and certainly necessary for actors, but just not for me. That is, until I was introduced to Heart of Hollywood makeup director Edgar Portillo.

This young man from El Salvador was very charming. And extremely skillful! All of the people whose face he worked on were magically transformed into confident, glamorous creatures. His technique was unrivaled. During a photoshoot where I was required to pose alongside Eastern European models one foot taller and one decade younger than myself, he made my face look nice enough that some of the other ladies asked him to give them he exact look that he gave me.

Edgar would design looks for his clients that he felt would suit them, even if they were not at all in line with the clients’ style at the time. Somehow, the clients would fall in love with his ideas and suggestions, and often incorporate versions of them into their everyday hair or makeup routine.

During the time he lived and worked in Los Angeles, he was in charge of beauty and styling for catalogs, magazines, TV, videos and photoshoots. He built a following, and his clientele spanned different types of people, from beauty queens to YouTubers.

Although he was adorable, he was also willful and insisted that women do their makeup in the way he recommended all the time. He would give his female friends a good scolding when we showed up in public with a freshly-scrubbed face. There really was no excuse to do so, he claimed, especially since he had taken the time to give one-on-one makeup lessons to a lucky few, including me.

Yes, what he explained to us made flattering makeup application easy enough to be done frequently. To be honest, though, even after taking his classes, none of us could never do even remotely as good of a job. He was truly gifted, and that can never be taught.

Always quick to smile, he was an interesting conversationalist with a great sense of humor. Known for his catchphrase “I love it,” he made his clients feel happy, beautiful, sexy, powerful and simply good about themselves.

Edgar, however, passed away in 2019. We at Heart of Hollywood think about him constantly. He was a good friend to many and a master of his craft.

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