Jillian Dempsey’s newest launch is more than just another beauty product to add to your collection—the Spot Stick will revolutionize the way you apply makeup. Jillian’s makeup products for eye and cheek, as well as her Gold Bar, are widely beloved, and it seems her first foray into base and coverage makeup will be no different. In an exclusive interview, she shares with us how J-Beauty inspired the product, which stars she’s already tried it out on and why she’s passionate about men using the product.
Jillian is determined to make this product a staple in people’s makeup routine—she even offers to examine a selfie of me to suggest the perfect shade. “Don’t get scared. I will delete it,” she quips. Jillian is uniquely committed to getting men on board with the product, starting with her husband, Patrick Dempsey.
However, it seems Patrick was an easy sell. He “really wants guys to know if you have some under-eye circles or broken capillaries around your nose and they’re bothering you, it’s okay to tap on a little Spot Stick.” Jillian says men have been in the dark for too long. “This is something where we need to be incredibly inclusive.” Her commitment to her product knows no bounds. “If I have to go over to every single guy’s face and pop it on myself, I will, with a KN95 mask on,” she says.
In addition to Patrick, she’s also been using samples of Spot Sticks on some of her celebrity clients, including Kristen Stewart and Leslie Mann. After testing it on celebrity hair dresser, Jenny Cho, Jillian received text messages from Cho trying to get her hands on the Spot Stick ASAP.
Jillian was inspired by “spot basing” and one of her many trips to Tokyo. “I’m really inspired by J-beauty and everything they have to offer. It’s overwhelming at times, but there’s so much care placed into products, and that’s appealing to me.” The Spot Stick is launching in 13 shades, but Jillian said there’s much more to come. “Let’s just say my lightest shade at the moment is one. My plan is to do like a 1.25 a 1.50 1.75.”
You can tell Jillian is beaming about her new product and eager to get it into consumers’ hands. “ I just put a lot of time and thought into everything I designed, so you might have to curb my enthusiasm,” she warns at the onset of our chat. Her excitement is refreshing, knowing that the product you’re putting on your skin was someone’s passion project. “I want to stand behind it and talk about it and feel proud that this is something that hasn’t been done yet. And I think it stands alone.”
What is spot basing?
So that’s a funny story. I’ve been a professional makeup artist for a decade, and sometimes when you’re given instructions on a photo shoot, they’ll say, “we don’t want a lot of foundation.” So there’s this kind of like this little code name. It’s almost just code for “please don’t do a heavy base. We want you to just spot base.” Spot base simply means only cover the areas you need in order to make the skin look like it belongs to the person who owns it. It’s essentially a cliff note for “don’t do full foundation, let’s just do the spot.”
As it turns out, I was under the impression that everyone knew what spot basing was, but there are a lot of people, including some makeup artists, friends of mine, who don’t use the phrase. So maybe I could actually take full credit for that.
Why is spot basing such a popular technique?
I feel like so often when you put a full coverage foundation on, it’s intimidating for people because they don’t know if they’re matching their skin tone properly. Also, who has the time?
We’ve been through the pandemic. Everyone has worked on their skin. There’s been less need for a full face of a foundation to walk around your house. [Spot basing is perfect for] if you have maskne, a pimple, a sunspot, a blemish, under-eye circles or just one area of rosacea, and you just want to match the rest of your skin and only cover that area up and blend.
What is the Spot Stick?
I’d like to think about the Spot Stick as not necessarily being concealer because I believe people will think about it like, “oh, it only goes under my eyes.” No. Spot Stick is coverage, and it’s kind of just the code word for only covering up where needed and leaving the rest of your skin looking natural. It’s kind of an anti-foundation.
Almost like you would think of chapstick or a lip balm. You know how you put a lip balm on, and you’re good to go, it’s effortless, and it’s a solution-based product? You’re going to hydrate and moisturize your lips. Why? Because they’re dry. Spots Stick is essential because maybe you have one pimple, but the rest of your skin looks gorgeous. You don’t want to cover it all up. You just want to get in on that one area. That is what the Spot Stick represents.
Why is it a great product for everyone?
I’d really be honored to have people think of this for all genders. I love this for men, and however you identify, but really for men. This is such a godsend because men want to say, “well, I’m not wearing makeup,” but it’s like yeah, you know that moisturizer isn’t really going to cover those super dark circles under your eyes. So this is really like a great little item for men. I really want men to be comfortable wearing this and not think about it like makeup.
How do you apply Spot Stick?
A light touch would be your pinkie, you could warm it up on your pinky and tap it over the area that you need coverage, or you could directly swivel it on. I designed this to be the average size of a pimple with a flat circumference, so if you twist it up, and you just put it on the pimple, or on the area that might need it, it will just twist directly over that area. It will make kind of the perfect circle. From there, you just blend and dab.
If you want to wear foundation or tinted moisturizer. Fantastic, but maybe you have an area that you’ve never really been successful with covering up. You can go in after you’ve used your foundation with the Spot Stick, and that will be sort of your finishing touch.
What is special about the formula?
This is going to be a nerd moment, so just prepare. If you went to makeup school today, one of the basic 101 rules of makeup is first, you apply your foundation, or your concealer, a creamy kind of fluid. That’s what everyone lays down to diminish blemishes and whatnot. The next step, in order for your beautiful work to last, you have to set it with a powder. It can be a loose powder or pressed powder, but the reason and the theory behind that whole process is that the cream will move around on your face unless you set it with the powder.
So my intention with this formula was to make it with the cream and the powder built into one. You would receive a matte finish, it would adhere to your skin and it’s a little bit on the drier side. So if you’re using it under your eyes, you want to put a light moisturizer down first if you have dry to normal skin. If you have oily skin, you can skip that step. It’s intentionally designed to adhere to the skin and meant for a matte finish, so we could avoid step two because I love convenience.
I always speak with the head chemist [at the lab], and I explain, “This cannot irritate people’s skin. I do not want anyone to break out from this, I don’t want anything in here that would cause any bacteria.” I can sleep at night because I trust my lab so much, and I don’t think a lot of people really talk about that.
What made you want to move into base and coverage makeup products at this moment?
Well, I think everyone has worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to enhance their skin. The last thing you want to do is start to cover it up with ingredients that might break you out or cause blackheads. Clean beauty is important to me. Each of these shades I designed have their own little bio to help match your skin tone. A couple of the shades I created as neutralizer tones to cover blue, so they can be worn alone, or they can be worn under another spot stick. I just really wanted this to be incredibly easy for the consumer, not something that requires a lot of direction just once you know and once you understand and once you have the color that blends into your skin, you’re good to go.
The messaging is most important about what these do because I think the packaging is really so conveniently shaped. I love the pure convenience, and I really want people to understand what they’re getting into when they purchase a product.
I like to dip into the market where I feel like not everybody lives. This felt like why hasn’t anyone made a tiny little matte finish the size of a pimple or a spot for everyone to wear as a kind of convenient touch-up? I’m a smaller company. I’m not a huge commercial brand. I very thoughtfully design products with what I believe people can actually use. I’m a pretty practical designer.