Rising makeup star William Scott has a knack for bold color—lush cherry lips, tawny flushed cheeks, Yves Klein blue eyeliner—but it's a deft approach to skin that's caught the attention of icons like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Padma Lakshmi. A poreless canvas, luminous cheekbones, and glossy lids are just a few Scott signatures. As the twenty-nine year old artist tells it, a career in beauty wasn’t originally in the game plan. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of high school in Miami when Scott discovered (and devoured) Pixiwoo’s YouTube tutorials that inspiration struck. “I bought a one-way ticket to New York and said ‘I'm going to do it’ and never looked back.”

In the years that followed, Scott assisted makeup artist legends, including Pat McGrath and François Nars, and honed in on a definitive aesthetic: fresh, flawless skin, a pop of stop-you-in-your-tracks pigment, and fluffy, feathered brows for clients like Karlie Kloss, Mette Towley, and Amandla Stenberg  “I never want to drastically change someone’s face or put too much makeup on," Scott explains of a philosophy that's all about amplifying rather than altering. "I want [everyone in my chair] to look like themselves.”

Read on for Scott’s secret trick for achieving impeccable skin, the five makeup essentials that belong in your bag, and one highly memorable "I've made it" career moment.

What are five words that describe you?

Inquisitive, creative, crafty, easygoing, and introverted—maybe to a fault. 

Can you recall your first “I made it” career moment?

A few years ago, I did Cindy Crawford's makeup during Paris Fashion Week. It was the day after my birthday. She went to the Chanel show and I gave her a nice full, feathered brow and a little bit of a smokey daytime eye in a mauve taupe shade and a rosy pink lip. A year or two later I did Naomi Campbell's makeup for an interview. I was screaming and crying to my mom on the phone on my way there.

What's your signature as a makeup artist? 

Clean touchable skin, warm glowing cheeks, and a pop of color on the eyes or lips.

Best trick for prepping skin for foundation or color?

Always cleanse and hydrate your skin first. Each individual has their preferred hydrator—I usually use an oil-free primer over a bit of serum. 

Best trick for finishing skin or foundation?

Every time I do the skin, I put foundation on and then rub my hands together so they get very warm and I press the foundation into the skin just to take some off and also set it in. Then I go back in and spot check. That helps me marry the foundation to the skin and make it look seamless, like it’s your own skin. 

What's one fresh way to use shine on the face right now?

I love a glossy lid. Whenever I’m moisturizing, I’ll put some lip balm on the lips and on the tops of the cheeks and on the lids. I love the way it looks. 

What are the makeup products every person should have in their arsenal? 

1. I put Fresh Sugar Smoothing Lip Primer on everybody. It’s like a lip serum. If your lips are cracked, it takes that dryness away and refreshes them. It works instantly, but it doesn't help your lips to retain moisture, so you have to put a balm over it.

2. A foundation stick, like Westman Atelier’s Vital Skin, that is on the creamier side can work double duty as foundation or concealer. It strikes that line of buildability, but it's also about how well it disappears.

3. Mascara, whether it be brown, clear, or black. Right now, I'm using one by Thrive Causemetics

4. A cream blush can replace a powder blush and even a highlighter: the creaminess gives you that dewy effect and the color is a lot more subtle—it looks like the natural warmth of a cheek coming through that blush is intended to mimic.

5. A good navy, dark green, or plum liner, instead of a black one, is a good staple to have. It's not black but it still adds dimension as well as density to your lash line. I like Urban Decay.

What’s your favorite Westman Atelier product?

Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm. Lip gloss is one of those things that can actually be drying so I'm intrigued by [a formula that hydrates]. I like to put it over lip liner after drawing the shape of the mouth. 

Beauty muse of the moment? 

I look to individuals on the street for most of my beauty inspiration. I was just at a [Pride] march last Sunday and there were so many beautiful queer people. I want to see what people are doing for themselves on a daily basis, not necessarily who’s performing for their followers. No shade to anybody! 

Biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?

This last year has been full of lessons. I think my biggest takeaway has been trusting my gut. Certainty of self is important.