While beauty companies have been using the runway shows as a promotional tool for a few seasons, awards shows are emerging as hot new contenders for beauty billboarding, as last week’s MTV Video Music Awards proved.

Backstage at Radio City Music Hall — where makeup artist Troy Surratt, working for Revlon, touched up presenters as they headed onstage —?and further downtown, at the Oasis Suite at the TriBeCa Grand Hotel, where the stars stopped by for freebies and services, beauty companies were front and center touting their products.

At least two brands —?Revlon and Pantene —?planned major contests around the awards. Revlon, the show’s official cosmetics sponsor, announced the winner of its “Most Unforgettable 24 Hours of Your Life” contest live at the awards. Pantene also announced the winner of its annual Pro-Voice competition — designed to showcase up-and-coming female solo artists ages 14 to 24 — during the ceremony.

Revlon and Pantene were just two of the beauty crowd after celeb faces at the VMAs. In fact, before they hit the red carpet, several stars stopped by the invitation-only Oasis suite for touch-ups. Actresses Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan, among others, were spotted browsing the suite — which included makeup applications by MAC Cosmetics, hairstyling by Laurent Dufourg of Privé, neck and shoulder massages by Equinox and manicures by the Haven Spa. Those lacking time for the full-scale derm appointment popped by DermaNew’s space for mini-microdermabrasion services. Once primped and polished, guests had the opportunity to sample everything from organic food to Swatches and handbags.

Outside of the suite, makeup artists —?bearing bags full of products called in from Dior, YSL, Kevyn Aucoin and others — made up clients all over town. Nick Barose, who gave Kim Cattrall her glowing monochromatic look, proved to be an equal-opportunity guy as far as brands went, using MAC, Dior and Kevyn Aucoin products on the actress. And ideas for a few of the looks proved to come from some unusual sources. Take Mally Roncal, whose look for Beyoncé Knowles was inspired by “a glass of champagne,” which she carried out using Dior and Sephora products in shades of pink, lavender and sand. (Knowles’ hair, styled by Kimberly Kimble, was a wavy, voluminous mass inspired by Brigitte Bardot.)While no one makeup trend emerged from the show — as usual, the VMAs boasted a come-any-way-you-want-to vibe — much of it was “pretty, rather than fashion-oriented makeup,” said MTV’s resident makeup artist, Kristi Fuhrmann, who helped touch up some of the stars backstage. “And there was lots and lots of shimmer.”

The most high-profile beauty moment? When Madonna’s classic red lips met Britney Spears’ pale glossed ones, although no company has claimed the placement — yet.

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