Lisa Houghton, Makeup Artist - Into The Gloss

Lisa Houghton, Makeup Artist

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"My approach to makeup is 'effortless.’ A natural, healthy beauty without looking 'done up.’ No one wants to look like they've tried too hard! A good quality moisturizer with sunscreen is a must, and a little concealer and bronzer gives you a healthy glow. But I honestly think it’s about just having really good skin. For most women I think it’s about achieving a really healthy complexion, by using really good skincare and maybe enhancing it with a little bit of makeup. That’s the most important starting point for any ‘look.’

But obviously it’s a whole different thing if you’re going to a party. Then for me it’s all about eye makeup: dark eyes, lashes. If I were going out in the evening then I would do quite dark 60’s eye makeup, which I think looks really good on most young women. It’s a very sexy look without being too garish. I think it’s a look that guys like [smiles], because I think guys are really scared of lipstick. I love lipstick; I love a bright red lip. I think red lipstick on women looks amazing. I think actually most people look good in lipstick, which is why I love doing it so much for fashion. But in real life, a lot of guys are scared of lipstick. It stands out; it doesn’t say ‘natural’—they like to think their girlfriend is just this kind of sexy, understated thing who doesn’t need to wear makeup, and even when you wear eye makeup, even when it's strong, it’s not a color. I’m not saying that when I wear makeup it’s because I want to look good for men, but I do think that women do just generally want to look a little sexy.

In terms of doing a shoot, it’s very much about the clothes, what works on the girl, and I suppose just the general feel/mood/theme. So it’s always one of those things you find as you go along. Like, I’ll look at some pictures and then halfway through I’ll think we need to add something here, or take it somewhere else, whether it’s a dark eye or lip. You kind of find that halfway through a shoot I think. And you have to respect everyone’s opinions. You’ve got a lot of personalities on a shoot; you’ve got to get on. Otherwise you just end up falling out with people all the time, and it’s such a small industry. You’ve got to be professional, you have to be open to other people’s opinion, but I think I’m tactful—I always say what I think ultimately. Fashion’s a funny business isn’t it? [Laughs] I don’t get defensive. I would rather have somebody say to me, ‘Lisa, I don’t think that lip color is working’—I’m really pleased if somebody tells me that because then I can say ‘ok, well what do you think works?’ I want to find the answer! We’re working as a team and that’s what its all about. It’s not about getting the answer straight away, it’s about trying out different ideas and seeing what works: what’s the best way to do the hair, or, how is that going to compliment the makeup, or, is that dark lip really going to work with that dress. I know that when someone’s saying they’re not sure about something, it just means they’re not sure—they’re not saying ‘Lisa, you’re not a good makeup artist,’ they’re just saying ‘I don’t think that’s quite the right shade of lipstick.’ And I kind of step back and think ‘oh, yeah maybe you’re right actually, maybe it does need to be more orange-y tone.’ I don’t take it personally, because I feel confident enough that I can ultimately do a good job, and that’s why people book me! [Laughs] I don’t get scared. I think people get really defensive in the early days, so they panic. They try to stick up for themselves and defend themselves and then it’s like, ‘well I’m not having a go at you, I just think the eye’s smudged a little bit’ and then I look and say ‘oh God, I’m so glad you told me that!’

I notice people’s manners more than anything. There are models who have been doing it for a long time who still have that light; they respect that the makeup artist is there to do her job to make them look fantastic. I really like girls who have manners and respect that the makeup artist and the hairstylist have to do a job and that we are also under a lot of pressure! We’re there not as their enemy but to make them look great. Most girls are really lovely but some have extremely busy schedules and spend a lot of time on their phones. It’s especially hard for makeup because you need to keep them still so you can do their eyes, you can’t have them on their blackberry all the time looking down. That’s the hardest thing for me. And it’s always a pleasure when you meet these girls who have had these massive careers like Guinevere, and you meet them and they’re just really easy and pleasant and professional. Carmen Kass is another one who’s amazing. I’ve done a lot with Carmen and when she arrives on a shoot she’s totally professional, she will give you the time to do her face, she’s not texting away, which is probably one of the reasons that she always shines so brightly.

One of the great things about when you’re starting out is you’re assisting different makeup artists, I assisted Charlotte Tilbury, and you get to see what the key products are that people are using. That helped enormously because I thought, ‘that’s a really great foundation she’s using, and that’s a really amazing, um, bright blue body color.’ [Laughs] I spent a lot of money is the early days, a fortune—I didn’t get any discounts, nothing. When you’re starting out you don’t get much help along the way. So I was very much out-of-pocket. And then eventually you start getting credits in magazines and you get a few freebies, and now pretty much everything gets given to me. Unless it’s special effects makeup or something.

Early on, I started doing all this stuff with Rankin, co-founder of Dazed and Confused. We were doing a story on androgyny [pictured] and wanted boys and girls who looked really similar. We had fourteen models one of whom was Robert Pattinson, who was a total unknown at the time. I remember him so clearly, he was just this boy who was a little bit podgy; he had thick bushy eyebrows and quite a red face and cheeks. I remember thinking, ‘how can I take away the color on his cheeks?’"

—as told to Into The Gloss

TOP ITEMS IN HER KIT: Decleor Aromessence Neroli Oil, Max Factor 2000 Calorie Mascara, Make-Up Forever Greasepaints, Chanel Rouge Allure lipsticks, Estée Lauder Maximum Coverage Foundation (doubles as concealer), Elizabeth Arden powder eye pencil in Smokey Black, eyeshadow/blush palettes (pictured)

BEAUTY ICONS: Julie Christie, Natasha Kinski; Jaclyn Smith in Charlie’s Angels, Meryl Streep in Manhattan

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PRODUCTS MENTIONED

Decleor
Decleor 'Aromessence Neroli' Essential Serum
MAKE UP FOR EVER
MAKE UP FOR EVER 12 Flash Color Case
Estee Lauder
Estee Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Makeup for Face and Body
Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Smoky Eye Powder Pencil
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