'When I was growing up, I never felt the need for play dress up or make believe—which is funny, because now my job is all about that stuff. Maybe I’m a late bloomer! I went to an all-girl boarding school when I was younger and there was no pressure to look any particular way. Nobody wore makeup, everyone had train tracks on their teeth, and there weren’t any boys to impress.
By 15, I discovered The Velvet Underground and The Stones and then I found my icons—Debbie Harry, Kim Gordon, Patti Smith, Pina Bausch, David Bowie. I knew there was something glamorous and something cool out there for me but I just didn’t have access to it yet.
When I moved to the University of Manchester, I ran out of money and started working on a MAC makeup counter. Back then, I was super into trying to look like Björk with hair twists and cyber makeup, loads of rubber clothing. I ended up going backstage with MAC on a McQueen show and seeing Val Garland doing makeup. I just thought, 'How do I get that job?'
Then, I met the people from Sleazenation—which was a really cool indie style magazine from London—and they asked me to be the beauty director. My first feature with them was on 24-hour makeup. You know those weird foundations and gross lipsticks that last for forever? So we recreated Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up video—we had a really messy night and the next morning had a photographer shoot the model to see how long the makeup actually lasted. My career kind of took off from there! Now I’m also the beauty director at Under The Influence magazine, which is so much fun. I love my job because I get to be around the most amazing people, and it’s so intimate.
My aesthetic is a modern version of golden age Hollywood. Actually, my most surreal moment was shooting Sophia Loren with Isabella Blow at Giorgio Armani’s house in Milan. I was 21 and staying at the Principe de Savoya and Ms. Loren was feeding me pasta at dinner—it was just ridiculous! Everything inspires me—from that kind of experience to old-school George Cukor films like The Women to muses like Faye Dunaway and Anjelica Huston . I’m not trying to do anything ground-breaking, but I love making women look drop-dead gorgeous and the power and transformation that goes with that…how it makes you feel, how it can change your mood and your day.
For taking off makeup, I use DHC Deep Cleansing Oil because it feels like you’re really cleaning your face. But, for a really quick turnaround, I like wipes. Kiko Milano Scrup & Peel have a remover on one side and a grainy side for exfoliation on the other. Then, I apply another oil like African Botanics Marula Oil—I feel like oils put moisture straight into my skin and I always try and do a mini massage as I apply . I always have two of my Weleda Skinfood in the cupboard because I’m so terrified of running out. It’s so rich it doubles as a night cream. Then, I love Aesop’s Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Eye Cream to dab under my eyes, but I like to keep it in the fridge because it cools and refreshes the eye area! Finally, I always use SPF by Avène. Even though I don’t sunbathe, I like to wear something to protect my skin. I don’t want to look like Magda from There’s Something About Mary as I get older.
I try and use a mask once a week. The Juki Non Shingyu collagen mask is beyond incredible. At first, I thought it was a bit too perfumed, but it makes your skin look like nothing else. I also love the Bee Yummy mask from Live Live & Organic in New York’s East Village. It’ was recommended to me by the Jagger women. If I’ve been traveling a lot and my skin is a mess, then I will use Avène Cicalfate, which I get at Citipharma in Paris. Use this every night for five days and your skin will repair itself, no matter what you've done to it.
I always keep a few of Dr. Jackson’s Coconut Melt around because everyone I use it on begs to keep it because you can use it on your hair, face, skin, whatever. So I am always buying spares. And I have the Lucas PawPaw Ointment on me at all times because it’s good for bites, for cuts, for rashes, anything! I like the idea of making sure your skin is top notch so that you can do quick, minimal makeup on a daily basis.
MAKEUPWhen it comes to real-life makeup, I believe that it should be fast. Like five minutes—unless you’re going to a special event and want to have that fun experience of getting ready. I love quick products that are easy to use and make you look good instantly. I used to be very experimental with my own makeup but, these days, I don’t want to draw as much attention to myself as I used to. I don’t want to look weird, I just want to look as good as I can.
I’m all about applying a really sheer base with your fingers so your body warmth melts the product into your skin. And then you can conceal where you need—but there’s nothing worse than being able to see foundation. Skin should look like skin. I’m obsessed with Bare Minerals Prime Time—I just discovered it and I like it on its own with a bit of concealer. Then I just use Touche Éclat #3 to take circles away from under my eyes and I’ve just started using Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer for blemishes. It’s really thick, but still malleable and creamy, so you only need the tiniest amount.
For my cheeks, I just do a quick sweep of Aerin Multicolor for Lips & Cheeks with a contour brush or YSL’s Creme de Blush on the cheekbone, blended with my fingers. Then, to look a little bit more alive, I love Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector. It’s a golden peach, which is perfect for me because I have quite olive skin so silvery highlights always make me look sallow. Finally, for bronzer, I use Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder in #50. I just dust it on my cheeks and then a tiny around the jawline.
For me, brows are a big deal. I have no eyebrows and it’s the one thing I would change about myself—give myself Brooke Shields’. I use Coquette by MAC with a little angled brush…if I wasn’t so lazy with myself, I’d get a tint—but when I’m at home, the last thing I want to do is tint my own brows.
I’m obsessed Bobbi Brown’s Longwear Cream Shadow Sticks in Bark and Shadow. I ring them around my eyeline and then I smush it in with my finger. I love a deep plum, aubergine mascara which makes my eyes super green— YSL’s Fascinating Violeis amazing. I also like MAC Haute and Naughty. It has a double-ended brush so you can use one size for thick lashes and then the other for fluttery ones.
For the evening, I love to use Chanel’s Illusion D’Ombre Eyeshadow over the Bobbi Brown to intensify it. I really like my makeup to look dirty and lived-in. I'll line my waterline with MAC Eye Kohl or a cheap kajal stick from a Middle-Eastern shop around the corner from my flat.
I’m a big lip balm fanatic, especially the Crème de la Mer Lip Balm because it’s matte and I’m not a gloss girl. I use Kevyn Aucoin Flesh Tone Lip Pencil in Medium with Nars Pure Matte Lipstick Bangkok or Edward Bess’ Nude Lotus over the top for something that looks like my lips, but better. Then for reds, it’s Chanel Pirate or Cherry Lush from Tom Ford. If you’re gonna do a red, really go for it.
Living Proof has great shampoo, and then I like a leave-in conditioner because I don’t like anything to take too much time. Leonor Greyl’s Éclat Naturale is a cream but works as a conditioner, too. Or I'll use Living Proof’s No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner. And this summer, I discovered Brooklyn Beach Hair which is great because it doesn’t make your hair crispy like so many salt sprays do.
FRAGRANCEWhen I was 17 and in Florence studying History of Art and Architecture, I discovered Santa Maria Novella products. I went to the apothecary at the church and ever since then I’ve been using their body oils and wearing the same fragrance—their Melograno, which smells of pomegranate and soap. It’s a bit grandma-ish, which I really like. But I’m a bit of a slut when it comes to perfume, I use so many—I love Comme des Garcons and Byredo fragrances and Nasomato’s Black Afghano, which apparently smells of opium and is quite masculine. I hate anything sweet that smells like you could eat it. Thierry Mugler’s Angel is my nightmare…But it depends on my mood. I wake up, see how I’m feeling and what fragrance works with that. Sometimes it’s fresh, sometimes it’s bloody dirty.”
—as told to ITG
Photographed by David Dunan. Interview by Olivia J. Singer.