'I first started to play with makeup when I was about 6 years old. We lived in New Zealand, and then we came to England and stayed at my grandmother’s house, I found a box of makeup which was my mum’s. So I grew up with all this ‘60s makeup from Mary Quant and Coty. I wasn’t really interested in putting it on my own face. I was just interested in the objects, and I loved the color and texture.
When I was about 13, I got a book of theatrical makeup for my birthday. I was like, ‘Wow, you can do this as a career.’ I remember saying to the careers person at school. ‘Do I really need to do math? Because I’m going to be a makeup artist.’ Now it’s a known career, but back then it was a weird thing to want to do.
It was a slow process. I did a lot of testing. You’d go on a shoot at 7am on the Isle of Dogs and the pictures wouldn’t even turn out! I was working in an architect’s office, and there was a studio across the road. I knocked one day and said to the assistant, ‘If you want to test, I’m a makeup artist.’ Eventually I went to Milan and did three tests a day. It was a really big learning curve. Then I did a bit of assisting backstage with makeup artists like Mary Greenwell and Linda Cantello. I only did one season of assisting, and then I started doing makeup on my own and got an agent after that.
I had a set philosophy about makeup from the beginning that’s never really changed. I love faces. When I’m out and about, I’m looking at people all the time and see so much detail. Every face is gorgeous. I don’t see the negatives. I think, ‘What about these amazing eyes or this beautiful bone structure?’ I still feel excited about that now, 20 years later.
ON HER WEB PRESENCE
I think I was one of the first makeup artists to have a stand-alone dot com. That was about 15 years ago. Then I did a TV show in the UK called 10 Years Younger. It was really popular, and whenever I’d do the show, I’d get thousands and thousands of hits on the website. People started writing in, emailing my agency. They’d be like, ‘I really want to look nice for my daughter’s wedding because this has happened to me, and that’s happened to me,’ and I was like, ‘Ahh I need to help these people, what can I do?’
In 2008 or so, I was reading all the beauty blogs and looking on beauty forums, and I saw that there was a lot of stuff on YouTube. I thought, ‘This is so interesting because these girls are consumers.’ I can shoot a big glossy campaign and a brand can say, ‘This mascara makes your lashes look 10 times longer,’ but then these girls can go on YouTube and say, ‘Well I tried it, and it didn’t work for me.’ To me, that was the biggest thing that’s happened in beauty, and I was really excited about the change.
The first video I did was Morning After Makeup. I was out the night before until all hours, and I had the worst breakout in the morning! I said to my husband, ‘I’m going to do my first video today,’ and he was like, ‘Are you sure? You look really rough, babe!’ But there was no point in me going on there and putting makeup on and not looking any different. I was so nervous because I had a lot of celebrity clients and people thought YouTube was really naff, but I just believed in it.
My favorite one is probably the Meeting The Ex video. I did a job with a Victoria’s Secret model, and she just went on and on about this boyfriend who finished with her. We planned everything for her—her hair, makeup, what she was going to wear, what she was going to say. She said, ‘You should do a video about this!’ I thought, ‘I am going to do that because if she’s a Victoria’s Secret model, what hope is there for the rest of us?’ And the thing is—I don’t make videos for makeup artists. I make them for the average woman who likes makeup and who’s interested in makeup. Women should be able to choose the look they want. I like quite pared-back looks, but I’m not going to criticize someone who likes to wear false eyelashes and lipstick every day. It’s a woman’s right. The fact that she can even do that when you look at history is great. I’m now just like, ‘Isn’t it just great that we’ve got a bloody choice?' Because for the longest period in history, women have been told what to do.
WHAT ELSE SHE'S WORKING ON
I started my vintage collection of makeup in 1990. I love the stories that makeup can tell. I’ve got stuff which ranges from the Northern Song Dynasty in China over a thousand years ago to modern day classics. I’ve got a lipstick in the exact shade that Jackie O wore! When I put rouge onto someone’s face, I now understand that there’s a 40,000-year history of rouge or a 2,000-year history of eye shadow. Part of having that knowledge is because every spare minute really for the last two years have been spent on writing my book about the history of makeup. [ed note: coming out in October 2015] Every weekend or time off there was something to do—something to research, some museum to go and see, some a picture to find. Even now, I have to read it again to do my final edits, and we have to check all the proofs of photography. It’s given me a lot of respect for people who write books because I’m not a writer.
I also love working with the labs to see where makeup is going next. I’ve been lucky to work as creative director for makeup at Shiseido, Boots, and now Lancôme. I’m a bit of a geek! When I talk to the head of L’Oréal Luxe Labs, I’m like, ‘Can we combine a non-volatile and a volatile silicone and an emulsion in this formula?’ I’m interested in the science, trends, and history as much as I am going on a shoot and being like, ‘a fabulous pink lip today!’
I gear my routine around what I look like that morning, so I don’t have a set thing. If I’m puffy, I like to use something that is cold, so I might use some eye patches left in the fridge. But if I wake up and I look great, I just use a face wash and put moisturizer on. I use Glo Therapeutics Hydrating Gel Cleanser with lactic acid. I’ve got really annoying acne-prone skin that can break out, but it can also get dehydrated. My skin’s what I call a ‘lazy’ exfoliator, so I need to exfoliate but in a very gentle way. I like to use a moisturizer that’s got a bit of sun protection, but at the moment, I’ve been using Eve Lom Brightening Cream. Whenever I go shopping, I’m constantly buying sunblocks that don’t make your face white. I’ve got a Murad one that I’ve been using a lot—the Essential-C Day Moisturizer SPF 30. And there’s an amazing one from Lancôme called Absolue UV Precious Cells, but they only sell it in Asia. I couldn’t go on holiday without the Institut Esthederm range. I love sunblocks that aren’t oily, I love exfoliators that are not scrubby, and I love sheet masks. I shop for those three things all the time. My favorite non-Asian sheet mask is the Sarah Chapman 3D Moisture Infusion. It plumps up the skin amazingly well.
Oh, don’t get me started on my evening routine! If I’ve been wearing makeup during the day, I’ll do two cleanses. I use the Eve Lom Cleanser, which suits me really well. People get upset because it’s got mineral oil in it. It’s absolutely fine for me, and I think that there’s so much scare-mongering about different grades of mineral oil. I do one basic, normal cleanse to take all the makeup off. Once I’ve done that, I go in with Bioderma. And then, I do a second cleanse, which is like a facial massage. I’ll do that for a while if I can—I like massaging my face. Then I use serums. I’ve got one I like at the moment—this Active Marine Power Concentrate by 001 Skincare. I never use thick creams at night because I always think they’re going to break me out, and I get scared, but I’ll always use the SK-II Essential Power Eye Cream. During the day, I try to use one that’s got a bit of caffeine in it if I need to de-puff. Before I get into bed, I always put loads of hand cream on and body lotion on. At the moment, I’m loving the Seams Hand Cream. For body, I’ve got a really nice one which I like, but it doesn’t smell too good. It’s by Sunday Riley—the Juno Body—but it’s really good for your skin, so I’ll use that when my husband is away!
I’ve got loads of makeup on today! I’ve got Clé de Peau Beauté Radiant Fluid Foundation, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer in SC 3, Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow powder in 01 Moss Green. I’ve got this Maquillage blusher which is a brand owned by Shiseido, but it’s only available in Japan—it’s the Shiseido Japan Maquillage Dramatic Mood Veil Cheek Color Blush Palette in PK-200. My lips are Lancôme Shine Lover in 212 Twisted Beige. It’s like a lip balm, but it’s got nude color on it. It’s an everyday color. I usually use nude colors during the day. This eye shadow is discontinued, but Lancôme has one which is called the Hypnôse Doll Eyes Palette in Taupe Au Naturel, which is brilliant because it’s got all the colors that I like. The other one I like is Dior Rosy Nude 534 Eye Shadow Palette [ed note: discontinued]. If I’m working on a job, I don’t really wear much makeup at all. So I’ll just use a bit of concealer, curl my eyelashes, and put mascara on.
My hair used to be really dark, and now I’ve been having it colored a bit lighter, so I have to really look after it. I’m obsessed with this thing called 3’’’ More Inches by Michael Van Clarke. I use it three times a week. You put loads on, and you sleep it in, and you wash your hair the next morning. It says it allows your hair to grow three more inches, and I think it actually works! I get my hair colored by Sally Northwood and my hair cut by George Northwood. The other thing that I swear by is Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment. That is amazing. It’s completely changed the texture of my hair. I also love Phyto 9 Daily Ultra Nourishing Cream, which is like a styling cream. I’ve used it for 20 years.
I go to the Fern Skin Clinic Belsize Park in London for facials. They’re really good. I’m really fussy about facials. They were the ones that got me into Glo Therapeutics. It’s nice because they don’t do prescriptive facials. You go in and you’re like, ‘Actually I’m doing something special tonight so don’t do any squeezing, do more massage.’ I always have salicylic or lactic acid peels—that and a massage. Whenever I’ve tried anything else other than that, I’ve had major issues. It took me two years to get back from a bad chemical peel. Whenever I go to Asia, I get facial massage. It’s so painful, but it’s so brilliant. They push all the muscles, and you feel like crying, but it’s good! I had it done in Japan last week—I had it done the day I got there—and I didn’t have jet-lag face at all!”
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