For flame-boyant star makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, makeup is a potent mix of enchantment and power. Words like "magic," "miracle," "goddess" and "wonder" – even "life-changing" – are sprinkled like fairy dust into her product names. And for her, on an intensely personal level from her first encounter with it at the beginning of her teens, makeup is as much a transformative experience as it was a defining one. It changed the way others saw her and the way she saw herself – she says it changed her life.
Ibiza-born, London-based Tilbury has wielded considerable influence in her 20-year career. Along with shoots for mags including Vogue, Vanity Fair and Allure, she's done campaigns for labels such as Burberry and Tom Ford Beauty, and consulted on collections for brands such as Chanel, Tom Ford, MAC and Giorgio Armani. Celebs such as Sienna Miller, Sofia Vergara, Cara Delevigne and Amal Clooney sit in her chair before red-carpet events and photoshoots – longtime client and bff Kate Moss can spot a Tilbury flick on another face from paces away.
Unlike many artists, however, Tilbury is a savvy business woman too, with keen marketing skills. This is a woman who knows how to stay on point in interviews, and conveys the spell-binding power and romance of makeup in her responses – who doesn't want "skin dripping in candlelight?" The formulas themselves have industry fans. Celebrity artist Amy Strozzi who works with Taryn Manning, Cat Deeley and Angie Harmon can't get enough of Tilbury's smooth, gel-powder eyeshadows. Makeup pro Sheri Stroh, who has worked with Selena Gomez, Heather Graham and Florence and the Machine adores the pressed powders (and she doesn't generally like powder). Countless more professionals credit Tilbury's makeup in their Insta-shots of A-list clients on the red carpet or in magazine features.
And Tilbury's novel idea of presenting her collection in kits based on 10 iconic beauty looks is beyond genius. "Who will you be today?" she asks every woman as she has, apparently, asked every client – and she delivers a complete kit for eyes, cheeks and lips. That it's a pricey way to purchase makeup doesn't seem to matter. Women are happily buying into her glamorous make-it-easy approach. Canadians will be able to do the same at Holt Renfrew next month.
Beautygeeks asked Charlotte Tilbury 10 beauty questions; here are the makeup maven's straight-up, unedited answers.
Beautygeeks: You discovered mascara as a new teen and haven't looked back. Is there an "appropriate" age for starting to wear makeup?
Charlotte Tilbury: I discovered makeup when I was 13 and it changed my life. I started wearing mascara and overnight, everyone from seven to 70 reacted to me in a very different way – I was more popular and I felt more confident. Whilst at first it seemed like a depressing realization, I soon realized that makeup is powerful – it’s every woman’s secret weapon. Makeup can give you the confidence to get that husband you’ve always wanted, change your job, move abroad, get a pay raise – it literally can make-up your destiny. Ever since that epiphany moment at 13, no one has ever seen me without makeup on! I definitely wouldn’t have the life and career I have without it.
BG: Is there an appropriate amount of makeup or appropriate look for girls under 16 or so? Which of your video tutorials would you recommend?
CT: A fresh and natural look like The Ingenue is perfect for young women. It’s inspired by Kate Bosworth and Mia Farrow. It’s all about a natural flush of colour on the cheeks and lips and lush, groomed brows. You can see how to create it by watching my Ingenue video tutorial.
(Note: We also love this eyes-to-mesmerize look in the video below for young teens -- for women of all ages, really. Charlotte Tilbury Eyes-to- Mesmerise shimmery cream shadow may not be launching in Canada right away; but you can practice with something similar, right? -- BG)
BG: How does makeup application change as we mature? Are there different tricks we need to know from our 20s to 30s to 40s to 50s and up?
CT: As you get older, the colour drains from your face and you need to put this back by using a soft, natural and pretty blusher like Cheek to Chic blusher in Sex on Fire and a nude-pink lipstick like K.I.S.S.I.N.G. in Penelope Pink, which mimics the natural colour of lips. The Golden Goddess palette, like I used on my mother in my 60s video tutorial, is great for older women and gives you a really natural looking smoky eye. Follow this with a soft, chocolate powder pencil for a natural feline flick.
Sparkle and light-reflecting particles can actually draw attention to the lines/wrinkles so use a non-reflective brightener to blur and conceal imperfections around the eyes. I swear by my Retoucher Conceal & Treat Stick. It acts like a natural healing plaster to disguise age-spots, wrinkles and dark circles – use it anywhere for a flawless finish.
BG: Let's talk specifically about that Tilbury Feline Flick. It's been your sexy signature look since you were a teen. Are there application tweaks we need to make in our 40s, 50s, 60s?
CT: Stay away from chalky pastels and harsh blacks which can age you 10 years. Instead, give yourself a virtual eyelift by using a soft, powder pencil in a chocolatey brown shade like The Classic in Audrey to draw a Feline Flick along the upper lash line – it lifts, elongates and lengthens the eye for a youth-boosting effect.
BG: Are there tweaks to the Tilbury Feline Flick that depend on the eye shape or positioning? i.e. close-set eyes?
CT: Feline Flicks look great on everyone; they draw out the eye line, creating the illusion of bigger, more alluring and more mesmeric eyes. Girls who have hooded eyelids may need to spend a bit longer perfecting the shape, but it is definitely achievable and flattering for all eye shapes. Line along the lashline and make sure to draw a dot 2mm above your eye line on each side as a guide. Look into a mirror and keep the eyes open as you draw the liner along the upper lash line. Connect the line straight up to the dot over the crease, keeping the eye open the entire time so you can see how the flick will look. Retrace over the line and open and close the eyes to check there aren’t any visible gaps.
BG: What's your best advice for models and their skin in the days leading up to a photoshoot?
CT: It’s really important to keep skin hydrated. I start every morning with [a drink of] lemon juice and hot water and stay hydrated with lots of coconut water. You can’t have a beautiful painting without a beautiful canvas!
BG: So many women are apprehensive about makeup and feel that people who apply it well were born with a magic makeup gene. What advice do you have for them?
CT: Beauty is not an exclusive club – there are no unattractive women, just some that don’t know understand the power of makeup. I was shocked to find out that 50% of women do not engage with makeup and the reasons are:
· They don’t know how to use it
· They don’t know what suits them
· They don’t have the time
I believe a big part of this is the Beauty Retail Environment; it is outdated, overwhelming and isolates these women. Even as a professional makeup artist, I walk onto the Beauty Hall floor and want to run in the opposite direction. There’s so much choice and so little direction, help and problem solving and I wanted to set my brand apart from this.
My brand is all about easy to choose, easy to use products – makeup made easy. The artistry is in the products themselves, from the Cheek to Chic blushers which show you where to swish and pop colour to the Luxury Palettes which give you a step by step to the perfect smoky eye – I’m practically taking myself out of a job! We’ve sourced the most couture formulas and put them in ready-to-wear formats. It’s also a highly edited collection for get-it-at-a-glance women who don’t have the time, inclination or expertise to figure it out for themselves. You can simply choose one of my 10 iconic looks and go. It’s so easy, even a man could shop it!
BG: Can we focus on the "no-makeup makeup" look for a minute?
CT: A good skincare routine is essential for all makeup but especially for a fresh-faced, natural look. Even though the models look fresh-faced, there’s still some backstage makeup magic to creating this no-makeup look.
I never start makeup without my miracle-working moisturizer Magic Cream and my beauty flash, Wonderglow. Magic Cream is packed with active ingredients which turn around tired, dull and dehydrated skin into beautiful, glowing radiance. I like to apply this using my patented Pro-Collagen Wonder Workout. It’s a method I’ve developed over years to stimulate lymphatic drainage and de-puff the skin. Blend the moisturizer up and out over the cheeks, like angel wings, and then, using a pitter-patter “tapping” motion, tap across the nose, forehead, cheeks and chin to increase micro-circulation. It might sound like a lot of effort, but it only takes two minutes and really works to lift the complexion and define the bone structure too. I then follow this with Wonderglow, which has a breakthrough Fluorescent Core Technology that re-emits natural light through the skin for a lit-from-within effect. I call it Gisele-in-a-jar!
For a flawless base, follow with an airlight foundation and a hydrating concealer to cover up an areas of imperfection. My Light Wonder blends in seamlessly for natural-looking coverage – I usually use my fingers but for a perfected finish, use a foundation brush with man-made fibres. Brows are super important too – they are the pillars of the face and can really give definition and structure to the look. Brush them up and lightly fill in for a groomed finish.
In terms of looks, my Sophisticate palette has matte, earthy tones for the eyes and Beach Sticks over PillowTalk lip liner mimics the natural colour of the lips.
BG: The current contouring craze - or obvious, over-contouring craze - is driving some professional artists batty as they watch women on YouTube apply layer after layer of heavy makeup in an often unflattering fashion. What's your top tip or two on sculpting or shaping the face without overdoing it?
CT: A lot of women are afraid of it, but contouring is actually a really affordable, painless way of giving yourself a quick facelift. My top tip is contour with a precision brush for instant definition. You can carve out cheekbones and undercut jowls with just a few swipes of natural bronzer. Simply suck in your cheeks and follow the hollow and then paint along the jawline and temples for added definition. For added oomph and skin dripping in candlelight, use a highlighter on top of the cheekbones, down the nose and on the cupid’s bow. This will make your skin look lit from within!
BG: You must be bombarded with messages and tweets from aspiring makeup artists. What's your advice for someone who looks to you for artistic and career inspiration?
CT: You need to be professional, dedicated and hard-working. Most of all you need to have fun – to be successful you need to love what you do!
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I know, this is long! What do you think of Charlotte's approach to makeup and beauty? Do her beauty icons appeal to you? If you've tried anything from the line, do you have favourites?