Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Young and Beautiful

Young and Beautiful..

On Monday 20th January something rather fortuitous happened. I received an e-mail from a high profile beauty industry insider saying "would it be possible to book a makeup session with you on the coming Saturday at 7pm? You are the best makeup artist I know and I always admire your work". So far so normal, I am a make-up artist after all.

As flattered as I was by the kind words and booking request, the only spanner in the works was that I hadn't worked in about a year. Last year I endured some serious health issues that nearly killed me. I was hospitalised for two months, three weeks of which were spent in intensive care. I was attached to several machines as I had suffered organ failure following major surgery on my legs. I was unable to walk and at one point it looked like I either wasn't going to pull through or that I'd have to have my legs amputated. So far so gruesome. So needless to say, I was somewhat nervous at the prospect of wielding my magic make-up brushes, given that I'd been in recovery up until December 2013.

Despite a serious case of jitters, I felt like this was the Universe's way of telling me to scrape myself off the floor and once again utilise the creativity that I've been blessed with. So I e-mailed the client back and said I'd be delighted to do the job. It turns out her daughter was attending a special birthday party and the make-up booking was for her. So I liased with her and discussed what sort of look she wanted. She said she wanted something "relatively sophisticated and not too out there" which was music to my ears as chic, glamourous beauty is most definitely one of my fortes.

So on Friday 24th January, I grabbed my make-up brushes (well some of them..I'm quite possibly the Imelda Marcos of make-up) and set about shampooing and conditioning them with my Aveda Shampure set (the most heavenly shampoo and conditioner) that infuses hair with one of Aveda's original aromas - a calming mix of 25 pure plant and flower essences. You just know Gwyneth Paltrow would approve. And besides, look after your tools and they'll look after you! I layed out my brushes flat on a towel to air dry overnight then edited and repacked my make-up kit to include everything I'd possibly need for my client the next evening. All my homework completed, I popped on Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and lost myself in Prada, Tiffany and F Scott Fitzgerald before indulging in some much-needed beauty sleep.

On Saturday 25th, I couldn't get Lana Del Rey's Young and Beautiful out of my head. She wrote the haunting track for Daisy Buchanan's character in the film and I spent most of Saturday listening to her album of the same name online. 

I'm very much inspired by films and music and I've no doubt a little Gatsby magic went with me to the job. The weather was vile, I can't abide the incessant drizzle in London, least of all when I have a make-up case to wield around town. So I went "back to black" and channelled my inner rocker, donning a layered black leather, denim and cotton jersey ensemble (very Rick Owens I thought and super practical for surviving the urban deluge). More of the look in a subsequent post.

So I headed to the client's house in Kensington Palace Gardens (aka billionaire's row). I've only been on the road twice before, once to the wedding of glamourous author and family friend Kathleen Tessaro at The Orangery (her tome Elegance was a New York Times best-seller). The only other time was for an event at the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal's house (the only time I have ever seen a Monet Water Lilie painting in a domestic setting). I got to High Street Ken an hour early, so stopped by Pret to grab a sandwich and hot chocolate. I was wearing a black sweatshirt emblazoned with a huge silver foil print Ethiopian Orthodox (Coptic) cross, a gift from one of my relatives. In my fit of nerves, I'd imagined my friend Laura singing Carrie Underwood's Jesus, Take The Wheel and figured I could do with some spirit, hence opting to wear him on my chest. I don't drive but I had no problem with the lord taking my wheel in the metaphorical sense. A beautiful Ethiopian barista served me and noted my t-shirt, asking me if I knew where it was from. I surprised her when I said "my mother is Habesha". Habesha is the generic term that people from my mother's country use to refer to what was once known as Abyssinia. I took this little exchange as a positive omen. Like Luke in Star Wars I had opted to use the force and apparently the force was with me.

This is a little make-up face chart that I made using the colours / products I used on my client. It's not the best. I did a couple when I trained at Dolce & Gabbana, NARS and MAC but that was a while ago now and I'm most definitely out of practice - but it gives you an idea of the overall look I designed.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, my client had e-mailed me a photo of herself "sans maquillage" to give me an idea of her facial structure and colouring, so I already had an inkling of what I hoped to create for her. She had the most gorgeous alabaster skin, high cheekbones and feline eyes - so I definitely wanted to enhance those features. 

I started by prepping her skin with NuBo's Cell Dynamic Velvet Cleansing Cream. This is my "go to" cleanser for clients and models because it plumps the skin up with peptides and calms with essence of rose. It helps of course that it smells of roses too, I always think that beauty ought to be a sensory experience.

I always have Caudalie's Beauty Elixir in my kit. I like to liberally spritz it over the face and neck after cleansing to hydrate and tone the skin prior to applying moisturiser. I also spritz the make-up at the end to keep everything dewy and radiant. This is another product that smells divine and it has a fantastically freshening effect on the complexion.

To hydrate and plump, I smoothed a couple of pumps of NuBo's Cell Dynamic Day Performance SPF 20 over the face and neck. I can't get enough of this lightweight yet uber-plumping and silky moisturiser as it really primes the skin for make-up and protects against urban aggressors. A smooth canvas is essential to creating beautiful make-up. Cosmetics can only do so much.

Post moisturiser, I smoothed a couple of pumps of NuBo's Cell Dynamic The Essence Bio-gold over the face and neck. This super-serum repairs, lifts, firms and plumps - a total "must have" for red carpet radiance.

The extremes of cold weather outdoors and central heating blazing indoors tends to reek havoc with the lips. To ensure my client's smackers were prepped to perfection, I slathered them generously in NuBo's Instant Lip Perfection SPF 15.

My canvas nearly complete, I applied Chanel's Le Blanc De Chanel sheer illuminating base with a foundation brush over the face and neck. This decadent  primer is the secret to that sought-after film star glow.

As my client was going to supper then out dancing, I knew I needed a base that would go the distance. I often use Chanel's Perfection Lumiere Long-Wear Flawless Fluid Makeup SPF 10 on celebrities for editorials as it photographs beautifully and remains immaculate even under intense studio lights. With foundation I usually blend shades together to create a bespoke match for the client. In this instance I used three, 10 Beige, 20 Beige and 12 Beige Rose.

I never go anywhere without my Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. I have all the shades and to this day think that there are hardly any brands that can touch it in regards to coverage, blendability and longevity. I used SC-2 with a concealer brush on my client after foundation to correct areas of redness on the cheeks and nose and for minor imperfections (she had virtually perfect skin - more so after this little gem). I also adore this for cleaning up the lip line when doing a bold lip, which is exactly what I did on this occasion.

One thing most of us can relate to is dark circles. I adore By Terry Touch Expert Advanced, it's like Harry Potter in a make-up pen. I blend it under eyes after applying eye makeup to banish "sleepy hollows". It is also fantastic blended over eyelids to correct discolouration, on the brow bone for an instant eye lift and as a highlighter on cheekbones, down the centre of the nose and along the cupid's bow to enhance the perfect pout.

After concealing, a lightly dusted the tiniest amount of Laura Mercier's Secret Brightening Powder along the T-Zone, over the lids and under the eyes. I kept the rest of the face devoid of powder as I knew I'd be using highlighting and bronzing powder to lift and sculpt those areas. There is nothing more ageing than excessive powdering - it is the enemy of a youthful, dewy complexion.

I blended the two lightest shades of Hourglass' Ambient Lighting Palette over the brow bones, down the centre of the nose, along the cupid's bow and across the cheekbones to lift the face. It is the secret to skin that looks as if it is lit from within.

I contoured under the cheekbones, into the hair line, down the sides of the nose, through the crease of the eye sockets, along the jaw line and down the sides of the neck with NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder. There's nothing quite like it for sculpted sophistication.

My client had very fair brows, so I used MAC Fling Eyebrow Pencil in little feathery strokes to mimic the hair growth, define and frame the eyes. I brushed through with a brow grooming brush from Daniel Sandler to blend and keep everything flawless.

I applied the NARS Eyeliner Pencil in Iceberg to the water line to open up my client's eyes. It is brilliant on fair complexions and especially to create a fresh "wide-eyed" ingenue look on more feline / almond eye shapes. 

I knew I wanted to sculpt the eyes but keep to a sophisticated neutral palette, so I blended the NARS Eye Shadow in Edie in the inner corners and across the lids to open up the eyes and really make them "pop".

I blended NARS Lola Lola Eye Shadow through the crease and along the outer edges of the lower lash line to contour, sculpt and add warmth. My client had stunning blue eyes and this rich, earthy brown shade really enhanced them.

For extra intensity, I further enhanced the crease with a little NARS Eye Shadow in Mekong, and again, smudged a tiny bit along the outer edge of the lower lash line. I didn't bother with liner as my client had recently had semi-permanent black liner tattooed along her upper lash line and didn't need it. 

I curled her lashes with my Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers (or instruments of torture as she endearingly called them), again to really open up the eyes for maximum flutter.

I "zigzagged" one coat of NARS Larger Than Life Volumizing Mascar through the top lashes from root to tips, then turning the wand vertically and using what was left to lightly enhance the fine lower lashes.

Using a little Duo Lash Adhesive on the back of my hand, I applied some individual false lashes to the outer corners of the top lashes to enhance the client's dreamy cat eyes, finishing with an extra slick of mascara once the glue had dried.

To compliment my client's killer LBD and skyscraper Louboutins, not to mention her crimson manicure, I filled in her lips entirely with NARS Lip Liner in Jungle Red, slightly over-drawing the lip shape to cheat a fuller pout. Filling in the lips with a colour-coordinated liner before applying your lippy is the way to make your lip colour last all day / night and can be done in any shade.

The final touch was a slick of NARS Semi Matte Lipstick in Jungle Red. I blotted the colour after the first application, then applied a second coat (both with a lip brush to really push the pigment into the lips). I left her the lipstick to take in her handbag just in case she needed touch ups. Red lipstick is super glamourous when done right but with all bold lips, it can be high maintenance. Plus I knew there was supper and drinks (and possibly kissing) on the horizon.
A final spritz of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir was the "piece de resistance" to keep everything fresh and glowy. My client looked gingerly into her mirror to see the end result and said "I look like someone from The Great Gatsby". 

"Is that good?" I asked and she replied "it's amazing!"


NuBo Velvet Cleansing Cream 100ml - £39
NuBo Cell Dynamic Day Performance SPF 20 30ml - £120
NuBo Cell Dynamic The Essence Bio-gold 30ml - £200
NuBo Instant Lip Perfection SPF 15 - £38


Caudalie Beauty Elixir 100ml - £32



Chanel Le Blanc De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base - £31
Chanel Perfection Lumiere Long-Wear Flawless Fluid Make-Up SPF 10 - £36


Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage SC-2 - £26
Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, No.1 - £18.50


By Terry Touch Expert Advanced - £32
Hourgalss Ambient Lighting Palette - £56


NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder - £26
NARS Iceberg Eyeliner Pencil - £16
NARS Edie Shimmer Eyeshadow - £18
NARS Lola Lola Shimmer Eyshadow - £18
NARS Mekong Shimmer Eyeshadow - £18
NARS Larger Than Life Volumizing Mascara - £18.50
NARS Jungle Red Lip Pencil - £16.50
NARS Jungle Red Semi Matte Lipstick - £18.50


Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler - £20


MAC No.30 Lashes - £10
Duo Lash Adhesive - £10



  1. Welcome back beautiful, to make up and blogging glad to have you back in the game x

    1. Thanks so much honey. That means a lot <3 x