Golden Girl – Liz Kelsh

With a portfolio spanning celebrity darlings to glossy magazines, advertising campaigns to fashion weeks around the globe, Australian ambassador for Max Factor, Liz Kelsh, proves that instinct is the greatest key to her success.



I’ve loved makeup for as long as I can remember. Some kids collect crayons; I collected lipsticks. Around the age of 18 I phoned a modelling agency and asked if they had any advice as to how I would go about becoming a makeup artist. They invited me to work on their model test shoot every Saturday and that was the start of my career. I learned valuable lessons on the effect of light on makeup, how makeup changes in black and white and the different effects of studio and location lighting. Looking back, most lessons were learnt through trial and error.

When I was growing up my mum would take shortcuts through department stores to keep out of the rain and the cosmetic floor always seemed to be such a magical, beautiful smelling place. She was certainly a big supporter and an influence for me.

With no formal training the next step was to concentrate on building a book I could be proud of. I was lucky enough to collaborate with industry greats like photographer Steven Chee and hairstylist Renya Xydis and together we did some amazing submissions — a collaboration of hair, makeup, styling and photography put forward to feature in magazines. We put together submissions for titles like Cream, Russh and Oyster.

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The thing I love most about makeup is it allows you to be all you can be, it can be a fashion statement, your best friend if you’re having a bad skin day or a confidence booster. My signature style is skin. I love skin to look perfect (but still like skin) and from there, as every face is different, so is the style of makeup I choose for it.

Technology makes information so accessible to us so it is easy to stay on top of the trends with online blogs and fashion sites constantly updated with the latest news. Even though it is important to keep abreast of trends I try not to stick to them too rigidly. I use them as inspiration to create looks and then tailor them to suit. Certain looks don’t work for everyone so the most important thing is that the finished product looks good. For spring, expect to see lots of matt red lips, big bold brows and lots of eyeliner — but not all together!


I gather inspiration from everywhere — the past, present and future. Making sure I’m on top of what is happening overseas is also important. As they are always a season ahead, I take what they are doing and tailor it to suit the more relaxed Australian lifestyle. I live and breathe makeup so from the places I visit to the people I work with I am constantly feeling inspired. I have great admiration for fellow makeup artist Pat McGrath; her endless creativity is astounding to observe.



There is an expression ‘love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life’. That has definitely been true for me with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. Particular highlights include Paris Fashion Week and covers, which are always fantastic, especially the likes of Vanity Fair or Harper’s Bazaar. Recently I did the make up for actress Cate Blanchett on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. Cate has such a natural yet ethereal beauty about her that is like no other. She’s as beautiful on the inside as she is out so that always makes work a pleasure.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of Hollywood’s most recognised names such as Jennifer Anniston, Nicole Kidman, Dita Von Teese, Hugh Jackman, Vanessa Hudgens and Kim Catrell and designers such as Stella McCartney, Easton Pearson, Yeojin Bae and Robert Cavalli but being backstage at John Galliano for Paris Fashion Week was incredible. I remember being very star struck when I first saw John Galliano in the flesh; he was so charismatic and had such a presence about him — like an aura. Working backstage at fashion shows is one of the best things about being a makeup artist. It’s chaotic but always a great vibe.

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