This Sydney-based, world-renowned and award-winning makeup artist shares her love of beauty with Professional Beauty Editor Anita Quade.
AQ: You have won so many awards what is one of your stand-out moments?
“I was inducted into two separate ‘Halls of Fame’ for the beauty industry in one weekend! One was the ABIA and the other was Beauty Expo. Most make-up artists are pretty lucky to make it into one Hall of Fame, so it was amazing to make it into two.”
AQ: You are one of the most influential makeup artists in the world – how does that feel?
“It feels like you are talking about somebody else! I still have that slight uncomfortable feeling when I get referred to in that way. It also puts me into a very elite group of artists that have inspired me throughout my whole career.”
AQ: Tell us about your most cherished beauty memory?
“I remember when I started to embrace my very pale white skin, as a baby makeup artist I was always made to spray tan any pale girls whenever they had to wear swimsuits or show lots of skin, so from an early age I was taught that pale skin is not ‘Pretty’ it wasn’t ‘inspirational’. It was seen as either Goth, Emo or just a little weird. So the day I stopped tanning my skin and really started to love my paleness was such a special moment for me.”
AQ: You have described yourself as a tomboy more so than a girly girl so how did you develop a passion for beauty?
“I think now, reflecting back, I see myself as more androgynous. I never saw beauty in my early days as girly because I grew up in the ‘80s, an era when men wore as much makeup, sometimes even more makeup, than women. It was a time when punk, new romantic and even disco was everywhere. That’s where the passion and interest for me began, because it was always extreme . I find beauty in androgyny, and I also find beauty in the extremes – from masculine beauty to feminine beauty.”
AQ: You have done the makeup for some of the world’s most beautiful women including Naomi Campbell and Cate Blanchett. Any memories you can share?
“One of my favorite moments was when Kelly Rowland asked me for my autograph. Also sitting with Pink in her dressing room as she wrote the song “Sober” I would hear her bouncing lyric and sound ideas with her team, it’s a moment I’ll never forget! People always assume when I do celebrities it’s exciting. When I do celebrities it’s when I am my most nervous. Surprisingly it’s not their celebrity status that makes me nervous. It is knowing that this face has had the top global artists do their makeup before me. It’s always a battle for me wondering “Will my best makeup be good enough?”… but it always works out well.”
AQ: You started out as a hairdresser and then fell into makeup in 1993. Naomi Campbell crossed your path in your early career. Tell us about that.
“It was an accidental ‘right place, right time’ moment. I always explain it as five seconds of her life that changed mine forever. I fell into makeup… well not literally, although I have done that too! I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, and actually started out as a hairdresser, running my own salon at 19 years of age, and it was through that profession that I found myself at the ‘Model of the World’ pageant in Istanbul in 1993. I was attending to a model’s hair whilst on the other side of the room, Naomi Campbell (one of the judges), was having her makeup done. Suddenly, there was a flurry of angry voices and her makeup artist headed for the door… in the stunned silence that followed, Naomi glared around the room and as fate would have it her gaze fell on me. ‘Fix my lips’ she said. I looked at her mouth, then at the lip gloss on the bench and with a wave of unwarranted confidence thought ‘how hard can it be?!’ I picked up the lip gloss and got to work, and as I did the door burst open and whole room erupted in a blaze of flashlights… the paparazzi had arrived. Next thing I knew, my picture was plastered all over the tabloids and my makeup career had officially begun.”
AQ: What is it that you are drawn to with a makeup palette?
“I am still so passionate about makeup – not just the product and the art but what it can do for your confidence and in turn how your confidence can literally change your life. My goal is to bring you completely into my world, for you to see the potential in you that I as a professional makeup artist do, and in doing so change not just the way you look, but also the way you feel everyday.”
AQ: Is there any Hollywood star that is a stand-out at all for flawless skin?
“I would say 99% of the women I work with have incredibly flawless skin. They dedicate so much of their life to health and wellbeing, and it shows. A personal stand out for me is Frida Pinto.”
AQ: What is your go-to makeup look?
“Incredible skin, minimal foundation, a monochromatic contoured eye, sculptured features, glossy lip and a hint of cheek. To me it is all about subtlety.”
AQ: Is there a beauty trend you never want to see make a comeback?
“Yes, Metallic lips and the Instagram over baked, over-highlighted face. It wasn’t ever a trend in the fashion world, only ever in the Instagram world. It can look amazing on social media, but it’s just too heavy for real life.”
AQ: What do you think is the secret to your success?
“Thinking every job is my last job. The amount of dedication I do put into the craft is massive. I didn’t come into this industry with a huge amount of natural talent. I did have to learn from incredible mentors. There has never been a moment in my entire career when I have thought ‘This makeup is perfect’, which may sound like I am being too hard on myself but to me it motivates me to get better and better with each face.”
AQ: Any advice you would give to other makeup artists starting out?
“My best advice for other artists trying to make it in the fashion makeup industry is instead of worrying about how many followers you have on Instagram, just become the best makeup artist you can be. Just make women look like they are about to walk the red carpet at the academy awards, because that kind of makeup is what Vogue and all the A-grade celebs want. It will make you a superstar.
Another great piece of advice I love to give is that the best makeup artists know when to put the brush down!”
AQ: You have worked on so many overseas runways – are there any shows in particular that you loved?
“There was not one show that didn’t live up to being an awe-inspiring moment in my makeup career. Every show I ever worked on, I knew I was part of fashion history in the making. These international shows are where trends are born, whether it’s a makeup trend, a fabric trend or a shoe trend. Seeing it happen in real time is an extraordinary experience and I can’t put it into words.”
AQ: Was there anything missing in the makeup market that you thought was needed when you launched your line?
“In the brush world, yes. That’s why I created my own brush line. Five years ago there was a lack of diversity in the colour world. We are not where we should be yet, but we are definitely making great progress. I made my own invisible mattifying powder to suit every single skin type.”
AQ: What was the reaction like?
“The reaction was incredible. What blew me away the most was that the reaction was incredible from not only makeup artists, but also celebrities and models worldwide. It changed the way us as artists travelled with brushes. Being the world-first magnetic range, it got more attention than I expected.”
AQ: Do you have plans to expand your range?
“Yes, absolutely! I am actually currently in the process of designing an innovative and problem-solving makeup line like no other.”
AQ: How do you get inspired?
“Everything inspires me. Surprisingly architecture is one of my biggest inspirations. My new addiction is going onto Instagram and looking at my favorite artists from photographers to fashion designers and look at who they follow. I find so many hidden gems this way, such as creators and artists that have little-to-no following, but are there purely for the craft. The rabbit hole that I go down gives me so much inspiration.”
AQ: Are there any can’t-live-without products you have in your bag?
“Avene Cicalfate, my invisible mattifier and Mecca Cosmetica Lip-DeLuscious because it’s one of the very few lip balms that has sunscreen. I also love Dr Natasha Cook’s skincare line – I swear by it! I also love tubing mascaras because they don’t run or bleed out under the eyes. MAC Extended Play Mascara or Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara are some of my faves.”
AQ: What is one of the simplest makeup tips to boost appearance?
“One of the simplest things that anyone can do to make you appear healthier, more radiant and more youthful is to even out the skin tone. By this I mean applying foundation or a tinted moisturizer. Most of these have skincare benefits such as antioxidants and sunscreens. This is also why I designed my #26 and #28 brushes. When you apply these with a brush, the application time halves. Then add a hint of blush, some mascara and a little lip-gloss and you will look more radiant than you would with full-on eyes, lips and no foundation.”
AQ: Do you think you will ever put down the brush?
This article originally appeared in the July-August 2021 issue of Professional Beauty Magazine.
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