Lisa Eldridge is one of the world’s most famous and respected makeup artists. She’s also the world’s first omnichannel makeup artist. Lisa Eldridge was the first A-list makeup artist to take to Youtube with convincing zeal in 2010. She’s since then garnered 4 million followers across Instagram and Youtube turned her blog into a profitable e-commerce channel, published her non-fiction book Face Paint: A Story of Makeup and hosted and produced a BBC docuseries on cosmetics through the ages.
Her approach to her own cosmetics line has been equally thoughtful. Starting with a single SKU Lisa Eldridge is slowly expanding her range. With the launch of her foundation, we took a look back out our interview with her for the September-October technology issue in which she discussed what drives our appetite for beauty, her career, from A-List MUA to creative director to product formulator and the work and thought behind creating your own line.
What people want: luxury
“There is so much to say about the subject of luxury. If we look at the provenance of certain kohl ingredients that came in and out of fashion during the Egyptian dynasties, or how ‘Venetian’ ceruse (although very similar to ceruse sourced from anywhere else) had cache and desirability, you can really understand how the notion of ‘being the best’ has always appealed to humans. That is why luxury, quality and desirability continue to thrive in the industry today.
Ever since I stumbled across a box of my mum’s old makeup at my grandmother’s house when I was six years old, I’ve been fascinated by the stories that makeup can tell. When I put makeup onto someone’s face, I understand there’s a long and intricate story behind every item I use. Whether it’s the 40,000-year history of rouge of the 2,000-year history of eyeshadow.
Before I got a book deal, I had 10 years’ worth of research on my laptop, I’m so pleased that people seem to be as fascinated by the subject as I am, it’s become an international bestseller that’s been produced in over 10 different languages.
The idea of luxury today is changing fast – now it’s more tied up with ideas of authenticity, true vision and sustainability. I believe customers are looking for something more meaningful and thoughtful.”
The technology behind Lisa Eldridge cosmetics:
“I’ve held Creative Director and product development positions for many of the world’s top brands. I have an in-depth, inside-out knowledge of how the business works – and I’ve been able to learn how makeup is made, marketed and sold while understanding how the ways in which perceptions of beauty differ throughout the world.
Ever since I first stepped into a cosmetic lab (for Shiseido in Japan 1999) the production of makeup is something that has captivated me in a way I never thought it would. I’ve seen first-hand that the creativity in cosmetics labs is just mind blowing. The imagination and originality that goes into the science behind makeup is equal to the creativity of the art you can create with the product. After 20 years I now have a comprehensive knowledge of cosmetic chemistry, and I’m as interested in the science, technology and history of makeup as I am going on a shoot and pulling colours out of kit and daubing them onto a face. There is a lot of care and attention to detail in everything I produce, I have very high standards and I’m very exacting!”
The inspiration behind Lisa Eldridge Cosmetics:
“The process behind products always starts with months (sometimes years) of research. I’m a huge geek when it comes to art, culture, science and history, and so in the research phase, finding inspiration and brainstorming ways to make sure my ideas are fresh and modern is one of my favourite parts of the process. I like pushing the boundaries, I never want to do something that’s been done before.
When I was creating my lipsticks, I had a dream that I was doing someone’s makeup using lipsticks that were made from velvet. I was so inspired by the dream that I did an editorial shoot with Teen Vogue using real velvet fabric instead of lipstick. The pictures looked fantastic – but it wasn’t very comfortable for the model! I always had that in mind, I always wondered if it would be possible to create a lipstick like the one in my dream.
When it came to production, I knew exactly what I wanted the formula to look and feel like. We had to go back to the drawing board a couple of times, but eventually managed to create a brand-new mould using ground-breaking technology, which enabled the creation of my ‘first to market’ “true” velvet texture. One of the most satisfying parts was seeing the look on people’s faces when they saw the product. They always say ‘wow’ and ‘how?’ I knew I had made something special. I also put a lot of work into undertones of each shade. To the untrained eye a lipstick may look red, but where that shade would traditionally have blue undertones, I’ve added orange or terracotta or pink. I call them my secret pigments! That’s what gives the shades their chameleon quality, which is what I’m most proud of and what sets them apart.”
“I’ve seen how technology is changing in the beauty industry – the things we can now do with textures and formulas is truly ground-breaking. I always want to ensure that my products are backed by science and innovative ingredients. I first discovered Filmexcel, one of the ingredients in my Elevated Glow Highlighter, quite a few years ago and I was determined to include it in my first complexion launch. It’s a brilliantly clever, film-forming biopolymer that gives a sculpted and lifted effect to the skin – but also has hydrating and protective qualities so feels exceptionally comfortable to wear. Having worked on countless faces over the years I know that areas of the face we like to highlight can be problematic, the last thing we want to draw attention is fine lines around the upper cheek area or pigmentation, texture and pores. It made sense to create something that imparts glow and helps to treat the skin.”
“With the packaging, people often ask me why I didn’t choose to use vintage-inspired packaging for my own makeup line, but the items in my collection are from brands who created something new for the era. To explain, I don’t collect 1930s brands that were inspired by Victorian-looking makeup. What I love most about the pieces is that they were forward-thinking for their era, which is why they’ve stood the test of time. So, when it came to creating my line, I wanted the packaging to feel quality, chic and modern.
I also didn’t set out with my packaging to make it feel luxury or any one way. I want my products to feel authentic to me, and that they’re products I would genuinely want to use myself, on my clients and in my kit. As a makeup artist, I’m lucky that I have a lot of willing clients who I can test my products on, so I can really see how they come to life on different skin textures and tones, and how they work with other products in my kit. All that testing is hopefully something that comes across when people use the products for themselves.”
Diversity in the industry:
“Diversity is a huge issue, and modern beauty plays a very tangible role in creating a more inclusive world. In my book, I delve into the role that makeup has played in women’s history – it really reflects the social, cultural, economic and political movements of the time. Today, there’s a true sense of people questioning and challenging stereotypical notions of beauty. It’s so much easier to find a wider spectrum of genders, ethnicities, religions, sizes and ages represented than it was even five years ago.
We also need to think beyond visual representation. Having launched my own brand, there is no way I would create a product that wasn’t fully inclusive – I have always shot my lipstick collection on a range of beautiful models to see how their undertones come to life on different skin tones. The shades are for everyone and that’s really the bare minimum of what the beauty industry as a whole should be doing today. Customers are finally calling out brands that don’t consult and represent properly, and those voices are powerful – brands have no choice but to listen and take action.”
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