Morning Routine: How Makeup Artist Mary Greenwell Starts Her Day

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mary greenwell morning routine
Photo: Courtesy of @marygreenwell

Successful people around the world have their morning routines down to a fine art. So just how does celebrity makeup artist Mary Greenwell start her day? Savoir Flair gets a peek into her morning rituals, from her trusted bathing routine to her makeup must-haves.


If I have a day at home here in London, I always wake up at 6 a.m. regardless of what time I go to bed, which is why I’m always exhausted! If I’m not going straight to work, then I’m afraid I’m one of those people – I’m going to own up – who picks up their phone first thing. I check my messages and e-mails and then, of course, go straight onto Instagram, which is a nightmare. But I think most of us do that, so I’m being honest! I’m forgiving myself and everyone else who does it [laughs].

One of the reasons I grab my phone first thing is because, even though I have a partner in Greece, I have nothing else to grab! I don’t have a baby or a dog or person there, so my instinct is to communicate. That makes me sound lonely and sad, and I’m actually not. I do turn on the radio immediately and make myself very busy, so I don’t lie in bed and ponder, which I think is a dangerous thing for anyone to do.

I have BBC Radio 4 on every single morning – it’s the most informative, brilliant program in the world. I was devastated when John Humprys retired a few weeks ago. He’s just so amazing and he gave such a sweet speech thanking everyone. It was the end of an era. I love all the new presenters, but there’s no one like him.

mary greenwell cate blanchett
Photo: Courtesy of @cate_blanchettofficial

I don’t seek inspiration from Instagram, I just like to see what my friends are up to. I follow lots of friends in the business, and I might be feeling insecure about it – like everyone does – but for me, it’s about seeing what the people I love are doing. There are some makeup artists I really admire and I’m amazed by their work, but that doesn’t inspire me. I’ve been around too long for that. I’ve done classic makeup since 1984!

What I care most about is enhancing, that’s what excites me the most. I want people to book me because I make them feel good.

Makeup has moved into this world of carnival makeup simply because there’s nowhere else for it to go. I love it and think it’s amazing, and you have these incredible new textures coming out. Someone like Pat McGrath, for example, has this fantastic line that’s all about creativity. Makeup has improved so much over the last 20 years, and that’s what makes it so exciting.

What gets me feeling creative is when I’m put on the spot and told to do something creative. The last time I did that was a few days ago with Amelia Clarke. That’s when you can really have fun. Because I work so much with beautiful people, what I care most about is enhancing, that’s what excites me the most. I want people to book me because I make them feel good.

mary greenwell lily james
Photo: Courtesy of @marygreenwell

Every morning, I make a really big cup of fresh lemon and warm water and literally gulp that down straight away, so it cleanses my system and gets my body alkalized. Then I have a spoonful of manuka honey because it’s really, really good for you. Next, I run my bath and always add in Epsom salts as they’re amazing to cleanse the body, clean the skin, and remove toxins. I use one big bag of them every single day. It’s terribly extravagant, but I do!

I make two huge cups of regular English breakfast tea with coconut or almond milk as I don’t drink normal milk anymore, and they come to the bath with me. So now I’m lying in my bath, in heaven, and I start doing some little exercises as I hurt my leg really badly. I do lots of spine stretches and leg exercises for my knees, basically having a really lovely time! While I’m in the bath, I wash my face with my favorite face wash in the world, the Exuviance ‘Gentle Cleansing Cream’ – it’s amazing. I also use the Exuviance microdermabrasion scrub three times a week.

I wash my hair every four days because it’s very dry and doesn’t get dirty. And when I do, I use my favorite shampoo and conditioner from Virtue. I actually leave the conditioner in my hair and don’t rinse it out at all because my hair is so dry and wild! Then, having washed and conditioned my hair – I’m still in the bath, remember! – I put on the 111Skin ‘Bio Cellulose’ face mask. I love the Chanel ‘Body Excellence’ cream, so that goes on my body when I finally get out of the bath and dry myself.

I haven’t used deodorant in 20 years after discovering the Pierre Fabre ‘Septeal’ antiseptic in Paris, which I just splash under my arms. I don’t care about sweating, I’m not a sweaty person, but of course, I care about bacteria and smell. This kills all the bacteria, so you’ll never smell, and it has nothing bad in it – it’s simply a splash of antibacterial! I use it every single day. This whole process is why I have to spend at least 20 minutes in the bath every morning. Luckily, I’m blessed to have a very selfish lifestyle, and it’s all about me in the morning because I only have myself to think about! My whole regime is about spending time in the bath to purify and detoxify.

While my body cream sinks in, I lay a big white towel on the floor and start to do my exercises. I do cat stretches, bridges, stretches – simple things like that. Nothing that’s going to freak my body out or cause damage. I do those for about 15 minutes if I’m not going to Pilates.

By the time I finish those, my body is dry and my two cups of tea are long gone, so I go to the kitchen for breakfast, where I will have prepared muesli with chia seeds and goji berries, soaked in nut milk again. It’s amazing how much they all expand, just a little bit ends up being a big bowl! I take my vitamins then, too, and I take a good handful of them. Vitamin C, Vitamin B, turmeric – you name it, it goes in. I really believe that vitamins are incredible.

I’ll then take my mask off and splash on the 111Skin ‘Antioxidant Essence’ and eye gel before using the ‘Y Theorem Serum’ and day cream. My skin really needs all the hydration it can possibly get, and it’s really hydrated after all these levels of nourishment.

I then move straight into makeup. I start with the Chanel ‘Les Beiges Water Fresh Tint’, which I love, and the Armani concealer under my eyes, which I adore. Then I use the Chanel ‘Cuivre Lamé’ eyeshadow on my lids. It’s just divine. My favorite mascara is the Sensai ‘38°C Volumising Mascara’, which I’m obsessed with, and I love my Guerlain bronzer. It has a little bit of pink in it, so adds a subtle flush. I apply it with a really big brush, so I’m not precise about it at all. I’ll also use a tiny bit of the Charlotte Tilbury powder on my forehead.

The new Victoria Beckham lip liners are amazing. I use shade ‘No. 06’ – it’s the dreamiest color, and you can mix anything with it. That’s my new favorite hero product! The lipstick I’ve been using forever is ‘Creme in Your Coffee’ by MAC. It’s my go-to color and it looks amazing on everyone. It’s the best color in the world.

I don’t think about myself again during the day, and I never reapply my makeup. Firstly, because I don’t want to wear too much and, secondly, because of my profession. I’ve managed to put it on well enough to last all day! I can get it done in 10 minutes, and that’s it.

I wish I could say I go for a long walk in the park etc, but I don’t. I think you need a dog for that because then you have to go! Once I’m out the door, I’m out the door. I’m either going to work with two cases of makeup or I’m coming to meet you, for example, and that keeps me active as I’m walking about. And I make sure I’ve done my 15 minutes of stretching in the morning, so I forgive myself for not getting an exercise class in.

I have two assistants who come to my house when I really want things sorted – especially when it comes to my makeup and makeup room! But most of the time, I kind of know what I’m doing and I’m actually very organized. I have one trait that I’m very proud of, and it’s that I cannot be late. I’m always early, and I have to apologize! Being late is so rude. It’s unacceptable.

mary greenwell makeup artist morning routine
Photo: Courtesy of @marygreenwell

I’m very strict with myself, and I can be very hard on myself and supercritical. I don’t pat myself on the back enough, but I think most of us are like that – we’re all guilty of it.

I feel very, very blessed, and I know I am.

I do try and remember to be thankful in the morning to be grateful for another day. That’s really important. I feel very, very blessed, and I know I am, so I try to acknowledge that. How lucky am I to spend an hour on myself in the morning without anyone interrupting me? I’m very lucky to be in the position that I’m in to be able to do that.

It takes me two minutes to get dressed, I really couldn’t give a damn about what I wear. Before I leave, I always put on my Chanel ‘Rue Cambon’ fragrance, then I’m out the door.

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