Makeup guru, Lisa Eldridge, has a huge roster of celebrity clients and a portfolio bursting with gorgeous editorials. Read Savoir Flair‘s interview with her to find out what inspires her and how she got her start as a makeup artist.
Did you experiment with makeup when you were young?
I used to love playing with makeup, but I didn’t really do it on my own face so much. I used to like putting it on other people. The other thing I used to do when I was around 14 was that I’d get home and then put my Mom’s makeup on my face just to try things out, but then I always washed it off. I didn’t actually wear makeup myself on my own face until I was probably about 16 or 17 – quite old, really. But I’m always playing with makeup on paper or on other people.
Was your mother’s beauty routine an influence on your love of makeup?
I think so; my Mom was a real makeup queen. She was really into skincare and always massaging her face at night and she had loads of makeup. I remember we lived in New Zealand when I was really young and then we went to England to stay at my grandparents’ house, and I found a box of makeup that had been my Mom’s when she was a teenager. It was just amazing – all the colors, pencils, makeup, and all these incredible things! I was absolutely blown away by it.
Can you share with us a tip you’ve picked up from your mother?
My Mom’s big thing is facial massage, so sometimes in the evenings we’d watch television and she would be massaging her face, which at that time I used to think was so weird. Now I realized that’s why she looks so good – my mom looks really, really young – I think it’s all that massaging she did with her face. It kept her facial muscles very toned and kept the circulation going on her skin. She still really loves skincare now and she’s always taking off her makeup really well every night and she still massages her face. So it’s something I really believe in now as well.
Describe your career trajectory for us, starting with your educational background.
My Mom’s friend bought me a book for my 13th birthday that was all about stage makeup, and I was really into the book. And then I started doing makeup for school plays – making people look older, shading, all of that which I really loved. And then thought I wanted to do something creative and artistic and make it in the fashion business, but I didn’t really know anyone in that industry and also I didn’t live in London, so it was quite hard to find out about it because it was before the internet so, there weren’t really any makeup schools. People really didn’t know about models or magazines because there was nowhere to find information out.
I did several little things. I did a basic makeup course and then a theatrical makeup and costume design course and then I couldn’t find any other courses to do. So I moved to London and started a photographic makeup course and started to meet likeminded people. Then I went to Milan for about three months doing lots of testing, doing my first little bit of magazine work and then eventually I signed in with an agent in London. I came back to London and my portfolio was looking quite good then and then after that it happened quite quickly because I started to get really good jobs and started to make a name for myself. After a couple of years of making a name for myself in England, I then moved to Paris for three years doing loads of editorials, so then I continued with that. And then in 1998, I was asked by Shiseido to design a makeup range from scratch and that was first time I ever worked with product development – that’s really great. I used to go to Tokyo quite a lot and I had a blank piece of paper and I just designed a makeup range from scratch and that was fabulous! Ever since then, I’ve done makeup ranges for all sorts of people – it just continued to grow and grow, really. I’m been in the business for over twenty years now and it’s always evolving and I still love it.
"I don’t ever feel like I’m working – ever. I feel like I’m doing what I love and I get to be creative; I get to play and I just feel so fulfilled by it. It makes me so happy."
Do you have plans anytime soon to create your own makeup brand?
Maybe. At the moment I’m working with Chanel doing digital projects for their website and I’m also doing things with Boots’ No. 7. So I feel incredibly experienced now having worked for so many companies in terms of product development – I can almost do it in my sleep now. So yeah, I guess it would be the next logical step.
What are three makeup brands that you use the most?
I use such a mixture of brands so it’s really hard to answer that. I like different kinds of things and brands. I change a lot. I think it’s easy now to find really good makeup on the high street because the technology is available across the board and the thing that makes the difference with prices often is the packaging and the marketing. There’s not that much difference with the formulation, and with certain things it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t make so much of a difference. The packaging, marketing, and advertising really adds millions to makeup brands’ budget and then therefore they are going to be a lot more expensive. So whenever I can use something cheaper, I will.
Any tips on improving one’s complexion naturally?
Just really great skincare – it’s so important to start early. My main tips are to really cleanse your face and make sure you don’t leave makeup on at night. If you really think about your skin and what it needs and you buy the right products for your skin and you use them properly, it will make such a huge difference. If you have problems with skin, seek help and go to the doctor and don’t just put up with it. It does boil down to just really looking after your skin.
Do you see yourself as an artist? What do you love the most about makeup artistry?
Yeah, I think it is an art. I love faces – I love drawing on faces because it’s always so different. I don’t ever feel like I’m working – ever. I feel like I’m doing what I love and I get to be creative; I get to play and I just feel so fulfilled by it. It makes me so happy.
"If you really think about your skin and what it needs and you buy the right products for your skin and you use them properly, it will make such a huge difference."
Your YouTube channel is wildly popular. What made you decide to tap the Internet as an audience?
Well, I was asked to do a TV show here in the UK and in the beginning I wasn’t sure of doing it, as I’ve been quite high profile and done such great work in fashion. I was a bit frightened about going into television. At first it was a challenge but it ended up really fun and interesting. I did a show called “Ten Years Younger”. One person was doing surgery and alternatively I would do the natural way to look good, so I would do facials, makeup, and hair and then the other would have surgery. And then we see the results in the end. I worked with really lovely women and picked up amazing lessons from them. But the thing that really annoyed me about the show was that I’d filmed the makeup and then discussed the skincare and then it would be edited – I wouldn’t see the edit so they cut out what I believed to be the best information. I was watching it and I was just shouting at the television saying “ugh, they cut out the best tip about the lips!” so I felt really frustrated about that. At the same time, I used to have a normal website with a gallery of my work and while the show was on, I noticed that I was getting thousands and thousands of hits on my website because people would see me on the show – you know the power of television. And then they would Google me and they were looking at my website and saw nothing there because it was just a portfolio. I started to get loads and loads of questions so it just made sense. I didn’t like the editing of the show and I wanted to make my own films and I wanted to make my website more of a destination for all of the people that would comment. And also I wanted to answer all the questions because I couldn’t reply to the letters – there were just too many. So I thought of making a film and making my website more of a destination, and answering all the questions in the film. And that’s what I still continue to do. Most of the films are based on questions I get from the website. So if I get loads and loads of questions about something, I would normally try and make a film about it. And it just really grew from there. It’s nice to have control over the films because I wanted them to look really high quality – to look really professional.
At that time, I looked at all the other films on YouTube and thought all the people were doing it in their bedrooms – I mean it’s fun and I thought it was great and I think it’s nice that girls are sharing information. I’ve got nothing against it but at that time, there was no one who was doing it on a clean, white background and just talking about makeup. I mean there isn’t anyone at my level that’s doing it on there. It just kind of made sense and happened at the right time, really.
Tell our readers 5 tried-and-true Beauty “Do’s.”
- You have to consider your neck and all the exposed skin when doing your foundation. So you get a nice even look all over your face, neck, and everything else.
- I would also say to apply makeup in thin layers. You don’t always need to pile everything on. The thinner the layers, the more buffed and blended the makeup is, the longer it lasts – especially in hot cities like Dubai. If you put too much moisturizer and foundation, that’s going to come off so much quicker than a little bit less.
- Always apply SPF if you’re going to be in the sun because it’s really the basic requirement of good skin. If you have sun damage, you’ll spend years trying to get rid of it. Otherwise you get an accumulation of skin problems and you’re going to need more makeup.
- Look at what you need; don’t just automatically apply everything. Your face really changes a lot throughout the year so you don’t have to apply the same amount of makeup everyday on your face.
- Make sure you step back when you’re doing your makeup because if you do everything really close to the mirror, when you step back one eye will be different from the other. It’s good for applying but every now and then just step back, look at your makeup from a little bit further back. So you’ll see parts that need to be blended a bit more. Look at your face side to side and then check if everything’s good on the jaw line.
Tell our readers 5 definite Beauty “Don’ts.”
- Don’t over pluck your eyebrows because it’s very hard to get them back. Just take the minimum amount of hair off to get a nice shape. Try not to over pluck, especially at the top. And when you’re going to have them threaded, speak to the person; make sure you know what you want. Look at their eyebrows – if theirs are very thin then you know they’re going to do the same for you. So look after your eyebrows because if they’re gone, they’re gone, and they can never grow back.
- Don’t overload foundation because it’s much easier to put a thin layer on and then add a bit more where you need it. Rather than put a mask all over your face, which in daylight looks horrible – really doesn’t look nice – try to put foundation on in the same light as you’re going to be out in. So during the day, try to apply it in daylight.
- Try not to sleep with your makeup because it does give you puffiness; it can give your skin breakouts and is quite an aging thing to do. Even if it’s late, try and take your makeup off.
- Be careful when you’re mixing cream and powder textures. If you have a cream foundation, I would say don’t powder over and then put cream blusher on. Make sure it’s “like for like”. So cream goes on top of cream and powder goes on top of powder. And that would really help your makeup look so much better.
- Look out for harsh lines. I think that’s what ruins other people’s makeup. Contouring, eyebrows, and lip liner should always be blended because it just looks bad if you see a very hard line. It looks awful, especially on photographs.
Photos: Courtesy of Lisa Eldridge and Getty Images