Beauty Secrets of a Pro: Tom Pecheux

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Often considered one of the most influential people in the beauty industry, Tom Pecheux became Creative Makeup Director of Estée Lauder in November 2009. Here, he reveals his top beauty secrets and some all-important dos and don’ts.

How did your love for beauty begin?

It really started by accident. I was a pastry chef but I didn’t really enjoy working in the kitchen. One night I went to a party and met a girl who was at makeup school. I didn’t even know makeup could be a profession. But something clicked inside my head that this was the career for me, so I enrolled in the Ecole Chauveau in Paris. From there, I experimented with makeup for theater, ballet, and fashion for the next three to four years until I realized that fashion was where I wanted to be.

Do you think your early work as a pastry chef has somehow influenced your work in beauty?

Yes, because I love to “cook” or blend colors and makeup. I love to take a shimmer and a cream or a gel or an oil and I like to mix all these things together. I love creating my own colors which is how I often create my runway looks.

You have been in the beauty business for 25 years. What has most changed over that time?

Definitely the quality of the products. When I first started, makeup was heavy and cakey. The look was very glamorous but very severe. Now, because of technology, we are able to bring a lightness to the face and to break some rules. Before, you weren’t able to have the smudgey, smokey eye or the full, natural lip. Now, makeup can be more casual and sensual.

Which designers do you love working with and why?

I love working with Jean Paul Gaultier because he is so creative and Derek Lam because I love his vision of women. But, in general, I have liked all the designers I’ve worked with because they each have a different talent.

What do you hope to bring to the Estée Lauder brand?

I hope to bring more fantasy, fashion and sensuality. When I create products, my challenge is to create something with a nod to fashion that women globally will like.

Where do you get your inspiration for colors?

It can come from anywhere. Most of the time, it is from my relationships with people who have great taste – designers, artists, and the likes. But, it can also come from a trip, a piece of fabric, a contemporary gallery, or elsewhere.

Tom Pecheux makeup artist 1

“I think the Estée Lauder brand has an amazing story. I love women with power and character, and I think Madame Lauder had a lot of both. She created an incredible business that is still a market leader today.”

What is the one thing you focus on when bringing out the beauty in a woman?

For me it is definitely the skin. Like a painter, if your canvas is not well prepared, you cannot create a good painting. Foundation is so important. It’s like a beautiful dress that you put on and then you can accessorize with mascara, eyeshadow, and lipstick.

How many lipstick shades does a woman need?

How many clothes do you need?! You need the basics: a cocktail dress and an evening dress. With makeup, it is the same. You need the basics, but also other colors to create a special moment. But don’t change your makeup for the first time before a special moment. Try it out beforehand.

What is your favorite part of a woman’s face?

The eyes. When women wear eye makeup it brings sensuality to the face. Blush brings health. Lips bring sophistication.

Does beauty follow fashion or fashion follow beauty?

Do men follow women or women follow men? It is complementary. You need to find a balance.

Please tell us your five makeup Dos.

  1. Do look at color as fantasy. I’m not telling you to take off your usual makeup and wear blue, green, or violet. Just slightly change whatever you already do. Just add a touch of color. The base can stay the same. It’s like wearing clothes. Your body stays the same, you just change the clothes.
  2. Do buy two different foundations; one that is two shades lighter than your skin tone and another that is two shades darker. You then mix them together to adapt to your skin tone as you go from a paler shade in winter to a tanned skin in the summer.
  3. Do go to the beauty counter often and let professionals help you with different looks and colors. Makeup is not a tattoo. It is not permanent. All you need is some cotton pads and makeup remover if you don’t like something.
  4. Do consider Q-tips and fingers your best friends in makeup application. They are essential for blending.

Please tell us your five makeup Don’ts.

  1. Don’t see makeup as work. Have fun with it by getting your girlfriends together, laughing, and doing whatever you like with it.
  2. Don’t apply makeup in the car or in between errands. Because applying makeup is now an everyday routine, I think that women have lost the romance of application and end up with a heavy hand. Take your time and appreciate the art of applying makeup beautifully.
  3. Don’t consider makeup a ceremonial task only for when you are going out on a date. Makeup is playful and fun and should be a part of your everyday routine.
  4. Don’t use a pink blush. No one is pink! Peach is the best color.

Photos: Courtesy of ESTEE LAUDER

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