Read our interview with Charlotte Tilbury on how she used fashion, friends, and foundation to create a beauty empire.
British make-up artist, Charlotte Tilbury, is a force to be reckoned with. With over 25 years at the forefront of the makeup industry working with the world’s A-list models, celebrities and designers, Charlotte has poured her best-kept secrets into an edited but ‘all you need’ skincare and make-up collection. Her eponymous range has broken all records, inspiring passion and devotion in equal measure, transforming the face of the beauty industry, and how women buy and wear make-up.
Believing that beauty is not an exclusive club, and make-up is every woman’s secret power, Tilbury got to where she is through graft, with sheer determination and some genius products, sometimes even tried-and-tested on Kate Moss, going from makeup artist to the owner of a globally stocked beauty brand in the time it takes most start-ups to establish themselves in a single market.
Her mission is to share this power using digital platforms and award-winning products, to show every woman how easy it is to look and feel like the most beautiful versions of themselves every single day. So, as she launches her award-winning make-up revolution in the Middle East, starting with opening her largest store in the world, we talk to the auburn-haired beauty about how it all started, and the magic behind her cult products.
How did you start out as a make-up artist in the fashion industry?
My ambition and journey as a make-up artist started back when I was growing up in Ibiza, it is such a magical, bohemian place. I was constantly surrounded by a melting pot of creatives and visionaries who sparked my own creativity and I was therefore always walking a path towards make-up artistry. My talented father, Lance, as a painter in Ibiza, gave me an amazing root in colours, tonality, and contrasts.
I discovered make-up and became fascinated by its power when I was 13, it changed my life. I started wearing mascara and overnight, everyone from 7–70 reacted to me in a very different way, making me instantly more empowered, magnetic, and mesmerising, I felt enriched with confidence. I always knew I wanted to create my own brand, and started dreaming it up at school as a young girl. I would always give my friends makeovers, advise them on what clothes to wear, the colours that suited their hair colour, and eye colour, helping them make themselves the most beautiful versions of themselves.
I then trained at the Glauca Rossi Make-up School and then assisted my mentor, Mary Greenwell, who was a family friend from Ibiza. I started out in the early 90s, the era of ultimate glamour and excess. I have such incredible memories of being towered over by these Amazonian models, looking fabulous and incredible. They understood the power of make-up to completely enhance their assets and morph into character. My first few years in the industry was during the iconic Supermodel era with Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford, it was an incredible time to start out! Then throughout my 26 years as a make-up artist I pioneered creative product development for many high-end brands, from Helena Rubenstein, Mac, Armani, Chanel, and MyFace, which led me to finally create my own limitless makeup revolution!
If we looked in your make-up bag right now what would we find?
My miracle-working Magic Cream is my everyday go-to, I couldn’t be without it. I use it to prep my skin, it contains Hyaluronic Acid, Bionymph Peptides and SPF 15, so it floods the skin with moisture and protects the complexion all day.
Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask
For the best complexion, next would be my Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask. I call it the mask of the future, it is literally bursting with genius ingredients including vitamin B3, crocus bulb extract, peptides, oils, and butters, which penetrate deep into the skin using a unique bio-mimetic vector delivery system, feeding the complexion where it needs it most, giving you a brighter, hydrated and youthful finish.
My Magic Foundation is the perfect demi-matte makeup that literally gives you flawless, HD camera-ready skin in seconds. The demi-matte finish is important as it minimises shine in the right places, mattifying the T-zone and giving your cheeks a healthy, youth-boosted glow. 5 years in the making, its revolutionary ingredients are what make it so genius! It has Mushroom Extract that tightens pores, super-charged Vitamin C to reduce sebum production and brighten skin, as well as Hyaluronic Filling Spheres that plump out fine lines.
Contour and Beauty Light Wands
My new cinematic Contour Wands and Beauty Light Wand are the perfect duo for making you look and feel like you’ve just stepped out of a Hollywood screen. That beautiful glowing spotlight following you wherever you go… The Contour Wands (available in light and dark) decode those sculpting techniques, making it super simple to carve out mega-watt cheekbones, narrow foreheads, refine noses and sculpt chins! And my Beauty Light Wand bottles the magic light effects of the Red Carpet for the most flawless, hyper real cinema skin. The formula, with rose gold pigments, treated pearls and light-reflecting particles.
This is the secret product to that healthy, happy glow. I call it my Gisele-in-a-jar! It has this incredible, revolutionary technology called Fluorescent Core that redirects the natural light to more flattering angles of your face. It soft focuses pores and lines to give a dewy, youthful radiance and makes everyone’s skin look lit-from-within.
Airbrush Flawless Finish
As a make-up artist, I’ve always been wary of talc-heavy powders that create a ‘cakey-skin’ finish that makes women look old before their time. I have created not a powder, but a micro-powder that is like the most finely-milled, highest thread-count cashmere. Airbrush Flawless Finish doesn’t sit in lines but optically blurs them away, whilst giving the skin an ultra-luxe luminosity for a high definition result.
Brows are the pillars of the face, they define your beauty, and are actually the key to facial identity as they are what makes us recognisable. My revolutionary new Sculpt & Shade Gel, Legendary Brows, glides on like a dream and has a first of its kind Micro-Fine Precision Brush that coats, shades and grooms every single hair, ‘growing’ them for flawlessly defined brows in an instant.
I always wear the Dolce Vita eye using my Luxury Palette. I love the decadent molten bronze-y golds and rich chocolate shades they really make my green eyes pop and give me that gorgeous come-hither gaze!
Can you tell us about your store openings in the Middle East?
My first two stores opened in October at The Avenues Mall in Kuwait, followed by Doha Festival City in Qatar, and Dubai Mall will be opening in 2018.
With my Middle East Beauty Wonderland’s, I have created interactive, magic stores where daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and friends will all love to shop. There is something here for everyone, it’s make-up made easy, but also fun and engaging. My stores are all about making make-up easy-to-use, easy-to-choose, and easy-to-shop in a luxurious theatrical, sensory environment.
My Beauty Wonderlands feel like you are literally stepping in to my world, from the winding red carpets of Hollywood, to the backstage buzz of fashion week and my 25-years of experience as a make-up artist which I have poured in to my easy-to-use, easy-to-choose makeup range. There is my Magic Mirror that morphs my famous ‘10 Looks Wardrobe’ in seconds, as well as the incredible Beauty Boudoir where you can have the red-carpet makeup transformation of a lifetime for every special event, from weddings to family celebrations, we have it all. I call it a beauty playground for every woman from 18-80! A world that’s designed to make you dream, and make your beauty dreams come true.
Why did you choose the region for your first ever stand-alone Beauty Wonderland outside of the UK?
My beauty brand is growing every single day, having won over 100 awards in just 4 years, and I can’t think of a better way to continue this amazing journey than to expand into the Middle East. I am so excited to launch my brand in region, the mesmerising women there are demanding it, and I’m so pleased to be able to share my award-winning, best-selling makeup collection with everyone from 18-80. Many of my amazing customers from the Middle East have already discovered my Beauty Wonderlands in Covent Garden and Westfield, London, and now they can have the same immersive experience at home.
How do you feel the Middle Eastern woman’s make-up needs differ from other regions?
Middle Eastern women understand the power of makeup more than anyone else. They also share my passion for the best. The women here are just so passionate about makeup. They really embrace beauty and are always wanting to re-create the latest beauty trends, from mesmerising smokey eyes to fabulous bold colours on the lips. I met so many beautiful women whilst visiting Dubai and Kuwait this year and each of them have incredible makeup skills, their looks were just so fabulous!
What’s your idea of the perfect party make-up?
My Instant Eye Palette is perfect for Party looks and so easy to use. It is an all-in-one for all seasons and all occasions, the most glamorous, gorgeous gold suitcase containing an entire eye makeup wardrobe. Inspired by the shoots, covers and red carpet looks that I have done over my career, I have poured all of my ‘smoky eye til’ I die’ legacy into this four easy classic looks-in-one. From the no make-up make-up bambi eye, to the peachy eye I created for covers with Mario, to the soft smoky eye that I created for the Victoria secret’s shows, to the ultimate, glamour party eye that I created for Versace, these four looks look amazing on everyone. I control-pressed the powders to different pressure levels, so you can only pick up exactly the right amount on your brush as you go into the palette for each look, meaning the day look will always look fresh, and the disco look sultry and dramatic. It is literally like having me in your palette!
What look will you go for on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve?
My go-to party look has to start with youthful, glowing and radiant skin. I start with my amazing glow primer, Wonderglow, that soft focuses pores and lines to give the ultimate lit-from-within base. For all the holiday parties, I love my Magic Foundation, it is the perfect demi-matte makeup that literally gives you flawless, HD camera-ready skin in seconds. This finish is important as it minimises shine in the right places, mattifying the T-zone and giving your cheeks a healthy, youth-boosted glow. I then always wear a Dolce Vita eye, the decadent molten bronze and copper-gold shades really make my green eyes pop. My luxury palettes take all the hard work out of applying a party perfect smoky eye. I suggest using the Prime shade for a wash of colour up to the brows, then follow with the Enhance shade on the lids. Using a blender brush, work it back and forth like a windscreen wiper. Focus the Smoke shade along the lower and upper lash lines and on the outer V corner of the eye and blend, blend, blend. For added night-time drama, add a touch of the Pop shade on the middle of the lid. I finish the look with lashings and lashings of my Full Fat Mascara that gives me full volume lashes to flutter!
For New Year’s Eve as its party season I switch out my usual nude lip for a glamorous, iconic red. A bold red lip adds instant glamour, and looks divine with dewy, glowing skin and hypnotic eyes. My fabulous Red Carpet Red lipstick is a creamy blue-toned red which brightens your smile, lifts your complexion, and makes eyes sparkle, and best of all it suits everyone.
What makes the festive season special to you?
The festive season is all about spreading love and happiness to those closest to you. The best part of the holidays is spending time with my husband George, my sons Flynn and Valentine and the rest of my family and close friends.