There was a time in the late ’90s and early noughties when blue eye make-up reigned supreme. In schools up and down the nation, eyes were ringed with the cool colour in every shade – inspired by Cameron Diaz, Christina Aguilera, and Christina Ricci in Buffalo 66. While the craze did eventually die down, now blue is back and trending again. In fact, sales of the frosty blue MAC Tilt Eyeshadow ballooned to two and a half times what they had been between March and May this year, according to sales statistics from John Lewis.
“There is definitely a desire in beauty to wear less make-up but with more interesting shade choices, hence why a wash of fresh colour is becoming more desirable than heavily structured neutrals,” says director of make-up artistry at Mac Cosmetics, Terry Barber. “Blue eyeshadow is one of the shades undergoing a renaissance, and it’s being reinvented as something flattering and chic, rather than the kitsch, clownish image it might have had in the past.”
Whether it’s a sheer veil of a matte blue shade or a full-on molten blue disco hue, the world of blue eyeshadow is yours for the taking. A stellar recent example of the trend could be seen recently on Nicola Coughlan, who wore a striking cobalt blue to the BAFTA TV Awards. The make-up artist behind the look, Neil Young, previously told Vogue that he loved the shade as “it’s the perfect antidote to black and yet it still defines the eye, makes every eye colour pop ,and works on every single skin tone”. He added that you can wear it graphic and bold, or in place of a traditional black eyeliner.
So how to make the look work? Barber believes it’s all about creating a painterly, low-maintenance appearance, rather than anything too “structured” or overly technical. “That leads to an immediately retro ’80s look when there is blue involved,” he says. “It’s also important when wearing blue on the eyes that you don’t use colour elsewhere, as it can make it look garish or dolly.” He recommends pairing with a bronzed cheek and a fresh nude lip or clear gloss, to create the ultimate low key ’70s look, as well as several coats of mascara.
When it comes to colour, seek out tinted eyeshadows with a soft, shimmery finish and those with a more delicate colour pay-off (these are more likely to suit all skin tones and eye colours). While strong shades like cobalt are great for statement red carpet looks, Barber is a fan of soft, glamorous shades like duck egg, bluebell, Wedgewood and teal for daytime eyes, or for those who like to keep things minimal.
Below, British Vogue’s edit of the blue eyeshadow shades to try now.
Makeup artist Raoúl Alejandre is a strong believer in holistic beauty—that is, going beyond the fantasy and what you see on the surface to unlock something much deeper. “Like most of us, I want beauty to continue to broaden up,” he tells Vogue.“Not just by including visual representation of those often marginalized, people like myself, people that don’t fit the set of beauty norms we were once fed to believe in, but also incorporating values, important ones, like mindfulness.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #48 series on my blog.
For Alejandre, a California native who is currently based in Los Angeles, the question of when he got his “start” in makeup doesn’t quite apply. “I’ve practiced painting my whole life and makeup was just one of those other mediums I picked up as a kid because I wanted to express myself,” he says. “I would rummage through my mom’s stuff, and when I got to a certain age, I would sort of steal her old makeup and hide it in my sock drawer so that I could play with it on myself.”
Through his journey, the artist has developed a signature look that is fiercely elegant. His carefully painted eyes—a soft mashup of baby blue and moss green, a glossy, plum lid—and a pronounced lip, often nude or red, are undisputedly glamorous but don’t scream it. From actors like Alexa Demie and Ryan Destiny to musicians including Rosalía, SZA, and Lil Nas X, everyone Alejandre touches is left with a look of assured confidence that easily captures attention.
His inspirations come from legends in their respective fields (Salvador Dalí, Richard Avedon, Federico Fellini, and Siouxsie Sioux), life experiences like moving to New York City for a few years—“It’s where I broke all my rules and really got to know myself,” he says—and interior design.
“I could have a meeting with someone or be at dinner with a friend and I’ll look at the ambiance around us; I’ll look at the colors of the food in front of me, how they touch, the textures of the chair, the window treatments, and the lighting fixtures, because they all play such an important role in the final picture,” he explains.
It’s this attention to detail that has led to creative partnerships with MAC, Dior Beauty, and Revlon, along with a rolling list of celebrity clientele and publications. For Dazed, Alejandre created a series of makeup looks that were applied solely through Photoshop, proving once more that the digital space is the next frontier for beauty. “Growing up, I had one uncle that was super tech-savvy and he just threw me in at such a young age, teaching me how to create digital designs on Photoshop. On top of that, I was really into *The Sims*—I love how surreal they look, the language, the fashion, and all of the weird gestures that they make.”
As Alejandre continues to push the conventional limits of beauty and design, he’s mindful to release himself from the labels and expectations that can develop as an artist establishes themself in this industry.
“We grew up being conditioned to believe you have to be either this or that, you have to do this or that, but, no, I want to pick everything. I want to express myself and I want to use makeup as a medium to tap into every other medium. I don’t want to be limited in my lifetime. I want to feel free forever, honestly.”
“I like to be a free spirit,” Princess Diana once said. “Some don’t like that, but that’s the way I am.” More than two decades since her untimely death, the public’s long-standing fascination with her – as a royal, a humanitarian, a style icon, and an unapologetic rebel — has yet to wane. Season 4 of The Crown is only sparking more intrigue around the ways in which she bucked royal tradition with a self-assured attitude and distinct codes of self-expression.
As a kid of the ’90s, I, like many, have always been taken with Princess Diana’s beauty, grace, and glamour. But of all her signatures, the one that has always stuck out to me was her ’80s-era proclivity for swipes of electric blue eyeliner; most strikingly worn with one of her sparkling diamond tiaras. Oh, the contrast! Yes, I know it was the ’80s and that it was the banner decade for colourful make-up, but for a woman of her stature, to me it always seemed kind of punk, a means of subtly railing against the royal system.
Plus, her pared-back approach to a decidedly bold colour statement brought a real-world sensibility to the look. “In the ’80s, blue eyeliner was about pulling out or brightening up naturally blue eyes,” explains make-up artist and Tatcha’s first-ever global director of artistry Daniel Martin, who famously gave Meghan Markle her natural wedding-day glow. “She kept it close to the lash line, enhancing the iris by creating this monochromatic tonal effect on the eye. She never took it up to her eyelid, which would create an entirely different effect altogether. I think her wearing it in that way made it wearable for so many.”
While I, for one, love an aqua eye and think of Princess Diana every time I smudge a cyan pencil across my waterlines for a quick dose of colour, I know it can be a polarising choice — and surely was for Princess Diana as the more-is-more ’80s gave way to the minimalism of the ’90s. So I wasn’t surprised to learn that upon meeting Princess Diana on her Vogue photo shoot in 1991, make-up artist Mary Greenwell, who worked with her throughout the ’90s, convinced her to add more neutral eyeliner shades to her repertoire. “In the ’80s, a lot of people were wearing blue eyeliner, and she was so young! She could get away with doing whatever she wanted,” says Greenwell. “She was experimental and absolutely loved make-up, but when she went out on the red carpet, we just tried to make her as glamorous and gorgeous as possible for the time.”
That being said, blue eyeliner certainly has its place, especially in the free-for-all that is the year 2020, where self-expression reigns supreme. “Right now, it’s about whatever you want to do, and making it look the best for you,” says Greenwell. “That’s what Diana always did.” Her tips for pulling off bold ticks of eyeliner, no matter how bright or understated the shade, is to keep the rest of the face fresh and vibrant: Clean skin enhanced with sheer foundation and feather-light swirls of blush and bronzer “to bring out the flush” in the face. “It’s about beautiful simplicity!” she says.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #39 series on my blog.
There are few makeup bags that haven’t, at some point, been graced by a Bobbi Brown product. A brand that puts making women feel (as well as look) good at its core, 16th of January marked the 30th anniversary of its inception. To celebrate such a lengthy time in the beauty industry, the brand has, excitingly, appointed makeup artist Hannah Murray as global artistic director.
“Bobbi Brown is a brand I’ve loved since I started as a makeup artist,” Murray tells Vogue over the phone. “It’s such a well-loved global brand, and we have very similar philosophies regarding embracing natural beauty and individuality, as well as empowering women. These are things I’ve been championing for a while so it feels like a very natural fit.” Take a peek at Murray’s Instagram page, and you’ll see image after image of luminous skin, playful details around the eyes and bold brows on models and celebrities alike. Her makeup is real, fresh, and a far cry from the heavy contouring and airbrushed skin that have become popular in the last few years.
All of which makes her an excellent fit at a brand known for its feature-enhancing (rather than covering) products, where she will be overseeing everything from the fashion shows Bobbi Brown sponsors and campaigns, to education and product development. She has had experience with the latter before, having worked on the (rather brilliant) Topshop beauty line when it launched in 2011.
“I’m essentially going to be the visual voice of the brand, and I think with everything that’s been happening in the world, it’s a really pivotal moment to see things with fresh eyes and build on Bobbi Brown’s heritage,” she says. “I’ve lived in New York for the last 10 years, and before that in London, and I very much understand both the American aesthetic and the European sensibility and aesthetic too – it will be interesting to see that merge, something I think will give the brand a freshness, too.” When it comes to new products, we can expect some “innovation, excitement and fun”.
Though she isn’t, like many of us, forced to sit on Zoom all day, Murray is keenly aware of the “giving, giving, giving” that is endless, exhausting meetings, and believes in the power of beauty – whether that’s pampering your skin or applying some mascara – to uplift a mood. “There’s something ritualistic about [skincare and makeup]. Just like fresh air and eating well, having five to 10 minutes to yourself to cleanse, put a mask on, massage your skin is so healing. I have a three-year-old boy, so grabbing those moments is grounding. We all need to take care of ourselves and have a bit of me time.”
As for the beauty trends she expects to be big this year? Here she shares three of her key predictions.
“Instead of applying 10 products just to walk out of the door [like we used to], it’s now about feeding your skin and making it feel fresh and juicy and plump and alive. That’s a feeling thing, as well as being about how you look, and it’s using texture rather than product. You can layer on balms – I often dab Bobbi Brown’s gorgeous Lip Balm on cheekbones as it really makes skin look alive, like spa-fresh skin.”
“I’m hoping we’ve moved on from baking and cut creases – I want to see skin, feel it, and let it breathe. Another of my favourite products is the Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm, which is a lightweight moisturiser that imparts a subtle pearlescent finish for a “flawless, hyper-real skin effect”.
“I think everyone now wants to look healthy, like they’ve been outdoors and not stuck indoors for three months! I’m thinking the beauty of a real flushed cheek and freckles.” Try the brand’s Pot Rouge, a buttery-soft cream blush which melts into skin seamlessly for a natural finish.
“Take cues from the ’90s and apply eyeliner to your waterline to tight-line around the eye. It gives a bit of definition but it’s not laboured over. Makeup should do the work for you, you want to wear products that are smart, easy to use and that work well for you.”
Looking at the makeup on the models walking the autumn/winter runways, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you were seeing a show from the wrong season. Pops of blue, flashes of orange and pink, dustings of yellow, green and lilac… the painterly palettes chosen by makeup artists backstage at shows such as Dries Van Noten, Gucci, Maison Margiela and Missoni were decidedly springlike. And so, too, was their application, which was as important as the spectrum of colour itself. Sheer watercolour washes gave the look a very accessible appeal.
“Transparency automatically makes colour more beautifying on the face,” explains Terry Barber, director of makeup artistry for MAC Cosmetics. “It takes away the fear of looking garish or retro, and it’s those fresh, plump washes of colour that allow you to be more playful.” Be it a halo around the eye, a new or unusual experimentation in lip colour, or a gentle tonal clash on both eyes and lips, using products in this way gives an end result that is much softer – and this is, according to Barber, the easiest and most flattering in-road to exploring technicolour choices. “Veils of colour that bring out the features rather than enclose them are the unsung heroes of makeup,” he says.
So what to make of this more romantic approach? “It’s a good time to break the seasonal rules and not resort to the classic earthiness of autumnal beauty,” says Barber. “Instead celebrate the colours of optimism and freshness. Can we say spring/summer is the new autumn/winter?” It’s a resounding yes.
Though tough to recreate, the looks at Haider Ackermann’s otherworldly show were impossible to forget. It saw bleached brows and gravity-defying hair sculptures, courtesy of make-up artist Lynsey Alexander and hairstylist Duffy. Drama reigned at Rodarte, Anna Sui, Fendi and Roksanda, too, where lips were painted in gothic deep-plum hues. Lastly, at Moschino, the Marie Antoinette-inspired hair and make-up was more theatre than catwalk.
The foil to sleek, polished moments of glamour? Lived-in make-up. The look was led by Gucci and its entry into the make-up arena – Thomas de Kluyver, Gucci Beauty’s global make-up artist, mixed the label’s new mascara with water to create a smudged, tear-stained effect. This was co-ordinated with chipped nails – the height of high-school cool. Pucci and Max Mara also favoured worn-in eye make-up, with the models’ black liner and mascara looking as though they had slept in it and woken up just in time to stride down the catwalk. At Lanvin, the two-day-old, chunky-but-neat lashes took the edge off the otherwise sleek look. Do note, imperfect make-up isn’t as simple as it looks – utilising remnants of make-up from the day before might be an easier way to tap into the trend.
Let’s Go Retro
“Hitchcock heroines” and “18th-century-inspired hair” were just a couple of the beauty references uttered backstage at the autumn/winter 2020 shows. In Paris, at Miu Miu, hairstylist Guido Palau created styles in homage to the 1940s, using an “old-school way of achieving curls” that were shaped into waves and flipped to one side. There was a similar theme at Chloé, with Palau crafting everything from boyish updos to set waves. In London, at Erdem, Anthony Turner’s lacquered S-shaped finger waves were set low on the side of the head with a severe side parting, for a modern take on the look. Meanwhile, at Shrimps, hair recalled a young Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s retro, but now.
The Mane Event
With the creation of colourful roots (at last, a way to conceal grey regrowth in a joyous spirit) and the return of the ponytail, hair became the ultimate beauty accessory this season. Slicked-back looks populated the catwalk. At Erdem, Burberry, Christopher Kane and Givenchy, Guido Palau pulled hair into strict middle partings or combed and gelled it into place, leaving the hair to hang loose at the back. “I’ve complemented the amazing clothes with some soft hair textures,” he explained at Christopher Kane. Bright roots featured at Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, where there was a nod to pop star Billie Eilish’s penchant for two-tone colour. Sam McKnight improvised with feathers to create the illusion of colour at Dries Van Noten. For a day-to-day hair trend, the humble ponytail took centre stage (see Carolina Herrera and Brock Collection) – perhaps the most mesmerising being McKnight’s half-up/half-down version, complete with a Chanel bow. Butter wouldn’t melt.
Winged eyeliner has had an overhaul. Yes, black remains a classic, but this season blues and metallics frequently featured, too. At Dior, Peter Philips, creative and image director of make-up, perfected a full-kohl look with thick outer-corner wings – it reminded us of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s own signature eyeliner, and was statement enough for the collection. Pat McGrath’s futuristic, cyber-esque take at Prada resulted in a block of metallic shadow that sat in and above the eye socket, extending out on either side, so as to expose a flash of molten colours. Whether you prefer a delicate flick, as seen at Missoni, or a more adventurous approach, such as Altuzarra’s, it was all about dressing the eyes for the runway.
The return of red lipstick has officially replaced the past few seasons’ run of natural hues, and it was paraded down the catwalks in a variety of textures, from matt to glossy to balm-like. At Carolina Herrera, make-up artist Lauren Parsons used the fashion house’s new lipsticks to reimagine “Spanish baroque beauty”. Punchy matt-red mouths were among the looks, with lips silhouetted in a crisp red outline on a canvas of clean skin. At Oscar de la Renta, Tom Pecheux was eager to turn the classic on its head: “It felt like the right time for red again, so we created a very precise lip that’s glossy,” he said (he went the extra mile and colour-matched the shade to a swatch of red fabric from the collection). Diane Kendal painted perfect rouge lips at Lanvin, Jason Wu and Proenza Schouler, and Pat McGrath returned to the red pout at Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, cementing the trend for the season.
As we dial back the chiselled contour in favour of a softer look, the runways inspired new ways of defining cheekbones. Subtle, flushed hues and bronze shading helped to create perfect skin. At Michael Kors, make-up artist Dick Page warmed cheeks with a creamy peach blush to give natural definition. At Tom Ford, the illusion of symmetry was created by playing with light and shade, and at Brandon Maxwell the make-up direction of “ultimately feminine” meant a blended cream to add warmth and highlight.
At Marni, there was extreme glitter application by Julien d’Ys, who painted over faces and hair. At Erdem, Lynsey Alexander created silver-foil strokes across the eye sockets to reflect the collection, entitled The Age of Silver. At Preen and Simone Rocha, broken-up textures in metallic colours abounded, while at Halpern, Giambattista Valli and Valentino, jewelled eye-halos and winged, crystal-encrusted crowns framed faces. It was a welcome touch of couture beauty creeping into the ready-to-wear runways.
I’ve been watching Robert Welsh on YouTube for years and I really enjoy his content on Instagram as well. On his channel he creates amazing makeup looks, gives professional makeup advice, reacts to popular beauty trends, debunks popular makeup myths, and much more!
Robert is a professional makeup artist and his mission statement in the beginning of every video is “to help you become a pro yourself or just someone that’s really good at makeup. Here we learn how to separate what we see online from what’s actually useful in real life.” Welcome to Artist Spotlight #7 series on my blog.
I came across this video and it made me laugh so much that I decided to share it with you!