Stroke of perfection

Stroke of perfection

Renown make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury shares her top tips for everyday beauty with Harriet Walker

The arcane art of putting on a face is something many women feel they will never master. Most of us get by with rules passed down from our mothers, and tips gleaned from glossy magazines ten years ago. You suspect you’re not quite getting it right, but you’re baffled by the number of products on sale and what they could possibly be used for.

‘We’re just expected to know what to do with make-up,’ says make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury. ‘The cosmetics industry is confusing because there’s too much stuff and no navigation. Celebrities have a team of experts making them look that good – why should it be a VIP club?’

Speaking of VIPs, Tilbury has powdered and perfected the likes of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. She did Amal Clooney’s wedding make-up. She gave J Lo those cheekbones. Her own cosmetics range has achieved the status of make-up bag must-have in just two years. Here, she shares the tips that every woman needs.

Wear make-up No, really. ‘Most people look better with some make-up,’ Tilbury says. ‘That’s a fact. Even if it’s just a little bit of concealer and some mascara.’
Make-up should be good for your skin ‘We call my Wonderglow “Gisele in a jar” – it soft-focuses your lines and pores,’ Tilbury says. Look out for primers that contain hyaluronic acid, which locks in moisture and plumps the skin.
Don’t test foundation on the back of your hand ‘If you’re in the shop, draw a line straight down your face and across your jaw – if it matches across both, it’s your colour. You don’t want a tidemark.’
Apply bronzer properly Tilbury’s advice: look into the mirror and suck in your cheeks, then brush the ‘sculpt’ shade into the hollow. Using swirling motions, touch up your temples, across the bridge of your nose and across your chin, to mimic a suntan. ‘It will make you look happier and healthier,’ she says. Revive older skin with highlighter, applied to the top of your cheekbones and under your brows ‘A bit of peachy-pink is very youthful when you’re a bit older, and can make crêpey eyelids look smoother – you can cheat things back up.’
Dewy, not shiny ‘Any shine under the eyes, along the nose or round the mouth and chin will make you look jowly. People with oily skin should carry powder with them every day – choose a good, fine powder full of emollients, that goes on like silk.’

Curl your eyelashes ‘Straight lashes can act like a hood,’ Tilbury says. ‘Curling them opens up the eyes, and makes them look bigger. You just lift and curl them, to help your mascara do its job.’
Play up your eyes ‘For 80% of people, the eyes are their best asset, but women never know what colour goes with them.’ For green eyes, look for amber, bronze and amethyst shades; for blue – champagne, silver and grey; and for brown, pick tawny hues with green undertones to bring out the hazel.
Liquid eyeliner is not impossible to master ‘You have to use something with a firm nib, like a felt tip,’ Tilbury says. ‘Even I have trouble with those little brushes, so give up on that.’ From the inner corner, draw along the lash-line to three-quarters of the way along, then look in the mirror, draw a dot where you want the flick to finish, on each side, to make sure they’re level. Then join the dots to the line.’
Keep eyebrows light ‘Never go darker than your hair colour, even if your hair is dark – otherwise you’ll end up looking like Groucho Marx.’ Choose an eyebrow pencil that isn’t too waxy, and draw in soft, feathery strokes. Hold a pencil, vertically, at the side of your nose – brows should start at that point. Then rotate it diagonally across your iris – that’s where the arch of your brow should be.


Apply a slick of lipstick ‘As you get a little older, lipstick can put a bit of life and prettiness back – especially rosebud colours.’
Always use lipliner ‘Match it to your lipstick,’ Tilbury says. ‘Not only does it help to prevent feathering, everyone has slightly uneven lips, so liner gives you a perfect pout.’ To apply, smile to make
your lips taut so you can easily follow the line of your mouth, and always use a sharp pencil.

Text: Harriet Walker/The Times/The Interview People; photography: gallo/getty images, Trunk archive

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