Talking Beauty with Mary Greenwell

Make-up artist MARY GREENWELL on getting a glow, her hero products and the power of red …

 

Make-up artist Mary Greenwell is one of those legendary names in beauty. She’s worked with every great photographer, stylist and Hollywood star you can think of, from Arthur Elgort to Bruce Weber. She’s Cate Blanchett’s make-up artist of choice, and endlessly flies the world painting the faces of everyone from Amanda Seyfried to Lily James and Jessica Chastain. We met her on her brief visit to Dublin last month …

ON GETTING A GLOW

What we all want to know is how to get an all-year round glow. Greenwell’s current passion is the new Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder – Glow: [€42] “Laura’s new powder with pearl pigments offers a way to set make-up in a luminous rather than matte way. I’d advise wearing it just on cheeks – the brush [€42] has been specially created to use on cheekbones, which is always the best place to wear high glow. Sweep it high up on cheeks and on brows; avoid the forehead and nose area, the T-zone, as these areas should stay more matte.

“We’re talking about glow here rather than tan, and what I think is really important is that you create the glow in the right places – you need to use it sensibly, depending on your age. The glow on the cheeks is so important now and Laura’s always been known for her wonderful powders. She was the first person to bring out the best tinted moisturiser in the world and it’s all part of the philosophy of showing the skin as much as possible and working with the skin.”

ON HERO PRODUCTS FOR PERFECT SKIN

“For me, Laura’s hero products are the Tinted Moisturiser and the Camouflage Concealer – that combination is amazing. Every woman can take that on board and get perfect coverage, while keeping your foundation really light. Anyone can do a colour palette – but if you work with Laura, it means that you understand skin.”

ON BEAUTY TRENDS

“Everyone does full coverage now – the sad thing is that all these young girls with perfect skin are doing it – why? My philosophy is very much ‘Don’t do it unless you have to’. If you do want full coverage, of course, go for it – do what you want – but for me, the less you can wear the better. The Instagram effect is full-coverage, but at all the fashion shows the girls walk out with hardly any make-up at all – so high fashion is more about minimal foundation, a little bit of lip or eyes. For the last three seasons, on the catwalks it’s really pulled back, maybe just a statement eye or lip. Today, for example, I’m not wearing too much foundation – just a darker eye and lip – and if I wore full coverage too it would all look too much. I love the fact the runway is so contrary to the Instagram look – it’s really interesting.”

ON THE POWER OF RED

“My first memory of red lipstick is being on the beach in the south of France with my parents with these wonderful women completely naked except for red lipstick! The French have always worn red lipstick extraordinarily well and I just think that it’s a great statement – you can just wear red lipstick and nothing else. It gives you a bit of a life, and some colour in your face, without looking like you’re trying too hard with lots of blush. I do think it’s chic wearing red lipstick with no blush – blush is a statement in itself. Everything you wear says something different about you.”

ON LIP TRICKS

“Everyone’s doing super-matte lipsticks now and they’re great – as long as they don’t dry. Laura’s Extreme lipsticks are ideal – not too dry. It does mean you can make your mouth as big as you want it and change the shape of your mouth very easily – you can expand, which is why these have become so popular, particular in the Insta world. You can’t do that with shiny or satin lipsticks …”

 

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ON NEVER HAVING DONE HER OWN MAKE-UP LINE …

“It’s one of my big regrets actually … I feel that, I’m thinking now I should have, but I was having so much fun I simply didn’t get around to it. I was too wild, having fun, going on these amazing trips with Patrick and Sam and Arthur Elgort and Bruce Weber … I was on Concorde all the time and living the dream …”

ON STARTING OUT …

“When I first started I worked with this company called Il Makiage, a make-up line in New York [which relaunched this year in the US], and it was the only line that had every single colour. I had one make-up lesson in my life; I lied and said I’d been a makeup artist in London. I was working in Joe Allen’s (so much fun, getting drunk with Jack Lemmon all afternoon at the bar). I’d never worn make-up, I was such a hippy; I’d worked on a Boots counter, but that was as far as I’d got. My boyfriend at the time suggested I meet the owner of Maquillage, Ilana, so I was flown to New York where we stayed for two weeks. I learnt about her products as she did my make-up – this was the mid-70s so it was a David Bowie look – and I realised I looked completely different, I didn’t recognise myself – and I thought, wow this is amazing! The next week I was working on the counter, and the day before I was going home Ilana asked me to carry her make-up kit for her to a shoot five blocks away and to lay her make-up out. It was the only assistant job I’ve ever had. Then in walked Brooke Shields – she was just 14. She’d had her hair done and there were just two dresses to choose from; shoots were rather different then, and this was for a cover. Ilana turned to me and said ‘Mary I think you should do the make-up today’. I was only 23 and my heart was in my throat. I just adapted what Ilana had done for my make-up – I came out an hour later and said ‘She’s ready’, and that was it. I was so blessed for the opportunity – it was the start of my career, all quite by chance.”

ON HER BEAUTY ETHOS

“Simplicity is the way to go, for sure. And the more you understand your face, the better it is. That’s the thing about YouTube and so on – you can really learn what suits you.”

@SarahHalliwellBeauty

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