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In conversation with: Charlotte Tilbury

Time to take notes...
The inimitable Charlotte Tilbury talks exclusively with Buro 24/7 Middle East about her brand and its success...

You’d be hard-pressed to find a beauty lover who doesn’t own at least one product from Charlotte Tilbury. The British beauty guru has captured the hearts of makeup lovers the world over with her oh-so glowy, your-own-skin-but-better, selfie-ready products and it seems she’s nowhere near done on her quest for (beauty) world domination. 

The makeup maven recently chatted with Buro 24/7 Middle East contributor Farouk Chekoufi about the success of her brand and what we can expect next…

How did your love for makeup begin?

My ambition and journey as a makeup artist started back when I was growing up in Ibiza: it is such a magical, bohemian place. I was constantly surrounded by creatives and visionaries who sparked my own creativity and I was therefore always walking a path towards makeup artistry  my talented father, Lance, as a painter in Ibiza, gave me an amazing root in colours, tonality and contrasts.

I discovered makeup and became fascinated by its Power when I was 13 — it changed my life. I started wearing mascara and overnight, everyone from the ages of seven to 70 reacted to me in a very different way – I was instantly more empowered, magnetic and mesmerising – I felt enriched with confidence. I always knew I wanted to create my own brand. I 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… How to make themselves the most beautiful versions of themselves.

I then trained at the Glauca Rossi Makeup 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 makeup 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, Cindy Crawford  it was an incredible time to start out!  Then throughout my 26 years as a Makeup Artist I pioneered creative product development for many high-end brands, from Helena Rubenstein, Mac, Armani, Chanel & MyFace which lead me to finally create my own limitless makeup revolution!

What’s the best thing about your job?

Empowering women is one of the things I am most passionate about, I LOVE being able to make every woman look and feel their most beautiful, every day. One of the best parts was realising my dreams when I launched my brand nearly five years ago. It was such a pivotal moment in my life. Makeup is a true secret power and I’ve created a woman-to-woman brand that makes makeup effortless for every woman from 18 to 80! I am empowering women with my expert tricks, tips and tools.

I wanted to decodify makeup and to create a brand where women are not daunted by makeup, but excited and empowered by it!

To what do you attribute your success?

My philosophy is ‘life is limitless’ and I believe that your hard work and dedication in turn will reflect your successes in life. I saw a blank space in the market for makeup that was easy to use, easy to choose, and easy to understand. Women were/are lost when it comes to beauty: 50 per cent of the women in England don’t engage with makeup because they don’t know what to use or choose and they are afraid of looking stupid. So I realised they needed the guidance of an expert helping them at every step. 

I wanted to decodify makeup and to create a brand where women are not daunted by makeup, but excited and empowered by it! I knew my brand had to be easy to use, easy to choose, and easy to shop, a brand that pioneered peerless products that are both revolutionary and inventive. This is truly an expert brand made easy. This is why I came up with my original 10-look wardrobe. A concept unique to my brand: a colour-curated, off-the-peg makeup wardrobe that shows women exactly what lipstick to wear with what eyeshadow, to wear with what blush. It’s an idea that sparkled with simplicity for me!

What products could you not live without?

1. 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.

2. For the best complexion, I use 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 and giving you a brighter, hydrated and youthful finish.

3. 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. Five 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.

4. 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 has rose gold pigments, treated pearls and light-reflecting particles.

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5. Wonderglow is the secret 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 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.

6. 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.

7. Brows are the pillars of the face  they define your beauty. Eyebrows are actually the key to facial identity; they’re 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.

8. 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! 

Who inspires you?

I have a mix of creatives, visionaries and rule breakers that I look to for inspiration. From Helena Rubenstein, Coco Chanel and Walt Disney, to Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill and Estee Lauder…the list goes on. I get inspiration for my products on the red carpet. I am always thinking within the remit of how do I find a solution to problems. Whether it is to do with concealing imperfections or re-emmiting light to more flattering angles of the face, making an eye palette easy to use through control pressing the powders or sculpting celebrity limbs without going to the gym. I am constantly looking for ways to make the lives of all women that little bit easier. Sometimes it will be as simple as someone writes to me via my Instagram (which I always say is like my billboard and my direct line to my consumers) and requesting a particular nude lip. I always get inspired by need — necessity is the mother of all invention (so said Plato).

Inspiration comes to me in many different ways. When it comes to colour, I inspire trends through getting obsessed with different eras. My Instant Eye Palette is an amalgamation of all of my favourite smokey eye trends which I have created across my career from the peachy, caramel eye I created for shoots with Mario, to the Versace/Gucci-inspired disco ball eye! My colourways have also been inspired by sunsets in Ibiza and various locations abroad (Moon Beach, Las Salinas, Shanghai Nights etc) or even flawless textures that catch my eye on the way to work, skin like satin … Life informs my ideas constantly!

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What is your favourite product from your most recent launches

I recently launched my new Hollywood Lips collection  10 instantly glamorous liquid matte lipsticks to contour the lips for a fuller, wider Hollywood pout. I created this liquid matte lips range because all the other formulas were too heavy, and too cakey. I wanted to create a revolutionary Hollywood liquid lipstick formula that was amplifying and youth-boosting, and that fed your lips with nourishing hyaluronic acid, and sea lavender while you wore it so you never get that car paint effect! These lipsticks glide like a gloss, set like a soft-focus matte and nurture like a cream  all whilst feeling light as air but with full coverage! It has a revolutionary Lip Hug applicator that smooths and hugs your lips as you apply.

Also, my record-breaking Instant Eye Palette  this palette has been in the making for 25 years! I always say this is like the Little Black Dress of the smokey eyes. These iconic looks look amazing on everyone! I wanted to create an eye makeup wardrobe for every occasion for every woman, inspired by the shoots, covers and red carpet looks that I have done over my career. I wanted to pour my entire smokey eye til’ I die legacy into this four easy classic looks-in-one. 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 colour look will always look fresh, and the disco hue will always look sultry and dramatic. It is literally like having me in your palette…

Why do you think your brand has been so popular with both celebrities and non-celebrities alike?

My beauty brand gives women award-winning easy to use, easy to choose, easy to gift makeup and skincare, that are confidence-boosting from a woman to a woman. All of my products are years in the making, with the sole aim of making women look and feel like the most beautiful versions of themselves. I have been in this industry for over 26 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with countless gorgeous, amazing women and develop so many incredible bonds all around the world. Because I have grown up in this world a lot of my products were about bottling celebrity DNA and giving it to women everywhere. My mantra is red carpet makeup made easy!

I only ever launch products that I know are the absolute best in the industry and will always continue to innovate and push forward with bold and breakthrough ideas. Everything in my brand has to earn its place! I always jest that before a product lands on the shelves it has been tried and tested on 20 celebrity guinea pigs. Nicole Kidman and Kim Kardashian are likely to have given feedback on my latest foundation innovation before it reaches you, darlings. My Tilbury code is no ‘me too’ products  only every peerless innovations that will outperform anything else in the market.

I only ever launch products that I know are the absolute best in the industry and will always continue to innovate and push forward with bold and breakthrough ideas. Everything in my brand has to earn its place! 

What’s your advice to aspiring make-up artists?

It’s so important to have a single-minded focus, visualise success, dream big and dare to make your dreams a reality. I have a limitless philosophy and I always talk about the power of visualisation. Visualise what you want and don’t give up until you get it. 

What is your vision for Charlotte Tilbury the brand? 

To continue to totally revolutionise and disrupt the beauty industry… And I couldn’t be more excited about what’s happening next at Charlotte Tilbury  stay tuned darlings!

Now, read Farouk’s earlier column with Givenchy’s Creative Director of Makeup Nicolas Degennes