Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Amal Clooney, JK Rowling and Gigi Hadid — these are just a few of the many famous faces make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury has worked on. Unlike her contemporaries, the British artist, who has also been awarded an MBE, never restricted herself to just one category in the industry. Not only has she worked on brides and red carpets, and shows for brands like Alexander McQueen, Prada and Lanvin, Tilbury has created many iconic looks for magazine covers in her career that spans three decades.
“I’ve always been dedicated and passionate about being a makeup artist. Ever since I first discovered the power of makeup, I knew I needed to share it with the world. The key to diversifying my breadth of experience has been my understanding of the power of makeup and being able to tailor my expertise to create make-up magic for any and every situation. I approach every look the same way, the result is to make everyone feel like the most beautiful, confident versions of themselves,” says Tilbury about her career. What made her a famous name across the world outside of the fashion circles though is the launch of her now cult skincare and make-up brand Charlotte Tilbury Beauty in 2013. Just in time for the wedding season, the luxury label has now been exclusively brought to India by Nykaa and is available on their website and stores.
The birth of a brand
“I first discovered the power of make-up when I was13, when I wore mascara for the first time. And I knew I would create my own beauty company one day. I was always mixing colours and shades, dreaming up formulas, and ideating products to fill a gap in the market. So it [the launch] was just a matter of timing,” says Tilbury. What helped her along was her experience as creative director of several brands that she helped create beauty lines. This was when she saw a gap in the market for skincare and makeup that was easy to use. “Women and men were confused when it came to shopping for beauty and I knew I had the expertise to help decode this world and make everyone feel empowered and safe when it came to beauty,” says Tilbury.
One of the USPs of the brand is how it often blurs the line between skincare and make-up, something Tillbury says came from her being a skincare addict herself. “I perform supercharged skincare rituals daily. I find them important to bring moments of calm and wellbeing. My bathroom is my sanctuary, you’ll often find me in there giving myself at-home facials,” she reveals.
As the chairman and chief creative officer of her company and a mother of two sons, Tilbury has a lot on her hands. What keeps her going she says is the satisfaction of seeing people of every age feel empowered with her make-up. “If I had to choose a least favourite part [of being a creative businesswoman], it would be having to occasionally say no to an opportunity, because I always want to do it all!” she says. About entering the Indian market, Tilbury says that she has always loved and been inspired by India and is fascinated by Bollywood glamour and its impact on the beauty industry. “Everyone in India knows how to create the most mesmerising eyes–from bewitching Bollywood beauties to brides-to-be, I’ve seen some of the most beautiful looks here,” she says. She has travelled to India for shoots over the years, one of her favourite being on the streets of Jaipur by photographer Mario Testino she reminisces.
Tech over stores in times of covid-19
At a time when the make-up industry saw a major drop in sales, Tilbury says that she is thankful that her brand has always been a digital-first company with social media being intrinsic to its DNA. While many brands were figuring out new ways to go online, Tilbury already had a strong digital presence. “I believe in turning every negative into a positive. We have always been nimble and digitally native and when it came to our strategy, we were reactive and tech-forward. Our foresight to have an in-house tech team and a creative agency is what allowed us to pivot and change our strategy,” she says. It helped that Tilbury already had a YouTube channel to share her tips, tricks and tutorials. “[Social media] has helped me launch my products in the most innovative ways and it allows me to bring the theatre and magic of the brand to customers all over the world. Social media has also inspired many of my products including my Hollywood Flawless Filter and my Luxury Palette in Exagger-eyes,” she says about her digital inspiration.
Often called the 'queen of the smokey eye', Tilbury is excited about the market's shift towards eye make-up. “We are communicating through our eyes now more than ever and so you can make your eyes stand out even more. From super nude smokey eyes to eye-brightening feline flicks in every colour, there’s so much fun to be had when it comes to eye makeup!” she says. She believes that make-up can give one an instant mind makeover and choosing her beauty look for the day is one of her favourite things to do. “I still wear make-up every day because it makes me feel good. If you look good, you feel good and the world responds to you in a more powerful, positive way.”
We’re going to Ibiza
Tilbury had quite a magical, bohemian childhood. Her father, an artist, and her mother who was a fashion producer moved to Ibiza when she was a toddler. “Ibiza was a huge part of my upbringing and remains a very special place for me. My upbringing meant that I was always walking towards makeup artistry, I was constantly surrounded by creatives and visionaries who sparked my creativity,” says Tilbury. She owes her understanding of colours, tonality and contrasts to her father, she says, and her make-up brushes are inspired by the paintbrushes from his studio. “From the powdery sands of Las Salinas beach to unforgettable star-studded nights, Ibiza's innate beauty and hedonism have inspired many of my products,” she says, one of them the Goddess Skin Clay Mask, which uses clay from Ibiza in the formula.
The signature looks of her products have been inspired by screen icons like Audrey Hepburn, Sofia Lauren and Marilyn Monroe. Her all-time favourite muse though is one of her closest friends, model Kate Moss. “Kate is known for setting trends and I’ve been with her on so many shoots to be a part of that. From her signature feline flick, bronzing, smokey eyes, freckles and her iconic nude lip—she’s got an amazing face that can morph into so many different characters,” says Tilbury.
The Desi CT bride
Tilbury reveals that she has always been fascinated by the glamour and creativity of wedding looks in India. And for her launch in India, Tilbury has even created a wedding look, a tutorial for which is up on her channel.
Here are Tilbury’s exclusive tips on using a foundation, concealer, eyeshadow and lipstick right:
“Remember a little goes a long way—glide it lightly over your skin, only applying it where you need it, just enough for beautiful coverage. If you apply too much, some foundations can look too heavy or cakey. For the most flawless finish, start with a small amount and blend outwards from the centre of the face. I often apply with my fingers too as the warmth of your hands helps to blend more seamlessly.”
“Always have two shades in your beauty bag. You need a lighter shade for under the eyes, about two to three shades lighter than your foundation, to bounce the light and hide the appearance of dark circles. And a true skin match for the rest of the face to conceal any imperfections.”
“With my luxury palettes, I’ve decoded the art of the perfect smokey eye into four steps—prime, enhance, smoke and pop. Start with the prime shade, a light and eye-enhancing shade, and wash it over the eyelids back and forth like a windscreen wiper. Next, take a slightly darker shade to enhance, focus on blending the shade into the crease of the eye socket. You can add instant definition to your eyes using the smoke shade, a deeper, rich shade. Run this along the lash line and outwards into a V-shape. To complete your smokey eye look, always finish with a pop of molten sparkle pressed on to the lid with your fingertip.”
“My top tip for lipstick—always use a Lip Cheat lip liner. It’s my beauty secret for enhancing the lips and creating the appearance of fuller, wider-looking lips in an instant. It has a wax and oil-rich formula that works beautifully as a stencil too, to help the lip colour last.”
The five-minute CT glam tutorial
“These are my key products to make you flawless in five minutes. Start with the Magic Cream moisturiser to flood the skin with moisture and make it plump-looking and more glowy–the perfect canvas for makeup. Next, the stay-all-day formula of the Airbrush Flawless Foundation will make your skin look poreless and airbrushed in seconds. I am obsessive about mascara and am never seen without it. Applying my Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes for instant volume, length, stretch and a 24-hour vertical lift effect. Finish with Hot Lips Matte Revolution or K.I.S.S.I.N.G lipstick. A slick of your favourite lipstick will bring everything together and give you an instant boost of glamour and confidence.”