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Charlotte Tilbury on the Power of Makeup

The makeup maven, who counts Amal Clooney and Meghan Markle as fans, tells us who her favorite clients are and why skincare matters

Charlotte Tilbury, celebrity makeup artist and founder of her eponymous luxury makeup line, began her career at the height of the supermodel era. It was the age of mononymous models—Naomi, Christy, Linda, Cindy—and Tilbury couldn’t have chosen a better time to get her start. “I have such incredible memories of being towered over by these Amazonian models, looking fabulous,” remembers Tilbury. “They understood the power of makeup to completely enhance their assets and morph into character. It was an incredible time to start out.”

Even during the early ’90s, a period marked by the glamour of Kate Moss, paparazzi and partying, Tilbury developed a style of minimal, artfully done makeup. She saw beauty as a way to enhance a look and create confidence. But years before she would develop her cult-favorite Magic Cream moisturizer, Tilbury discovered makeup as a thirteen-year-old student. “I became fascinated by its power,” she exclaims, “It changed my life. I went to boarding school and I started wearing mascara—overnight everyone from seven to 70 reacted to me in a very different way. I was instantly more empowered, magnetic and mesmerizing. I felt enriched with confidence.” However, her newfound love of makeup and awareness of its power became a conundrum for the smart, young girl, who worried that her passion seemed shallow. “At first it seemed like a depressing, superficial realization, but I soon realized that makeup is incredibly powerful,” she continues. “It’s every woman’s secret weapon. When you look good, you feel good and exude confidence—the world reacts to you in a powerful way.”

That understanding of the psychology of makeup is what differentiates Tilbury from so many others in her field. Ever since she had her “a-ha!” makeup moment, “no one has ever seen me without makeup on! Not even my husband,” she laughs. “I definitely wouldn’t have the life and career I have without it,” she muses.

Today, Charlotte Tilbury’s empire is quickly growing into an internationally renowned beauty brand defining the next decade in makeup. And that is exactly Tilbury’s goal. “With my makeup line,” she says, “I wanted to create a limitless makeup revolution and make all women, from 18 to 80 feel like the most beautiful versions of themselves.” Among her fans, she counts soon-to-be-royal Meghan Markle, a reported user of Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria. Kate Moss, Amal Clooney, Kim Kardashian-West and many others have lauded Tilbury for her artistic hand and unmatched eye for enhancing natural beauty. Here, Tilbury gets candid about her favorite clients and her flawless skincare routine.

Was there one moment where you knew you “made it”? 

One of my all-time favorite beauty moments was creating Kate Moss’s incredible makeup look for Vogue’s “Castaway” shoot in June 2002. It was shot by the amazing duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and kick-started a new beauty trend for bronzed, beautiful skin! I gave Kate a sun-kissed, radiant look using glow-giving formulas for the ultimate healthy tan. It was all about youth-boosted skin, fresh-faced freckles and a nude lip.

If there were anyone’s face you could get your hands on that you have not yet, who would that be?

The Queen!

Favorite clients?

Throughout my career I’ve been to lucky enough to work with countless incredible women, many of whom are amazing friends too. Iconic actresses, models and powerhouses from Amal Clooney, Kim Kardashian-West, Sienna Miller, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Gigi Hadid to Jennifer Lopez, Kate Moss, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Campbell and Olivia Culpo—the list is endless, it’s impossible to choose a favorite!

Kate Moss (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Kate Moss (Photo credit: Getty Images)

What was your favorite fashion show makeup moment this season?

This season I worked with the iconic Donatella Versace for her Versus show in London. Donatella asked me for a strong eye so I created the perfect, graphic punk-eye for the strong Versus girl. The look was inspired by the great and glorious Amy Winehouse’s iconic overdrawn feline flick, as well as Kate Moss’s signature eye. The complexion was lit-from-within, highlighted, glowing, bare and natural with a fuller, wider beige-nude Kate lip. Donatella wanted every model to have a slightly different makeup personality, but feel like they were all from the same tribe.

Versace Versus S/S 2018 Beauty

Why is skincare important to you?

Skincare is so important—skin should always look youthful, glowing and radiant. From the very beginning of my career, I was always known for amazing skin before amazing makeup. You can’t have a beautiful painting without a beautiful canvas!