How I got here: Sally Kvalheim make-up artist

With a portfolio that includes working on the face of Cameron Diaz, editorial publications such as Harrods Magazine and Marie Clare as well as designer brands like Burberry and The White Company, Sally Kvalheim has been creating beautiful looks within the business of make-up artistry for over 20 years.  

We recently caught up with Sally to discover more on her take of the make-up artistry industry and what she enjoys most about her job.

Sally Kvalheim

What is your first memory of appreciating / noticing outstanding make-up?


One of my first and most vivid memories of make-up was whilst watching Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes as a young child. I was totally blown away by the beauty and fantasy of her make-up.

With my Scandinavian background my philosophy is understated, minimal and all about bringing out natural beauty.

When did you decide that becoming a make-up artist was going to be a full time profession?

I hoped from the moment I left make-up college that this would be a possibility, but It wasn’t until I was signed by my first agent that I knew I was officially on my way.

What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in make-up artistry?

How competitive and tough the industry can be. You need to be strong, positive and very determined to succeed.

make up by Sally Kvalheim

What is the best piece of advice you can give to individuals just starting out in the make-up / beauty business?

To always make yourself available and show enthusiasm. Learn your craft well, assist as many make-up artists as you can, watch and learn.

Practice, test, build up your portfolio and make yourself known to agents and fellow artists. Build up working relationships and be part of a team. Don’t try to walk before you can run; confidence, flair and professionalism are essential for longevity in such a competitive industry.

How do you remain rooted to your profession as a makeup artist as your brand and status rises?

I enjoy working in a team bouncing off other artists’ ideas.  It keeps you open and that makes you creative. At the end of the day you’re only ever as good as your last job.

What is your career highlight to date?

There have been so many wonderful moments, working with celebrities, beautiful models, travelling to exotic and wonderful places and working alongside talented artists…  As a huge fan of Yves Saint Laurent, I felt very blessed when I got to work on an editorial featuring his collection shot in his Majorelle garden in Marrakech.

make up by Sally Kvalheim

Who has been your favourite celebrity model and why?

I loved working with Erin O’Connor. Such a beautifully unique, confident and elegant woman.

Where do you find inspiration to keep your artistry fresh and innovative?

Inspiration comes from life and art.  I absorb as much visual information as possible: nature, films, paintings, magazines, books, exhibitions, travelling, people…  It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of trends and new products and mix it up with your own style.

Sally Kvalheim

Follow Sally on Instagram: @sallykvalheim

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