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Here at Salons Direct, we are absolutely delighted to catch up with the internationally acclaimed makeup artist and beauty expert, Wendy Rowe. Wendy has over 20 years of experience in international make-up artistry and beauty brand development and is one of the most trusted names in the industry. In this edition of ‘Ask the expert‘, we chat to Wendy to learn more about her career progression, her biggest challenges, highlights and sources of inspiration.

When did you realise that a career in professional makeup artistry was for you?

I knew from a very young age that I would work in the fashion industry. I was interested in fashion very early on, from the clothes and the makeup to the designers and the models. When I was growing up it was the supermodel golden era and I was so inspired by the glamorous imagery everywhere. I’ve always been a visual person, so I knew that being involved in creating those images in some way would be the perfect career for me. The George Michael Freedom video made me really excited when I saw it, to the point that I realised that a career in makeup could be an option for me. The rest is history!


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What has been your standout career highlight so far?

Gosh, there have been so many! I’ve been so lucky to experience some amazing things throughout my career, and I’m still discovering new things and meeting fantastic talents all the time. But if I had to choose a few stand-out highlights from my career so far, one of them would be shooting a Prada campaign, which felt like a huge personal achievement. Of course, working with Burberry for 16 years and becoming an artistic consultant was also a real highlight and has been an enormous part of my working life. Through my work with Burberry, I formed some of the most amazing working relationships and friendships of not only my career but my personal life, too.

Landing my first French and Italian Vogue covers were also real landmark moments for me and seeing my work on the covers of those fashion bibles for the first time was major. Creating my limited collection with La Bouche Rouge, which was major! 6 beautiful red lipsticks all in environmentally friendly paper packaging with some of the proceeds going to charity. Writing my book, Eat Beautiful, and receiving such amazing feedback from friends and readers was another highlight, and I still love it whenever someone tells me they’ve enjoyed the book or tried one of my recipes. But I’ve learned that the best is always yet to come, and becoming the creative director for Max Factor this year has been yet another career highlight. Who knows what’s next…

What has been one of the biggest challenges of your career to date? 

One of the biggest challenges is trying to predict the unknown and be prepared for every eventuality. One of the most important things about being a makeup artist is being flexible and adaptable because the fashion industry has no rules. The job is so different from day to day, so saying ‘yes’ to requests even when you don’t know exactly how you’re going to make it happen is what can set you apart from the crowd. You can figure out the answer later!  

What is one thing you wish you’d have been told before embarking on a professional career in makeup artistry?

If there is no way, create one! Nobody is going to do the work for you, so you need to find ways to make things happen for yourself. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring, every opportunity will be a learning experience, although it might not feel like it the time. And every challenge will add another string to your bow, so enjoy the process.

Who inspires you to be a fantastic makeup artist?

One of my favourite things about my job is the incredibly talented people I get to work with on a daily basis. I like to surround myself with people that push me creatively and inspire me to be a better makeup artist. Some of these people I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years include Christopher Bailey, Elliott Smedley, Camilla Akrans, Inez and Vinoodh.  

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How has your career developed over time? 

Well, it has definitely progressed from what you imagine as a typical makeup artist role. I never imagined when I started working as a makeup artist half the things I’ve ended up doing over the years! I have been lucky enough to work in product development with Burberry whilst being an artistic consultant and now being the creative director for Max Factor. The great things about these roles is that it not only gives you more creative freedom to help shape a brand and the stories they are telling, but it means you can custom make products that you know you’re going to love working with, and that the public are going to enjoy, too.

What inspires you to keep your outlook and work fresh?

Again, for me, it’s all about the creative people around me at work, as well as traveling the world and seeing different cultures. The great thing about the job is that it’s filled with diversity. I work with people of all ages, from all cultures and backgrounds. It really does come down to talent in the fashion industry, so you can learn so much from everyone you meet.

 What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed across the industry over the years

That you are no longer just behind the scenes as a makeup artist, you are expected to be on camera and keep up-to-date across the multitude of platforms that are now available. If you want to be a top makeup artist in the modern age your job is no longer just about doing makeup. You need to be a presence on social media, be up-to-date with all the latest technologies and industry happenings and have a lot more strings to your bow. In some ways, it’s challenging but it keeps things interesting and I love that it gives me the opportunity to learn something new every day.


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What are your holy grail kit essentials that you can’t work without? Has this changed much over the years?

Yes, it has definitely changed thanks to technology, so products have really progressed. There are better formulas, more shades and a lot more options on the market to choose from. As for my essentials, I love the products that I developed for Burberry especially the contour sticks, concealers and fresh glow foundations. But I never close my kit, it’s always open to exciting new additions, and I love trying all the new products that land on my desk on a daily basis.

What is the best beauty secret you can share with us today?

Look after your skin and your makeup will be easy.

I’m known as the ‘master of nude skin’ but truly beautiful skin starts before the makeup. Even when I’m working with a client for the very first time, creating their skin look will be at least 50% prepping the skin, and if you want flawless skin, it starts from within.

And finally…tell us more about your wonderful book, Eat Beautiful and why people should read it!

Beauty is about more than the makeup you wear. It’s about what you eat, how you look after your skin, and how you feel. I wanted to help people achieve great skin, and my book really is a simple guide to doing just that. It’s a combination of skin tips and tricks, beauty essentials, a herbal pharmacy and seasonal recipes. It will help you learn the importance of eating fresh, seasonal foods and nourishing your skin from within to look and feel more beautiful.


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