Sunday, 1 December 2013

Interview with Rachel Wood, Head Makeup Artist at The Clothes Show Live 2012

On Friday Birmingham will host The Clothes Show Live!  Last year’s clothes show was a lot of fun (post). I saved some juicy posts to publish in the run up to The Clothes Show Live 2013.   Here I interview Rachel Wood, head makeup artist, about fashion shows, makeup, how to forge a career as a makeup artist, tips, tricks, what products she uses.. oh and male models….
The gorgeous and talented Rachel wood (L) chatting to me!
 At 5 foot 2 Rachel said she often feels like a short girl stuck in a tall girl’s world as she is constantly surrounded by models.  She is the head makeup artist for the live show.  Not only does she design the looks for the catwalks, she also looks after the presenters, speakers, celebrities, bands, giver talks and demos, blogs, tweets AND found time for a chat with me!

Firstly congratulations on the live catwalk show.  It was really vibrant, colourful and entertaining.  I personally loved the Sicily photo shoot section.  How do you come up with the ideas and looks for the show?  What are the challenges?
Thank you! I loved the Sicily part too!  We have a really great team.  Karl (Willett) is the stylist and works with an amazing production team.  They come up with some concept themes and then email them to me so I can come up with some ideas.  It’s a very interesting show to design for as they try to have models and dancers who look like everyone- pale, blonde, tall, darker skinned, red hair, every type of nationality so they can cover all bases.  Obviously they are all beautiful!  The dancers bodies are amazing!

It’s not like a fashion show where you are designing for one designer’s collection.  There are 10 different scenes, models of all different nationalities and complexions, and you have to find something, which goes with it all.  Plus the fact the fashion theatre fits 6000 people so it has to be stage makeup but then there are huge screens of their faces, so it has to look good up close. It has to look fashiony, it has to look current- and because it is Christmas we always have to have a little be of sparkle!  A touch of glitter.  (CG: I remember the amazing glitter lips of 2011!)  I don’t use makeup glitter.  There is a an amazing art store in New York called Pearl Paint ( and I buy craft glitter from there.  It’s the kind that people use for artwork.  It’s great because the glitter is chunkier- little glitter wouldn’t pick up as well.  I attach it with eyelash glue.

Rachel at work (Photo credits to her website)
I wanted to give it a vintage feel because Karl’s styling has a lot of texture, and texture is just as important as colour in makeup.  I always do one look for the models and one look for the dancers.  The models have almost 1930 movie star feel, rubbed in red lip, lots of contour with benefit hoola in the cheekbone- its matte so a lot of matte products between the eye sockets and cheekbone.  Then I use benefit highbeam on the apple of the cheek and cupids bow above the lips, chin and nose.  On dark skin I use benefits sunbeam, which is great with a tan too.  I use benefit bella bamba blush, but also make sure the sides of the nose and chin are really powdered so that shines where its needed and where it is matte there is contour and shadings.  For a stage this size its about texture.  The dancers have a blue glitter flick and the models have black eyeliner with the craft glitter we mentioned earlier.

Its important that the people in the front tier can see just as well as the person in the back tier.  I always go to the back and do a makeup check to see if they have enough glitter on.

What is it like backstage?  Do you have a routine?
It is very busy!  This is my 6th Clothes Show Live.  I have 11 assistants backstage.  We get here everyday at 7am and all the models, dancers, celebrities, boybands, presenters are all under my care.  This can work out between 60 to 80 people per day through the makeup chair.  (Rachel wakes up at 5:45 every day and leaves the hotel at 6:45- allegedly fuelled by coffee on IV drip!)  I like to be ready to start at 7 and I’m nuts about time.  I have various assistants who run different things- one team does the model side, one the dancers side.  I have different artists that will go out the style stage and make sure the presenters are touched up.  Also I go to the stage a few times and do some demos, give out goodie bags, pull people out the audience and talk about what we do backstage…. (pauses and grins) moisturising the male models and putting glitter on them mainly- (CG: A very tough job!)

What are your go to winter trends?
I really love a metallic smokey eyes.  It’s so sexy.  I love movie references- Metropolis black and white underworld kinda feel.  I love bronzes and crushed golds, and there is a colour by benefit that Ive been using on Grace Woodward- Skinny Jeans creaseless cream shadow (link). (CG: I have that too- I love it)  I like to press a bit of glitter on the top of it to add dimension.  I love makeup that looks like you went out partying, fell asleep with it on and then woke up the next day, touched it up and went to brunch!
Benefit Creasless Cream eyeshadow in Skinny Jeans.  A go-to winter staple for Rachel

What winter look would look good on me?
A berry, wine red lip.  You have great super pale skin, long flowy hair, light eyes- a very pre-Raphaelite look.  Makeup Forever and Chanel have some gorgeous dark lip colours.  Mac Burgendy lip pencil over your whole lip.  Lots of mascara, curl your lashes, deep wine lips.  Nicole Ritchie wears this look quite a lot.  Cheryl Cole too.  A great winter red carpet look especially when worn with lace.  Coppery shimmer pencil and rub it over the eye.  Interesting but simple way to do makeup.

As a makeup artist you must love a good canvas.  Do you have any insider skincare tips you could share?
I love the feeling of taking my makeup off at night!  Don’t overdo it on the products.  Everyone’s chemical makeup is so different.   A lot of people really love one brand and stick to it.  I consider myself a lab rat for beauty care as I am allergic to everything.  Your skin is a reflection of what is going on inside so topical creams, moisturiser etc are great but the best thing for your skin is water, water, water, no alcohol, watch your salt, boring stuff like that!  Creams are nice, but its kind like putting a band aid on the problem.  I really struggled with my skin last year. I was suffering from really bad breakouts- which were hormonal, so I had acupuncture and its helped by 95%.  It didn’t hurt- I'm a big fan.  Ive been on 60 something planes this year for work, and all the different time zones, beds, foods, climates affect the body.  I'm all about preventative measures- vitamins, exercise, lots of water, alternative medicine.  I don’t get sick.  If you're sick, you don’t work.  I cant afford to get ill!  I also love Yoga to relax as I can do the stretches in my hotel room.
"Creams are nice, but its kind like putting a band aid on the problem."

What are some of your beauty bug-bears?
People don’t clean their brushes and sponges enough and then complain that they are breaking out.  My other pet hate is when people wear the wrong foundation colour and then complain that it worked in the summer- you have summer clothes and winter clothes, sometimes you need a summer foundation and a winter foundation!

You can put foundation on with your hands first and then buff it in with a brush to avoid the Kabuki eating up all your foundation.  I hate it when people use sponges for foundations.  You might as well throw half your foundation in the garbage because it eats it all up.  Put the foundation on your skin and then use the sponge to blend.

Broken products!  Here is a tip! If you ever have a product like a pressed eyeshadow, powder compact or lipstick that breaks, then go to Muji and get a few little jars.  You can use them as a loose powder or lipstick.  It’s still the same product!

Obviously you really love and live your job.  Tell me about one aspect that you really like?
I'm a really big fan of teaching people simple ways to do makeup.  If people hire me to do makeup, I'm going to bring a big box and create lots of things.  If I am going to teach someone to do makeup I'm going to give them 4 things than they can do super well.  Their fingers as the most simplest brush.  There is nothing worse than going to a store, buying something fabulous, and then it sits in your draw to die!  So many people don’t use products because they aren’t sure how.

When you see things in a magazine you have to remember that there is a stylist, hair dresser and makeup artist touching it up every few minutes.  I like things that are nice but wearable (don’t take things straight out of the magazine!)  Its easy to make a beautiful model look good, its more of an art to work with people who have oily skin, a teenager with spotty skin, someone with scars, ageing skin.  I see beauty in everyone and love making people feel special.   That’s what I do on Plain Jane show on MTV.  I love finding features in people’s faces to bring out and make more of.

Rachel in TWO Magazine (C) TWO/Rachel Wood.

I wasn’t planning on doing this, but I appear to have got my makeup bag out so shall we go through it?!  Whats in my makeup bag?  (With comments from Rachel Wood as I pulled things out!)
I love going through people’s stuff and finding new things!  Real Techniques brush.  Samantha Chapman- big friend of mine.  (Rachel has appeared in and written for TWO magazine several times).  Mac eyebrow pencil, Mac Darkside, Chanel Perfection Lumiere foundation Their illusion d’ombre eye shadows are insane.  I'm a big fan of Chanel because they are one of the few luxury brands that make their own products.  A lot of other luxury brands buys their makeup from someone else and put their stamp on it.  People who cant afford other things from the range, buy the makeup thinking hey are getting the brand- when they aren’t.  I feel that Chanel are amazing.  YSL glossy stain I like their lipsticks, but sometimes they don’t taste very nice.  They need to sot that out!!  Max Factor False Lash effect.  They don’t sell that in the states anymore, and I used to love the 2000 calorie mascara.  Coralista blush I used that on Grace Woodward today!  Coralista is like a more sheer Nars Orgasm!  Daniel Sandler’s Peach Puff blush.  Oh cool Ive not seen this before.  I love that is is so cheap.  Crown Kabuki.  I love using a Kabuki brush for my foundation.  That is how I put the foundation on the models.  I love buffing in the foundation with that.  Bourjois concealer.  Those mini pencils they do are amazing- the eye pencil they are great on a budget!  Aveda inner light concealer.  Very creamy!

Rachel is a fan of Chanel makeup (as am I).

What brands do you like?  What products do you normally carry around in your handbag?
Benefit is fun and for people who aren’t good with makeup, its easy to use- its not scary makeup.  Its not too heavy, too coloured, so it’s more about making the natural you. you can pile it on and not look too scary .  Brands like Mac, Illamasqua, Inglot are very heavy colourful which is great, but can be daunting for some people.  Chanel I love because the products are just amazing,

I always have 2 bad gal lash mascara, short or medium eye light false lashes and duo glue,  eyelash curler from Shu Umera, black track MAC, Charles fox angles eyeliner brush, Dark brown zing from benefit with 266 brush from mac, I'm a 3 concealer type of girl!  I use Mac  NW35 SPF35 concealer to cover dark circles, then a couple of dots of benefit erase paste and then I finish with a little YSL on the cheekbones to highlight. Chanel light pink blush and bronzer,  Nars bronzer and blush in gina (peachy). I love blush and bronze.  I have olive skin so I can wear both.

I have MAC Embark on today.  I love chocolate smokey browns.  I normally just wear eye pencils/liner to add colour but today I have a shadow on.  I have benefit Hoola gloss- I’m obsessed with the texture because they are not sticky.  It makes me feel like I am on a tropical holiday!  I wear lots of lipsticks- chanel are good but Tom Ford is my favourite.  I have almost every shade.  They do break the bank but if you want a lipstick, out of the brands, they are worth breaking the bank.  The texture, colour, pigments are amazing.  Lancome make some really nice sheer ones, but I prefer more opaque satin and matte textures and then added shimmer where I want it.
Rachel's work- combing art and makeup. (Property of e

Was this a career you always wanted to do, or was it something you fell into?

I went to art school as a teenager in New York.  I was always very involved in theatre, I liked painting, museums, singing music, movies, costumes, plays.  I studied theatre at university and I got really into the makeup side of it.  I went to performing arts camps in the summer where there were lots of Brits.  I came to England to visit and found out about all the great makeup schools here then ended up coming to makeup school here.  I stayed and ended up assisting.  I learnt a lot through assisting.

There are a lot of shoots now that want you to do hair, makeup, nails for free or for a low budget. I think it is very hard to make a career out of it, but I was able to find my niche.  If you don’t find your niche then you can drown in the business.  I was lucky because I used to teach in makeup schools and met many people along the way.  I have such an amazing team of assistants backstage here that are all so talented in their own right.  They all work with celebrities.  I have to have that here.  I have to trust them 100%.  I check everyone in the chair at the end, but I teach the assistants the look perhaps once and they get it.
Rachel's work in TWO Magazine.

I love what I do and I feel so blessed and lucky to be able to travel, and be creative, and meet amazing people and wake up every day loving my job.  No matter how tired I am, I’ll never complain that my biggest problem over the last few years is that I’m working too much and haven’t been home enough.  That is a good problem to have in this economy.  I'm very lucky and I did struggle for a long time.  I wouldn’t ask anyone to do what I didn’t do.  Life is what happens when you are making plans for other things.

If you had told me when I was younger that this year I would have been to the Artic Circle, Morocco, Istanbul, LA, Miami, and heading a show of 80 people- I would have laughed.  I'm just a kid from NYC.

Finally Rachel, out of all the places you have visited, are there any you would like to go back to?
Tuscany- I stayed on a vineyard this year and they put Chianti in all of our rooms!  I also liked Madrid.

Thank you Rachel for being a great sport and answering all my questions!  It was great chatting to you!

Rachel has a website, and a fab blog called Mascara Memories (link).  Also she is on twitter and is happy for anyone to tweet her makeup questions (@rachelmakeup73) and she will do her best to answer!


  1. Love this. So informative. Will bookmark this to come back and re read for info. xxx

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Huge thanks to Rachel for giving up some of her time for an interview :) Thank you for your comment xx

  2. Amazing!! ;)



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