Strokes of genius

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 April, 2012, 12:00am


It's easy to see why respected British make-up artist Lisa Eldridge is a cult internet hit. Disarming, photogenic and armed with a breezy authority, Eldridge is noted for making runway and everyday beauty looks accessible to viewers who read her blog. Her video tutorials alone attract more than a million unique visitors per month.

'There are lots of girls doing make-up tutorials on the net, but there's nobody in a position who also does the A-list red carpet,' she says. 'I've been in the business for 20 years and there's a level of trust.' That's something Eldridge feels is incredibly important.

In a digital age when brands have realised that a blogger's 'average joe' appeal and ringing product endorsement can mean big bucks, it's intriguing that Eldridge's website hasn't succumbed to online sponsorship or ad deals.

'I don't put advertising [on the site]; it's impartial, and nobody can pay me enough money,' she says. 'It's worth so much to me to have integrity. I try [products] out and say this works for your skin; I think that's what's struck a chord.'

Eldridge was six years old when she first developed a love of make-up, delving into her mother's kit of Mary Quant products. 'I used to spend a lot of time drawing textures on paper. I loved drawing faces,' says Eldridge, currently the global creative director at Boots No7. But when her mother's friend bought her a book on stage make-up at age 13, Eldridge realised she could pursue it as a career.

It was during the early 1990s supermodel years that Eldridge truly hit the big time. She had been doing test-shoots for a while, and had just signed a representation deal with an agency when Eldridge got a call to do a magazine shoot with Cindy Crawford. 'We hung out a bit and she said 'what are you doing tomorrow?',' says Eldridge. Crawford was covering backstage at the 1992 Freddie Mercury tribute concert, and invited Eldridge to do her make-up. '[Crawford] knew everyone, all these acts like Guns N' Roses. They asked Cindy to come on stage, so me and her stood on the side of Wembley Stadium,' says Eldridge. 'After that, I really liked being in these higher echelons.'

Since that fateful day, her career has read like a fashion who's who, and she's worked with some of the industry's most sought-after photographers: Paolo Roversi, David Sims and Patrick Demarchelier. Her work has appeared in world's most respected glossies, including both the Italian and Chinese editions Vogue, as well as AnOther Magazine.

A defining experience came in 1998 - Japanese beauty brand Shiseido hired Eldridge to develop the concept for a new make-up line. She spent much of the time in its Tokyo office, working on everything from product development to packaging. The adventure opened up a whole new world, and having just polished off shoots for the Chinese editions of Vogue and Elle, Eldridge is excited about the new wave of Asian models in fashion. 'I love it. I absolutely love Japanese, Korean, Chinese girls for make-up,' she says. 'It makes sense; the world is a tiny place now and there are lots of different types of faces. That's what I try and do on my website - have different types of models. I want to do more Asian faces.'

While Eldridge does red carpet make-up for Hollywood actress Kate Winslet and supermodel Helena Christiansen, she remains puzzled why so many of today's girls and women tirelessly ape everything about stars.

'Looking like a celebrity, I don't get it all. People try and do the Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Lopez 'get the look' thing,' she says. 'That I'm really upset about and it's a shame. To try and copy everything about celebrity is depressing. I wish this generation of girls would appreciate that everybody is individual, and the trick about beauty is making the most of your own face and how you are.'

Women often ask her what essentials they should have in their make-up kit. But to Eldridge, the key to great make-up doesn't always rest with a particular product.

'If you know your own face, it should be the thing you need most,' she says. 'Somebody who doesn't have great skin may just need a little bit of foundation.' But, she adds, there is one item that can do wonders for women: 'Eyelash curlers - when most people curl - their face completely wake-ups. It's a revelation.'

Feeling younger is simply a state of mind for Eldridge, but she concedes that stars such as Madonna have made looking younger an actual possibility - particularly when their youthful energies are attributed to gruelling exercise regimes. 'My parent's generation didn't even move,' she laughs.

So can a woman grow old gracefully without plastic surgery? 'The trick is sunscreen and also that you don't smoke or drink excessively,' says Eldridge. She's dismissive of anti-ageing creams. 'If it's got UVA, then you're protecting your skin.'

Does that mean plastic surgery is out of the question? 'I'm scared of general anaesthetic,' she admits. While she has an enviable complexion, she makes light of her own hang-ups. 'I have a joke that the right side of my face sags,' she says. 'Helena Christiansen said it's because I sleep on that side.' Eldridge adds that if someone could guarantee a procedure with no weird side-effects, then she might at a push consider it.

'Ask me in 10 years time, maybe I'll go to the other side,' she says Though one imagines, she probably won't need it.


Brushes: 'My favourite brushes are by Japanese brand Suqqu. They are beautifully handmade and feel soft on the skin - which goes down well with my celebrity clientele.'

Cleansing: 'I cleanse my skin thoroughly and always take all my make-up off before bed. When I have a spare 10 minutes around the house, I put on a facepack or treatment.'

Exfoliation: 'I love exfoliation, but never use scrubs. I prefer using treatments which involve no scrubbing like lactic or glycolic masks and peels.'


Lisa Eldridge is a great believer in getting to know your own face and not trying to copy the looks of celebritities. Below we take a peek inside the vanity case of one of the world's most sought-after makeup artists and find out what are some of her favourite tools of her trade.

1 Foundation Brush by By Terry (HK$455): This super-soft and dense brush with rounded edges gives great coverage, and if bad skin is a problem it will help conceal imperfections, smooth hollow areas and even out complexion.

2 Shimmer Brick Compact Wild Rose by Bobbi Brown (HK$380): This shimmering, brush-on powder is perfect if you want to create a soft, warm pinkish glow. Works well with neutral and pink blush shades.

3 Pro Primer Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base by NARS (HK$250): A lightweight eye primer which helps create a seamless canvas and helps to keep cream and powder colour looking brilliant, fresh and just-applied, all day. Extends the wear of eyeshadow, eyeliner and eyebrow pencil.

4 Max Factor - False Lash Effect Mascara (HK$180): A make up artist's must have. Its lash-boosting combination comes from a patented Liquid Lash technology

5 Natural Finish Loose Powder by Chanel (HK$425): If it's a natural look you're seeking then this is ideal. The ultra-fine powder gives a satin and long-lasting finish and reflects light to help minimise imperfections. Also corrects the grey tones of dull and tired skin.

Brow and Liner Kit by The Body Shop (HK$139): A handy compact which contains everything you need to create perfect eyebrows: a double-ended brush and light and dark shades to fill and define.

Le Prisme Yeux Quatuor - Bucolic Blossoms 79 by Givenchy (HK$450)This limited-edition palette - inspired by spring flowers - uses the pastel shades to create fresh and youthful eye looks, or mix to create new harmonies.

Other favourites ...

Light Concentre De Lumiere 02 by Bourjois

Brow and Lash Brush by No7

Concealer Brush by Revlon

Cheek and face brushes by Suqqu

Foundation Alabaster 00 by Bobbi Brown