This week we caught up with business makeup specialist, Natalie James, to talk career change, beauty expertise and strategic makeup advice.
Having worked for some of the biggest names in the communications industry – Bloomberg, M&C Saatchi and Publicis – Natalie hit thirty and decided to switch things up by playing to her passion. It is her knowledge of both business and what women in the industry want from their beauty product that has positioned Natalie as an expert in her field.
Scroll down to read our Q&A *and* find out exactly which products Natalie has in her makeup bag.
You’re a makeup artist and personal makeup shopper; how does the latter work, it sounds amazing?!
I had been a makeup artist for a few years when a friend asked me if I would help her shop for a new lipstick. We ended up spending an hour going from counter to counter; I picked out my top picks and before we knew it I had curated a whole new makeup bag for her. At the end she said “Nat, you have to sell this as a package” and just it grew from there.
As a beauty junkie with a background in marketing and advertising I am most passionate about helping women to find the right products for them, not what looks pretty or is marketed beautifully. This often means looking beyond the marketing or packaging of a product and assessing it on performance alone. This kind of approach means my clients often end up with a mix of both high end and high street products as I don’t believe one brand does everything brilliantly.
What do you love most about your job?
Where do I begin? I love and feel blessed to have found something which truly sets my tummy on fire. What I mean by that is, whenever I do someone’s makeup, talk about makeup to a group of women or write about makeup, it feels like a fire has been lit inside of me. I am at my happiest when I am helping real women to navigate the complexity of the beauty world, seeking out the best performing products that will completely transform their look. No two days are the same and I love this about the job too.
Working for yourself requires a huge amount of get up and go, and while some days are more productive than others I always look forward to my work and wonder what each new week will bring.
How does makeup empower women?
You only have to see the change in a woman’s face when she tries on a red or bright lipstick for the first time to know just how empowering makeup can be. For me, it’s like slipping into a pair of heels – the right shade or texture can suddenly give me a couple of inches. I work with a lot of women who for many reasons no longer wear makeup, or are embarrassed to admit they are still wearing the same three products they wore in their teens or early twenties. When I introduce them to a new tinted moisturiser or eye pencil, it can be the simplest change but the transformation is just as much in their smiles as it is (literally) on their faces.
What three products in your makeup bag could you not live without?
Sisley Phyto Cernes Eclat concealer (shade No. 1), RMS Living Luminizer (though Glossier’s Haloscope in Moonstone is currently giving it a run for its money!) and my Body Shop Honey Bronze (shade 03).
Best beauty hack?
Using two different textured foundation products to create the perfect flawless base. For example, Estee Lauder’s Sheer Tint Release on the outer areas of my face, blended inwards (only really effective on pale to medium complexions) and IT Cosmetics CC Cream applied to the t-zone, blended outwards. That way the centre of my face has more coverage and the outer edges are subtle and dewy.
What’s the most exciting project/ collaboration you’ve worked on to date?
Last year I hosted two talks inside Liberty’s Private Suite. The title of each talk was ‘The Top Ten Business Makeup Items You Need In Your Makeup Bag Right Now’ during which I presented what I considered to be the top 10 most hard working, multi-talking and/or long lasting products for women in business, available at Liberty. The talks generated a lot of interest in my services and almost half of the people who came to hear me speak booked a one-to-one personal shopping session afterwards.
What’s your morning/evening beauty routine?
I have recently started doing two things differently each morning. The first change is that, after I have made a cup of Earl Grey, I light a candle (current fave is Diptique’s Cypre) and meditate for ten minutes sitting cross legged on the floor. It is only ten minutes out of my day but it takes effort and I always feel calmer, even when my anxiety levels are high.
The second thing I now do is a light cleanse before I apply any skincare and makeup. I have recently been suffering from hormonal breakouts along my jaw line (most probably caused by spikes in testosterone as a result of fluctuating stress levels) and this has made me more conscious of my cleansing routine. Doing a very light cleanse in the morning, usually with a cream, has made a visible difference to the clarity of my skin and I love the feeling of applying makeup onto clean, fresh skin. My evening routine has been pretty much down pat for several months now and I am a firm subscriber to the double cleansing method as advocated by the likes of Caroline Hirons and Sali Hughes. I have always removed my eye makeup with a micellar water (Bioderma’s Sensibio) but I now also use a balm, cream or oil cleanser to remove my makeup (massage into dry skin, rinse lightly then remove any remaining product residue using a hand-hot flannel. Allow skin to air dry from wet or spritz with a PH balancing spray).
Brands you rate and why?
Top of the list would be Chantecaille, but I am biased because I spent a year working for them. Of all the brands I have got to know over the years I would go as far to say it is the one brand that comes close to doing everything brilliantly, bar a handful of products. I love the thinking and intention behind Glossier, and Bourjois has been the high street brand that has surprised me the most.
What advice would give to those who are unadventurous when it comes to experimenting with new beauty trends and/or product?
Makeup can be instantly transformative but it is also easily and quickly removed.
If you like the look of a trend and want to try it out – let’s take a deep burgundy lip as an example as it is autumn… If you are worried about going ‘all out’ opt for lighter textures e.g. try a sheer burgundy lipstick rather than a full on, opaque matte. Want to try contouring? Buy a matte bronzer 2-3 shades warmer than your natural skin tone and sweep the colour (subtly at first until you build your confidence) along the gap under your cheekbones when you suck in your cheeks.
For more details on Natalie and her services, jump across to her website; we highly recommend.