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Inside My Makeup Bag: Georgina Graham

You've probably seen Georgina Graham's work on the beauty and fashion pages of magazines including Vogue (Paris, China, Japan, UK, Germany, Australia and Russia FYI), The Gentlewoman, i-D and Vanity Fair. Or on the famous faces she's made up, ranging from Sophia Loren and Naomi Campbell, to Chloe Moretz and Dree Hemingway. Here, the international makeup artist lets us peer into her sacred beauty kit to find out all her must-have products, and shares her secret tips and tricks of the trade.

If you had just five minutes to get ready, what would you do/use?
I am all about five minutes to get ready. Not because I don't enjoy playing with skincare and makeup but because most days, I am pretty time-poor, so I look for easy-to-use, multi-functional products that are long lasting throughout the day and can be applied in the back of a taxi if need be to turn me from day to night.

Beauty detail for @barneysny SS16 by @benhassett with @elizacummings_ @jefffrancishair #georginagrahammakeup #beauty

A photo posted by Georgina Graham (@_georginagraham) on

Favourite foundation and why?

I don't use foundation. I have never liked the feel or look of it on my skin. I like a tinted primer by bareMinerals or Sunday Riley and a tinted moisturiser by Laura Mercier or Obagi (a great dermatologist and cosmetic Asian brand that I discovered in Tokyo.) I want my skin to look flawless but feel natural and bare. Real skin is sexy to look at and to touch. So I am always looking for products that might improve the condition of my skin too. For friends and clients, I am a big fan of the Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion line and Chanel VitaLumiere range. A good tip is to apply with a damp beauty blender for a super light touch.

What's your hair routine and favourite hair products?
If I go to a hair salon (about twice a year) I try to visit David Mallett in Paris or George Northwood in London, depending where I'm working and if they can fit me in. However, I luckily work with the best session hairdressers in the world and one of the perks of the job is asking if they wouldn't mind giving me a trim every now and then. When they do my hair, I'm amazed at how, after just five minutes with their magic touch, I get my dream hair. I can do most things with a makeup brush but mostly fail trying to do my own hair. Luckily, I like messy, un-groomed hair that looks good mostly because of a decent hair cut!

At home I use John Masters Organics Rosemary and Lavender shampoo which I buy in Whole Foods and I like a leave in conditioner. I have one by Philip Kingsley that is fantastic. For styling I like a salt spray to give my hair a bit of texture as I always just naturally air dry and I found a brand in NY called Brooklyn Beach Hair that has seasonal fragrances; I like the summer smell because it makes me think of lazy days at the beach reading and swimming and getting (safely) tanned. I discovered Ted Gibson hair sheets in Sephora which are individual sachets that you wipe on your hair from root to tip to get rid of fly away static. I travel a lot for work and can arrive with my hair looking like I placed a finger in an electrical socket, and these are great for different humidities. I'm a fan of the classic Mason & Pearson brushes which I've had since I was a little girl, I find them comforting and familiar which is kind of strange to say about a hair brush. I have a Tangle Teezer to tackle the back of the head dreadlocks that appear every morning from nowhere.
What’s the one product you reach for to take you from day to night?
Probably my Bobbi Brown longwear wind-up eyeshadow stick. I use a shade called Bark which is a dirty brown earth tone that I ring around my eyes in about two seconds and then use a finger to smudge and smush in. This gives me instant sexy smoky eyes and can be as low key or intensely built up as you feel like. This is my favourite no-brainer makeup product and anyone can use it – they do tons of shades.
Do you contour and if so what do you use?
I really dislike this contour trend where I see girls shading their noses and faces to look like pre-surgery pen markings and they end up looking so heavily made up. It looks totally unreal and just like you've got dirt on your face. I have giggled at quite bizarre video tutorials of girls using backs of spoons to contour and in one, I saw a girl draw an emoji poo on her forehead. This is a trend that I think most makeup artists working in fashion are equally intrigued, amused and grossed out by.

I use a cream bronzer by Becca and I apply it on my cheekbones with a big, soft, round brush. Whatever product is left on the brush I run across my jawbone, neck and forehead for a bit of natural looking definition. If I want a powder bronzer, I use Chanel Les Beiges as they have a great colour range and look natural and light.

Can you remember the first beauty product you bought in your teens?
I think it was a Blistex frosted lip balm from Boots that I would keep in my pocket and wear when I left home to meet friends aged about 13. I remember also going to Kensington Market (a now defunct iconic fashion Mecca) on weekends and seeing all the Stargazer makeup – an old brand that punks, club kids and adventurous cool girls would wear. They always had highly pigmented products with tons of neon colours and I would lust after them, but not have the confidence to pick them up. I also loved Barry M for being fun and affordable and I used to play with all those little pigment pots and glitter pots in Topshop as a teen. I used to try to be like Angela Chase in My So Called Life. I remember buying Dewberry and White Musk perfume from The Body Shop. I bet I would heave if I smelt those now!
What’s the one product that you have re-purchased the most over the years?
For at least a decade I have bought YSL Touché Eclat in shade 3 for under my eyes to get rid of dark shadows or under eye circles. I love this product and I have it at all times in my makeup bag. I have most of the shades in my kits too for professional use. I like to mix it with a bit of eye cream to sheer it out.
What’s the most expensive, luxury beauty product you own?
I was in Las Vegas years ago and I bought a full size giant pot of Creme de la Mer moisturiser. I thought I had placed it in my check-in luggage, but stupidly I placed it in my carry on. In security at the airport the woman confiscated it for being over the amount to travel with by hand. I considered wrestling with her to try to get it back. I was so upset, but I have never made that mistake again. In my kit there are tons of hugely expensive lotions and potions that I am sent by kind PR's but I am pretty low-key personally, so, honestly, nothing too expensive in my bathroom cabinet, but I do love niche brands such as Dr Jackson, African Botanics and RMS. I do like a fancy perfume – lately I have been into Frederic Malle Portrait of A Lady and that ain't cheap. I often buy the travel sizes which are more affordable and if I get bored I can change things up with ease.

What’s your most trusty highstreet makeup product?
Lip balm. I buy from pharmacies and the French drugstore brands like Nuxe, La Roche Posay, Bioderma. I keep lip balm in every room in my house; in my handbags; in my car. I need to have emollient lips at all times! I also am a big fan of the Kiko exfoliating scrub wipes. One side removes makeup and the other side exfoliates. Brilliant tip is to use that side on lips to remove dry or flaky skin and then apply lip balm or lipstick.

Can you remember your worst beauty faux pas?
I had a particularly experimental time with my hair and makeup when I was at Manchester University. I had left an all girls boarding school where I had been trapped from 11-18 and this was my first time experiencing independence and freedom. My hair was all styles and lengths and colours at different times. I was influenced by gorgeous Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element.

In recent times my worst beauty faux pas was trying a Brazilian blow dry one summer, thinking it would be good for a beach holiday and make me look a bit sleeker, however, in all my pictures from that hol I just look really unlike me and a bit sad. Then I tried eyelash extensions one year too and that looked good for about five minutes but when they shed you look weird and ill. When they are gone, you feel totally eye bald.
Favourite mascara and why?
I like MAC Haute & Naughty. It is a two-way brush that can be light and natural and heavy and intense. I love this mascara. I get scared they may discontinue it as all the products I personally like from MAC get discontinued. When I want full-on drama, I go for YSL mascara – they do a really great aubergine shade that I like as it makes my eyes really green, I apply one shade of black then the aubergine on top.
Favourite lip product?
A nude lip pencil. I like stripdown by MAC, nude by Serge Lutens, and medium nude by Kevyn Aucoin. I like to line my lips lightly with a nude pencil and fill in then add a bit of matte lip balm, blot, and repeat the process. That is my low key but sexy lip that is a bit Beatrice Dalle, a bit '90s Linda Evangelista and a bit Brigitte Bardot... or Chanel-era Vanessa Paradis. I love how a really subtle lip pencil and balm can make anyone look scorchingly hot in an instant.

Which is the one, transformative beauty product that makes you feel your best?
For skincare, it's a serum oil and at the moment, I switch between French brand Odacité who do small, cold pressed batches, and Tata Harper. I love a luxe hippy brand – that is probably my fetish – and something I always look for on my travels and online. These serum oils are products that my skin drinks up and afterwards it looks glowing, like I had some spa time. Makeup wise, it's a brow product as I have always had crappy, thin and patchy brows. Luckily, I use a powder shadow by MAC in Coquette and an angled brush to fill in. I need to do this every day, even if I have no other makeup.

What's your favourite beauty trend/look for SS16?
Personally I don't follow trends, I just take simple steps to keep my skin looking great. It's all about maintenance when you hit 30. I sometimes play around with a red lip. I used to like a really matte cherry red and now I play with stains and deeper red shades and some sheer textures. I love the Revlon Matte Balms – such a good, mega affordable product. I like my lashes to look really fluttery (think '70s Marisa Berenson, Shelley Duvall or Sissy Spacek) with tons of mascara on top and bottom but I also love a bare lash look too. Sometimes I play with a liquid liner. For my liner I channel cool French chanteuses like Francoise Hardy. As for the shows, from SS16, I'd suggest trying out the metallic trend and high performance skin look. Try eyeshadows or eye pencils that have a metal sheen like a beautiful bronze or a soft gold. They work on all eye colours. As for skin, look for highlighters that add a glow like RMS Living Luminizer or Topshop highlighter sticks.

Follow Georgina on Instagram @_georginagraham