In the beauty arena, there's no one quite like Val Garland. Experimental, unconventional, rebellious and incredibly skilful, the beauty book rule-breaker is a true master of makeup. Starting out in her teens as a hairdresser in Bristol with her idiosyncratic, punky style, vibrantly coloured hair and heavy makeup, constantly seeking out a new adventure and challenge, one day Garland decided to up sticks and move to Australia, where she soon opened a salon. Bored of hair after some years owning the scene, Garland sold the salon and moved to London in 1994 to try her hand at makeup instead.
She swiftly became part of a stylish and multitalented set including Eugene Souleiman, Kate Moss and Katy England, who she'd frequently work and party with. In the mid '90s, super stylist Katy England asked Garland to work with her on Alexander McQueen's SS95 show 'The Birds' and a new partnership was born, befitting the makeup artist and designer's similarly dark and romantic aesthetic.
Garland's boundary-breaking ideas have led her to work with many of the world's most radical, directional artists including Lady Gaga and Nick Knight (on those extraordinary prosthetic cheekbones on the cover of Born This Way), Sam McKnight, Björk, Gareth Pugh and Vivienne Westwood.
In May 2017, L'Oréal Paris named Val Garland its global makeup director, a role which covers everything from product development to makeup artistry for the brand. Then, just a couple of months later, in July 2017, Garland was announced as a contributing beauty editor at British Vogue under Edward Enninful's new leadership, alongside beauty heavyweights Sam McKnight, Guido Palau and Charlotte Tilbury.
We spoke with the makeup maverick to delve into her beauty bag and discover her must-have products, high street favourites and the faces she likes making up most.
If you had just five minutes to get ready what would you do/use?
Load up some mascara and bang on the bronzer.
What's your hair routine and favourite hair products?
I like to blow-dry my hair and use a round brush, I spray some of Sam McKnight’s Easy-Up Do at the root for weightless lift and volume.
What’s the one product you reach for to take you from day to night?
L’Oréal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick 347 Haute Rouge in red.
Can you remember the first beauty product you bought in your teens?
Barry M bright pink blusher.
When did you realise you wanted to pursue beauty professionally?
When I was 15. To my 15-year-old mind’s eye, everyone who wore makeup looked exceedingly glamorous. I wanted to be in their club. I wanted to be glamorised, outrageous, I wanted to be noticed.
What’s the one product that you have repurchased the most over the years?
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream.
What’s the most expensive, luxury beauty product you own?
The ReFa massage roller.
What’s your most trusty high street makeup product?
L’Oréal True Match Foundation.
Can you remember your worst beauty faux pas?
Drawing my eyebrows in bad lighting.
Favourite mascara and why?
L’Oréal Paradise Mascara because it lifts, it curls, it gives volume and it nourishes the lashes! What more can you ask for?
Who are your beauty icons and why?
Maria Borges because she’s worth it!
Favourite lip product?
L’Oréal Colour Riche Shine.
Is there a particular person whose face you enjoy making up most?
Throughout her career, Helen Mirren has epitomised the strength of womanhood. She is as charming as she is iconic, certainly a true representation of a hero for our times.
Which is the one, transformative beauty product that makes you feel your best?L’Oréal Pure Clay Glow Mask, it gives transformative texture and brightness to the skin.
Makeup aside, what else makes you feel beautiful?
Follow Val on Instagram @thevalgarland