Dublin-born make-up artist Lyndsey Cavanagh has turned her passion for 1950s beauty into her career. Here the Max Factor professional reveals how she got her big break.
On wanting to become a make-up artist
I was always enthralled by the beauty icons of the 1940s and 1950s, screen sirens like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Marilyn Monroe. Their presence and beauty intrigued me and so the world of cosmetics always appealed to me – I needed to know their beauty secrets.
My earliest make-up memory is sitting by my grandmother’s side and watching her in the mirror as she pressed her compact powder across her cheeks and glided a deep red lipstick over her lips. She was a very beautiful lady. I admired her greatly and this, her morning routine, was something I never tired of. The scent of Max Factor Crème Puff always takes me back to this moment.
I began my training 12 years ago in Dun Laoghaire, firstly on the CIBTAC Fashion, Photographic and Media make-up course and then moved onto a Cidesco qualification in Face and Body. In the years that followed, I obtained a teaching qualification which allowed me to return to the college I had studied in but this time as a tutor.
I then went on to study airbrushing technique and body painting so that I could introduce these into the Irish curriculum and they have proved to be a very popular choice for make-up artists looking to up-skill.
On joining Max Factor
I first began working with Max Factor in 2009 and I was so excited about the role and all it entailed. Mr Max Factor has been a hugely influential power house when it comes to the world of make-up and beauty. He believed that glamour should be within reach of all women and was responsible for so many firsts in the world of make-up, from the mascara wand to foundation to lip gloss. He even coined the term “make-up” and helped put the transformative tools for make-up artistry into the hands of every woman.
On a typical day with Max Factor
A typical day with Max Factor could be a full day magazine shoot involving five or six wardrobe changes and so an equal number of hair and make-up transformations and lots of styling.
It may be shot on location which is a lot of fun as you have your pick of beautiful backdrops but is also weather dependent. Otherwise you could be based at a photography studio. As part of the shoot we may need to obtain a cover shot which can be the most important of the day as well as piecing together the story that collectively we are all trying to portray through our different mediums be it make-up, fashion or photography.
Communication is key and team work is vital. Everyone is given the time to create and bring to life their ideas, which will be reflected in the style of the shoot be it soft and ethereal or dark and moody. There is always a lot of forward planning involved so that no time is lost or wasted on the day of shooting.
The whole process is wonderful and I love collaborating with new and inspiring people, discovering how they interpret the brief and how we are going to work together to achieve our goal. When the images finally come to print, it’s a fantastic feeling and very rewarding.
On her most enjoyable Max Factor campaign
There are so many exciting and innovative events to look back on but one that remains quite vivid was a fashion shoot we created for LIFE magazine. Faye Dinsmore was modelling and she wore designs created by Clare O’Connor and styled by Catherine Condell, three ladies whom I greatly admire.
The essence of the shoot was glamour, allure, strength and beauty with dramatic lighting and bold styling, all of which was captured to perfection by the magical photography of Sarah Doyle.
The look I created with Max Factor was clean and defined with a highly luminous finish to the skin. No powder-based products were used in order to keep the skin looking radiant and glowing. I applied Max Factor Mastertouch All Day Concealer to all the contours of the face, around the eyes, nose and mouth. This reflects lots of light and softens our features lending a very youthful look to the complexion.
Max Factor Excess Intensity Eyeliner in black was worked into the lash line to provide a demure smokey eye and the lips were bold and defined. I lined the mouth fully first to increase the volume of the lips using Max Factor Colour Elixir Lip Pencil in ‘Red Rush’ and applied a coating of the ‘Ruby Tuesday’ lipstick also from the Colour Elixir range. It is a fabulously rich red shade.
The final images were dramatic, capturing the femininity and glamour of the hair and make-up, the power and beauty of the model’s poses and the strength of the designs, it was a fantastic creative collaboration.
One her beauty icons
Grace Coddington is a hugely influential lady in the world of publishing. Watching her execute a fashion shoot like a master craftswoman never ceases to inspire me to continue to evolve, learn and grow and also not to be afraid to take risks when it comes to fashion and make-up. Easier said than done but it’s one of the reasons why I also love Vivienne Westwood so much, she is unconventional and outspoken in her approach to fashion and design and she has shaped the look of many fashion movements in recent decades. Jasper Conran once explained: “Vivienne does, and others follow.”
On her favourite make-up look
There are so many to choose from. Every beautiful make-up look begins with the perfect skin base. I am adamant that skin should look like skin and not make-up so it’s fundamental that you choose a make-up base that highlights and illuminates skin naturally. Always apply it using a large brush and small amounts of product working from the centre of your face and blending outward towards your hairline.
Then choose the areas of you face that you would like to highlight such as tear duct and lash line, brow bone, upper cheek bone and the bow of your lip. Apply a creamy pearlescent highlighter – bronze or golden tones for darker skins and cool pinky or pearly tones for paler skin – using your fingertips or just the side of your blush brush and lightly dab the product into place so that it sits on your skin.
Avoid the temptation to over work it or rub it in as it loses its luminosity. Couple this glowing skin with a tailored brow, combed upward for a lifting effect and set into place with some brow wax. Or if your brows are a little faint, add some depth with a brow pencil first.
A couple of layers of mascara applied to the upper lash line where you have already highlighted will draw your eyes forward. To finish this feminine look choose a lip and cheek colour that will complement each other. It’s best to stick to the same tone for both and ideally of a creamy texture (pink, peach or apricot tones for paler skins and deep pink, copper or rose gold tones for darker skin). Apply a little blush to the apples of your cheeks, the plumper part when you smile and using your blush brush blend it gently toward the highlighter that you have already applied, the two will merge and form a beautiful radiant look.
Blot the same or a similar colour onto your lips using your fingertips and don’t be too precise – a soft focus edge on your lip colour is very flattering and will make your mouth appear fuller, a touch of gloss to add shine completes the look.
On her daily skincare routine
I always preach the importance of a specially formulated eye make-up remover. It’s very important to remove all eye make-up products with ease so as not to damage your eyelashes and the delicate tissue surrounding your eyes through the use of incorrect products. Use your remover on dampened cotton wool as I find it glides more easily over your eyes in comparison to dry cotton wool.
A daily moisturiser that also provides ample hydration and keeps our skin protected from ageing, environmental factors is a must. I don’t believe in having a plethora of products, choose the right ones and you can cut all that out. I like Olay Total Effects Day Moisturiser SPF15 as it is packed with vitamins and anti-ageing ingredients but also is fast absorbing with a lovely silky texture – it sits perfectly under make-up.
On her top three desert island make-up products
As I can only have three, I would need to combine a skincare and make-up product and so for this I would have to choose Olay Total Effects CC Cream SPF15. This gives you all the benefits of Total Effects Moisturiser, including SPF15, but as a complexion corrector it is also formulated with skin perfecting powders to give flawless coverage. You can smooth it over your skin using your fingertips for an instantly even finish.
I always like to keep my lips moisturised and feeling soft but I don’t want to lose out on wearing a statement lip colour by applying only a balm so the perfectly solution comes in the form of Max Factor Colour Intensify Lip Balm. This product contains all the moisture-rich ingredients one expects from a lip conditioner as well as the strength of colour pigment you get from a lipstick – you can choose to apply one coat for a hint of colour or layer it up for a lipstick effect. It is every make-up artist’s dream.
My last one would have to be my tweezers. I am eyebrow obsessed and the thought of not being able to keep them clean and tailored would not sit well with me. Eyebrows frame the face and open the eye area. If you are not feeling too confident about your tweezing abilities, then have a professional do it for you. The perfect brow makes a huge difference.
On her favourite places to shop
There is a Spanish label which I adore and they have beautiful boutiques which are like hidden gems dotted throughout Spain. They specialize mainly in accessories with everything from incredible Art Deco style jewellery, sexy stilettos to glitter ankle boots, amazingly crafted leather bags, clutches and wallets and a small selection of statement fashion pieces.
I recently came across another wonderful treasure in the form of The Gift Horse, a little bespoke store in Kilkenny city centre. It has a fabulously varied array of unusual gift items, beautiful woollen goods, bespoke jewellery and home furnishing. So quirky and although it is a small store you can spend lots of time admiring all they have to offer.
On advice to up-and-coming make-up artists
Your knowledge and skill are what get you ahead in this industry so obtain as much professional training as possible. Always look to up-skill and partake in regular creative work shops. They don’t always have to be through the medium of make-up. Creativity, expression and creation come in many, many forms.
Stay true to your own style and let that shine through in your make-up creations. Be aware of trends but don’t feel the need to always reflect this in your work. The more time, energy and passion you have for something the better you will be as a result.
On upcoming Max Factor launches
Max Factor has joined forces with Star Wars (pictured in the gallery above) in a global cosmetics partnership and as the most talked about and anticipated movie release of the year, I think it’s a really exciting, unique and interesting venture.
Max Factor has created a campaign that is really striking and true to the Star Wars story through their Global Creative Director, Pat McGrath, an avid Star Wars fan who is regarded as one of the most celebrated make-up artists in the world. Pat has worked exclusively to design a series of six transformative looks which are simply stunning.
Make-up is all about transformation and self-expression and this partnership has offered an opportunity to connect with women and the millions female fans of the film in a different way.
After Christmas, we are straight into our new season launch event to the media in Dublin. We are planning this at the moment and how to bring to life some of the trends for Spring/Summer. For 2015, it was all about the halo effect and creating a beautiful radiant glow. Healthy, luminous skin always features. I really enjoy this event. It always has a really positive, buzzy atmosphere and gets everyone excited about the new launches, new looks and warmer days ahead – a nice splash of glamour in the grey days of January.
On her worst beauty faux pas
I’m only going to reveal one. I cringe most when I think of the time I got a perm – it’s not like it was even in fashion. Bizarrely, I thought it would look good but it didn’t. It looked frizzy and out of control on a good day and took months to grow out which lead to a lovely straight root and curly sue from the ears down look. Never again!
On her proudest achievement
Previously I moved to Spain to enjoy some sunshine and a change of scene. Whilst living there, I began a make-up school in Marbella and started teaching fashion, photographic and media make-up. I had full capacity for our first year and was delighted to share my teaching and make-up techniques with a wonderful and eclectic variety of people who were all eager to become skilled make-up artists.
The course was certified by CIBTAC and the first of its kind to be run in southern Spain. Of course when it came to exam time, I was as nervous as the students. They had worked so hard on their portfolios all throughout the year and I wanted this to be reflected in their practical exams. I need not have worried. The examiner flew in from the UK and on completion of their theory and practical exams they each were awarded with a credit and I was nominated by the same examiner for CIBTAC tutor of the year. All in all, a wonderful experience for me.
On her career highlight
One of the reasons I began a career in the cosmetic industry was down to my love of classic 1950s beauty and simple elegance and wanting to develop the skills needed to recreate this for every woman. When I had the opportunity to work with the 1950s movie star Maureen O’Hara I was awestruck as she is the epitome of strength, success and femininity. We worked together for a TV piece followed by a photo shoot which took place in the very fitting Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons.
Maureen opted for a defined eye make-up look whilst still making the most of her beautiful features using soft contouring and highlighting. She knew exactly what worked for her and looked best on camera. We teamed this with a beautiful coral red lip stick which suited her complexion perfectly. She still continues to look every inch the movie star that she truly is. Upon completion of our work together I was presented with a stunning black and white portrait image of Maureen which she signed and dated, a truly wonderful experience for me.
- as told to TBI