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5 Minutes With Celebrity Makeup Artist, Lan Nguyen-Grealis

Beauty tricks and career tips, yes please!

You know the drill, a feel-good 5 Minutes With coming right at you. Enjoy!

Irish born, international makeup artist, Lan Nguyen-Grealis has made a lasting impression on the beauty industry where, ironically, standing out is easier said than done, especially amongst mounds of creatives and brands within the booming sector. 

Lan – who is based in London – differentiates herself from the masses through her unique work ethic and self-taught makeup skills which have led to the creation of her own inspirational and prosperous brand.

No stranger to the art world having studied fashion at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, a career in makeup didn’t seem so farfetched, yet the magnitude of her success within the beauty world couldn’t have been predicted. 

Lan’s incredibly diverse artistry has made her a regular at London Fashion Week, a choice collaborator on creative projects, an author, speaker and a guest judge on BBC’s, Glow Up.

With clients across editorial and advertising including, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, L’Officiel and Tom Ford, Lan’s undeniable talent recently encouraged her to produce the one-stop-shop, Ultimate Artist Pallet in collaboration with Revolution Pro and making all of our beauty wishes come true. 

It is no surprise we needed to take 5 Minutes with Lan to discuss her amazing self-made, makeup journey in one of the toughest industries. 

What is your definition of beauty?

My definition of beauty is looking good so that you feel good and enhance what you have naturally no matter what look you want to achieve. 

Why did you decide to pursue a career in makeup?

Having worked in all fields of the beauty industry for over seven years, I gained so much experience and finally decided to take the plunge and pursue it as a career.

It allows me to be who I am creatively but also help people feel confident. Having those kinds of rewards from all the hard work is the best pay off. 

The makeup world is a fun and exciting place to be. There are so many endless challenges. I’m always finding new things to do and opportunities to collaborate with so many talented creatives. 

If you could bring one discontinued product back from the beauty grave, which one would you choose?

I miss quite a few products, but recently I would have to choose the Chanel Stylo Ombre Et Contour Eyeshadow - Liner in Noir.

There are other colours available but the black was my favourite – I wish I had bought all of them when it first came out.

Walk us through the creative process of your best-selling makeup pallet. 

My Ultimate Artist Pallet was made in collaboration with Makeup Revolution. 

I wanted to design a product with the professionals in mind. Especially, since it is based around great value and quality makeup. The palette was what I was missing in my makeup kit, but it actually works well for all makeup users who maybe want to be a bit more adventurous and have something they can experiment with.

I couldn’t find anything on the market which had everything you needed in one pallet so this was the perfect starting point. I loved working with the design team to come up with an easy product that allows makeup to have many facets and be multi-functional, but also would be compact and look nice.

All the colours and pigments were curated and formulated by hand to suit what I believe to be the full range of skin tones, and effective in one swipe but also buildable for people to be more brave and creative. These were colours I believed over the years were the best basics to complete a whole face look, whether it’s natural and simple or dramatic. All the tones are pure colours with purpose which can be mixed, overlaying without too much fallout. I tested many tones and reformulated with the team before ensuring the colours worked across the skin tone spectrum. It’s basically me in a pallet, so I had to be authentic and confident that I would use it all the time. 

The design and packaging were meant to give it a luxe vibe but also I’m known for carrying a lot of black patent, gold, and textured bags, shoes and clothing so it truly mimics a part of who I am. 

What is the secret to a snatched contour? 

I believe the secret to having a natural contour is through choosing the right cheek colour as an under base, then laying it over on the cheekbone, blending outwards and upwards and finishing with a powder or cream highlight.

It’s a basic three-step system but it works in order to get the right dimensions when the light hits your face. 

How do you stay inspired and creative in your line of work?

I stay inspired by the people I collaborate with. Joining forces with other like-minded creatives where we bounce ideas together. I love flicking through creative magazines and books from other areas of the industry, especially designers as I’m always inspired by their creations. I love to look back at old paintings and films that had bigger references in makeup and all the couture shows. They give me so much inspiration to develop ideas, modernise and re-invent.

I also talk to lots of my friends and women who love makeup, they are always inspiring me to do better and create what they want to see too.

What has been your biggest career highlight so far?

My biggest career highlight has been having my books published and available in many museums and libraries around the world. Knowing I’ve created something that is bigger than me and has its own way of inspiring others is something I still can’t really believe. I am a self-taught makeup artist, so to have become a teacher and inspire others from what I have learned on my own journey really humbles me.

Can you debunk one myth about the beauty industry? 

The myth that silicone-based products are bad for the skin and cause acne and clog pores. I don’t believe this, silicone products cannot be broken down in the skin or penetrate and acts purely as a primer in most products.

It simply covers the pores and generally comes off when you wash your face. It’s a barrier on the skin and really because it’s a form of plastic it will not harm your skin and there is no factual evidence to show the relationship of it causing harm on the skin. I always use it as a barrier for the skin for a smoother foundation base. 

Keeping it festive, what is your go-to Christmas party make-up look?

My go-to party look is definitely a smokey eye. Just all fun blazing black with a mix of aubergine and brown tones with a little shimmer and sparkle on top and plenty of mascara, maybe a nice thick lash too. Paired with a bit of bronzer and shimmering glow highlight with a natural lip and you are good to go.

Who would be the one person’s make-up you would adore doing? 

I have so many faces I love so I wouldn’t be able to choose. I actually adore every face I get to work with. For me as an artist, it really is fun working with new faces all the time. It keeps me on my toes and happy in my job, so it’s really all the same for me.

What advice would you offer someone just starting their career in the beauty industry?

I would have to say the most important thing is to research and know what you want to do, and the area of the industry you want to be in. Gain as much experience as you can and keep practising.

Jobs will come and go, but you will always naturally find your way through networking. The beauty industry is tricky, success will come when you learn to push yourself. There is a lot of trial and error, but as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Main image @lanslondon

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