A makeup artist that uses natural makeup? It’s still quite rare! Makeup artists are generally loyal to conventional makeup brands, which are primarily made up of synthetic formulas. This, however, shouldn’t come as a surprise, since they are used to working with the same brands they’ve been introduced to during their professional training. Plus, nothing is more difficult than taking a good look at old habits.
It therefore takes a lot of curiosity and courage for these pros to branch off towards something different. Carole Colombani has therefore proven to be a pioneer in the makeup field. This makeup artist has embraced natural in her day to day and her expertise has carved her place in magazines dedicated to the green makeup revolution. Interview with a Tiger that is slowly and surely reshaping the makeup artist landscape.
How did you become a makeup artist?
I knew I wanted to be a makeup artist since I was 15 years old. I always felt like I had a different way of looking at people, faces, bodies, and clothes. I grew up in Corsica, and do not come from an artistic family, but I was always interested in the look of things. My passion for beauty came from my grandmother, who was always very stylish. I did some research and moved to Montpellier to do an associate degree in cosmetology at the public university. Then I moved to Paris thanks to a contact I had in the world of fashion.
What was the moment when you told yourself, “I've done it, I’m now a professional makeup artist”?
I first worked at Sephora for 9 months to pay my bills. Then I quit to work a few photo shoots as an assistant makeup artist—I’d gotten a few requests from people here and there. During that time, I met a stylist, who was the founder of an 80’s-style magazine and looking for a makeup artist. He told me he needed me for the next three magazine series. I think my lack of formal education from a cosmetology institute and being sort of a “blank canvas” interested him, since he could use this to shape me into the vision he had. It was just after we began to shoot and when I did my first fashion show that I really began to feel like a makeup artist.
Do you have a moment that sticks out in your mind as a makeup artist?
My greatest memory of my career was when I was lead makeup artist for the Hermès Women’s runway show for the first time. I was following in the footsteps of Tom Pecheux, and I was only 27 and a half years old! Odile Gilbert was just across from me in hair, and at the time she already had more than 25 years of experience under her belt, having worked for Jean-Paul Gaultier before going on to work with Hermès. I was there because I was working with Christophe Lemaire, the newly appointed designer. There were 45 girls, and I had 15 makeup artists I needed to manage in the new boutique that had just opened. There was very little space; it was pretty intense! When the girls left for the runway, I finally just let it all out and cried. (laughs).
What do you say to people that tell you makeup is superficial?
Makeup, superficial? It has completely changed my perspective and has given me so many ways to look at things, I’ve a hard time even understanding that idea. What we put on ourselves—what we show to the world—is the least superficial thing there is. It can reveal who we are, it can change how we feel, it can give us strength and hope. Makeup for me is a sign of freedom. It’s something I strongly believe in.
Do you have a signature look?
It’s hard to comment on your own makeup style. But, from what I’ve heard throughout the years about my approach, is that I have a truly natural and transparent touch which highlights and enhances a look. A lot of people have described my style as “natural.” Even when I am doing a heavier look, like an 80’s style, you can see the woman behind the makeup.
When it comes to your signature, you’ve also often talked about natural formulas, and you’ve been a pioneer in using natural makeup in your every day to day. What brought you to do that?
I've always been attached to nature since I was young, living in Corsica. I’m environmentally conscious when it comes to the Earth and ingredients, and I have a strong respect for nature. My diet was next, once I learned more about eating clean.
Then finally, when I was 33 years old, it hit me: I opened up my makeup case and said to myself, “this doesn't really align with the way you live the rest of your life.”
That’s when I decided I wanted to change the way I look at makeup. But you've got to take a deep look at your habits, and they're hard to shake. That’s why I’m sharing with others this transition towards natural. I don’t believe in stopping things “cold turkey.” It’s about moving forward a step at a time, little by little, though social media has helped me make enormous leaps and bounds from brand to brand. The digital world is amazing—you can discover so much and find so much that corresponds to who you are and what you care about.
What in makeup can instantly transform a woman?
That’s a hard question! Eyebrows can be a real game changer because they can transform someone completely—to the point that it can be shocking! With transformed eyebrows, people sometimes don’t even recognize themselves. Gorgeous skin can really boost someone’s well-being. Eyes and lips add strength, but each in their own way. For example, a polished mouth brings you to the front of the stage. When you've got a bold lip, you’re more listened to and heard. Eyes are a different story. A bold eye is strong, but more sensual.
Are there things we are to follow with age?
I’m not about age-based makeup or doing something just because it is considered age appropriate. I think it's more important to prioritize a makeup style that reflects your personality and gives you strength and confidence. One example is Baddie Winkle, an 85-year-old influencer who wears tricolored makeup. She’s phenomenal, because she does what she wants, and she feels good. I don’t think you can make major makeup errors with age, but you can misuse products or mess up textures.
Can you think of any makeup faux pas that exist?
There’s no makeup faux pas per se, but it's more an issue of ignoring your skin or wearing makeup that doesn’t match who you are.
What’s your favorite ALL TIGERS products?
Oh, I love your flashy colors! I was just using the Coral Pink 784 lipstick last week in a live demonstration. There’s almost a neon aspect to it, which I think is great, particularly when it’s paired with a natural look. And it goes with every kind of skin tone: black, mixed, Asian, white... It is universal!
I also like mixing ALL TIGERS colors. For example, blending the Rosewood 683 and Brownish Red 889 lipsticks creates this terracotta shade that flatters any complexion. By applying it as a blush to the face with the finger—starting from the forehead and moving down—this blend creates this great flushed look on the eyelids, the lips, like you’ve just been running in a field of flowers and have stopped to catch your breath.
In general, liquid lipstick is a creamy product with long-lasting wear, which dries and creates a film on the skin, allowing it to set. It can, however, create some dehydration. So, I'd suggest hydrating first before application. Drink a glass a water, have a coffee, and then put it on. But, first and foremost, make sure you’re not putting too much on. There will already be too much lipstick on the wand when you first remove it, so wipe some off the edge of the tube to get rid of the excess product.
What makes you roar with pleasure as a makeup artist?
The fact that I always have to be 100% on! Every time I apply someone’s makeup, I’m creating a new relationship of trust. So, each day I’m starting off fresh. As a makeup artist, we’re always moving from one thing to the other, but also at the heart of it all, surrounded by models, photographers, and assistants. With each photo shoot, I start from square one; it's almost like a love affair that lasts one day.
What makes you bare your claws as a makeup artist?
Body shaming and physical judgment of others of any kind. I often see this towards our models when we’re out in public on a photo shoot. It’s not a secret that the world of modeling lacks diversity; we’ve been fed this idea of “beauty is thin” for over 20 years. But this is absolutely no reason to use the human being that represents this type of beauty as a punching bag. Women in this case are objectified.
Another thing that annoys me is this perception that models are beautiful but lack any other substance. You realize, when working in the field, that this is everything but.
Do you think that makeup artists will begin to use more green cosmetics?
I think this will become more of a possibility, but it will require curiosity, investment, and an attachment to the product.
In the end, it’s women who decide. They’ve the right to wear products that are better for their health, just like they have the right to consume as they wish and decide where their money goes. This idea is relatively new.
What would you choose to be the next ALL TIGERS product?
A cream blush! It can change a face, and it’s possible to make in a clean version. I’d choose a cream blush, because the material seeps into the skin to give it this natural, dewy flush. It can be applied with your finger, and just adds a great glow to a complexion. I like the playful look of it. A powder blush, in my opinion, can leave a cakey finish.
There you have it, you’re now a Tiger! What’s your motto?
The Smooth Tiger! In my field, if you’re not strong-willed, a bit Tiger, you can quickly go from making it to breaking it. But you’ve also got to be smooth, flexible, open, easy to adapt. Every day is new, with a new person, a new idea, a new image. So, go with the flow...and wide the wave!
Thank you, Carole!
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