We have another interview with a makeup artist to sink our teeth into! This interview is with the incredible Laura Johnson-Dwyer, who currently works as Business Manager of the Dior and Dior Backstage counter at Debenhams in Leeds. Laura has a very varied and interesting makeup career and is a fantastic artist, a fountain of knowledge and one of the most approachable people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing! She has also worked with the likes of Victoria Beckham and is absolutely animal mad like me… so brownie points all round!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, what is your brand background and how long have you been a makeup artist?
I began working in beauty a little under 10 years ago, I started with YSL while studying, and was with them for 2.5 years. I then moved on to Lauder where I did a number of roles progressing from counter manager, to pro artist, to UK makeup artist, before leaving to launch and manage the new Fenty Beauty counter in Harvey Nichols Leeds. I’m currently in Debenhams Leeds as Business Manager of the Dior and Dior Backstage counter.
How did you get into makeup? Is it something you studied, or are you self taught?
I never studied and always learnt on the job – I never forget speaking to the previous director of artistry at Estée Lauder when I was having a moment of self doubt. He said it’s amazing to study but not necessary – he didn’t have any qualifications. It depends on your passion, drive and commitment!
Before you became a makeup artist did you have a natural flare for makeup, or is it something you were interested in and made an active decision to develop?
Oh gosh not at all! I LOVED makeup and beauty from being a child and always had a hugely glamorous mum – when I left for uni I found a YSL lipgloss I had commandeered and returned it to her in a lesser condition than when she’d lent it to me. When I started with YSL I bought her a new one as means of apology. I was actually approached when I was a waitress in HN by the area manager of YSL. She offered me part time alongside my studies in advertising.
What is your biggest artistry achievement?
Probably working alongside Victoria Beckham multiple times when she launched her brand with Lauder. She is such a wonderful human being. Also touch ups with Emma Watson and having to redo Olivia Colman’s makeup at an event. I had a wonderful time at Estée Lauder. It’s very much a family orientated company, if I bump into anyone I worked alongside at Lauder its like running into distant family. I love them dearly.
Who do you go to for makeup inspo?
One of my best friends @ellisatlantis is beyond insane, and there’s a few of the usuals on social – I love Pat McGraths aesthetic. Another inspiration is Terry Barber, he interviewed me and the rest of the Pro Artist team at Lauder. He looks at makeup artistry as a true art and his IG is a goldmine for finding the beauty in everyday things. But I actually prefer browsing explore pages and tend to be inspired by pieces of work rather than bodies. I am a big cheerleader of others though. Love each other!
Have you ever done makeup on somebody who is famous?
A few more touch ups for the majority though (but not all). It’s hard to wiggle into high profile celebrities without committing to it full time. My understanding is agents like to see portfolios of previous clients before signing off an artist. I’ve considered moving to London numerous occasions but it’s never been the right time.
What is the best thing about your job?
Right now instore? It’s a cliche but when a customer leaves and you feel like you’ve bonded and succeeded. People are so keen to say things about themselves they wouldn’t dream about saying about others. I love making people feel comfortable in my counters atmosphere. I’m not sure that even makes sense but my space is your space too I guess.
What is your signature face?
On myself – winged liner, brows (as I have none) and anything else from there depends on mood. Artistry wise I die over an amazing skin. No makeup-makeup shows the true skill of an artist.
Any top makeup tips?
Prepare and maintain your skin – your makeup is only as good as your skin underneath. A wonderful quote from Elizabeth Hurley is about leaving your window open over night having a fabulous effect on the skin. Start from the centre of the lips when tracing a lip line. Trim lashes to fit. Build pigment slowly and blend as you go. Always remember your hands as you can’t warm a product up with a brush and during artistry a product is a tool – not a rule. Just because it says lipstick on the packaging doesn’t mean it has to go on the lips.
Top 3 high street products?
Top 3 high end products?
Anastasia Beverley hills brow pomade with the rest of the western world.
Estée Lauder Daywear sheer tint release
Dior show waterproof liquid liner but Kiko waterproof liquid is insane too if you have the confidence.
Is there any makeup ‘rule’ that you don’t believe in?
Contouring is for everyone.
Ageism in beauty – the worst one I heard was ‘women of a certain age shouldn’t wear red’. Any any rule to be honest, there shouldn’t be any or why bother!?
What is the best way to prep the skin for flawless makeup?
The skin must be perfectly clean, with no traces of makeup or remover. Something light like micealler water can remove residue, this is very important on the eyes and something I learnt from Lyndsey Alexander at fashion week. She’s amazing, please follow her on IG! Work with products that will compliment the skin type and the finish you’re going for. Mask’s and hydration are important when working with your own skin.
Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for achieving looks such as a smaller nose, more defined jaw line etc?
Light brings forward, shadow pushes back and build product slowly. Spend time with artists in-store as counters can be a goldmine for tips. There are people working in-store with skills rivaling Charlotte tilbury.
What is your top pick for long wearing foundation that lasts all day?
Loose powder on areas of the face with movement (under the eyes/smile lines). It’s a myth that we need powder everywhere. Unless you do actually need high coverage powder everywhere but it’s not necessarily the case.
Do you have any tips for achieving dewy skin on different skin types?
Oily skin needs oil control – mattify the skin and build the glow on the surface (this was something Rihanna loved at fenty).
Dry skin is almost a reverse. Build the glow in a complexion product, add coverage with concealer and only powder where necessary.
How do you stop creasing under the eye and on eyelids?
Top 3 Dior products and why?
Dreamskin is the best preparation product as it caters for all skin tones and types and literally transforms the surface of the skin. This is your secret to a perfect base.
Lip maximiser – if you’ve tried it you know. It meant I could postpone my lip fillers over Christmas last year! Just use it everyday in the clear shade as part of your skincare routine and you’ll see what I’m saying.
Any advice for aspiring makeup artists?
Practice practice practice. Experiment, get it wrong, document it, grow a thick skin, and you do you. Creativity can’t be wrong. Also when posting on social media remember people use filters. If you’re wanting to pursuit makeup artistry in a professional field then network, and don’t publicly beg for PR. If artistry is your passion then PR is just a bonus.
If you want to get in touch with Laura or give her a follow, her Instagram handle is laura01.makeup.
Please let me know in the comments or via my social links if you have any questions you would ask a makeup artist, as there will be more of this style post to come!
Love, Chelsea & Laura xxx