Charlotte Tilbury’s secrets for creating viral makeup hits

Hollywood Highlighter by Charlotte Tilbury

The new Charlotte Tilbury highlighter is hereCourtesy of Charlotte Tilbury

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There’s dewy, glassy skin – and then there’s glowing skin. The difference is subtle, sure, but no one knows how to make skin look truly glowing from within like Charlotte Tilbury. During her illustrious 29-year career, she became a makeup artist and founder of the brand the expert in using “little light tricks” to completely transform your look – just like they do in Hollywood.



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“I always consider myself a light thief,” says Tilbury BAZAAR.com. It only makes sense that her latest release, Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter ($48), an addition to Hollywood’s best-selling collection, expertly packages these sly “glow tricks” to help you achieve maximum glow without fuss. Available in seven shades, the pressed highlighter powder is infused with Light Flex technology and smoothing emollients to illuminate and blur the look of skin – like a true filter.

All the Tilbury products that are selling left and right thanks to TikTok influencers offer the same promise of blurred, radiant and filtered skin in a swipe or two. Its products are reliable and easy to use, but most importantly, they are designed for people of all ages, textures and skin tones.

Ahead, BAZAAR.com meets Tilbury to talk about her take on the resurgent ’90s makeup trends, her favorite celebrities, and why she’s so meticulous about formulas in her “tubes of joy.”

What inspires you in the era of old Hollywood cinema?

I was about eight years old. I had black and white posters on the wall. I just sat there studying and counting Marilyn Monroe eyelashes and Marlene Dietrich eyelashes. Many of my products have been inspired by these black and white photos. It stayed with me. I ended up working on the red carpet and with some of Old Hollywood’s biggest stars, some of whom are now dead, such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ sister Lee Radziwill. Elizabeth Taylor, I never worked with her after all, but so many of them have been an inspiration to me.

What is one product that people use the wrong way all the time?

For me, it’s not about what people do wrong, but about the formulas they have at their disposal. It seems to me that some high-quality formulas don’t make people look good and make them feel like, “Well, I really can’t wear makeup” or “I’m not very good at this.” It’s something like, “No, I’m sorry. Step back. You are not flattered by this product because the particles are too large or the color is a bit unclear, making you feel like you don’t look good anymore.” And that really annoys me because if you have a great formula and a great product, it’s all about flattering and making people look like their most beautiful version.

I remember a lot of women telling me, “I can’t wear shimmery eyeshadow,” “I can’t wear highlighter, for example.” I say, “Yes, you can.” My brand has converted so many women with everything I’ve talked about, from Hollywood Flawless Filter to Wonder Glow to Beauty Light Wands and now even this powder highlighter.

What do you think of the digital expansion of the beauty space, starting with tutorials on YouTube, Instagram and now TikTok?

I am a champion for being able to speak to so many audiences and talk directly to your consumer. That’s what’s great about having YouTube and all these different platforms – you don’t have to rely on just one mode, be it TV or whatever – that you can have a direct dialogue with the consumer. It’s amazing because there’s so much I want to tell them and they can tune in so many different ways to different tutorials and different conversations.

You started your career in the 90s – what do you think about 90s makeup trends becoming relevant again?

There’s this 90s supermodel era that I loved. I have to say that back then the sculpting, the colors, the really flattering magnificence was just supermodel. It was my era. I’m super inspired by it. I have to say that I now love the technology behind the formulas. Because sometimes these looks were great on the runway and they were great in certain light, but if you saw them in daylight, it was a bit baked and heavy. Then came the grunge era and it was definitely more about glowing skin and something like freshness. Now technology and science have caught up in creating formulas that actually look good in any light.

You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in fashion and beauty. Who did you most like working with?

The thing is, I love people. There are so many of them that it is like picking a favorite child. You know, of course, Kate Moss. I’m very good friends with her, but I had so many fun memories with everyone. i love women. I love men. I love business. But I love what I do, so I’m blessed to be able to really work with everyone.

Who have you learned the most from?

I think I’ve learned from everyone. The thing is, you don’t just learn from one person, you learn a little bit from everyone. And everyone has different faces. I will work with Salma [Hayek]. He has a special way of knowing what he wants with his face. Amal [Clooney]you know, Cindy Crawford, anyone. They understand their face, and you understand their face when you work on them. It’s amazing. I find it very inspiring to work with all of them.

Where do you see the Charlotte Tilbury brand in the next five years?

I just want to keep innovating and keep looking at women and what they need and making them feel and look great. And that’s really fair, I’d just live a happy life if I could do that. Because for me, feeling matters. What I love about this is the happiness tubes. They are tubes of joy. It tubes feeling great and fun.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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