'Our beautiful lives': make-up artists share their tips

Michelle Rosenberg meets two women determined to transform Hertfordshire into their own ideal beauty spot...

LAURA Taylor Vann has never done things by halves. Her young son and twin daughters would attest to that. The 47-year-old owner of beauty business Maison du Vann, which offers pampering, beauty and personal shopping services, realised at a young age that she loved ‘making over’ people. ‘Including men!’ she laughs.

By the time she was 19 she had secured a place on a BBC theatrical make-up course while completing a business studies degree at college at the same time.

‘Long hours and even longer days on a shoot were the norm,’ she recalls. ‘At that point in time the BBC would only train ‘in house’, so all meetings took place up at Portland Place. The studying and photography shoots would be wherever they decided you would go. It was extremely competitive as it was the only way in to the industry then.’

Laura’s passion for make-up began on the high street in Top Shop and Miss Selfridge. ‘They used to sell these fantastic metallic eyeshadows that I would use for other things, including as highlighters, lipsticks and brow lighters. I would mix them on the eyelids to create combinations of colours – it was the 80s and we could do that back then! I also liked combining them with Vaseline on lips and various translucent powders to create an interesting illuminating look for various parts of the face.’Some ten years later, having had a family and whilst working full time managing a software company, she decided to return to the beauty industry and create Maison du Vann, her own vision for a one-stop beauty shop with a difference. The company runs trials of all the latest fads and then tweets their findings.

‘How many people do we hear saying they feel so much better because they had their hair or nails done, or found a wondrous new product that works miracles? We need a one-stop-shop that can actually offer impartial advice to its customers and help them in their quest to feeling great.’

A chance discussion about eyelash extensions led to a meeting with the revered Elizabeth Arden Red Door spa in New York and it grew from there. Laura was commissioned to teach them everything she knew.

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From New York, it was a quick jump to a pivotal meeting in Los Angeles in 2009 where she was introduced to a make-up artist and hairdresser salon owner at one of the prominent restaurants near Rodeo Drive. She soon found herself with access to celebrity clients and an invitation to do eyelashes for the Oscars.

Now Laura has brought this expertise and passion back to Hertfordshire and is continuing to grow her business.

‘I absolutely love giving makeovers or unders to people and helping them feel glamorous and good about themselves,’ she says.

And her advice? ‘I do recommend users to try all types of make-up, sticking with those that work and look good but also trying new things at the counters, leaving them on for the day and seeing how they wear.’www.maisonduvann.com

Laura loves…

Whilst she loves the Dior range and Estee Lauder, Laura recommends Georgio Armani. ‘I love their award-winning illumination range of make-up: bronzers, foundations, bases and highlighting. They are the easiest to apply either with fingertips or brush.’

PHILIPPA Louise Wulwick is a theatre studies graduate with a personality as vibrant as the costume jewellery she favours. Living in Elstree since the age of eight, her ‘eureka’ make-up moment happened in the middle of her university degree, when she headed up the make-up on a university production trailer for Vanilla Sky.

‘I never quite made the decision to seriously study it though,’ she admits, ‘until five years later when I was travelling and began reflecting on life.’

With a background in television both behind and in front of the camera, Philippa knew that there was a short shelf life to being a presenter. ‘I decided to find an additional career path which enabled me to stay in the buzz of live and pre-recorded TV and which also enabled me to be creative.’

Philippa, 27, embarked on a six days a week, three-week, intensive make-up course covering everything from beauty to high fashion and bridal to TV.

Never one to rest on her laurels, she also decided six months later to take a short course in airbrushing, the high definition make-up used in film and television and of course, ‘used on some of those celebrities whose skin is always so flawless!’

She adores the thrill of the next challenge and never knowing what’s round the next corner. ‘It’s all about being able to express yourself through make-up.’ She’d love to make up anyone who wants to enhance their natural beauty and positively drools at the thought of working with the beautiful Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely or Kim Kardashian, ‘just for the girly banter!’ she insists.

‘The best feeling for me as a make-up artist is teaching someone to find one feature on their face that they love, then focusing on that part and encouraging them to use the right products to enhance their natural beauty.’

And what about the most common mistake women make with their make-up?

‘Putting way too much foundation on so you can see it and not blending foundation past the jaw line, so you see a horrible foundation line! Also bronzer put all over the face so you look all one tone – it should be applied only to where the sun naturally hits the face to give a natural glow.’

I ask Philippa for her best make-up tricks, but to no avail. ‘I can’t give away trade secrets,’ she laughs. ‘You’ll just have to book in a masterclass with me for that!’ http://www.philippalouisemakeup.co.uk/

Philippa loves…

‘Bobbi Brown for bases, Mac for lippies, Benefit for brows, Rimmel for eyeliners and Max Factor Masterpiece mascara.’

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