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We’ve got the absolute pleasure to interview the delightful Fiona Eustace today. Fiona has been the longstanding makeup artist to comedienne Katherine Ryan and you can admire the stunning looks she created in Katherine’s Netflix series ‘The Duchess’. Besides being a seasoned professional, Fiona is also just a wonderful human being and we cannot wait for you to read more about her below!
Thanks for your time Fiona! We always love to start at the basics and ask you what it was that made you want to become a makeup artist?
It started with me just doing makeup for my friends, first for fun and then my friends started asking me to do their wedding makeup. This was more than 20 years ago and Max-Factor had not yet released their advert ‘Makeup for makeup artists’. So the career of makeup artist was really quite an unknown profession back then and I had to do all of my own research to find out how to become a makeup artist. I signed up for two evening classes in my local town, fell in love and knew this is what I wanted to do!
At the start, I worked at the makeup counter for MAC at Harvey Nichols (whilst doing a course at London College of Fashion) where I learned so much, then did lots of assistant jobs before I moved into music, tv and editorial. Now my career is mostly focused on editorial and entertainment.
…and what a career it has been for you! You are of course most well known for making up the gorgeous and hilarious Katherine Ryan. Can you let us in on when you initially met Katherine?
It was actually pure luck! I got a makeup designer role for a series called Hair. I had never been a designer before, but I put myself forward and got the role. Katherine was the host of the show and up and coming back then, and we just got on really well. I contacted her afterwards to say what a great time I had, then she called me for another job and the rest is history.
I imagine it is many makeup artists’ dream to be the key MUA to a successful person, rather than having to chase new projects all the time. What do you think it takes to establish such a relationship and what would you advise any young and upcoming makeup artists who would love to follow your path?
I think that a relationship like this is 50:50, they of course like how you do their makeup and they like you as a person, because you really are up in their personal space a lot.
I get asked this so often and I find that everybody’s journey is so different. My overall advice is to watch, learn, and learn some more. I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years and I still follow other MUAs and learn from them and get inspired by them. I think the key in the beginning is to assist, assist, assist. Follow people on Instagram and don’t be shy to get in touch and maybe put yourself up for an assistant role, even if it is unpaid. I also feel I learned so much from my time at the makeup counter, it was an invaluable experience to analyse people’s skin tones quickly, do makeup quickly, find the right colours quickly, etc. And finally, you MUST learn hair. I think nowadays you really should be good at both, as it will increase the jobs available to you and it is often expected now in the industry.
A little bird told me that Katherine specifically asked for you and her style team to join her on the Netflix series The DuchessJ. What kind of prep goes into shooting a TV series and what are the days like behind the scenes?
Yes, she did ask for us, they were initially hesitant because we didn’t have experience in drama but Katherine fought for us and ultimately, we got the role.
There is so much prep that goes into shooting a series, much more than I had ever imagined! The scenes are not shot in sequence so you really need to be on top of the schedule and what looks are required for each particular day. Some days you are all day on location so you pack your bag in the morning and drag all products that you need for that day with you. We shot 6-day weeks for 16 weeks and the days are very long (and cold when we were doing night shoots!). But if you would ask me to do it again, I would, it is such a creative process!
We love how your makeup looks always look minimal yet flawless. What are you secrets to a natural makeup look and your signature glowing skin?
I love skin care, I’ve always thought it was so important to have a beautiful foundation for your makeup. I always try to do a mini facial, followed by some acid toners, some spray of essence to moisturise the skin, followed by eye cream. Sometimes I use either a sheet mask or a serum. Then I apply some face oil and only then moisturiser. I know it’s a lot!
I try not to use too much foundation. I love glowy, sheer foundation and I actually apply it with a blusher or a fluffier brush and really massage it into the skin. Finally, I finish off with a tiny amount of powder, liquid blushers and minimal eye shadow.
Living through lockdown 3.0 in the UK at the moment, how are you keeping busy and how has this pandemic affected the industry from your perspective?
We have all been a bit quieter and generally there are less people on set. I now just go over to Katherine’s house, do her makeup there, and then off she goes with a bag of products to touch up.
During lockdown, I started a free private wellness group on Facebook which I run it together with my friend Colette, who is a medical herbalist and nutritionist. It is all about helping people to look after themselves and we discuss anything from makeup, to nutrition, to yoga and meditation. It has really grown and it is such a beautiful and friendly community that we have created.
Finally, I have also been creating a new at home makeup course which I’ll be running live through IG (so follow my IG for more updated). More will be revealed very soon and I am so excited about it!
Finally, which Loella brushes can we find in your kit and which one if your favourite?
Well, you can find not one but two full sets of the Femme Fatale collection in my kit, it is one of my favourite sets of all time and I am not just saying that because I am talking to you, but because I think they are phenomenal and I just love them! The contour brush (Killer contour Kirsty) is by far my favourite, it is so brilliant and I would never be without it.
To stay updated with Fiona’s latest ventures follow her on Instagram at @fionaeustace. You can find the link to her private wellness FB group in the bio!
Click here to check out the Femme Fatale collection.