A couple of weeks back, Gemma and myself were invited to meet Paul & Joe's Global Makeup Artist Craig-Ryan French during his visit to London. With a table full of products and an audience full of willing volunteers, he quickly won our admiration with his friendly enthusiastic personality (just look at that smile), and his amazing cosmetic know-how.
We were also totally blown away to learn that he was the makeup artist for the "Saw" films. (His background is in special effects makeup.) As major horror movie fans, Gemma and I were both instantly star-struck when we realised we were chatting to the guy who'd created some of cinema's most wince-worthy visuals.
From gore to girliness, Craig-Ryan embraced his career move to Paul & Joe with characteristic enthusiasm and is now a passionate advocate of the line. He talked us through some of his favourite Paul & Joe products and imparted some pearls of wisdom along the way. Here's what we learned...
- Craig-Ryan's core belief is that beauty arises from a sense of balance. Good makeup isn't about any one area of the face, it's about a harmonious interaction between all the elements. Symmetry, contrast and minute adjustments all help to create this balance. For example, he told us that lip colour is not about complementing the natural colour of the lips themselves - it's about playing up the colour of the eyes. Contrasting the eyes with the lips can shift the perceived colour to make them really stand out.
- Makeup looks best about 25 minutes after application. This is because the oils on the skin will have begun to show through the makeup to create a more natural effect. This applies both for film makeup and everyday. Craig-Ryan advises us to hold back on our urge to powder and learn to love a bit of natural glow. The new Paul & Joe pressed powders have a pearlised component for just this reason - to prevent powdered skin looking too flat and artificial.
- Never underestimate the power of a well-groomed brow. Craig-Ryan is especially fond of the Paul & Joe brow pencils, which have two ends - a thin, precise point for drawing in individual hairs, and a softer smudgier one for shading. His technique for filling in brows was a true revelation to us - instead of following the line of the brow exactly, he makes subtle alterations to widen the eye. He works from the nose outward, beginning underneath the brow. Then at the point where the brow arches (this should be directly above where the white of the eye meets the outer corner) he takes the colour above the line of the brow - only by a couple of millimetres - to create the impression of a higher brow and more space above the eye. Genius.
- Lips aren't symmetrical. (And balance is beauty, remember.) When we highlight our lips with strong colour, we also highlight that asymmetry, often in a way that makes our lips look a little "off". We might blame the colour or the texture when lip colour doesn't suit us, but usually it's the way we're accentuating the shape of our lips that's causing the problem, says Craig-Ryan. Instead of following the line of the lips exactly, use the rest of your face as a guide to create a symmetrical lip, adjusting where you put the colour to create an impression of evenness. The nostrils should line up with the top of the cupid's bow, and the curve of the lower lip should sit directly underneath. Sketch these in with lip pencil and you've created the framework for a perfect lip. When applying lipstick, work from the corners inwards to give a softer, more forgiving edge to the colour. Paul & Joe's double-ended lip liners do the job of both lip liner and lipstick, with a matte, pigmented colour at one end and a sheerer more glossy texture at the other.
- Paul & Joe's waterproof mascara is apparently possessed of some serious staying power. Neither of us have tried it, but we took Craig-Ryan's word for it that it's quite hardcore, even requiring its own dedicated remover. We watched with interest as he showed us how it could be used to tightline the eye - pushing it right into the roots of the upper lashes with an eyeshadow brush to give definition and eliminate that "gap" effect that can occur when black mascara is applied to paler lashes.
- Going out for the evening and not keen on lugging around a makeup bag for touch-ups? Craig-Ryan has a simple solution. Pre-load a lip brush with your favourite concealer and carry it with you to ensure a flawless complexion at all times. (NB do choose a lip-brush that comes with its own lid, or this could prove messy). Paul & Joe's Portable Touch Up Brush is perfect for the job.
Paul & Joe's Holiday Sparkles collection is out now. You can find the brand on counter at London branches of Harvey Nicholls and Harrods.