Working full-time as a hair and make-up artist for almost 5 years, Lou Box works as a freelance make-up artist across a broad spectrum of commercial clients and fashion magazines. Most notably she’s worked for Italian Vogue and Vivienne Westwood. She said; “I absolutely love my job and I count myself incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love and make a living out of it. I’ve had a couple of ‘breaks’ over the years but I think the real turning point for me was signing with my agency Me&Co. They nurtured me from the very beginning and absolutely enabled me to become the artist I am today.”
Lou (pictured right) next to our fashion stylist Karen.
Lou has worked with Simply Be on numerous shoots and we thought it’s about time we got to know her a little better and find out what life is really like in this beauty industry…
How did you get started as a make-up artist?
The first time I knew I wanted to pursue a career in make-up was around 10 years ago. I went for some work experience at a photography studio because, at the time, I thought I wanted to study photography and I had no idea that being a make-up artist or a stylist was an actual career option (no one teaches you these things in school!) So as soon as I started to learn about that side of the industry I was sold – of course that’s what I wanted to do! I took the advice of a few people I knew and decided to train on-the-job at a make-up counter. I worked for Pout and MAC for a few years, shooting for free as much as possible in my free time and then eventually made the leap into freelance work.
I’ve always been incredibly lucky to work with strong, encouraging and supportive people who have helped me to pursue this dream career.
What’s the best part of your job? And the worst?
By far the best aspect of the job is the people you work with. I’ve met some of my best friends through this journey and people who have absolutely changed the course of my life. It sounds incredibly cheesy but working with creative, passionate people is such a buzz!
Lou (pictured far right) on shoot with the rest of the Simply Be team. From L-R; Laura – stylist’s assistant, Karen – stylist and model Candice Huffine.
The worst aspect is probably the stress that comes with being a freelancer. You have no guarantee of work and obviously, no holiday pay, no sick pay and very few securities or rights. But this does allow an incredible sense of freedom and flexibility.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a make-up artist?
My advice would be to spend your money on your kit, not on courses. There are so many incredibly expensive courses out there and at the end of your tuition, all the students tend to come out with very similar portfolios.
Just practice, practice, practice, know your strengths and play to them and test shoot (where all parties work for free for no client, for portfolio shots instead) as much as possible. Beware of scams; never pay to test and keep trying. It takes years.
What’s your daily, beauty regime?
My skin is very problematic, sensitive and hormonal. All over the shop really! So I try and take care of it as best I can. I use products that are as natural as possible; extremely gentle cleansers and light moisturisers so I’m not upsetting the balance of my skin. Currently I use coconut oil to remove my make-up (£9 for a jar from Neil’s Yard). Then I’ll use Dr Hauschka Cleansing Cream as a scrub, then Dr Hauschka Toner. I also use REN Evercalm Serum and usually just an eye cream at night (this varies wildly so I can’t fully recommend something). For a day cream I’ll use the Ren Evercalm moisturiser or Dr Hauschka Melissa Day Cream. There are so many great natural brands out there that aren’t too expensive. I really rate Lavera for a lower cost option.
What’s a typical day like for you?
There is absolutely no such thing as a typical day! Haha! That’s why the job is so great! I can be flying to a location somewhere in the world, getting up incredibly early to get the model ready for a sunrise shoot (early morning and evening lights always look the best). Or I can be just travelling to a studio in London for a more ‘typical’ day. So that would entail generally starting around 8 to 9am, cleansing and moisturising the model’s skin, applying whatever make-up look the client wants, then creating the hairstyle that the client wants to achieve. That usually takes around 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how complex the look is, how good the model’s skin is or how much hair they have.
We then go to set and if all the lighting is set up, we do a test to see if everyone is happy with the lighting, the hair and make-up and all the other details. Then we start to shoot! How many looks we shoot entirely depends on the job. If we’re on location then it’s usually around 15 a day. In the studio it can vary massively between 10 or less for a high fashion editorial, to 40 for an e-commerce shoot. There’s no general start or finishing time, I’ve worked 20 hour days before, equally I’ve done shoots that have only taken a couple of hours; it just totally depends on so many factors.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Hard to say really. I have individual shots or stories that I love and make me feel really proud but, honestly, I think my best achievement is making a career out of this incredibly fun thing I call work! It’s taken me all over the world and afforded me some experiences that I’ll remember forever. I. Love. It.
Which beauty trends do you love at the moment?
I will forever be a fan of a liner flick or a red lip – the classics are such for a reason! And I’m a HUGE fan of the resurgence of the Brooke Shields brow; but as for the current trends for SS14 I’m especially loving the bright lips that we’ve seen at Rag & Bone and House of Holland, so summery!
Brooke Shields fabulous bushy brows of the 80’s!
And anyone who knows my make-up style will know how much I love the ‘clean’ beauty look which has been EVERYWHERE this season – Chloe, Vera Wang, Alexander Wang and Balmain to name but a few. It looks easy but there’s a fine art to nailing ‘natural’.
Hair trends to keep an eye out for is the reappearance of super straight, super conditioned hair. Dig out the GHDs!
How would you describe your own personal style?
My personal style changes all the time depended on how I’m feeling! But the aesthetic I always come back to is clean and minimal. I LOVE Cos, & Other Stories, Alexander Wang (ahem, not that I can afford that particular lust on a regular basis!) Simply Be and Zara. I love wearing black and layering fine jewellery, especially stacking rings.
I also change my hair colour and style A LOT. It’s so much fun and I love that versatility in being able to look so different with so little effort.
Any make-up tips you can share with our readers?
My absolute number one tip is… drum roll… Don’t over-do your base! I’d go so far as to say that, unless you have Rosacea or extremely pigmented/patchy skin then you probably don’t need foundation at all! Just concealer where you have blemishes, dark circles or redness. I know it sounds a little extreme but honestly, there’s nothing worse than visible foundation and there’s nothing more beautiful than clean skin!
What one make-up item could you not live without?
Cream Blusher. Without a doubt. Makes you look super fresh and dewy and it doubles as a lip colour! Winner! Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge is my number 1. Kit staple, life staple. LOVE.
Which celebrity would you love to work with/make-over?
Hmmmm I have more of a desire to work with models than celebrities but… as an incredible face to make up – Natalie Portman is the one for me! She has such an stunning face! I’d also love to work with Jennifer Lawrence because she seems like a total dream and I think I could do good things with her look.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Who do you turn to most for advice?
I definitely seek advice from a lot of sources but, again, my agency have been a great help over the years. They’ve been in the industry a lot longer than me and are very wise as a result!
Thanks Lou & great tips! Here are some gorgeous photos of our Simply Be models, Lou has worked on. Models (L-R) Wendy, Justine and Candice.
If you’d like to see more from Lou, follow her on Twitter @LouMakeupMe and Instagram @LouBoxy or check out her website: www.representedby.me xx