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Meghan Markle’s Makeup Artist Reveals How the Royals Like Their Makeup

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Mary Greenwell has worked with the most famous faces in the world. Among them, Meghan Markle Cate Blanchett, Linda Evangelista, Emilia Clarke, Amanda Seyfried and Lily James (to name a few). She was a core member of Princess Diana’s glam squad (creating the makeup look for her first Vogue cover shoot and countless high profile events that followed). Which is why it’s beautifully fitting that a generation on, she’s remained a royal favorite – entrusted by Meghan Markle to get her ready for important moments when she needs her best game face. And like Diana, Mary helped to get Meghan ready for her own magazine shoot with Vanity Fair in September 2017, in the exciting period leading up to her engagement that November.


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It’s an intimate experience, spending time so closely with these women before pivotal points in their lives and careers. One that, having spent decades doing the job, Mary is well primed for. Her blend of classic, beautiful makeup – with a fresh modern feel – is what’s made her a veteran in the little black beauty books of the rich, famous and royal. But with her trademark white hair so full of secrets from what’s been a long and eventful career, we tapped Mary up to extract a few nuggets of beauty wisdom.

How do you go about doing the makeup for your high profile clients, is it a collaborative thing?

It’s always a collaboration and often develops as we work, starting from the client’s vision to developing the beauty look with the hairstylist and complimenting the tones, shape and texture of the outfit for a perfected final look.

How do the Royals like their makeup?

It’s all about creating a polished look. Soft-focus skin that looks flawless and natural both in person and on camera is key. To create this, I would use a satin-matte, light coverage for the base and target areas and blemishes that need extra coverage with a concealer for the most natural finish. My favorite do-it-all concealer right now is the ICONIC London Seamless Concealer. The formula is creamy and buildable, so it works beautifully on any blemishes and under the eye. I tap into the skin and blend directly with my fingers to create custom coverage.

Royal makeup also isn’t about trends but about timeless, classic beauty. So to create a fresh and naturally glowing look I’d avoid shimmery or high impact highlighters and instead use a radiant blush, which lifts the complexion in such a beautiful way. Using your fingers again, use a liquid or cream formula like ICONIC London’s Sheer Blush for a soft, lightweight color that melts beautifully into the complexion. I’d then use a very small amount of highlighter just on the high points of the cheekbone, layering with a liquid formula again. When you layer liquid formulas they really melt into the skin, and if needed you can dust a loose powder on any oily areas of your face to prevent shininess.


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What’s the secret to ultra-fresh looking skin?

Firstly less is more, when in doubt build coverage. My secret to fresh looking skin is blush, it truly lifts the skin and creates a lit-from-within glow. I also prefer to take a minimal approach with highlighter, only applying a small amount to the high points of the cheekbones and on the brow bone for a luminous, fresh effect.

What’s your biggest splurge?

If you’re going to splurge, I’d recommend spending on skincare. It’s important to find a routine that’s tailored to your needs, but some of my favorite products are from the 111 SKIN Celestial Black Diamond range, from SENSAI, QMS Medicosmetics and Cle de Peau.

What’s your best budget buy?

The Maybelline Great Lash Mascara!

What’s a beauty trend you’ve never been able to get on board with?

False eyelashes! I love the look of the 80’s and 90’s when false lashes weren’t as common and we layered mascara.

What’s your best beauty hack?

Your hands are the best tool for makeup application! Working with liquid and cream products and working your base into the skin with your fingers will create a custom, second skin look, especially with flexible formulas.

What is it like working with such high profile women? Do you feel nervous/excited?

Everyone I work with I truly love being around – it’s a joy to collaborate with them!

Where do you take inspiration from?

I take inspiration directly from the person I’m working with, from their natural beauty to the occasion we’re creating the look for.

Where do you like to shop for your products?

I love going to beauty counters so I can swatch and play with the formulas – if I want to discover the newest from high end and luxury brands I go to Harrod, Liberty’s and Selfridges.

What’s the first beauty product you ever bought/your most nostalgic?

I always remember the Elizabeth Arden Smoky Pencils, there was nothing else like them at the time.


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What is your go-to makeup look at the moment?

I’ve always loved the 60’s look, so I’m really enjoying a modern twist of the classic look using a pale nude lip paired with a contrasting warm toned, sultry eye.

What’s the best piece of beauty advice you’ve ever been given?

Beauty is instinctive and one approach doesn’t suit all, but adapting and working with flexibility is how you develop your own style. I’d also always say, prepping the skin with the right products is essential.


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What 3 products do you always have in your kit?

A selection of nude lipsticks to suit every skin tone, a lengthening mascara and flexible coverage concealer that can be used on both dark circles and blemishes.

What’s been the best moment of your career so far?

There have been so many incredible moments, but one that will always stand out to me, was in 1993, shooting Linda Evangelista for the cover of American Vogue. We were on location at the beach in Malibu. It was such a gorgeous day and I remember being in the moment and thinking how lucky I am.

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