When Bobbi Brown Cosmetics celebrated its 25th anniversary in suitably joyous fashion last year, few could have predicted the news that would come on December 19, 2016 – the announcement that Bobbi Brown was leaving her own brand
Estée Lauder, which owns the brand, said that Bobbi was leaving ‘to explore the next phase of her extraordinary career’.
‘The anniversary was a wonderful milestone that made me realise it was time to start a new chapter and move on to new ventures,’ said Bobbi, adding: ‘I’m excited to see what the future holds.’
The news sent shock waves through the industry – but it also served to highlight the very real success that cosmetic brands can have when fronted by a top make-up artist. Bobbi Brown Cosmetics is now sold in 70 countries worldwide and described by Estée Lauder Companies as ‘a global prestige powerhouse’. Industry insiders have no doubt that the success of the company will continue to grow, even without her at the helm.
But Bobbi is far from being the first or only professional make-up artist to create a successful line of cosmetics. From Dany Sanz’s highly acclaimed Make Up For Ever, to local artist-turned-blogger Huda Kattan launching Huda Beauty to sell-out success, affiliating a top make-up artist with a cosmetics collection appears a sure path to a hit.
Take Laura Mercier, for example, who launched Laura Mercier Cosmetics in 1996 after 10 years working as a professional make-up artist. The line is now available in 27 countries worldwide and has a reputation for being one of the best make-up-artist-created collections. ‘I feel like Laura Mercier in particular is leading the pack when it comes to professional make-up artist make-up lines,’ says Dubai-based beauty writer and former professional make-up artist Simone Gannon.
‘She was famous for skin when working with fashion and celebrity clients – real, beautiful, glowing, dewy natural skin. No one could do skin the way she could – and that has translated to her make-up line. Her foundations and tinted moisturisers in particular are still winning accolades years and years after they first hit the market. [There is] a wide range of shades, amazing texture and coverage, and they give you really good skin, without it looking heavy or cakey. There are so many non-make-up artist-led brands that have never managed to achieve that.’
It’s not just a matter of efficient products, says Dubai-based make-up artist Shomyza S – make-up-artist ranges give consumers more confidence, too. She explains: ‘If an artist puts their name to a collection, it ensures the products will be good – after all, they vet everything that is launched. But it also gives confidence to consumers to buy something that would most likely not disappoint – and while it might increase the cost of the product for the company, it doesn’t necessarily increase the selling price to the consumer, because brands know they have to remain competitive in the market.’
There are now more ranges by make-up artists than there are shades of lippy – which ones should you plump for? Here’s our guide.
Bobbi Brown – Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
The story: Bobbi Brown may now be a household name in cosmetics, but her career dates back to 1980 when she first moved to New York City to become a professional make-up artist. She quickly became known in the industry for her use of neutral, moderate tones, which offered a stark contrast to the bright hues used by other artists in the Eighties. Bobbi Brown Cosmetics was born in 1991, when she worked with a chemist to create 10 natural-hued lipsticks. The line quickly grew – and its success over the coming years led Estée Lauder to buy the company in 1995. The make-up artist stayed firmly at the helm for over 20 years, before the announcement of her departure last year.
Where to buy: There are a whopping nine Bobbi Brown stores across the UAE.
Charlotte Tilbury – Charlotte Tilbury
The story: Growing up in Ibiza with artistic parents, Charlotte Tilbury was surrounded by creative people from a young age – and when she met top make-up artist Mary Greenwell at the age of 11, it inspired a career in the same field. Charlotte has worked with some of the world’s best photographers, including Mario Testino and Terry Richardson, alongside top designers including Tom Ford, Stella McCartney and Christopher Bailey – and in September 2013 she launched a range to industry and consumer acclaim – people can’t stop talking about Magic foundation.
Where to buy: Order from charlottetilbury.com and net-a-porter.com.
Huda Kattan – Huda Beauty
The story: Most people in the Middle East have heard about global beauty blogger and product developer Huda Kattan – but very few know that she started her career as a professional make-up artist in Los Angeles with a clientele of celebrities including Eva Longoria and Nicole Richie. Now Dubai-based, Huda started her blog HudaBeauty.com in 2010 – and the website now attracts over one million hits every month. Her global cosmetics line – also named Huda Beauty – began with the launch of false eyelashes in February 2013 and has grown to include a plethora of lip, nail and eye products.
Where to buy: Sephora and shophudabeauty.com.
François Nars – Nars Cosmetics
The story: After graduating from Carita Makeup school in Paris in 1984, François Nars – like so many other artists – moved to New York with dreams of becoming a top professional make-up artist – and he was soon working for the likes of American Vogue and Elle. Frustrated that he didn’t have the perfect tools for the job, François launched a collection of 12 lipsticks in Barneys under the name Nars Cosmetics. Propelled by their sell-out success, his collection quickly grew to include products for skin, lips, eyes and nails. The company was sold to Shiseido in 2000, but François has remained as the artistic director, in-house photographer, and copywriter for his brand.
Where to buy: Nars recently opened its first regional standalone store in The Dubai Mall.
Pat McGrath – Pat McGrath Labs
The story: Creating iconic looks for the likes of John Galliano, Lanvin, Valentino, and Stella McCartney, alongside a host of top celebrities during a career that spans over 25 years, British-born Pat is at the top of the game when it comes to make-up artistry. So the only surprise when McGrath launched Pat McGrath Labs in 2016 was that it took her so long. She started with Gold 001, a pure gold pigment that could be used creatively on lips, eyes and skin. With only 1,000 units available when it launched, it sold out in a matter of minutes. Several other products have followed, including a dual-ended eye marker and several different full colour kits.
Where to buy: Only through her US-based website (patmcgrath.com) – and when a product launches, you have to be quick, so it’s worth joining the mailing list.
Dany Sanz – Make Up For Ever
The story: Dany Sanz is not only a French make-up artist and educator – she’s the godmother of make-up artist brands. In the beauty industry since the 1970s and known for the creative, modern techniques she taught her students , she launched an innovative and effective range in 1984 – primarily for use within her classes. When demand grew, she launched to the mass market – and Make Up For Ever is now sold in over 50 countries. Known as one of the most innovative brands on the market, recent launches include HD Makeup to add a new level of perfection to make-up application.
Where to buy: The products are sold extensively in cosmetic halls and online, including Sephora and Wojooh.
Laura Mercier – Laura Mercier Cosmetics
The story: French make-up artist Laura Mercier started her career in New York, where she worked on advertising campaigns for the likes of Gap, Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret, alongside working with celebrities including Madonna. She launched her cosmetics line in 1996 to satisfy the needs of her clients, promising a classic, always-current palette, rather than working to seasonal trends. She definitely did something right, with the collection very quickly becoming a hit. It’s now sold in over 1,000 stores in 27 countries.
Where to buy: At Harvey Nichols in Dubai
When a make-up artist can’t find the right product, they go ahead and make it themselves. Luckily, mere mortals can try them too. Here are our favourites
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner (Dh140, stores nationwide) by Bobbi Brown
Laura Mercier Face Illuminator Powder (Dh225, Glamazle.com) by Laura Mercier
Charlotte Tilbury Kissing Lipstick (Dh87, Net-a-porter.com) by Charlotte Tilbury
Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipstick (Dh100, Sephora.ae) by Huda Kattan
Nars Narsissist Cheek Studio Palette (Dh315, Sephora.ae) by François Nars
Becca Bronzing Skin Perfector (Dh165, Sephora.ae) by Rebecca Morris-Williams
Real Techniques Sculpting Brush (Dh55, Glamazle.com) by Samantha Chapman
Glossy Makeup Pressed Glitter in Rose Gold (Dh300, Glossymakeup.com) by Natasha Zaki
Beauty Blender Micro Mini (Dh70, Sephora.ae) by Rea Ann Silva
Lorac Pro Palette (Dh229, Glamazle.com) by Carol Shaw