Mary Greenwell tells us her secret to long-lasting make-up

  • by IMAGE

Make-up legend Mary Greenwell shares her passion for all things beauty 


Mary Greenwell is one of the most revered talents in the beauty business. As an international make-up artist to the stars, she has painted the faces of everyone from Meghan Markle to Cate Blanchett and has been behind countless magazine covers. Princess Diana enlisted her to redefine her image, which led to the pair working together on some of Diana’s most iconic photoshoots. Rosaleen McMeel caught up with the Laura Mercier ambassador to find out all her beauty secrets.

Mascara is the best product in the world.

It’s not just about the product, but the wand too. Everyone’s lashes are as individual as their hair texture, so you have to find one that suits you. Often, the wands that go with the product are what make it work best, so use it. The disposable plastic wands don’t work as well.

Sustainable beauty is so important to me.

I’m terribly upset about the beauty industry’s impact on our environment. We’re always talking about food waste and plastic, but less inclined to think about the waste associated with make-up. It’s all about the packaging. We need to get rid of the boxes. That would be a big start. Frankly, it would have to be a brave company to start it. We, as consumers, need to demand it.

My own make-up routine takes 10-15 minutes.

I wear Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, €48.20. I also wear concealer under my eyes, because it lifts them. I then use a bronzer in two colours, a darker one in the hollow of my cheek and then a lighter one. I don’t use blusher because it doesn’t suit me – I look too girly, but also blush is quite ageing. For me, it’s much more flattering to build the dark down to your eyes. I don’t think people, as they get older, have good enough lids to put pale colours on their lids and darker on their sockets. I recommend trying a darker, smokey lid, then add loads of mascara. Lip colour – use nothing too pale or it’ll make you look washed out. Two tones darker than your own lip colour is a good rule.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, €48.20

The secret to long-lasting make-up is in the preparation.

I don’t carry make-up with me all day. I put it on in the morning and work with that. Even though my routine is never longer than 15 minutes, I spend time blending everything. You can almost put lips on walking out the door. Spend a little time on the eyes, but the precision and care must be in how you apply your skin products – your foundation, your concealer, your moisturiser. My Holy Grail involves having a bath every morning – I don’t like showers – and I use a deep moisturiser or a masque and then leave it on. I love primers. Do I use them myself? No, I don’t. Do I use them on my clients at shoots? Yes, absolutely.

Related: The greatest primers for long-wearing make-up

Mature women do not need a dry foundation.

Instead, they should use a tinted moisturiser. Concealer used heavily can be very drying, but used finely can be really beautiful. The other thing I seriously believe in is really moisturising your skin before you put your foundation on. But the better the skin, the lighter the foundation you need, for sure. The older the skin, also the lighter the foundation is needed.

This industry has given me my life.

An ex-boyfriend gave me an opportunity to run a make-up counter in LA in the 1970s. I was working in a restaurant and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Since then, I’ve had the best time. I remember being on a beach on a shoot and thinking, I couldn’t be in a better place right now with better people. I still get that feeling. I’m so lucky. We can all be sad about different things in our lives. Sometimes, I’m sad that I don’t have a child in my life. I would have loved to have a couple of children, but I don’t. And that’s it. I obviously gave that up to run around and be wild and have fun.

This article was originally published in the January/February issue of IMAGE.

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