September’s – ‘The Icon Issue’ – Download Now
With a black book filled with A-list celebrity clients, Mary Phillips is the go-to makeup artist in Hollywood. Having had a passion for beauty since she was young, she has gone on to create countless iconic red carpet looks for the likes of Hailey Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and the entire Kardashian-Jenner family.
So, what’s her secret to success? Hard work, determination and a lot of key networking. Kick-staring her career in the pre-social media era, booking new jobs and bringing on new clients was all through word of mouth. “The industry is a lot different now with social media but when I was starting out it was all referrals and word of mouth,” she explains. “I worked really hard and networked with other hair and wardrobe stylists who referred me to jobs and celebrity clients who liked my work.”
Can you talk us through your career? What inspired you to go into the beauty space?
As a child, I loved to draw and paint. I loved watching my mother do her makeup and seeing the confidence it gave her. As I got older I would do all of my friends’ hair and makeup for their proms, formals and dances. I didn’t know then that I would be fortunate enough to turn my passion into the career I have today; I just truly loved and enjoyed it. I’m humbled to be able to bring someone’s inner transformation to the surface and helping them feel and look as beautiful as they are.
How did you start working with celebrities?
I started assisting different celebrity makeup artists and when they were busy I was lucky enough to step in for them. The industry is a lot different now with social media but when I was starting out it was all referrals and word of mouth. I worked really hard and networked with other hair and wardrobe stylists who referred me to jobs and celebrity clients who liked my work.
You’ve worked incredibly hard to get where you are today, what drives you?
Growing up I witnessed an incredible work ethic from my Dad. He worked six days a week building his Chiropractic practice. On his off days, he worked on the house and played in a band. He never took sick days, he was non-stop.
I missed out on a lot of fun and life events while assisting in my late teens and early 20s. I recognize how fortunate I am that the hard work and sacrifices I made got me to where I am today.
“I feel really blessed to get to work with such high-profile figures but at the end of the day, we are all human. Everybody that I’ve worked with is extremely lovely, humble and down to earth.”
What have been some “pinch-me” moments for you throughout your career?
I’ve had so many “pinch-me” moments and I’m so honoured they keep happening! I would say my first “pinch-me” moment was 15 years ago when Ken Paves called to tell me that he was recommending me to Jennifer Lopez. I was so excited because I was such a big fan.
Seeing my work on covers of magazines, my makeup credits on the end of a film, red carpet moments, working with supermodel Kendall Jenner and pop star Dua Lipa were all pinch me moments. I always want to do my best work and the butterflies I get from working in this industry never go away.
What’s your secret to achieving a flawless-looking complexion on your clients?
Less is more when it comes to makeup. It’s important to know where to add powder and where to let your skin shine.
I am a true believer that living a healthy lifestyle can increase achieving this goal. Complexion and health go hand in hand. It’s so important to get exercise, sleep, hydration and have a good skincare routine.
I myself always get routine facials to upkeep my skin. The Diamond Glow Facial is one of my favourites. I also love micro-needling & PRP from Dr. Jason Diamond in Beverly Hills, CA.
At any point do your clients have a clear vision for what they want their look to be? If so, what is it?
It varies per client but collaboration and communication are always key when putting together a look. It’s important to make sure that there is balance and synergy between the client, hair, wardrobe, nails and makeup to properly achieve the overall vision. Coming together as a team and not competing with one another’s work helps the talent look their best and shine.
What have been your favourite red carpet looks you’ve done?
There have been so many memorable red carpet looks some of the highlights are the 2019 Met Gala Kendall Jenner when she wore the orange feathered Versace dress. Also, Kendall Jenner’s look from the People’s Choice Awards in neon green liner. Lots of JLo looks but one of my favourites was at Fashion Rocks when she wore a Versace black and gold dress, with bright shimmery burgundy eyes. Also, Bella Hadid’s makeup when she wore the nude Mugler bodysuit at the Icons Party during the 2018 New York Fashion Week.
What are your go-to makeup and skincare products?
My go-to skincare products from La Mer are Creme de la Mer and Renewal Oil. I also really like Augustinus Bader Rich Cream, SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, Vintner’s Daughters Active Botanical Serum, and Skin Ceuticals C E Ferulic.
My favourite concealers are Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer and Cle de Peau.
For brows, I love Anastasia Brow pencils, powder and clear gel and Tweezerman tools. Pat McGrath, Tom Ford and Charolette Tilbury have amazing blushes, shadows and eyeliners. Laura Mercier Powders are great, both Translucent & Honey. Serge Lutens is one of my all-time favourite bronzers. Armani Eyes to Kill is my go-to mascara. I’ve also been loving Victoria Beckham Beauty lip tints, lip liners and eyeliners.
What is it really like working with such high-profile figures?
I feel really blessed to get to work with such high-profile figures but at the end of the day, we are all human. Everybody that I’ve worked with is extremely lovely, humble and down to earth.
Who would you say your mentor is and who do you look up to in terms of entrepreneurial-ship in the industry and why?
Ken Paves was one of my biggest mentors at the start of my career. We became great friends and he taught me how to navigate through the celebrity world. Also, while assisting Eugenia Weston she educated and guided me through my career. Later on Pat McGrath and I became friends and since then she has been super supportive, which feels so special because she has always been an inspiration to me.
What advice do you wish you had received at the beginning of your journey to success?
There can be a lot of pressure for perfection and I tend to take my work very seriously. What I need to remember and what I would tell someone who is embarking on this career journey is to make sure you never lose sight of the reason you’re doing this work – because you love it.
What have been the largest hurdles you’ve had to overcome to date?
There have been multiple hurdles that I’ve had to overcome throughout my career. One of the biggest that comes to mind is a time when I lost my entire makeup kit while travelling to do Jennifer Lopez’s makeup for a live American Idol show for the first time. I had to quickly purchase makeup and the team (hair, wardrobe, talent and myself) pulled out all our personal cosmetics and it wound up being one of my favourite looks of all time. I now always travel with a carry on including enough makeup to get the job done just in case there’s an incident like that again.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the key milestones?
Seeing my first magazine cover was an incredible milestone and my first MET Ball was major for me. More recently I would say working with Pat McGrath & Bobbi Brown, who I admire so much.
This is ‘The Icon Issue’ – who are the icons in your life?
There are so many icons and amazing artists in the beauty industry that I’ve looked up to and admired throughout the years. Some that come to mind are Pat McGrath, Francesca Tolot, Bobbi Brown and Lucia Peroni. Also Kevyn Aucoin, I loved and learned so much from his books. I grew up trying to recreate so many different looks from these artists by ripping out tear sheets from magazines and using them for inspiration.
September’s – ‘The Icon Issue’ – Download Now
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