Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury talks Amal Clooney, red carpet looks

Share via

With her hair piled in a fiery swirl and a flick of feline liner on her eyelids, it’s clear that makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury practices what she preaches.

“I want people to look like the best version of themselves,” says Tilbury as she sits at a table topped with products from her self-titled makeup and skin care line, which sells at Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman.

Tilbury, who was raised on the Spanish island of Ibiza and in London, where she’s based now, was in L.A. in early January for the Golden Globe Awards to do makeup for Sienna Miller and Amal Clooney.


With awards season underway, we talked with Tilbury about red carpet looks.

It seems as if people are as, or more, excited to see human rights lawyer Amal Clooney on the red carpet as they are Hollywood celebrities.

It’s true. I think they are. She’s such a beauty. I know it’s only early days, but I feel like she’s a style icon. She just has impeccable taste. I also did all of her wedding looks. She’s amazing. She’s too perfect.

The Golden Globes were George and Amal Clooneys’ first red carpet appearance as husband and wife. Is there a lot of pressure as her makeup artist, knowing more eyes may be on her than on even her famous husband?

She’s so cool and just always looks so beautiful, so [it’s] fine. She’s got the most stunning eyes, lips, skin, cheekbones … she’s also into really beautifully groomed eyebrows, but she always asks to play up her lips most. For her wedding, we used my Matte Revolution lipsticks [launching in the U.S. this fall].

Even with makeup, celebrities on the red carpet are wearing a head-to-toe look, yes?

Exactly, exactly. Celebrities understand they’re going to get completely scrutinized, globally, because there’s whole TV shows around [awards shows], and pages and pages of magazines. When you look at celebrities on talk shows, runways or the red carpet they’ve always got these beautiful, really gorgeous, glow-y faces, but their arms and legs are also always beautifully finished, immaculate and glow-y.


What’s the No. 1 makeup mistake people make on the red carpet?

Sometimes I don’t think they wear enough. Even if they want to wear the natural look, which I’m, like, OK, if that’s your vibe, sometimes it’s not as immaculate or as finished as it could be.

Do you prefer lash extensions or fake lashes?

I actually like working with fake lashes.... You can’t really put a lot of mascara onto lash extensions when you need to amp up your look. I just get a better effect with fake lashes. Remember to use waterproof glue!

What’s the No. 1 red carpet consideration?

No. 1 is your dress. If I’m wearing something bohemian or kind of floaty, I’ll wear different jewelry, and I’ll want a different face, like my Golden Goddess look. If I’m wearing a structured Sophia Loren, Dolce & Gabbana kind of outfit, I’ll want to put on my Dolce Vita look.


The red carpet is primarily an opportunity to be photographed, but we live in a smartphone era when everyone is photographed all of the time. What can non-celebrities learn from red carpet makeup?

They don’t come from a different planet than celebrities. Celebrities just have experts like me working on them. That’s why I created this makeup. Runway to the real way.

What are the red carpet trends for 2015?

Like every year, you see some people doing kind of a bronzy, healthy, nude look, Jennifer Lopez kind of skin — girls with smoky eyes and nudish lips. And then you’ll have your strong lip colors. So less on the eyes, like maybe a line of shimmer or a soft wash of color.... But I would say matte lipsticks. Do you remember when we were all obsessed with gloss and tanning? Now, actually, we don’t mind being pale and celebrating being pale. That said, certain people just look better in gloss, and they’ll be wearing gloss. If someone has really small lips, she might not look right with a matte lipstick. It’s about what makes someone the most beautiful version of themselves. Even when there’s a trend, don’t do it if it doesn’t suit you.