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The transformative power of makeup at the Professional Beauty Show London

2024   -  
Copyright © africanews
AP Photo

United Kingdom

The transformative power of makeup. Up and coming makeup artists are showing off their talents here in a variety of different genres.

This one celebrates the late fashion designer Vivienne Westwood who fused a punk aesthetic with high-fashion. It means lots of tartan, fishnets, spikes and very dramatic eye makeup.

The Professional Beauty Show in London's ExCel centre is the UK's largest beauty and spa trade show, with thousands of representatives from across the beauty industry.

Lan Nguyen-Grealis is one of the organisers of the event. She is a makeup artist and designer who has worked with many of the biggest names in the fashion industry.

"It's the products that change the trends. And at the moment it's all about authentic imprints of be who you are. And what I'm seeing across, not only professionally on the catwalk, but across to the students as well, is that they're really utilizing the models and working to the faces, giving them looks that actually look authentic to them. So I'm finding that people are not really sticking to the rules anymore, which is great," she says.

Helping the artists and judging their work is Irish makeup artist James Mac (MacInerney) who was recently a finalist in the popular BBC makeup competition Glow Up.

MacInerney believes that entering competitions is vital for up and coming artists to network, build confidence and learn about how the professional industry works.

He didn't have the most natural path into high fashion. Growing up in a rural part of southern Ireland and helping in the fields with his family's horses, events like the Professional Beauty Show were vital for the development of his art.

"Because it gives you a better understanding of how you cope in the moment, how your reactive abilities are, your improvisation skills and your interpretations of the brief. All that can do is just help you evolve and get better at your craft and with that comes time. Put those two together and you're bound to be on a progressive trajectory," he says.

The artists are all being asked to show off their catwalk looks.

This is an unique genre of makeup that requires a look that stands out on the runway and compliments a specific look being demanded by the fashion designer.

Show judge and makeup artist, Louis Byrne explains the difference between a catwalk look and a bridal makeup look.

"When you're doing a catwalk look, you're doing something where you are setting a trend, where you are portraying a vision of how you see something that you want to bring to life as opposed to bridal, where you are making somebody look beautiful, when you're making somebody feel empowered and relaxed and feminine. However they want to look in their bridal theme. Catwalk trend is very much a vision and a look," he says.

Of course there are also bridal looks at the show, with artists showing off their skills of beautifying.

However, an even more transformative extreme than the catwalk looks are these creative artists who are producing makeup fit for the stage or screen.

Producing a complete look at the show is Angela Youngs, who is turning her husband into a Neptune-like character.

It's painstaking work to apply hundreds of individual plastic beads and buttons to the skull cap.

Working under the show conditions the transformation takes about three hours from start to finish.

"We're doing a look on... it's like the god of the sea, but we're using all plastics that we've saved from scrap stores and charity shops. So that would have gone into landfill and ultimately gone into the sea is now being created into a look for the god," says Angela Youngs.

But the most extreme makeup must surely be the body painters, who need to apply makeup across an entire human body.

This Elements-themed look took two body painters around four hours to complete.

Cat Finlayson is a professional body painter who has won the UK Face Painter of the Year and recently finished 10th in the prestigious World Bodypaint competition in 2022.

She says of the theme: "Elements, I've gone for Earth. I actually used to work at the Natural History Museum and I am just fascinated by fossils. And I've just moved to Dorset, which is famous for its Ammonites which I'm right in the middle of and also water because I grew up on the coast in the highlands of Scotland and in the Caribbean. So they're two of my favourite elements and that's just what inspired me today."

Professional Beauty took place on 3-4 March, 2024.

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