International make-up artist and the master of nudes Wendy Rowe shares her secret to glowing skin with Clodagh Finn. Hint – it’s an inside job.
International make-up artist and Burberry creative consultant Wendy Rowe (47) has helped the biggest names in the film and beauty industry look their clear-skinned best: her A-list and supermodel client list includes Sienna Miller, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman and Cara Delevingne to mention but a few.
“Learning how to achieve great skin has become a big part of my life,” says the woman who earned the nickname ‘the master of nudes’ because she pioneered the natural look long before it became a big thing.
She’s famed for applying make-up with an almost invisible touch so that flawless skin and enhanced features — albeit already stunning ones — look completely natural. No wonder she used to believe that the secret of great skin was down to a good skincare routine and great make-up.
She’s changed her mind on that, though, and now believes great skin is something that can only be achieved from the inside out.
“I’ve come to see that skin troubles are a reflection of what’s going on inside,” she says.
That’s why she’s written Eat Beautiful, a luxuriously produced book that acts as a repository for the diet and beauty tips she’s gathered over a lifetime.
“It’s everything I know in one handy book,” she tells Feelgood from her 15th- floor New York apartment, which commands views of the Hudson River and the Empire State Building. (She divides her time between London and New York.)
And the girl from Essex, England, has learned a lot while bumbling her way to the top of her profession, as she puts it.
She says she learned the hard way, through trial and error, and by being put in tricky situations, such as trying to apply make-up in the stifling heat of Zanzibar or on the side of a freezing cold mountain.
“I’m expected to sort out all problems,” she says, explaining that she has a quick fix for most skin emergencies from rashes, burns and bruises to the ‘party’ spot that erupts at the wrong moment.
However, there is still no fast track to achieving the perfect complexion, a lesson she learned while living in Paris, the food and beauty capital of the world.
During her four years there, she realised that the secret to healthy, glowing, blemish-free skin was eating fresh, seasonal, organic produce. Simple as that.
She switched to organic food — at first, because it was difficult to buy anything else — and soon started to lose weight and look and feel better.
When she went back to England, her parents thought it was just another ‘fad’, but eating seasonal, organic produce continues to be the single-most important step she takes in achieving healthy, radiant skin.
She started to offer diet tips along with her make-up tips and when a raw juice recipe she posted on Instagram became a big hit —“Sienna, Victoria and Cara loved it,” she says — she began to gather recipes for a book.
Although she’s on first-name terms with the stars, she has no airs or graces and is willing to share the tricks of the trade with anyone: for instance, she explains in detail on her website (wendyrowe.com) exactly how she achieved Sienna Miller’s look for the Met Ball Gala last month.
There are also lots of ‘how to’ videos on the Wendy Rowe YouTube channel.
But back to the stars: “Sienna is hysterically funny. Sometimes, I am crying with laughter when we do her make-up. She is cool and up for stuff. She wants to try new things,” she tells Feelgood.
She’s known Cara Delevingne since she was 16 and says she’s watched her grow up. “It’s nice to have been a part of her journey. She always wanted to be an actress. It’s great for her; she is so lovely.”
Victoria Beckham is a long-time friend, too. She’s known her since her days with the Spice Girls. “She’s really normal. I’m mean she’s a really normal person. I don’t think I would be that normal in her shoes,” she says.
But then what’s normal?
Wendy Rowe laughs at that and says she’s not too good when it comes to rules: “If you’re supposed to do something, then I tend not to do it,” she says, explaining that is probably partly due to her dyslexia which went undiagnosed at school.
She got by, she says, by always finding ways around things and that’s what drew her to the visual side of things. A career in graphic design seemed like a good match but it wasn’t creative enough for her so she went on to study make-up.
In the early ’90s, she put that creativity to work, teaming up with model agencies in London and working on several pop videos — she did Bjork’s make-up for the Venus as a Boy video and turned John Malkovich and Hugh Laurie into Restoration-period fops for Annie Lennox’s Walking on Breaking Glass.
After that, she moved to Paris where she really learned her craft. She’s been honing it in the years since she’s moved to New York and now, thanks to the publication of Eat Beautiful, everyone can benefit from her decades of expertise.
The book is full of skin-saviour recipes as well as tips on skincare and health. The food advice, as mentioned, is very simple and Rowe walks the talk.
A typical day starts with lemon and hot water to alkalise the system. Then, she has a veg juice with ginger, spinach, celery, fennel, beetroot, mint and flaxseed – “depending on what’s in the fridge”.
After an hour in the gym, it’s golden hour (“I can have anything I want”), which could mean seven-seed toast with avocado and salmon or with almond butter.
Then, it’s sushi and miso soup for lunch and chicken and veg at dinner. On the day we chat she’s had a few chocolates too, but she includes a raw version in the book that are better for you.
But then, life should not be about denial, she says.
“Sometimes when I go on jobs, people start to bang on about what you should eat. I think, ‘shut up’; let people do what they want, but it’s good to be informed.
"Don’t start telling people what to do. It needs to be comfortable for them. Let’s have some fun and let’s feel good.”
Wendy’s golden rules
What’s in Wendy Rowe’s make-up bag?
Sarah Chapman Skin Insurance; Burberry BB Cream; Burberry Contour Pen; Burberry lipstick; Decleor lip balm; Joelle Ciocco moisturiser; Shu Uemura eyelash curlers; various black eyeliners and Darphin eye-make-up remover.
Non-negotiable skincare routine
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