With more than two decades in the industry makeup artist James Molloy has seen many beauty trends come and go and has painted famous faces that include Rita Ora, Emma Watson and Kanye West. The Global Makeup Ambassador for Rimmel talks to The Style Edit about how 2020 has impacted our style and why the brand’s two new products are exactly what we need in our makeup bags right now.
Hi James, how long have you been a makeup artist for and what made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I’ve been doing makeup for 20 years now. As a child I was super creative and always making things out of nothing. I suppose I always knew being creative was a passion but back then I didn’t know where to channel it. That was until I moved to Manchester and was introduced to makeup for the first time by a friend; as soon as I had that brush in my hand I knew it was what I wanted to do.
I grew up in a really small town when there was really no such thing as a makeup artist but I had a dream and I stuck with it. Through sheer work hard and determination I ended up doing work with makeup teams in London, Milan, Paris and New York and it just felt like coming home.
Can you tell us about your current role with Rimmel and what it entails?
I’m the Global Makeup Ambassador which is a bit of dream come true because growing up in the UK all of my girlfriends had Rimmel products in their handbag as did my mum. It was such a familiar brand to me and we all remember the Kate Moss decade where she was just untouchable.
My role is really interesting in that I do a bit of everything, from talking to press about new products, to working on campaigns alongside an amazing creative team and having input into new product releases.
Have you a favourite makeup look?
Anyone who knows me and is familiar with my Instagram will know I’m a big fan of eyeliner, whether it’s a full on graphic flick or a minimal cat eye. I just think black eyeliner is the little black dress of the makeup world.
Have you a dream client?
I’ve been very lucky to work with some amazing people but I’d really love to work with Kate (Moss) just because she is such an icon and I have her on a pedestal in terms of amazing makeup looks.
What have you missed most this year in regards to work?
I always try to put a positive spin on everything but what I’ve probably missed most is travelling. I think I cancelled 12 trips in the first few months of Covid, But on the other hand I’ve had so much time at home to create content and share tutorials and it’s been really nice to go back to basics.
Rimmel’s two new products the Lasting Matte Foundation and the Scand’Eyes Volume on Demand are the perfect antidote for the current climate – how important is it that a brand can respond quickly to what’s happening?
As a makeup brand you really are reflecting what people are going through in their lives because it’s such an integral part of our day-to-day routines. The foundation is great because it’s comfortable on the skin while giving confidence and won’t budge under the mask. And why not play up your eyes more when you’re wearing a mask? This new mascara conditions and really lets you take control of how much volume you want, whether you want pretty or full blown glamour – even if you’re only sat at home.
Have you a tip for choosing the correct foundation shade at this time of the year?
It might surprise people but in winter I like to go a little bit warmer with my foundation, if I’m not wearing bronzer I’ll go one shade darker. Another tip is to bring in an existing foundation so you’ve something to match it up with and if possible ask for a sample.
“As a makeup brand you really are reflecting what people are going through in their lives because it’s such an integral part of our day-to-day routines.”
How do you prefer to apply foundation – brush or sponge?
I love a brush, especially with a matte foundation because you basically want to airbrush over any pores or uneven textures. Particularly when applying a matte foundation a brush will make it feel like a velvety veil on your skin.
Do you think 2020 will permanently change how we wear makeup?
I think people are going to be a bit more savvy about what they buy. We’ve all had time to go through our makeup collections and assess what we like and why. As a makeup brand we’ll have to work harder to keep everyone happy but Rimmel are always ahead of the game when it comes to knowing what people want and need.
Are there any lessons we can take out of it?
Every cloud has to have a silver lining. In the same way I’ve gone through my clothes wardrobe and thrown away stuff that I don’t wear anymore I’ve also gone through my makeup kit and downsized it. People’s pockets are a bit more stretched at the minute so I think people will revisit drugstore brands and be amazed at what they discover.
In your opinion what’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to makeup?
‘Mistake’ is a strange word because I’d say I’ve made errors over my makeup career – maybe putting too much on – but that’s how you learn and I wouldn’t be where I am now without those ‘mistakes’. So I’ll say to people ‘what did you think of this look or what did you learn from it?’ I’ll also ask if they felt comfortable in it because if you don’t feel comfortable then that’s a mistake.
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Is it fair to say social media has transformed the beauty industry?
Absolutely. Before social media the only way to really learn about makeup was to go to makeup school or go and have your makeup done. Now we have so much information which can be accessed at just the touch of a button. It’s amazing, though sometimes you can get led astray so I think it’s important to find your style and what you like. I enjoy social media but I also follow a lot of accounts that aren’t makeup related as I find them really inspiring – florists, chefs, interior designers – all really help me to be creative. If I looked at makeup on social media all day long I think I’d end up losing my own style so a good tip is to find things other than makeup that inspire you.
What three items do you always have in your kit?
Black eyeliner, a powder like Rimmel Lasting Matte Powder and a multi-use cream product that you can wear on your eyes, lips, cheeks, wherever.
And finally, who’s your ultimate beauty icon?
It’s a bit of a cliché but it has to be Marilyn Monroe. She’s so gorgeous and captivating and totally timeless.