EFM Exclusive Story - Celebrity Makeup Artist Caroline Barnes




aving A-list clients such as, Emma Watson, Diane Kruger, Rebecca Ferguson, and Rochelle Humes. With over 20 years of experience; London based makeup artist, Caroline Barnes prides herself in making her client celebrities, and women in general, feel and look flawless.

At the age of fifteen she started a mobile hairdresser, “it was a really crappie old car;” she says.  “When we were younger they didn’t really have any makeup artists for kids so you would go to a DIY shop, and you would get a tall box, put your nail polishes in this box, and you paint - put your counter up and off you go.”


Caroline shares with me some of her memories of being a teen in business and the difference between high society and commoners.  “We would do their hair, makeup, and their nails - when I used to go to these massive houses they would literally give me like five pounds for whatever I had done.  When I go to the council they would also give me five pounds, and an extra pound for a tip.  Now that tells you something,” she says.  “That’s when I learned rich people are rich because they keep their money to themselves;” we laughed.  “I love to make money and I was thinking, ‘great I could go and just paint someone’s nails,’ that’s quite nice, who would have thought that I would be doing what I’m doing now and I was doing it since I was 15 years old, funny isn’t it,” she says to me.


Taking a course in BG therapy for hairdressing, “it’s a technical college where you can go and do your A-level and you can further your education or you can actually learn the skill.  I went and learned hair in BG therapy at school.”   Furthering her education at The London College of Fashion; makeup artists were called in to the college to assist them for free.  This helped Caroline build up her experience and she began to do a lot of assisting on music videos and various makeup artist jobs.  Wanting more work and eager to learn more, Caroline contacted as many makeup artists as she could.  “There was no internet at the time so I had to go to the Library-It was a book called, ‘The Knowledge’ it was like a massive bible of everybody in the industry; makeup artists, and directors.  I hand wrote like 70 letters out to these makeup artists; ‘please, if I can help let me come and help for free,’ I got one response.  That makeup artist I started assisting was kind of my link. Over the next few years I realized that if I hadn’t written those letters I wouldn’t have ever gotten my first agent.”


There are a great deal of areas of beauty that one can pursue ones’ career; Caroline explains;  “When I left college I wasn’t really sure what I was going  into; was it going to be fashion or TV; there’s so many different areas that you can work in, but they’re also very separate-you don’t normally get people working in film, and doing fashion shoots, and doing magazine shoots, it didn’t work like that, so I kind of just did everything, and then by doing everything it allowed me to make a bit of money.”


Working in the makeup industry dealing with celebrities, collaborating with fashion magazines, and on TV shows; how can one keep grounded and maintain a balanced family life.  “Well, having a family definitely keeps you balanced because I have three boys.  Having children stops you from being selfish.  I literally have no time for myself.  I mean, I really don’t have time for facials.  I just shot a big TV show last week and I was like, ‘all right, I’m going to get my hair done, I’m going to get my skin looking as great as I can.  I just didn’t have any time to do that.  Having children makes you stop thinking about yourself; it’s a totally different world that other people need you and love you and vice-versa; that’s what keeps me balanced in my life.”

Caroline’s goal is to always give back and to have all women feel great about themselves.  “I wanted to use my skill, as basic as it is, to make women feel great on the red-carpet, but also make someone feel much better about themselves when they have lost their hair through chemotherapy.”


I asked Caroline what’s her day-to-day makeup routine.  “The Ordinary; I just think it’s fantastic to have a brand that is so reasonable and it’s really, really effective; it’s quite difficult to kind of work out on what you need for your skin because it’s quite scientific, but I’m loving on the Ordinary products.  In the evening I use a lot of retinol because it’s very restorative and it resurface your skin very lightly without irritation.  In the mornings I use AHA’s that keeps the skin from turning over.  I’ve had acne for ten years, so I really got dreadful skin.  My whole time is trying to make my skin to look normal.   If I didn’t use all of that then it would look dreadful.” 


In the last five years it literally appears to look like everyone’s a makeup artist.  Do you think it has become harder to find work and to work in the beauty industry in general, I asked Caroline?  “Well, it’s very difficult because what has happened, not sure if it’s the same in America; it’s a lot of businesses that has opened up training makeup artists for a course and you can pay like, ten grand, and you can be a makeup artist (in 6 weeks).  I did five years of training.  I was happy because in those days our government paid for us to go to college and gave us money to live on; so I’m like ‘happy days’.  Five years is quite a large amount of time to be training, but it was really beneficial.” She continues;  “I think it’s stressful, really to give people a dream where there isn’t so much work in fashion magazines, music videos or beauty campaigns, whatever allows a little bit more creativity, it might be more work in the digital field or TV shows, things like that.  It depends on what you define as what is a makeup artist.”


Caroline shares great tips and advice to upcoming makeup artists.


“Listen to your peers and to give yourself time.”

“You have to prove yourself as a makeup artist.”

“You have to be respectful with a lot less arrogance.”

“I never said ‘no’ to one job even if it’s the crappiest shittiest job; on a Sunday morning, when it was raining to stand in the forest, whatever it was, I said ‘yep I’ll do it’; because you never know where your next contact will come from.”

“Listen to the people who you are working with.  Don’t try to barge in and try to be the ‘big I AM’ because you really aren’t.  Experience counts for everything, right?”







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