10 Tips from M·A·C Makeup Artist James Molloy

2 Nov

M·A·C’s Director of Makeup Artistry for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region divulges the tricks he’s learned throughout his career. 



When James Molloy speaks, you can’t help but listen. So passionate is he that, at the recent M·A·C Autumn/Winter 2012 trend presentation, every single person in the audience was deeply engrossed in everything the Asia-Pacific regional director of makeup artistry had to say. Then again, with a background that includes working with designer labels (Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga) and celebrities (Dita Von Teese and Emma Watson), why shouldn’t people listen?

Here, after all, is a man who truly knows and enjoys what he’s doing. And, as Female Network settled into an interview with James himself, we found that he was also more than willing to share his expertise with more and more women.

Browse through the gallery for James’ answers to the questions we asked him, plus a preview of M·A·C’s Autumn/Winter 2012 collection.

Do you think it’s essential for aspiring artists to go to makeup school?

James Molloy (JM): Well, I think there’s two ways to approach makeup artistry. And actually, at the time and still to this day, a lot of MAC artists have an art background rather than a makeup school background. And for me, I found it more beneficial just because, you know, I paint a canvas, I paint a face. I think it teaches you light and dark, it teaches you color combinations. You know, M·A·C is a brand that doesn’t really live by rules. And sometimes, I think makeup schools can give you hard and fast rules which you have to live by. And really, real women don’t apply their makeup like that, you know? They like to tailor it to themselves. So to cut a long story short (laughs), I find it better to go down the art background route, but it’s not to say it’s not a good idea for other people.


What is the most common mistake women make with makeup?

JM: Probably too much base, even on great skin, even on skin that you may have concerns with. I think just hiding your face [behind] a veil of foundation and powder, generally just masking your skin’s natural beauty. So I think, erring on the side of caution, just being sensible and clever with your application, rather than just hiding under a lot of foundation, is for me the most important.


About how much would you say is a decent amount of foundation?

JM: Well, that’s the question!(laughs) You know, I think it’s really understanding how much you actually need. Start light. Start with just a small amount in certain areas, just to give you evenness. If you feel you need more, add a little bit more. I think what I want women to step away from is painting their faces behind a lot of foundation. I think [it’s about] just building up your layers.


The concept of contouring is alien to a lot of women in the Philippines. What are your tips on finding the perfect shade?

JM: Well, first of all, avoid anything too orange or anything too pink, because that would just look like a misshapen blush. So really think about your natural skin tone and a darker version of it. That’s what you’re looking for when you’re applying your contour, because you want it to look like a darker shade of your skin. Generally, matte is the best way forward. If you’re trying to contour with something frosted or lighted, it will just make your face look a little bit shiny, and it won’t give you that definition. So know your own skin tone, shop around your own skin tone. Go for matte, and go for slightly neutral shades, nothing too warm.


How can women fake a perfect lip shape when creating statement lips?

JM: I think it’s really practicing with your lip liner for one, not being afraid to use the lip liner. [It also helps to use] a lip brush, especially if you’re doing a statement lip, like a red or dark shade. I think you can’t really chew that right from the bullet. You need to have a steady hand. A girl friend of mine, she always rests her hand on the table. She gives herself something steady to work from, and then she paints her lip. So I think there’s a few ways to do it, but I think practice makes perfect.


What’s a good trick for making sure your lipstick doesn’t smudge or slide off?

JM: Well, definitely begin with a lip primer. We have a great product called M·A·C Prep + Prime Lip which really locks in the color. We also have an amazing range of M·A·C Pro Longwear lipsticks. And, actually, as far as technology goes, long-wearing these days doesn’t really mean that it’s thick, it’s heavy, it’s uncomfortable. I think we’ve evolved, and long-wearing products are actually really technologically advanced. So [you can start by] applying a primer to help you out. A lip liner all over the lip first obviously really helps, or you may also apply a long-wearing product.


What are your go-to products when grooming the eyebrows?

JM: With brows, I always like to start with Brow Set in Clear to brush the brows upwards to see what your brow naturally does. Generally, if you brush your brow up, it looks fuller, it looks thicker. From there, if the brow’s finer, I tend to use an eye shadow—something that’s cool-toned, nothing too red. My favorites would be Coquette eye shadow or Brun. Both shadows are very flat-toned. Then, I find an angled brush works very, very well. So, for a finer brow, that’s my go-to palette.

For a slightly fuller brow, I tend to stay with pencil, because I just want to fill in between the gaps. Lingering pencil is brilliant because it tends to suit most people. If I want a little more depth, I’d go for Brunette or sometimes Stud. But I always start with seeing what the brow natural does, instead of just drawing a brow on top. I think it’s working with people’s natural features and just enhancing, rather than faking.


How can women who are afraid of color inject more of it into their day-to-day makeup?

JM: Well, I think it’s starting subtly and building. A beautiful way to add a pop of color to your everyday makeup is with an eye kohl just underneath the bottom lash line. Color doesn’t mean you have to wear one shadow all the way over the lid in a really bold statement. Of course, if you’re a natural girl, that’s going to scare the life out of you, you know? Think of a flash of color as the way forward. From there, you know, I guarantee in a month’s time, you’ll be like, “Okay, I’m comfortable with this. I’m rocking that electric blue.” Start subtly, don’t scare yourself, and ease your way into it.


How do you find working in Asia versus other parts of the globe? Wht do you think is the best way to adapt trends to the Asian market?

JM: Well, actually, when I first moved to Asia, I kind of had in my head that it’s all about skin care; it’s all about natural makeup. But actually, as I traveled around, I’m really getting to notice that each country I visit has a hugely different personality when it comes to makeup. Generally, Southeast Asia has a little bit more fun with their makeup, a little bit more experimental. What I’m finding across the board is the lip statement is unanimous, from Korea to China to South East Asia. Adapting really isn’t an issue for me. I think what I’m seeing as I move around is a big movement toward women who want to experiment a little bit more. I think perhaps bronzing still isn’t that big here; I think it’s more about illuminating, brightening the skin.

What I really wanted to do in the presentation is show you that trend is very accessible for each and every woman, whether she’s super light or super dark, whether she’s Caucasian or Asian. I think it’s really starting with that neutral palette, which works very, very well in Asia. So a neutral on the skin, accessorizing with something exciting, be it lip [color] or an interesting eye shadow; you know, just having that one key product to enliven your makeup.


M·A·C S/S13 New York Fashion Week Tips & Tricks with James Molloy


How do you see makeup trends moving in the coming seasons?
JM: I think we’re in line with trends that celebrate natural beauty. I think we’re going back to a bit of a natural state where, even when it comes to brows, we’re tweezing less, we’re having a fuller brow. We’re wanting to see a little bit more skin. We’re adding elements of statement instead of doing an entire look. It’s not always about a lip, a cheek, and an eye anymore. Sometimes, it could just be about a beautiful cheek and mascara. As we evolve, we’re really understanding that natural beauty is a great way to start.


Between runway shows and red carpet appearances, which do you enjoy doing more?

JM: They’ve got totally different personalities. I think working with celebrities is much more intimate makeup application, because they’re bringing you into their world. Really, you’re creating that public persona. It’s nice; you really feel part of a team. Working backstage is really more of a show. There’s a little bit more theater involved; it’s generally a little bit more fast-paced, so that gets the adrenaline pumping. Working with the celebrities, it’s a bit more intimate. They’re very different; you wear two hats.


Backstage Makeup with M·A·C at Bless’ed Are The Meek SS12-13 Collection Show at MBFWA


Related blog posts in Tommy Beauty Pro:


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