One evening in Venice this past May, it was Anne Hathaway’s moment to shine—and her makeup artist, Gucci Westman, was responsible for making that happen. In preparing the actor for a Bulgari high jewelry event (Hathaway is a brand ambassador), Westman sought to balance a fresh-faced makeup look with the flashbulb glare of the red carpet. The key products came from her very own toolkit: a multipurpose face serum from her line, Westman Atelier, followed by the new Liquid Super Loaded, a skin illuminator formulated with vitamin C and avocado oil. “I was a little nervous at first because I have not used Liquid Super Loaded under bright lights, but the look turned out so beautiful,” she recounts. Hathaway pulled off that glow because it wasn’t just a cosmetic sleight of hand, but the very picture of nourished skin.
A makeup artist’s work, after all, begins long before they apply foundation. Prepping the skin is central, with factors like ingredient sensitivity and humidity and jet lag dehydration to consider. As far as experts go, doctors may offer scientific rigor, but it’s the makeup artists who are invested in the fuller timeline—from before someone sits in their chair to the splashy moment in front of the cameras, even to the after-party and end-of-night face wash. This up-close expertise has led to a rise in skin care formulated by makeup artists, designed to offer a ground-up approach to beauty.
It’s not an entirely new concept. After all, makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury debuted her Magic Cream in 2013, turning what was initially a DIY moisturizer supported by word of mouth (hello, Kate Moss) into a global best-seller. We’ve now reached the next phase, in which those with makeup artist bona fides (Westman, Kirsten Kjaer Weis, Pat McGrath, Lisa Eldridge, and so many more) are bottling up their complexion expertise.
The challenges of entering an already crowded category can be daunting. “With makeup, you have everything from nailing the perfect colors and shades, pigment stability, long-wearing formulas, best application delivery systems—the list goes on,” says Eldridge, who has leveraged a longtime role as Lancôme’s global creative director of makeup (and early YouTube stardom) to run her own growing line. “With skin care, it’s all about the effectiveness of the formula to do the job, and the clinically proven results.”
In other words, it’s a completely different playing field. So, why bother?
For Westman, who only recently introduced skin care to her Westman Atelier cosmetics range, the addition was a long time coming—and one that was intensely personal. “Having rosacea was a big catalyst for really being focused on creating a line that would soothe and repair the skin in a real way,” says the makeup artist, whose early work alongside photographers Peter Lindbergh and Annie Leibovitz kicked off a career replete with marquee runway looks, A-list clients, and magazine covers (including last year’s Allure cover featuring Jennifer Aniston). “I have tried everything—every prescription, antibiotics—and nothing ever made a difference,” Westman explains of the impetus to create something herself. Five years in the making, the Skin Activator serum (which features active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and peptides) has laid the groundwork for other nourishing products, including the vitamin C-infused highlighter worn by Hathaway.