An A-List Make-Up Artist Shares Her Best Beauty & Careers Advice
An A-List Make-Up Artist Shares Her Best Beauty & Careers Advice

An A-List Make-Up Artist Shares Her Best Beauty & Careers Advice

Make-up artist Hannah Murray cut her teeth as Charlotte Tilbury’s assistant, before going on to create Topshop’s first beauty line and working with A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence and Hailey Bieber. Now Bobbi Brown’s global artistic director, she sat down with us to talk career highlights, make-up secrets and the products she couldn’t live without.
By Rebecca Hull
Photography: @HANNAH_MURRAY1

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My ballet training gave me an eye for precision. From the age of 11, I spent all my free time dancing and at 16 I entered the English National Ballet School. Make-up had always been a huge part of my life on stage and I loved its transformative power. After a few injuries, I had to give up ballet prematurely – at the time, I was devastated, but it prompted me to explore my creative side and take a fashion make-up course in London. 

It all started backstage at the runway shows. I worked hard doing lots of test shoots for my portfolio and used to cold-call agents and magazines to get work. Eventually, it paid off and I starting assisting at London Fashion Week with icons like Mary Greenwell, Kay Montano and Charlotte Tilbury. After a couple of seasons, Charlotte’s agent called to see if I could help her on a five-day Louis Vuitton shoot and I ended up staying for two years as her first assistant – it was 24-hour days, seven days a week, and non-stop travelling. That kickstarted everything.

As a make-up artist, you must work hard and be prepared for anything. Expect 4am call times and very long days. It’s important to stay flexible – it’s not unusual to be asked to fly somewhere at very short notice. You have to work quickly – sometimes a full make-up look in five minutes flat – and most importantly, you have to make the person in front of you feel relaxed, confident and beautiful. 

Skin-first BEAUTY IS MY SPECIALTY. I always start by smoothing skin's texture with GENTLE EXFOLIATION & FACIAL MASSAGE, followed by a good moisturiser - Bobbi Brown's Vitamin Enriched Face Base is the best.

Working with Charlotte was life changing. Through her, I was exposed to all the most talented people in the industry, and when I left a lot of those people took a chance on me. I must thank hairstylist Guido Palau, especially. Even today, he’s one of the most brilliant creatives and still produces the most extraordinary work. At 25 years old, I was shooting a French Vogue cover with him and working with David Sims on Alexander McQueen’s men’s shows. 

My time with Topshop was a dream. It was my first time collaborating with a brand and it worked so well because I understood the different sides of a Topshop girl. The team was brilliant, and we could be playful and free. I created grunge sticks for Glastonbury girls, two-toned freckle pencils, jelly blushers, glitter pencils – everything was designed to be easy and cool. The fashion often inspired the make-up.

Skin-first beauty is my speciality. Minimalist make-up is what I am known for. It’s those 90s vibes I just love – that entire era left a big impression on me. My approach is always to improve skin texture through gentle exfoliation then nourish it with a facial oil massage and a good moisturiser – Bobbi Brown’s Vitamin Enriched Face Base is my favourite. 


I’ve always used minimal amounts of foundation. I start with a thin veil to even out the skin tone where needed, then use concealer to cover blemishes, pigmentation and under-eye darkness. I don’t believe in erasing everything to then paint your features back on – I want to enhance what you already have. Once I’ve finished with the base, I play with highlighter – preferably a cream, pearl highlighter or just a touch of Vaseline on the cheekbones, down the nose and inner corners of the eyes. I sometimes use a touch of cream blush or lipstick on the cheeks and lips – often the same colour to tie it all together. 

A smudge of kohl looks tough but chic. I love to buff a little into the waterline and the roots of lashes to enhance the eyes. Then, I’ll use just a touch of mascara. The juxtaposition between polished skin and a not-too-perfect eye is great.

My hands and fingers are the best tools. I apply foundation like a moisturiser – it’s the best way to ensure it looks like skin. I pat it all in at the end to ensure there’s a smooth blend. You should work in thin layers – nothing should be applied too heavily. I believe in leaving one element completely bare, too – think of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, who always looked so modern and cool. 

I love the juxtaposition between polished skin and a NOT-TOO-PERFECT EYE. A smudge of kohl buffed into the waterline & roots of the lashes looks TOUGH BUT CHIC.

The best times in my career are happening right now. Being appointed global artistic director of Bobbi Brown two years ago has been a big highlight for me. It’s a brand I’ve had in my kit since the beginning – and might I add, the only brand that did all-inclusive foundation ranges years ago. Its whole ethos aligns with mine and I can say there are so many exciting things to come: lots of new product innovations and collections, and my team and I are hoping to freshen up the brand’s visual identity. 

Fashion editor Lucinda Chambers gave me some great career advice. She told me early on to try to find balance – to know where I want to be, but also if I want a family or to explore other things, then to make room for that and have confidence in that decision. It’s very easy to give your career your all and get pulled in every direction in this industry. You can spend your life flying from one job to another, running yourself into the ground. I got burnt out in my late 20s after pushing too hard. It was a big wake -call to create more boundaries so that I could be healthier, happier and, ultimately, work better.


There are so many brands I love. Eyeko is one of my favourites, as is Jillian Dempsey’s line – it’s not saturated, it just has all the essentials. Westman Atelier is a personal favourite, too. It’s just so beautifully packaged. Another old favourite was Ruby & Millie – that was unbeatable.

There are five products I’m never without. First, 111SKIN’s Eye Masks. They are such a treat and are saturated in moisture to help get rid of darkness and uneven tone. I often pop these on a client while the hair is being done. To conceal and brighten, my favourite product is YSL’s Touche Éclat – it never gets old. I also love Jillian Dempsey’s Kohl Pencils for a quick smokey eye. They have impressive pigment and are so easy to blend. Finally, Bobbi Brown’s Crushed Lip Colours are an essential. They’re so flattering and work on both the lips and cheeks.

SPF is my desert island product. Ultra Violette is my favourite brand – I use its products every single day. I’d take lash curlers with me too as I genuinely can’t be without them – I love Shiseido or Shu Uemura

EMBRACE WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE. There’s nothing more inspiring or sexier than seeing someone who is COMFORTABLE in their own skin.

I don’t go in for Botox or other invasive treatments. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve fallen in love with The Facial Cupping Expert. A friend introduced me to her on Instagram and I snapped up the oil and cupping tools – genuinely, nothing has helped to lift my face quite like this. I love FaceGym too and often go to the NYC or London stores for a deep facial massage. 

I tend to stick with the same products in my own routine. Right now, I’m using a Darphin facial wash and Drunk Elephant’s Vitamin C serum. I love Augustinus Bader’s The Cream, too, as well as Environ’s C-Quence Eye Gel. My other make-up essentials include Maybelline’s The Colossal Waterproof Mascara, Bobbi Brown’s Natural Brow Shaper in ‘Neutral Brown’ – which is great for touching up my roots, too – and Tom Ford’s Shade & Illuminate Cream Contour Duo

My parting advice is to embrace what makes you unique. There’s nothing more inspiring or sexier than seeing someone who is comfortable in their own skin – whether they have zero make-up on or are rocking a heavy, punk liner. I hope we can move away from this desire to have clone-like, overly perfected faces with make-up that drastically changes all our features. Never erase what makes you special.

For more beauty tips & inspiration follow @Hannah_Murray1



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