My Beauty Lessons: James Molloy
My Beauty Lessons: James Molloy

My Beauty Lessons: James Molloy

James Molloy is one of the top make-up artists working today. With an A-list clientele and plenty of insider knowledge, he uses his popular Instagram account to share tips, tricks and products you may not have heard of. Here, he we asked him to tell us about his desert island essentials, beauty regrets and the tools he wouldn’t be without from his brand MyKitCo.
By Rebecca Hull

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Beauty Rules

“Perfecting your skin’s texture is essential before you apply any make-up. Pay attention to the skin around your nose and lips especially, as these areas are prone to dryness – and foundation will only cling to dry patches. You really want to exfoliate and apply hydrating products that give you a good base to work with. Use liquid exfoliators like the ones by REN and Pixi as they will gently polish your skin. Another rule I follow is grooming the brows and curling the lashes. Both steps take a bit more time, but they are worth it for the overall look. Finally, working in light layers is essential. Go in too heavy and it’s much harder to take everything down.”

Product Hauls

“I lived in Asia for five years and my trips to Japan were some of the best for finding indie brands. I still use the products I discovered there from brands like Etude House – it looks cute but the formulas are incredible. I also love my gel liner by Kate Tokyo and my highlighters by Clio – a Korean beauty brand. You can easily find these brands on dedicated websites – everything is so much more accessible now. Closer to home, I enjoy shopping on Beauty Bay as I find it’s always ahead of the curve. I love Nigel Beauty in North Hollywood too – there are so many incredible, professional brands to be found there.”

First Product

“The first beauty product I ever tried was M·A·C’s Studio Finish Concealer in shade NW35 back in 2001. I used it to cover the occasional blemish and under the eyes. I then worked for the brand for 15 years – and I still love that product.”

First Beauty Memory

“My earliest beauty memory is the Girl’s World Make-Up Head that my cousin owned. She had bright blue eyeshadow and pencil thin brows – I mean, it was the early 80s. It was so much fun.”


Brow Grooming

“Start by brushing your brows through with the MYKITCO. Brushes Brow Spoolie to understand the texture and thickness. With a finer brow, I use a fine pencil to fill them in where needed. Start by brushing the brows down then fill in the top arch before brushing them back up and etching the pencil through, following the natural grain of the hair. I’ll then use a gel to set the hair in place. For a fuller brow, try using a brow powder to naturally add depth and then set them with a brow wax or soap – these will hold the hairs in place for longer.”

Essential Tools

“Everyone should own a good set of make-up brushes. One of my favourite brushes from the MYKITOCO. Line is the 0.22 – My Flawless Face Brush. It works with foundation, powders, cream blushers and even highlighter. In my opinion, it’s the brush to have in your bag. I also love FaceHalo, which has a brilliant selection of reusable make-up remover pads, and I swear by my KOJI Lash Curler. It has the perfect curve to it which really hugs your lash line.”

Liner Application

“I am often asked how to perfect winged liner. There are a few things you can try. First, rest your elbow on a surface to steady your hand, then start by using a soft pencil to map out your shape. Once you’ve drawn this on, perfect it with a gel formula – there are plenty of gel kohls available now and they’re easier to work with than liquids. For hooded eyes, try applying the liner with your eyes looking straight ahead. You may have to connect the outer edge to your lash line with a sharp angle to create the illusion of a lifted wing. My final tip is to wipe the excess off your brush and shape it into a fine point to create clean, thin lines.”

Desert Island Essential

“It would have to be the NARS Laguna Cream Bronzer. You can do so much with it – from contouring your skin to perfecting your base make-up and even creating a soft, smokey eye.”


Pre-Event Tips

“If you have a big event coming up, I recommend having a gentle facial beforehand – waking up the skin is key to boosting glow. I always find an oxygen facial works wonders and gives results immediately. When I have clients in the chair, I’ll start with a sheet mask by Shiseido. I’ll then massage the face as firmly as I can – done right, the difference it makes to your skin is

Skin Regrets

“When I was younger, I used to think that SPF15 would cut the mustard, but I’ve learnt that using a higher protection makes a big difference. I’m now never without an SPF50. I also believe dermaplaning is best left to the professionals. Finally, I wish I had started using an eye cream earlier. I now use my Dior Capture Total Super Potent Serum religiously and it’s definitely helped to soften the skin in this area.”

Routine Advice

“A good beauty routine should fit into your lifestyle, or you’ll never stick to it. Some people might have more time to apply things and others are constantly on the go. Tailor it to yourself and just focus on the essentials. For me that’s a gentle exfoliator, an eye cream, a light moisturiser and a great cleanser – my favourite is CeraVe’s Hydrating Formula. I’ll always finish with SPF. As for your make-up, this can be as simple as you like, but everyone should own a good concealer. It does absolutely everything and often means you don’t need foundation on top. Likewise, invest in a good multi-use cream product that works for your cheeks, lips and eyes.”

Beauty Hacks

“I’ve never been a make-up ‘hack’ artist. That said, there are some good tips on TikTok, even if they’re just for fun. I’ve learnt a lot from that platform on shaping and setting the face with loose powder. Baking doesn’t mean it has to look heavy – it all comes down to the brush or sponge you use.”

Base Favourites

“I love Dior’s Forever Glow Foundation. If you’ve never tried it before, you must. It’s so versatile and you can take it from medium to full coverage quickly while still having a good luminosity. Tom Ford’s Shade & Illuminate is another one of my base favourites. It contains a cream contour and highlighter in one palette that allow you to create a gorgeous glaze on both the face and body – there’s nothing else like it. For concealer, it’s always Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage. If you apply it with a fluffy brush, you get that invisible coverage we all crave.”

Glow-Boosting Tips

“Everyone wants to create a glow-y, soft complexion and the answer to that is a few key products. First, an illuminating base – either a foundation that offers glow or a pearlized primer all over your face. Then move onto cream contour and blush. I like to use my fingertips to apply the blush as the warmth helps to melt the product into the skin and give it a lightly worn-in appearance. Finish with a sheer, powder highlighter – I like this type of formula the most because the soft-focused glow looks realistic. Use an oval-shaped brush to apply it in light, deft motions.”


Career Lessons

“Being keen and willing is half the battle in becoming a good make-up artist. I started my career at a M·A·C counter in 2001 at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. I quickly became a senior artist for the brand and that opened me up to Fashion Week – where I constantly said yes to everything. I did a lot of assisting in those days and most of it for free. You need to know your worth, of course, but you also need to show willing. My career evolved after moving to Hong Kong where I was the director of make-up artistry for Asia Pacific with M·A·C. Once I returned, I started MYKITCO. alongside my partner Alex, as I noticed a gap in the market for professional tools and accessories made by a professional artist. It’s all about seeing where your expertise can set you – and your brand – apart.”

Social Media Importance

“As well as running my own brand, I learnt the importance of social media early on – it’s key if you want to be a make-up artist now. I decided to use my platform to share my artistry and insider knowledge. I love using Instagram to share tutorials, as well as application tips that you can easily replicate at home.”

Takeaway Advice

“Always clean your brushes regularly. A clean brush holds and blends product so much better than a used one – plus, it’s more hygienic. Second, it’s important to develop an understanding of your make-up style – like you do for your clothes. It’s okay to experiment and see what fits. It can take time to figure things out and navigate what feels right for you. It’s important you do, as nothing looks cooler than owning your look and being comfortable with what you’re wearing.”

For more beauty tips & advice, follow @JamesMolloyMakeUpArtist


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