Ruby Hammer Reveals Her Top Rules

After more than 25 years in the beauty industry, Ruby Hammer MBE is one of the best-known and most respected make-up artists in the UK. She is known for her impressive clientele, successful business partnerships and pioneering influence on both fashion and beauty. Here, she shares the key lessons she has learnt - both in beauty and business - and explains why a good skincare regime is always paramount…

What I've Learnt In Beauty...

Blend, blend and blend again. This was probably the best beauty advice I was ever given. It sounds obvious now, but it’s always stuck with me and made a real difference to the way I did both my own and my clients’ make-up. When you don’t blend or buff, you end up with uneven coverage that won’t last as long. It’s partly what inspired me to create my new Magnetic Brush Set. I wanted something I could keep in my bag, on my desk, or take with me when I am travelling to ensure everything looked even and refined, even when on the go. Tools and sponges are the best way to get well-blended coverage that’s natural and youthful.

Skincare is more important than anything else. If I were on a desert island and could only take one thing it would be skincare. I don’t care about lots of make-up; I’ve learnt the importance of moisturised and healthy skin, and that can only be created with a good regime. If you’re going to invest time and money in skincare, make sure your face is properly clean first – otherwise you can’t hydrate or nourish it properly. I recommend investing in balms for a deep, thorough cleanse, plus they are far speedier to use thanks to their melting texture. 

Good skin prep will always be the secret to flawless make-up. I still get asked how to get a beautifully even canvas, and my answer is always the same: skincare and prep. Good tools and products that are appropriate for you are also key, as is good lighting and taking your time. Being confident will carry off any look, so know yourself and don’t be scared to try out new things – it is just make-up after all. 

Four products are all anyone needs. A good concealer, mascara, blush and eyeshadow are essential and, in my opinion, all anyone really needs if on a budget. You can often cheat the effect of anything else: for example, using your eyeshadow (sticks or a palette) as a highlighter; or your blush as a lip stain or on cheeks – or even on your eyelids. Don’t be afraid to play with these different textures and mix things up as to where you place them on your face.

Good skin prep will always be the secret to flawless make-up.

Multipurpose buys are essential to any kit. You might have gathered this from my point above, but I recommend everyone keeps a dual-purpose skincare product nearby. My favourite is Egyptian Magic’s cream. It works on dry lips, ragged cuticles, heels, elbows and literally anything else that needs a skin-softening boost. In hindsight, maybe that would be my desert-island product! 

Bad lighting or no light is an absolute no-no. I still hate seeing people apply their make-up in a bad light – or doing it myself! It’s a sure-fire route to bad make-up that looks completely different in tone and texture when you reach daylight. Get out of your bathroom or go to your nearest window, if you don’t have any good lights nearby. 

The importance of nailing the basics should never be taken for granted. Just perfecting the simple things will make you so much more confident with make-up. When I started out, I learnt things like applying mascara properly and how to blend two or three shades of eyeshadow. It sounds so simple, but in the long-run it’s key for day to day and allows you to become braver with other steps. I didn’t use to wear any foundation or concealer in my youth, so for me it’s always been about perfecting the lips and eyes – especially the latter, which are the first thing people tend to notice anyway. 

Department stores are vital for allowing you to see what suits you. There’s so much online now, but I can’t recommend the importance of seeing and feeling products first hand enough. I love visiting stores like Space NK and Boots, both of which have a huge offering, and when I am in the US, Sephora is a no-brainer for all the essentials – niche offerings as well as your regular basics. If you shop online, Cult Beauty is my favourite for a really curated edit that’s been put through thorough testing, so you know you’re getting the very best. 

Time for yourself should never be forgotten. I feel my most beautiful when I get to exercise and it’s important not to neglect some time out because of workload. I love doing HIIT training, and try to do a mixture of boxing, weights and cardio in the week. It’s an effort, especially when things are busy, but the rewards far outweigh the effort for me – it’s the best feeling. 

What I've Learnt In Business...

It’s important to take inspiration from everyone you can. I admire lots of different people throughout the industry and they’ve all had a huge impact on me – some for being great creative artists, some for their business acumen and some for just being very inspirational. A few names that stand out are Pat McGrath, Marcia Kilgore, Rihanna, Bobbi Brown and Trish McEvoy. 

Teamwork is vital for progression and motivation. Working as a team and appreciating everyone individually is by far the nicest way to get the best out of everyone. My recent beauty launches have taught me that, and I’ve received so much love and support, which hopefully is because I have offered it too, over the years. Another lesson is not to take things too personally: it is great to keep a smile and good balance, and not add to any drama when it isn’t needed. 

But never let anyone compromise your standards or ethics. I have learnt to maintain my integrity and compassion all throughout my career. I try to work fast so I can start again if things don’t work out without causing delays. Plus, I’ve come to know the importance of never, ever skipping a good prep – be it for interviews, a new venture or anything that requires knowledge – and beauty always does. My final rule is to do your research and take care of yourself and others – it will serve you well, I promise. 

Ruby Hammer’s new capsule beauty collection is out now. Visit

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