Style Beauty

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Make-up artist Kate O'Reilly talks all things make-up

Make-up artist Kate O'Reilly
Make-up artist Kate O'Reilly

Sinead Van Kampen

Kate O'Reilly trained for three years as a make-up artist with Mac cosmetics. She now works as a freelance artist and styles shoots for magazines and make-up editorials as well as holding regular make-up master classes. Here she shares her passion for all things cosmetics and her dislike of zealous advertising.

Morning routine?

It takes me about an hour to get ready in the morning, including shower, blow drying my hair and doing my make-up. I'd say thirty mins of that is make-up.

I like to keep it quiet natural, but well groomed. When I look in the mirror my personal peeves are blemishes, under eye circles and my barely there eyebrows.. eyes and lips change depending on my mood!

First memories of make-up?

I got a kit from Santa one year, I'd say I was about three-years-old and with the idea being to keep me away from my Mam's stash.

My Nanny (very graciously now I think about it ) let me do her face... blue eyeshadow up to the brows and a sprawl of pink lipstick, lovely. I've also been told I used to talk with a lisp around this age too because I was pushing my lips out to minimise the damage to my lipstick... I've always been obsessed.

First product?

I used to love Miss Selfridge Make-up but my best memory is when my Mam brought some MAC makeup home from America. It was before the MAC counter had opened up in Brown Thomas, I'd never even heard of it but my Mam knew I'd love it.

She got me quarry eyeshadow and spice lip pencil, and I wore them to school that week. My PE teacher wasn't impressed, but my music teacher disagreed and came to the conclusion I looked very sophisticated.

Luckily there were no rules about make-up in my school so if anyones to blame it's them.

What's your top tip?

Melanie Morris, editor of Image magazine once said "birds don't fly backwards"... I thought that was great advice... you must always move forward, onwards and upwards!

Do you leave the house without make-up?

I used to sometimes go with out make-up on days off but I would always end up feeling bad about myself. I've stopped doing that now. I always like to look fresh and natural anyway, so my daily routine suits even the most casual days.

In the bag and on the wish-list?

I just got a jar of "Dream Matte Moose" by Maybeline, its pretty good especially for my oily skin, and 2000 calorie mascara from Max Factor.

I love MAC products and find it hard to break away from their stuff, its just so good! Face's in Arnotts are great and a little known brand, I love their primer and lipglosses. On my wish list at the moment is some yummy Chanel lipglosses, Bobbi Brown's new pen concealer and some Laura Mercier eyeshadows.

What's the most you've ever spent on a product and why did you buy it?

Laura Mercier eyeshadows that cost about €40, I bought a black shadow for my kit. Its so soft and blendable and also one of the darkest black eyeshadows I've ever used ... but then it broke when I was working which was a nightmare.

Obviously, as I'm a stylist I lug around a fair bit of kit so the my case at €250 is the largest purchase. It's made by a company called Zuca I absolutely know I couldn't live without it.

Do you tend to go for bargain buys or are you swayed by the adverts?

I'm never swayed by adverts. I hate those fake mascara commercials. Even beauty write ups in magazines and blogs rarely sway me. There are new products that will come along and change the whole landscape of makeup, but they're not released every week.

I think the key is technique rather than technology and it's not really how much you spend. You can get twenty different looks with one black eyeliner. I read an article recently asking why ELLE magazine's list of 'must have' products have hardly changed in the past 10 years and the conclusion is that there's no holy grail when it comes to make-up. Don't change your products just because the adverts tell you to, adapt the ones you have because a lot of it can't be beaten.

As for bargain hunting, if a cheaper brand works for you then I don't see the problem with using it. As a professional I use more expensive products for wedding assignments because the look stays for longer, and for photo-shoots I'll use products with a stronger pigment. For a night out or everyday wear I'll use Maybeline foundation and Max factor mascara.

Where do you shop for a beauty fix?

I'm ridiculously loyal to MAC and they never let me down. is an amazing resource for makeup artists.

Face's in Arnotts give amazing customer service and they always have a seat free for a makeover.

Is there a trend you would like to see come back in fashion?

Things never go out of fashion for me. I love past eras and I always have some old movie star or model in my mind when I'm creating a look.

I prefer to keep changing and growing my work so I don't get stuck in a rut but if I really love a look that isn't in fashion anymore, I'll just reinvent it.

If you could snoop in anyones make -up bag, who would it be and why?

Charlotte Tilbury and Gucci Westman are my favorite make-up artists and I would love to know what they use. I also love Kabuki, he's an unbelieveably creative artist, he uses so much colour and texture. I'd say his make-up kit is like Francis Bacon's studio.

Can you tell us what product, secret or beauty tip that you couldn't live without?

I can't live without MAC cleanse off oil. You massage it into your face and it disolves everything, even waterproof mascara. Then, once you look like you've had an oil spill on your face, you rinse it off. I know that Cheryl Cole uses it too.

And my secret is to not take make-up too seriously. People always ask me if they are doing things wrong or using the wrong products. Its true that some people have the wrong colour foundation or pluck their eyebrows too much... but get a bit of professional advice and then just have fun with it.

My beauty tip would be to let your eyebrows grow and then get them threaded.

When you look at the red carpet looks or the celebs who look good again and again its always threaded eyebrows. It makes a real difference. Over-plucked eyebrows are so 1990s, and not in that good NuRave kinda way. Neelu's salon in Dun Laoghaire is said to be the best in Ireland for threading.

For more information on Kate visit her website

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