When making up isn't hard to do

A TV “glamour guru” visited Essex recently to transform tired shoppers into glamorous goddesses. Feature writer Katy Evans went along to sample the star treatment for herself.

A TV “glamour guru” visited Essex recently to transform tired shoppers into glamorous goddesses. Feature writer Katy Evans went along to sample the star treatment for herself.

MAKE-UP bags. Such personal items containing the best, and often worst, kept secrets of women.

Containing products most intimately associated with a woman and her beauty routine, you'd think these colourful creations would be kept in pristine condition. But this is rarely so.

In reality, they often harbouring archaic mascara tubes, leaking tubes of lip gloss, caked-up concealer and eyeshadow compacts held together with elastic bands among stray hair pins and bits of fluff.

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Well, ladies, it's time to take action. To de-clutter and throw away products past their prime. To get out of the make-up rut and treat yourself to some new colours for autumn.

One actor-turned TV beauty presenter is on a mission to revamp and revitalise women's make-up bags countrywide.

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International make-up artist Armand Beasley, who for the past six years has been GMTV's “glamour guru”, has just finished filming his series Fake Over, aired daily on the Discovery Health and Leisure channel.

The ten-minute, to-the-point clips that fill slots between programmes see Armand take to the streets of Norwich and Leeds to pounce on unsuspecting shoppers and offer mini make-overs, as well as rummaging through the contents of their make-up bags to uncover any make-up misdemeanours.

“It's fun and fast paced,” says Armand, who give women quick and easy fixes to update their look.

“People get lost when it comes to make up. Lots of women pick up tips from magazines, which is great on the one hand, but then they buy the products and find they are either too old or too young for them to work. I can offer advice on a more personal level.

“These transformation shows are all well and good - where they do expensive surgery and treatments, but I want to help people who don't want evasive surgery,” says Armand, who is definitely not a fan of Botox. “It's a woman's prerogative to use it if she wants, but I'd rather go for something more natural,” such as the Sisley range he was in Essex to promote just a few days ago, more of which later.

As well as the GMTV slot, Armand has been featured on Sky One, the BBC, and various smaller cable channels. Not bad for an actor who originally took to make up artistry as a filler job to earn some extra cash between castings and acting jobs.

He still acts when he can - the most recent productions being Cutting It in 2004 on BBC One and Emmerdale in 2003 - but finds it's all a question of time.

“This is my day job now and it's so busy. I have no time to go to castings for acting jobs these days,” says the six-footer from Rochdale, whose jet-set lifestyle takes him all over the world.

Armand's make-up career began 13 years ago when “there weren't many male make-up artists around so it was easier to be noticed”.

In 2003 he did make-up for the Oscars and famous faces he has worked on throughout his career so far include Sharon Stone, Jane Seymour, Mylene Klass, Charlie Brooks, Zoe Lucker, Tracy Shaw and even Anne Widdecomb.

Armand also did the make-up for Cutting It and Waterloo Road star Angela Griffin at her wedding, which appeared in OK! magazine a few weeks ago. His work has also featured in the likes of Vogue, Harpers & Queen, The Sunday Times Style magazine, Asian Woman and Marie Claire, among others.

But it's Armand's ability to charm everyone, from A-list celebs to the everyday office worker, that have no doubt helped him to get where he is today.

A few weeks ago, shoppers in Colchester were given the opportunity to benefit from his advice and experience during a visit to Williams & Griffin department store, where women flocked to Sisley counter for one-to-one consultations and guidance on colour and skin-care products.

Despite having been courted by numerous brands eager for his representation, Armand, who is impartial and recommends products from all ranges, was happy to work with Sisley because he himself uses some of the products and believes in the company's ethics.

A huge fan of their Emulsion Ecologique moisturiser, which he uses on a daily basis, Armand also uses the All Day All Year protective lotion which, he says, blocks 90% of all UV rays and protects for longer than other moisturises with sunscreen.

“When it comes to skin care they are unbeatable,” enthuses Armand.

“A lot of research goes into the products and they (Sisley) limit the number of chemicals they put in to keep things as natural as possible.

“For example, they don't make a waterproof mascara because they have yet to find a chemical they feel happy enough to use.”

Another favourite product is the Total Line Reducer, which he got his mother to road test before giving it his endorsement. “The results over nine weeks were incredible,” says Armand, who stresses the importance of using the product religiously day and night to achieve maximum results.

But whether his line-free face is down to good genes inherited from his English mother and Indian father, or the use of Sisley products, the well-spoken 34-year-old is certainly a good spokesperson to have on board and it's no wonder he is in such demand.

A former Yves St Laurent and Givenchy representative, Armand then worked as a personal beauty advisor for House of Fraser before setting up Armand International Ltd in August 2000. It was not long after that GMTV offered the spot of beauty presenter, where the Armand wields mascara wands and applicator pads like a true make-up magician to create superstar looks on everyday women.

But what has been his favourite shoot to date?

“Well, the Oscars was amazing of course, but I'd say the most fun I had was at a shoot yesterday (September 12) with Shobna Gulati (from Where the Heart Is, Coronation Street and Dinner Ladies) because of the transformation. It really exceeded my expectations and Shobna was thrilled.”

Armand is clearly passionate about his new-found career as beauty consultant to the stars as well as mere mortals.

“The best thing is the variety. Each day is completely different. The benefits are enhancing women's beauty and seeing the confidence boost it can give.

“I did one lady a few weeks ago and she nearly started crying. It was clear she had low self esteem and it made her feel good about herself - that's the most important thing,” says Armand.

“It's not exactly rocket science, this business, but if I can just pass on information to help people feel good about themselves, then it's a good job really, isn't it,” he asks, rhetorically.

And who can argue with that.

For those who missed out on Armand's visit to Essex, here are some of the master's top tips for looking after winter skin and what new colours are in for this season.

“Chocolate hues are in. I'm not really a fan of brown eye shadow myself so I blend with pink or gold underneath. Purples are also popular.”

“Eye liner is back again but more of a liquid line effect.”

“Lips are more satin or nude instead of very glossy and bright colours.”

“There's more going on with cheeks to make them look heightened and more pronounced - highlighter and glossing for example.”

“Be aware of air conditioning as it dries out the skin,” says Armand, who recommends placing spider plants around your home and office as these help keep the air fresh and more hydrated, which is better for the skin.

Another product he recommends is the Goodsphere, which ionises the atmosphere and can be used with essential oils - check out www.goodsphere.co.uk

“Definitely use a good SPF, such as Sisley's All Day All Year which offers protection for eight hours,” says Armand. “Although it may not be sunny, UVA rays are still present.”

“Exfoliate twice a week to remove dead skin cells - this moisturiser to work more effectively. Exfoliate lips too, perhaps using an old toothbrush.”

“Look after your hands. Remember they need an SPF too and also exfoliate them once a week.”

“Don't tan. Not only is it not good for your skin but it looks odd in winter for pale people to have a tan.”

Other snippets of advice from the master make-up artist:

“Don't bother with make-up sponges as they are a waste of time and money.” Armand advocates applying foundation, concealer and even light eyeshadow bases with fingertips.

“Don't apply make up straight from its tube to the face as this will spread germs and bacteria. Instead, use make-brushes to apply lipstick and concealer and then wash the brushes after each application.”

“With age, a woman's lip line recedes so one way to counteract this is get a good concealer to act as a base, preferably a light-reflecting one; use lip pencil and then apply long-lasting lipstick, blot, then reapply. Apply gloss just to the centre of the lip as it makes them look fuller.” Armand also recommends sticking to the natural lip line and not going over the edge as this can look too false.

For more mature ladies, Armand suggests using “a little gloss on the cheek bones to create a dewy complexion”.

“For younger skins, keep things fresh by using concealer and just a touch of foundation to areas with any discolouration.”

For more information on Armand Beasley and to sign up for his newsletter, or find out what store he will be visiting next, visit www.armandinternationalltd.com. For information on Sisley cosmetics visit www.sisley-cosmetics.com.

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