We chatted to makeup artist Kat Ali who created Halle Bailey’s Little Mermaid makeup look to find out everything she used on set plus she shares her best waterproof foundation that will be perfect for your summer holiday

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If you have been to see the new Disney live-action version of The Little Mermaid then it can’t have escaped you how amazing Halle Bailey’s Little Mermaid makeup was for the leading part of Ariel. And it was all down to makeup artist, Kat Ali.

We were lucky enough to chat with Ali and take a deeper mermaid dive into how she created the look for the film, how she had to tweak her techniques and products for filming in 40-degree heat in Sardinia as well as in huge water tanks in Pinewood Studios. We also got her to tell us about the products she couldn’t live without on set, the product she thinks everyone should have in their own makeup bag as well as picking her professional makeup artist's brains into what tips and tricks she used on set that us two-legged humans can also find valuable.

Had you done Halle's makeup before or was this your first time working together?

"We had never met before we started working together on The Little Mermaid. I was asked by Peter Swords King (the lead makeup designer on the whole film) to come in for an interview and then about a week later Halle and I met to chat and try some makeup out and were totally on the same page with our ideas for her look."

Were you given a makeup brief or were you and Halle allowed to collaborate?

"I was asked by Peter to keep Ariel's look natural and beautiful. As the youngest of the mermaid sisters, she needed to have a youthful and ethereal feel. Halle and I spoke about our ideas and she said what she liked and we went from there. The look did evolve through the film with little changes here and there depending on what we were shooting but in a very subtle way so as to keep her look consistent."

Were there any challenges with the makeup and how the film was shot?

"There were a lot of underwater scenes both at Pinewood Studios in the tank and also in Sardinia where we were shooting on location, which meant I needed to come up with some waterproof alternatives to some of the products I was using that were powder based. Tom Ford kindly sent me some waterproof foundations - Tom Ford Traceless Soft Matte Foundation, £66  - which I used only in the areas needed. I also used some more emollient eyeshadows and creams which aren’t affected by water. we also had wind, wave and rain effects so they had to be quite durable."

Was there a product you had to keep stocking up on?

"When shooting in Sardinia it was very hot with very little shade so Kate Somerville's Uncomplikated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray, £36 was an absolute godsend. I could just quickly spray it over Halle's face. It needed no setting time and didn't look greasy so we were just ready to shoot! I think it will now forever be part of my kit."

What was the most affordable product you had in your kit?

"Not a product more of a tool, but the Barry M Pencil Sharpener, £3.49 was indispensable. Halle had a subtle but defined lip line throughout so I was constantly sharpening and this never let me down!"

And the most expensive?

"I used the Tom Ford Eye Color Quad in Suspicion, £70 was probably my most expensive makeup purchase but as it was the main product I used on Halle’s eyes it was definitely worth every penny!"

Tell us the five products you used most on Halle in the film.

Tom Ford Eye Color Quad in Suspicion, £70 - “I used a mixture of the top right and bottom left shades all over the lid. I then used the top left colour as a spotlight in the centre of the eye and the bottom right shade to create definition on the outer corners.”

Milk Makeup Mini Lip + Cheek in Quickie, £22 - Ali used this as the main flush of colour on Bailey’s cheeks.

Mac Lip Pencil in Cork, £17 is the pencil that Ali used throughout the film.

Chanel Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour in Rouge Angélique, £35 - is what was teamed with the Mac lip pencil.

Kate Somerville's Uncomplikated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray, £36

What are 3 products you think everyone should have in their makeup bags?

  • "SPF is very important even in the winter, always go for a high factor for the face and remember to re-apply."
  • "I’m absolutely loving the new Victoria Beckham Cheeky Posh Cream Blush Stick, £36. It's compact, super easy to apply and then blend with fingers. Also great to dab on the lips too for a natural flush."
  • "Everyone should own at least one red lipstick. My favourite at the moment is Gucci Rouge À Lèvres Matte Lipstick in 509 Janie Scarlet, £37. It has a lovely matte texture, great colour pay off and stays put."