Top makeup artist Caroline reveals the biggest lessons she’s learned about work and life, makeup and beauty over her amazing 20 year career

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With a career spanning over two decades, Caroline Barnes’ incredible portfolio of work, countless campaigns and A-lister clientele has cemented her status as one of the UK’s leading makeup authorities.

From front covers to Fashion Week, beauty branding to Instagram makeup tutorials, she’s one of our go-to experts when it comes to learning how to translate looks from red carpet to reality, high end to high street. But what are the key life lessons that Caroline herself has learned over the years? We caught up with her to talk all things makeup and beauty, work and career advice.

The best things I’ve learned about...


That it’s braver to try. I read a book years ago called ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ which essentially asked - what have you got to lose? It’s much better to say that we’ve tried, then to never have bothered at all. If we don’t make mistakes, we’ll never learn and every time we do fail, we can just turn it around and say that we’ll never do it again. You have to put a silver lining on things, otherwise life’s just really tough.

Switching off

To be honest, this is my biggest struggle - I don’t have an ‘off’ button! I am conscious though that I do need to take time for myself. I strive for busyness though, but just have to be cautious of burnout.


This industry has taught me many tips and tricks on how to do it as gracefully as possible. The core though comes from within. I work in a very young industry with incredibly beautiful women and have had to look at myself in front of a makeup mirror every day for the past 20 years(!). I’ve found though, it’s been really important to accept that getting older is going to happen to all of us - negativity is the ugliest attribute we can have. Beauty is about confidence and learning to love yourself no matter what age you are. It’s also about the energy surrounding someone - it isn’t just a physical thing. I’m drawn to people who make me feel good and have a beautiful aura around them. That never fades, lines or ages and that’s what beauty is for me.


Makeup acted as a suit of armour for me when I was about 15. I had terrible acne on my face and body and makeup gave me the ability to go out and face the world. It gave me confidence. My experiences have really helped me understand women who have insecurities about themselves and use makeup as a mask as a result. We’re so fortunate as women to be able to use makeup to boost our confidence as without my suit of armour, I would have felt so exposed and would never have gone out.

MORE GLOSS: Read Caroline’s top foundation makeup tips in our ‘The Ultimate Guide to Foundation for Darker Skin Tones’ e-guide


That I’m rich anyway! Money is of no value to me, but I feel rich every day because of my beautiful family and amazing friends. If I can pay my bills, I’m fine. I feel very satisfied with what I have.


That you always have to keep an open mind when you meet someone new and that actions always speak louder than words.

Hiring staff

I’m not very practiced at this as I don’t have many staff other than an assistant. I’m a natural worrier and so I’d be useless at having staff as I would always be concerned about their wellbeing over mine. It’s not the best of my skills!

MORE GLOSS: 5 things you need to know about going self-employed

Confidence at work

To know what you’re good at, be proud at what you’re good at and be brave enough to compliment someone who is better than you. It takes a lot of courage to do that. We’re all in the same industry, so it’s all about being a team player. We can celebrate that we all have a passion for the same thing. We can’t control who gets these jobs, but can just keep doing our best and then see what happens.

A working wardrobe

I’m a tomboy - always have been - so I’m really happy in a pair of boots, a buttoned up shirt and jeans or trousers. That’s me. If I dress too ‘ladylike,’ it doesn’t sit well with me. I have a curvy shape, but I prefer to have more of a tomboy style as that’s what I am inside.


I’d describe my method as, ‘very efficient chaotic chaos!’ It always feels like I’m spinning plates. I’m a bit of a whirlwind, but I suppose that's just who I am. I get it all done, but just in an unconventional way!

The digital age

I’m currently dipping my toe into the Instagram world. The best thing is being able to communicate about beauty and makeup with people I would never usually meet. It increases your circles of communication worldwide - it’s a wonderful thing. Having been a makeup artist for 20 years, it’s been lovely to experience the transition from working in studios with Polaroid film to the instant throwaway images we have today and to be able to appreciate both.

Follow Caroline on Instagram and check out her Speed Beauty Pro videos at  @carolinebarnesmakeup .

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