Beauty industry icon Val Garland never actually planned to become a makeup artist, which seems incredible given her global success, trend-setting prowess and league of fans - she has 293k Instagram followers tagging along backstage to fashion shows, product launches and now the big reveal of Validated , a hardback feast for the eyes of her decades’ worth of work of the world’s most famous faces. Despite the legacy, however, the L’Oréal Paris’ Global Makeup Artist Director reveals at the very beginning of the book that a lack of self-belief made her underestimate her career potential and as a result she wants you to know that, while imposter syndrome can be pervasive, it can be overcome:
“Becoming a makeup artist was something that just happened. I always thought I was not good enough, not worthy of such accolades. This is my journey. If I can do it, so can you.”
Whether you’re a makeup artist in the making, are craving some cosmetic or career inspiration or simply want to know why you might find a potato in her kit (seriously), read on…
‘Raw’ is more
At the Validated book launch, Val told us that she reckoned that the current concentration on flawlessly filtered “Instagram” makeup is dumbing down individuality - raw makeup is infinitely cooler, and while there’s a backlash against all things perfect, so-called “no makeup makeup” actually takes balls. Val is particularly famous for creating ‘real’ skin that sets off more avant-garde flourishes or stands out on its own, and with the book divided into chapters defining Val’s key looks, starting with the ‘base’ makes sense, but minimalism can be more daring than ‘out there’ makeup looks, as is explained in the opening section:
“These are makeup looks that require a sense of confidence in the wearer, as ‘raw’ is often about the beauty of baring more as opposed to hiding away any imperfections. Exposure is not always easy in a world so obsessed with artifice.”
Val’s work demonstrates that there’s power in showing your true self and getting a feel for your real skin without the airbrushing apps. That’s not to say, however, that you need ditch makeup - stick with the staples you really love, as a certain Kate Moss does...
Kate Moss loves mascara
In the first pages of the book a quote from Kate Moss reveals that she once begged to wear mascara at an Alexander McQueen show, and despite it not being in the look, Lee McQueen eventually caved in, and Val got in there with her wand. Speaking at the Validated launch, Val highlighted that, despite it being a high fashion tendency to skip mascara, everyone wears it and loves it in the real world, Moss clearly included. If there’s a desert island product the world over, it’s this.
You don’t need a step-by-step makeup routine
In fact, getting out a rut is where the makeup magic happens, even if it’s not “perfect”, as Val emphasises:
“I don’t like conforming and I hate routine. I have routine in everything. I like movement, I like changing it up, I like doing it wrong. Sometimes making a mistake can make the picture.”
Basically, if you’ve not painted on an impeccably crisp liner wing this morning, no worries, you’re actually rocking a great look in itself right there. Just take it from a pro.
Playing in your own lane pays off
In a similar vein to wearing wonky liner, not worrying about what others’ think, or quitting fretting about following trends, can result in the best makeup looks of all, as stylist and friend of Val’s Katy England affirms:
“She really likes to play. And I think perhaps the difference with Val is she’ll really go for it without fear, A lot of people are fearful, like, “oh, you know that’s not very trendy right now, Oh, nobody’s doing lips right now so we’re not gonna do lips.” She’s like, “F*ck it!”. She’s very brave.”
Embrace constructive criticism
Val had plenty of it coming her way from Alexander McQueen especially but she turned into a positive and let it better her work along the way, as she reveals:
“Sometimes you’d rehearse with your team and everyone would have it sort of pitch-perfect, and then the night before the show you’d get a phone call: “Lee doesn’t like it. He wants to change it.” So you might often have to change everything at the last minute, but that was just part of the excitement.”
Next time you get critiqued by your boss, pull a Val.
Blue Peter is a big influence
Ah yes, the potato. Val is nothing if not resourceful and you’ll spot her “Blue Peter” bag backstage at every show. What’s inside said bag at any given time can’t be predicted, but she’s used everything from cake icing to create golden brows to feathers to apply makeup and even elastic bands to lift cheeks to create a parody of ‘Botox-ed’ beauty. The potato, incidentally, was used on Beth Ditto to create different sized stamps of paint across her face and body for a shoot. If she’s not had her Blue Peter badge in the post yet, it’s long overdue.
Validated: The Makeup of Val Garland, £22.75, buy now