Charlotte Tilbury $32
How the celebrated French makeup artist went from mixing pigments for her personal kit to crafting color collections for Estée Lauder.
Written By JAYME CYK
Photography By VIOLET GREY
Makeup By VIOLETTE
Hair By RICARDO DINIS
Styling By LIZ MCCLEAN
Makeup Assistant ANDIE THAM
In this series, VIOLET GREY profiles female beauty entrepreneurs who are considered industry game changers for their individual approach to business. Each one entered the conversation in her own manner and maintained a steady, if not unparalleled, trajectory with her indomitable spirit. Here, we talk to Parisian-makeup-artist-turned-YouTube-star—and mama-to-be—Violette.
Humble, dynamic, and confident. These are easily the perfect adjectives to describe Violette, the French makeup artist known for her unique sense of color and texture (she makes a cobalt blue cat eye or glittery wine-stained lip look like effortless everyday staples). It’s why she’s become a fixture in the beauty world, and why we, at VIOLET GREY, fell in love early on, collaborating on editorial shoots and eventually a video series chronicling her famous on-the-go beauty routines.
Passionate about painting and fashion, Violette never wanted to choose between them, so she studied both at school in Paris. A chance encounter doing a friend’s makeup for a costume party in the early aughts led her to a fateful revelation on how she could fuse the two together. “Instead of taking the traditional route of going to makeup school, I left for New York at 19 and knocked on all the model agency doors, offering my services free of charge,” she says. Her admirable hustle landed Vogue as one of her first clients, and ultimately, an agent. But the momentum was put on pause when her father became ill, bringing her back to Paris. Never one to settle, though, Violette started making calls, including one to the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld. “When she met me she said, you’re a French Vogue girl, and gave me my chance,” she adds. “Once you have the French Vogue approval, you’re accepted by the industry.”
After 10 years building her career in Paris, she moved back to New York in 2015 to make her mark on the American market. Naturally, she did. Violette also began to create a following outside of the industry, seeing the allure of video and launching her YouTube beauty channel, Violette_fr, in 2017. That’s when Estée Lauder called. The team there saw exactly what we did—approachability, a devoted social following (313K and counting), and a distinct artistic vision—and signed her on as Global Beauty Director in charge of new collections.
Whatever I do, it has to be authentic. I believe if you don’t feel the heartbeat of a brand, then there’s no way you can relate to it.
Fast forward to April 2019 and Violette’s world just keeps growing: She’s on her third collection with Estée Lauder, has designed a perfume with clean beauty brand In Fiore, and has relaunched her YouTube channel, making it not just about her and makeup, but also about her closest confidants who can speak to a variety of topics like fashion, food, and wellness. “I always ask questions to the people I trust,” she explains. “For example, the stylist Allison Bornstein is guiding me during my pregnancy, at which time I lost a lot of my hair and needed a revolving wardrobe I could always go back to. I’m always asking her what to do, so why not give her and others the opportunity to express themselves and go straight to the source?”
With everything on her plate, Violette notes that her North Star is going with her gut. “Whatever I do, it has to be authentic,” she says. “I believe if you don’t feel the heartbeat of a brand, then there’s no way you can relate to it.” And with a baby girl on the way, her innate sense of balance is stronger than ever: “I feel like so many women have to choose. I’m at the peak of my career and I’m about to have a baby. I want to have both and I refuse to choose.” Said like a true entrepreneur.
What is the atmosphere of your bedroom?
My bedroom is very peaceful. Everything has to be clean and organized yet cozy. In the morning I like to open the curtains a little bit to wake up with the daylight.
I have the best mattress in the world. It’s made of organic latex and it’s incredible, but it has ruined me—now I can’t sleep in any other bed! Also, we have organic sheets that are from Coyuchi. They are so soft and a complete luxury that I allow myself to splurge on.
Usually around 6:30 a.m.
How many hours of sleep do you require?
I used to get seven hours, but now in these last nine months during my pregnancy, it's much less. I don’t think it’s going to improve that much!
Any bedside beauty essentials?
I have a hand cream on my bedside table, which changes all the time. But one of my favorites is from Aesop. I also have my favorite lip balm from Aveda and a Mustela Anti-Stretch Mark Lotion sitting next to my bed.
Do you drink coffee or tea, eat breakfast?
I’ve had coffee once in my life, and I threw up right away. I hated it. But I’m a fan of tea. Either green tea or white African tea.
Breakfast is definitely a must for me. It’s a moment for myself and a ritual. Waking up, taking my shower, applying my skincare, and then having my breakfast is all very peaceful.
No, usually in the evening.
In Fiore Firmante Elevating Leg Tonic is great for tired legs, a savior in the last few months of pregnancy.
What is your morning skincare regimen?
The first thing I do is use a tongue scraper and brush my teeth because it’s super important that you get rid of all the toxins from the night before.
Also, I never over wash my face. The oils on your skin from the night aren’t bad, so I’ll rinse my face with water and then use the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum. Right now, during my pregnancy, my skin is so matte, so I put the Advanced Night Repair on top of my makeup for some added glow. I also love Augustinus Bader The Cream. It has retinyl palmitate in it, so I’m not using it during pregnancy.
Sometimes I apply the Biologique Recherche Cream when it's drier or my complexion is dull. Also, I’m a fan of the VIP 02 from Biologique Recherche, which you put on top of your cream and it locks in the moisture. They have products that make your skin much more even and fresh.
What makeup products do you use on a daily basis?
Concealer, always. I use it daily. Right now, because I have sleepless nights, I use the Nars Creamy Concealer and it really covers the darkness. When I use foundation, I apply the Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place Foundation because they have my exact shade and it stays on all day. Then I use a pink blush. Currently, I’m using the one from my last collection or my newest, Oh Naturelle. On my eyes, I’ve been using the Tom Ford Eye Kohl Intense. And I love the Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes Mascara. For lips, I’m still into the Violette x Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy in Diabolique. That’s my go-to makeup.
At night, I apply the Aveda Daily Moisturizing Hair Oil or Playa Ritual Hair Oil and braid my hair. The next morning I have waves and beautiful shine. Sometimes I also use a dry shampoo on my bangs.
I lost a lot of hair in my first trimester. My curls disappeared too, but they’ve come back a little since. I hope they come back when the hormones stop, but I’m thankful my hair stopped falling out.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
Right now, I’m reading a book called The First Forty Days. It’s all about how to take care of a new mother after the birth of a child. When you’re pregnant, it’s all about you, but when your child is born, it’s all about him or her. I need to put myself back on track first, especially as an entrepreneur who has to go back to work after a month.
Everything content-related is going to be my priority because my editor is in Paris. When I wake up in the morning, she has a bunch of videos ready for me to review so I can send her notes. Then I go through all my client emails from my two agents and make sure I have an idea of things that I have to work on that day.
My office is in my basement, which is incredibly convenient. After my morning routine, I go straight to there around 8:30 a.m.