behind the look

Naomi Lake

Creative Makeup Artist Extraordinaire

Dr.Lipp talks to the gorgeous Naomi Lake about all things beauty, best makeup advice and so much more! We are just OBSESSED with everything she does!

Can you tell us about the chosen look? What was the inspiration for it?

I’m not good at taking time off, my work is my passion, my hobby… an all consuming event in my life. In times like these, working out how that looks going forward for the foreseeable has been a strange one, as my job is in essence so social.

On my days off from client lead shoots I try to collaborate with people in the industry around me as much as I can. This shot here was from one of those days. Sometimes I’ll reach out to people I don’t know but whose work I love, or sometimes it will be with friends I work with regularly, like Egle (the photographer here). She’s a great friend of mine and a great solace to my soul when I feel the need to create. My friend and amazing assistant Amy was visiting me and was on set too, it was an all female team. In a fabulously weird way, working is how I relax, but it’s on shoots like this – without a client brief – that I really get to play and let myself unwind. So I guess the inspiration was more conceptual, around female strength and connection. The end result was regal, strong, but super feminine.

What products did you use to create the look? Any tips for anyone at home wanting to recreate a similar look?

I love to play with textures in my work, in part of this set I used an original Ciate London nail product on the lip to create a velvet lip (from their velvet manicure)… Another had a Violent Eyes tattoo.

Skin prep is just as important as the finishing flourish of anything creative in your look. Here I used ByBi – Supercharge Serum for an all-in-one hydration. Never forget the eyes, especially if you’re shooting all day, Embryolisse – Anti-aging Smoothing Eye Contour is perfect as it gives long-lasting hydration and a cooling effect to the eye area.

All of the images all had a running theme of glossy features, for which I always use Dr.Lipp. It’s the perfect texture to add a gorgeous glossy look to features, be that lips, cheekbones, brows, collar bones… When gently patted on with a finger it doesn’t upset the makeup beneath and its long-lasting. Another amazing bonus is that being a balm texture, it doesn’t move about. It makes it safe to use creatively on the upper eye for glossy lids for a shot, whilst also staying comfortable for a model, before you need to remove it.

What would you say your signature beauty look is?

Signature looks include skin-focussed beauty, an overall avoidance of powder, fluffy brows, glossy features and diffused colour!

When I first started working as a makeup artist, brows were plucked and overlooked, skin was all-matte-everything and photoshop was rife. It’s amazing seeing how trends have evolved, how knowledge is widely shared and real-life beauty is celebrated. A lot of my work falls in commercial sports shoots, so perfected yet natural looking skin is key, which I really enjoy. I love seeing natural glowing skin after being asked to matte-down EVERYTHING for so many years – as much as it’s a trend these days, it’s also been a small rebellion in my personal style wherever I can squeeze it in for a while now!

When it comes to colour I really love to be let loose, unexpected pops and highlights, quirky placement and deconstructed blending. You will never see a cut crease and very rarely a smokey eye with a wing in my work. I really admire artists who create these styles but in my mind I can’t compute colouring within the lines in this way, if I’m ever creating styles like this I’m never really happy with the end result. I much prefer to be wild and free and smudgy!

May 2020

I love multi-use products and Dr.Lipp is the original. From hydrating lips to grooming brows, priming dry areas, glossing highlights, soothing skin, smoothing stray hairs, mixing products, adhering glitter or pigment… There isn't much Dr.Lipp can’t do. I especially love the tinted balm for enhancing colour wherever you choose to pop it

May 2020

Do you use cruelty-free beauty products in your kit? Why?

I absolutely do use cruelty free beauty within my kit and I’m so happy to say it’s now so much easier to do so than when I started out 10 years ago! I’m vegan in my lifestyle and a lot of my kit is now too, but first I’m working towards a full cruelty-free kit whilst phasing out existing products. As long as everything has that leaping bunny – I’ll be happy! It boggles the mind that it’s taken so long and that brands haven’t taken the initiative and moral standpoint sooner.

What can we all do to be a little bit more green or ethical as a make-up artist?

When it comes to moving towards a different focus with your kit, I have phased out as much as I can from resident products in my kit without being wasteful. This basically involves running through products until they are done, not repurchasing, or giving unused products to my assistants when they are building their own kits. When I was first working it was a very welcome part of working for a brand or assisting artists, fashion week too and it’s something I’ve wanted to continue paying forward myself.

Hygiene vs reduction of disposables is a big one – but luckily brands are becoming more forward thinking on that too. I have bamboo rounds and Face Halo to use instead of cotton pads. I don’t use face wipes in my kit. Plastic free biodegradable cotton buds are great. I have silicone mascara spoolies that I can deep clean and sanitise rather than single use. I love that brands are thinking more about their packaging too. I can’t wait to see more metal refill containers or paper-backed palettes like Miild Makeup!

What would you be doing if you were not a makeup artist?

Honestly, I have no idea! I used to work in the civil service a lifetime ago, before that, food-service after quitting a degree after my first year. I hated all of it and every day going to work was a drag. If there is one piece of life advice I can offer, it’s don’t settle for doing something you don’t enjoy. Life is far too short. Don’t straight up quit though, turn it into a positive to provide a stepping stone. The job I despised became more tolerable when I was using it to support myself whilst studying an evening course in makeup, as I couldn’t afford to go to university for a re-do. It was the best feeling in the world when I handed in my notice to work full time on a counter. And an even better feeling when I left retail (Mac, Smashbox, Shu Uemura, Bobbi Brown) to work full time freelance. Everything takes time, if you want to do it with a support network you’ve built behind you. But as to what else I would do?! It would have to be something creative and something in beauty, maybe work in development for a brand or their creative, or training? Maybe my own brand day? Who knows!

What items should everyone have in their kit?

Your tools are your trade, without them you’ve got your hands tied behind you back. I can go into any situation, be it fashion week with a makeup sponsor, a brand shoot using their own products – anywhere I’m using products I may not be familiar with… so long as I have my brushes. Working a shoot where they wanted me to use the brands own brushes on camera… Now that was a fun one! Some of my babies are over 10 years old, some you can’t see the product number of any more, some are no longer in production, some I’ve even noticed have curved to my hand over the years. With a good set of brushes, looked after with care, you can achieve the world.

Who is your dream client?

Wow this is another tough one. Each year I set out a game plan for the way I would like my business to flow over the year. I look at areas I want to move into, individuals or clients I would like to work with. I look back at my diary for the previous year to work out times that were quieter and either plan how to get those times busier or use that time to take a break myself and take a holiday. It’s a really important part of managing being freelance without stressing yourself out to have a plan for your year. I suppose my dream client this year would be to work on a campaign for a skincare or beauty brand I love in my kit, like Pur Cosmetics, Ciate London or Bybi Beauty. Or maybe a collaboration with a brand – that would be a dream! What do you think, Dr.Lipp?!

Do you have any career highlights so far?

I do love an away job. My first was on a 85m superyacht for a week, shooting around the French Riviera – and we were able to stay on the yacht! It was something really special. One of my clients took me to Norway to shoot last summer, which was a bucket list travel spot for me. It was an amazing team and such a beautiful place. I didn’t want to come home! Just after returning from Norway, Nike called and asked me to go to Paris, Istanbul and Johannesburg in the space of 3 weeks. It was for a series they were shooting on women who had made an impact on their communities through dance. I just about made it off the call before I burst into tears and cried with happiness, I was so honored to have been asked. Then seeing the new Air Force 1’s we shot on someone on the Tube not long after, I couldn’t contain my excitement!

What is a day in the life like for you?

Every single day is different and can change on at a minute’s notice! I shoot a lot on location and outside for the fitness side of my work, those days may move around because of the weather. I always keep my kit and an overnight bag ready to go at short notice. On days I’m shooting it may be an early start with a journey to get somewhere. I’m very used to not wearing much makeup myself and I’m a big fan of podcasts – I find this helps! Long days aren’t unusual, but the team keeps you going. I couldn’t do a 14 hour day or an overnight in an office – but on-set it’s really different! On days I’m not on-set it will be catching up on admin and emails, social media, planning for upcoming work, playing with new products, or like I said earlier – working on personal projects! I’m a big fan of yoga and running to properly wind down and it also really helps with the symptoms of ‘makeup-artist-back’.

What is the best piece of beauty advice you ever received and what is the best piece you could give?

The best piece of advice I ever received was: ‘You’re never at the top of your game.’ Anytime you feel like this you’re getting stagnant. Push forward and never get complacent.

The best piece of advice I can offer: ‘Test as often as you can.’ Collaboration is a beautiful way to build friendships, networks, contacts and a big beautiful body of work. I never want to stop testing (collaborating on unpaid projects) because it’s a safe space to play, learn and create. As an artist whose creation relies on working with others (with models, photographers, stylists), how could I ever want to stop collaborating?

You can find me on social @naomilakemua @behindthemakeup

May 2020