UK’s leading make-up artist Armand Beasley was in Mumbai to host the first edition of Make Up Week. He enthralled the audience with his expertise and charm. Kanishka Ramchandani, our Digital Editor, engaged Armand in an exclusive interview.
When Armand Beasley was invited to host the debut edition of Make Up Week in India, he was thrilled. His passion for his craft and his dedication to his profession made him the perfect host for this one-of-its-kind event. Of course, his stage presence and charming demeanour were other factors that contributed to its success. He ensured that the performing experts were completely at ease while the audience were constantly engaged in learning varied aspects of make-up artistry.
Armand has worked on the British daytime TV shows followed by creating make-up and beauty items involving members of the public. He also created a global TV series for Discovery Home and Health channel. Armand also writes and has been interviewed for various industry publications. He has conducted leading seminars on grooming for the British Airways and also Grooming Front of House staff for the Rocco Forte Group. He has worked extensively at an international scale – from exotic photo shoots to the Oscars. He has a host of celebrities on his client list. Always up for challenges, Armand is an artist par excellence, committed to cruelty-free make-up.
Armand Beasley in conversation with Kanishka Ramchandani…
Kanishka: When the organisers of Make Up Week got in touch with you, what was the brief that they gave you about this event?
Armand: The brief for me about Make Up week was to help create an event that inspires and helps to educate my fellow make-up artists, so we can come together as a community and inspire each other. It’s something that I think is quite unique.
Kanishka: What did you know about the Indian make-up industry before coming here?
Armand: I knew there was a lot of bridal make-up in the Indian industry. For a few years, I had worked with Indian magazines based in the UK, like Asiana Magazine, Asiana Wedding and Asian Brides. But I didn’t really know the level or diversity of make-up artistry here in India till I came here.
Kanishka: Were you aware of the Bollywood influence?
Armand: I think the whole world is aware of Bollywood and its influence. Now more than ever! Bollywood has permeated into western society, too. So it’s become much more mainstream and inspirational I think to all nationalities and all cultures.
Kanishka: So do you have clients back in the UK who wouldn’t mind experimenting in the Bollywood style?
Armand: Well, I have some Indian clients like actress Shobna Gulati, who is a very famous UK-Indian actress. For the red carpet, she fluctuates between western and eastern dresses. She likes to mix it up. And then I have also been to various big events, which have been Bollywood themed. Clients want to dress Bollywood style.
Kanishka: At what point in your career did you feel the need to switch to entirely cruelty free products?
Armand: I think my make-up kit became completely cruelty-free about two years ago. It was largely cruelty-free anyway. But I started being more thorough with my investigation of brands. I used to just trust what some brands would say, but then you have to dig a little deeper. China and its legislation up until recently enforced animal testing of cosmetic products. But that has changed, so that’s great, but I am not sure if its been implemented yet.
Kanishka: What exactly is cruelty free?
Armand: There are brands that test on animals. In the EU, it’s illegal to test on animals for cosmetics. But, when you sell in China, it’s mandatory to test your products on animals. Also, being cruelty free no product will include animal by-products with the exception of collagen. But I think if any artist wants to make sure something is cruelty free, if the look for the leaping bunny icon, which is a cruelty free symbol, that means it’s cruelty free.
Kanishka: When you say it’s not tested on animals, only the end product is not tested or all the ingredients used are also not tested?
Armand: All the ingredients are not tested.
Kanishka: So with that leaping bunny, you can be sure that nothing is tested on animals?
Armand: Yes, absolutely.
Kanishka: During our talk at Make Up Week, you mentioned you don’t use filters on your social media images. Why is that?
Armand: With an exception of a magazine cover or any other kind of magazine work, which will use some sort of photoshop, I don’t use filters. I have even refused a picture because they had done too much photoshop. And I have refused it because it didn’t represent my work. So, I think as an artist you have to be strong in your integrity and honesty and what you believe in.
Kanishka: So, when you upload pictures of your models or clients on social media, you never retouch or filter them?
Armand: No, no filter.
Kanishka: Do you find it restrictive any way ? Does it hinder how you cater to your clients’ demands?
Armand: I have had more clients, since becoming cruelty free. I know a lot about vegan and organic products. There are some celebrities and some clients who are vegan, and hence passionate about cruelty-free make-up. So, it’s a strength. What started as a niche is now becoming very much a strength.
Kanishka: You are always looking for challenges. What’s the next big thing?
Armand: I am working on an organic make-up range. It’s going to be made for pro make-up artists. But obviously to be loved by consumers, too. I want it to be embraced by the pro community. I then want to inspire and pass on the message that you can create useful work, without being detrimental to the skin. So, the range will be certified organic and I am working on making it completely vegan. I just need to look at one particular ingredient, but I am working toward it.
Kanishka: What all can we see the range?
Armand: Well, I am hoping it can be seen by the end of the year, but it’s difficult because I am very particular with the packaging. Because I am conscious of plastic in the ocean and sustainability. The plastic that I am using is bio-plastic, which is compostable. So you could throw it in your garden, and it would dissolve. That’s what I am working on. Whether it’s achievable, I don’t know yet, but I want it to be the greenest kind of packaging possible.
Kanishka: What kind products would be there in this range?
Armand: There will be 13 SKU’s. You will have everything from a foundation and concealer to a sculpting palette. I have a thing about threes. My sculpting palette has three products in it. My eyeshadow is a trio. There will be a mascara, too. We’ll be launching a vegan mascara, and it’s amazing I have to say. I am really really loving my mascara. Then there will be a liquid liner with a very interesting ingredient in it, along with charcoal. It’s going to be very exciting!
Kanishka: How do you intend to market these products?
Armand: I am going to take it to head shows like Cosmoprof. We are going to look at distributors. So I am open to distribution. But I want the ones who distribute the range to be passionate about organic and natural beauty, but also want it to be stylish and sexy. That’s what my range will be.
Kanishka: Have you finalised the name yet?
Armand: It’s my name!
Kanishka: Any plans of getting into make-up academy/education?
Armand: Not at the moment. I sometimes go to colleges and lecture on certain things, but education at the moment is not something that I have time for. I think maybe eventually, it might be an option for me but at the moment, I am too busy in creating my brand. I love the presenting work. I love meeting people. That’s been great for me.
Kanishka: You want to stay in makeup, you don’t want to get into hair?
Armand: No, definitely not hair. But I will still do my acting work as well. So, if Bollywood comes calling (laughs).
Kanishka: Your door will be open.
Armand: Always open.