Look Good

North East make-up artists on their beauty kit heroes

Ever wondered which products MUAs buy on repeat? We’ve got the inside scoop…

Written by High Life North
Published 21.08.2020

With so many beauty products on the shelves and even more available online, it can be hard to know what to spend your hard-earned cash on.

Pro make-up artists are experts at their craft, trying and testing products on a number of skin types and tones every day — and they’re often the first to discover the newest products. We wanted to take a leaf out of their book, and ask them what they use to create striking looks that build confidence, look flawless in photos and last all day and night. Luckily, nine top North East MUA’s have agreed to let HLN peek in their kit, tell us about the products they purchase again and again, and even what makes it into their own makeup bags. Wondering what to shop? Let’s learn from the professionals…

Amy Robson Harbottle


Amy Robson Harbottle is a bridal, occasion and editorial make-up artist covering the North East area. Her work has been published in a number of high-profile magazines, and in her spare time, she enjoys sharing her favourite beauty products on her blog, Amy’s Chapter. Amy loves that her job allows her to get creative with makeup, meet new people and research all things beauty to her heart’s content.

I learnt early on in my career that skin prep is just as important as the makeup itself. If the skin is well-prepped makeup will apply better and last longer — that’s why I’m never without this product in my kit. Embryolisse is a French dermo-cosmetic brand, their products are gentle but effective and make the perfect base for makeup. I first discovered Embryolisee Lait-Creme concentrate when I was training to be a makeup artist. At the time, it wasn’t as readily available as it is now and could only be bought from Makeup Artistry stores such as Guru Makeup Emporium in the UK. It’s a wonderfully hydrating cream, rich in natural moisturising factors and fatty acids, so it’s ideal for providing an instant hit of moisture. It leaves even the driest skin feeling soothed and hydrated. I tend to use this for clients with a normal to dry skin type or for when I’m prepping the skin for a really glossy look. For anyone with an oily/oily-combination skin, I favour the Embryolisse Hydra-Matte emulsion. This has all the wonderful hydrating ingredients of the original heavier cream but in a light-weight, gel texture which leaves a matte finish to the skin. I’ve gone through many a tube of this for my own skin too!

When it comes to fixing makeup in place, despite there being many setting sprays on the market, my most reached for product is definitely the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. There’s a reason this spray is cult – it really does add longevity to any look, holding makeup in place without leaving a heavy film on the skin. My top tips for lasting makeup is to apply products in thin layers, as over-applying allows the makeup to move. Set the face with a light layer of powder before spritzing this setting spray in a criss-cross motion over the face, safe in the knowledge your look will last.

Photographer: Charlotte Summers
Model: Deeann Shotton Agency Jadore Models Manchester 


Find Out More

Embryolisse Hydra Mat Emulsion (40ml) - £25.49

Find Out More

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray 30ml - £12.00

Find Out More

Louise Brownlees


Louise Brownlees is a bridal, occasion and editorial make-up artist. She works out of her home studio based in Washington, as well as travelling all over the North East for weddings and events. Her work has featured online at British Vogue, on high-profile cover shoots and in top fashion editorials. Louise’s passion is making women feel beautiful and confident in their own skin.

My go-to base product for both my clients and editorial shoots is NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation. It’s buildable but lightweight and as the name suggests, it’s wonderfully long-wearing — perfect for bridal make-up. It offers great coverage and works for all skin types, plus I love how diverse the range is. With 34 shades available, there’s a perfect match for everyone. The unique formula is also infused with raspberry, apple and watermelon extracts so your skin gets some TLC too. NARS foundation is at the medium to high-end price point at £35, but a little goes a long way. You could use it every day, or save it for those occasions where you want to look extra flawless.

My second pick is a must for every handbag, it’s super affordable and even though it’s by a drugstore brand, the quality is exceptionally high. I use L’Oreal Infallible More Than Concealer on all my clients, and they always comment on the impressive results. The concealer is available in 25 shades, retails for just £9.99 and is easy to find in most UK supermarkets and chemists. I love its staying power and consistency, and it covers imperfections and dark circles without leaving a cakey finish. I use a fluffy concealer brush to apply it under the eyes which means it glides on and diffuses beautifully. With a soft matte finish, this can even be worn alone on foundation-free days as it helps to balance uneven skin tone. It is easily comparable to high-end, designer concealers that are three times the price.


Find Out More


Find Out More

Melanie Hedley


Melanie is an award-winning freelance make-up artist covering Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead and the surrounding areas. She specialises in bridal, photographic and occasion make-up, with over twenty years’ experience in the industry. She has a wealth of knowledge working across the television, fashion, cosmetic and bridal industries.

Choosing which product to set your make up with can feel like a daunting process. One of my all-time favourite powders in my kit is Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Powder. It’s a real must-have for every makeup bag and its amazing benefits are endless. So why is this powder the one you should have on your shopping list? It sets makeup for 12 hours without adding weight or texture, has a 12-hour matte finish and is suitable for a wide range of skin tones. The powder feels silky to touch and weightless, perfect for those who love a bit extra coverage without feeling caked. The best feature of all is that you get absolutely no flashback from photography when using this powder, meaning it’s ideal for all brides that want a radiant, fresh-faced look. It’s also oil-free, non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t block the pores) and is Dermatologically tested. This lightweight powder will keep your skin glowing and flawless all day. It’s suitable for all ages as it has the sheerest coverage and resists settling into fine lines and pores. Two shades suit virtually all skin tones; I use Translucent for fair to medium/tan skin tones and Translucent Medium Deep for medium-deep to deep skin tones.

Estée Lauder’s Perfecting Loose Powder is also a permanent feature in my kit — it’s iconic for a reason. The finish is lighter than air and helps to hide imperfections and pores. The sheer, oil-free formulation means it doesn’t clog the pores either. I first fell in love with this powder when I was looking for a finish that was natural and transformed makeup to a barely-there look. Brides, in particular, need a finish which is light, but with a soft-focus finish that photographs well. This is a great alternative to a pressed powder as it’s not heavy and since it lasts such a long time the price point is definitely worth it. I like to apply my powder with a big fluffy brush, sweeping over the face. Use a smaller fluffy eyeshadow brush underneath the eyes to keep powder light. This loose powder comes in five shades for all skin tones — translucent is perfect for paler or pink-toned skin, light and light/medium is great for those who prefer a little more colour and medium and medium/deep are ideal for warmer complexions.

Photography by @katymellingphotography @jonathonstocktonphotography


Find Out More

Estée Lauder Perfecting Loose Powder - £31.00

Find Out More

Gemma Rimmington


Gemma Rimmington is a multi-award winning Makeup Artist, specialising in Bridal makeup and editorial work. She is also the Creative Beauty Director for British Bride Magazine. Gemma’s wealth of experience and commitment to quality has provided her with a large loyal client base and respect from industry professionals nationwide.

I am very lucky to work closely with beauty brands and PR agencies, sampling lots of different beauty products on a daily basis. I discovered both of these products after they were sent to me to try and they have been non-movers in my make-up kit ever since! Rays For Days is a little bottle of gorgeous Aussie summer. This clever bronzing serum comes in a bottle with an applicator and is super easy to use even for those who struggle to apply their own makeup. It can be applied to the cheeks and around the forehead and jawline for extra definition and is perfect for all skin tones. The results are very natural, buildable and warm beautifully to the skin. If you are an extra natural makeup wearer, you could just add a few drops of this to your BB cream or moisturiser for a glowy base – or apply it over your foundation with a brush. It is packed with gorgeous ingredients such as Vitamin C, Aussie plums and grape juice extract which all help to add a gorgeous glow and help fight against environmental damage to the skin, which can cause premature ageing. This is ideal for those who want a beautiful sun-kissed look, straight from the beach of Bondi! I love that this range is vegan friendly and the packaging is made with 97% recycled plastic. This is exactly we should be looking for from our beauty brands — for them to lead the way with sustainability.

The All Aglow Lip and Cheek Stick is a staple in both my personal makeup bag and in my client kit. This gorgeous stick is a versatile, multi-use product which I am always a fan of. Creamy in consistency, this blends beautifully on the skin to add a fresh pop of rosy glow.  Again this is so easy to use, no brushes required. Simply dot it across the apples of your cheeks and blend lightly with your fingers. This creates such a pretty look, especially for brides — and it’s also fabulous for mature skin as the dewy finish helps to create a youthful appearance. This product can also be used on the lips or even as a creamy eyeshadow and contains some dreamy ingredients such as Jojoba Seed Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil and Coconut Oil so it is very nourishing for the skin — bonus points!

Credit – Photography by James Clarke


Find Out More

All Aglow Lip & Cheek Stick - £12.99

Find Out More

Amanda Bell


Amanda Bell has over twenty years’ experience in the industry, creating makeup looks for BAFTA, London Fashion Week, press launches, editorials, weddings and special occasions. She was the winner of the Lancôme Make-Up Artist of the Year Award, with celebrity clients including Sienna Miller, Goldie Hawn, Jessica Biel, Naomi Harris, Emilia Fox and many more. She has now opened her very own make up studio, right here in the North East.

Charlotte Tilbury’s Eyes To Mesmerise in shade Rose Gold has a soft creamy texture which glides on effortlessly, I either use my ring finger to tap it across the moveable part of the lid or a medium fluffy brush to buff across the lid, into the socket line. Give them a mere minute to dry and they are super long-lasting. This shade is amazing, it suits every eye colour and you can team it literally any other colour if you want your eye makeup to have a more luxurious look, with a super metallic finish. And when used alone, a quick swipe will open up your eyes and give a polished look in seconds! It’s great value for money too, as a little goes a long way. As if that wasn’t enough, another reason I love this is because I often mix mine with cream blushers to add a subtle glow, dab it onto lips too before adding a little gloss on the top. It’s wonderful that with one product, you can easily create radiance on the eyes, lips and cheeks.

I’m also totally in love with the Huda New Nudes palette which is the most versatile and most used palette in my kit. There are so many shades to choose, and so many finishes — matte, soft sheen, shimmer, metallic and glitter. There’s even a cream concealer that you can use to prime and highlight the eyes too. The shades have either neutral or rosy undertones and there’s literally a shade for everyone, for all ages and skin tones. The quality of these shadows is fabulous, even the matte shades glide on easily and have a super-smooth colour payoff, and the metallic ones are just as dreamy. I generally apply metallic shades with my ring finger, gently tapping over the centre of the lid, this gives a more intense shine to really make your eyes twinkle. I’m often asked by my clients if they can wear eyeshadow with a shine if they have mature eyes, and the answer is absolutely yes! It’s really youthful to add radiance to the eye so just pop a little in the centre of your upper lid or in the inner corner to highlight and watch the compliments flood in.

Eyes to Mesmerise - £22.00

Find Out More

The New Nude Eye Shadow Palette - £56.00

Find Out More

Victoria Holdstock


Victoria Holdstock has over ten years’ experience working in the beauty industry, specialising in multiple areas of makeup including fashion, commercial and bridal. Certified to the highest degree with one of the industry’s leading cosmetics companies, Victoria has the skill and knowledge to create beautiful makeup on a wide range of clientele. 

I swear by MAC’s Half Lash Curler and use them religiously in my kit. This handy tool will completely change your lash curling game. Often with full-sized curlers it’s a struggle to get right to the corners and if you do manage to gather every lash, they pinch and can be uncomfortable because they’re not always suited to every eye shape.  These half lash curlers are not only smaller, but also flatter meaning that you can get right into the corners and curl every single lash. I like to use these in either two or three sections, (depending on eye size) this means you can also really tailor the lash curl. A lifted lash opens the eyes, making them appear bigger and more awake — the perfect finishing touch to any makeup application. 

I’m a big fan of tubing mascaras – they’re smudge-proof, water-resistant and a breeze to take off, (usually with just warm water). Tubing mascara wraps around each individual lash, giving long, defined lashes that will stay put all day until you come to remove your makeup. The long-wearing formula will stay put and hold up against tears, humidity and sweat making it a perfect mascara for brides, oilier skin types, for hot summer days and even exercising. Not all tubing mascaras say that is what they are, but generally, if the description says ‘removes with warm water’ then you’ve got yourself a tubing mascara. No. 7 Stay Perfect mascara is a great drugstore buy, it’s extremely long-wearing and has all the benefits of a tubing mascara,  I’ve used it many times for my bridal clients because I know it’s going to stay put with zero smudging. If you’re looking for a higher-end tubing mascara with a little more volume, have a look at the Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara, it’s new to the market and holds a curl with a fanned-out dramatic effect like no other. 

Photographer: Samantha Orton 


Find Out More

offer No7 Stay Perfect Mascara - £13.00

Find Out More

Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara - £29.00

Find Out More

Lauren Vincent


Lauren Vincent is a freelance make-up artist, based in the North East. She specialising in bridal makeup. Her work has been showcased in magazines Belle Bridal, Your North East Wedding, Love my Dress and more. She was also a finalist in The Wedding Industry Award’s Wedding MUA of the year 2020 competition.

I like to think of brows as the picture frame of the face, so using the right brow products is an essential part of every makeup look. My Holy Grail product has to be the Eye and Brow Palette from HD Brows, it’s something I always carry in my kit. I build up the colour using a small slanted brush, adding fine feathery strokes to keep brows soft and natural. The palette also has a wax for finer details, and you can even mix the powder and wax and with a fine eyeliner brush to add individual brow hairs. I was first introduced to HD Brows as I use the professional product range for brow shaping, now my makeup kit wouldn’t be complete without them. I almost always use this palette on my brides, the colours are long-lasting and the shades and tones are very natural looking, perfect for bridal photography.

My other must-have is Benefit’s 24-HR Brow Setter, at £22. And yes, it really does last for 24 hours. It’s the best brow setting product I’ve used to date, and I’ve tried them all! It’s amazing for any look and works on even the most unruly brows. Only a tiny amount is needed, and the product works just as well using a disposable spoolie as it does using the wand provided. To use, simply brush the brow hairs into place using an upwards and outwards motion in the direction of the hair growth. It will lift the brows and keep them in the perfect position all day.

Photographer: Katy Melling Photography

HD Brows EYE&BROW PALETTE - £30.00

Find Out More

Benefit 24-HR Brow Setter - £22.50

Find Out More

Jenny Ross


Jenny Ross is a professional Makeup Artist & Bridal Specialist based in the Scottish Borders – covering Edinburgh, North Northumberland and beyond. Jenny’s work has been featured in publications in the UK and internationally. She is also expertly trained in skincare and was a finalist at the VOWS Awards 2019.

We all love a bit of glow, and the Illamasqua Beyond Liquid Highlighter has been my go-to both for personal use every day, and it’s stocked in my professional kit at all times, too. Available in 3 shades, I love the versatility, and unlike some liquid formula highlighters, there’s no patchiness, tackiness or movement once it’s on the skin. A little goes a long way and if like me, you love a multi-use product, this is perfect to mix in with your foundation to create a super dewy finish, or to mix with your moisturiser for that ‘no-makeup-makeup’ glow. I also often use it as eyeshadow. It’s super long-wearing and buildable so that you can create the right amount of glow to suit your own personal style and preference. My favourite shade is ‘OMG’ and I can confirm it is one hundred per cent worth the price tag!

For those of you who prefer a powder highlight, Doll Beauty have you covered – the pigmentation of these highlighters are like no other I’ve ever tried. The formula is really creamy and blends onto skin with ease. Much like the Beyond Liquid Highlighter, you only need the tiniest amount for a subtle sheen, and it can be built up easily for an almost solar eclipse level glow, should you desire. My go-to shades are Like a Diamond (perfect for those with a fair-medium skin tone) and Shine Bright (best for medium-dark skin tones). Although it is priced a little higher than your average high-street powder highlight, it is worth every penny. You can purchase them separately, or with both shades together. This is must-have for professionals and makeup lovers alike, and P.S it’s currently reduced!

Illamasque Beyond Liquid Highlighter - £24.00

Find Out More

Doll Light Duo - £25.00 (now £18.75)

Find Out More

Jo Leversuch


Jo Leversuch is a renowned International make-up artist working across editorial, fashion, music and wedding industries. Jo was mentored by International Celebrity make-up artist, Ariane Poole and was part of the Val Garland School Of Make-up. Jo has assisted industry legends Val Garland, Pat McGrath, Lisa Eldridge, Isamaya Ffrench, Andrew Gallimore, Neil Young, Laura Dominique, Ciara O’Shea and many more. Her work has appeared in prestigious publications including Vogue IT, 1883 Magazine, L’Official Homme Ukraine and more.

As a makeup artist working in the fashion and wedding industry, I spent a lot of time researching makeup that looks amazing on my clients and works well when photographed in all different lights and exposures. Fenty Beauty Stunna Longwear Lip Paint in Uncensored is the ultimate modern-day red lipstick. It has a wonderful, long-lasting staying power perfect for kissable lips without any transfer. Despite being lost-lasting, the texture on the lips isn’t at all drying. If you want a perfect red lipstick with an edge, then this is the one.

I love Shiseido as a brand. Their Matte Powder Lipstick has a modern feel, paired with a luxe creamy texture which leaves the lips soft. The shade Disrobed is perfect for someone who is looking for a pink nude with a twist.

offer Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint - £20.00

Find Out More

Shiseido Modern Matte Powder Lipstick - £26.00

Find Out More
Other stories by High Life North
The Crown: Shop the style of Princess Diana’s iconic looks

The Crown: Shop the style of Princess Diana’s iconic looks

High Life North
Laura Kingston editor High Life North autumn style staples

The autumn staples our editor is buying right now

High Life North
The Watcher Naomi Watts fashion style

The Watcher: Shop the style of Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock

High Life North

How flowers are being used to tell stories of inspirational women and Durham’s history

High Life North

Touch the rainbow, wear the rainbow! Colourful outfits perfect for holidays

High Life North

Looking for summer nails ideas? Check out these six Newcastle nail salons (and beyond) for some inspo

High Life North