I recently sat down with my friend, and veteran professional makeup artist David Sharp. He is celebrating his 15th year in the beauty industry and is currently the top Artist for Lancôme South Africa. Throughout his career, he has learned and experienced so much and I’m delighted to share his words of wisdom with you.

Veteran Makeup Artist, David Sharp holding brush - Photographed by Michael MacLachlan
David Sharp – Photographed by Michael MacLachlan
Wow! 15 years of makeup and beauty experience under your belt! How does it feel?

It feels good! I’ve accomplished A LOT in 15 years! I’ve learned so many things, and I still have loads more to learn! I think that now I have a lot to give back! The industry has changed quite a bit, in terms of how people perceive beauty. I somehow feel that the media can be misogynistic from time to time. Women are constantly bombarded by edited, flawless versions of celebrities, models, etc. Therefore, I’m here to reassure women that it’s perfectly normal to have these (perceived) flaws, and that I’m not here to change the way they look – I’m here to enhance their best features.

When did you know a career in beauty was your passion?

I never imagined I would become a make-up artist as I actually started my career as a hairstylist! Consequently, I opted for a change into retail where I worked for Lancôme – 13 years ago. It’s actually after being chosen to work on the Miss SA pageant in 2004/2005 that the artist bug bit and I’ve never looked back.

What is a typical day in the life of David Sharp like?

Representing Lancôme in Cape Town, whilst also being a freelance artist, I basically work all the time. If I’m shooting on set I frequently have very early call times, however other days I start from a 9am finishing at 5pm. It’s sometimes unpredictable, but that’s what keeps things interesting!

You’re currently a top Artist for Lancôme, how did that come-about?

I am currently one of the make-up artists representing Lancôme in the Cape Town. I joined Lancôme again after 13 years of working exclusively as a freelance artist. It was an easy choice to return to the brand where I officially started my retail career.

What does the definitive Lancôme woman look like?

A classic Lancôme Woman is very natural. If you’ve been to Paris, you will know that French woman hardly wear any make-up, so we create effortless French Chic looks, Bare, Natural and Sophisticated looks. So a bright, bold lip and a nude eye with a strong liner is your typical day to day look.

There are a myriad of competitors in this industry. What sets Lancôme apart from other brands?

What makes Lancôme different is our excellent after sales’ service; the guest is always recognized and looked after. Our skin care is impeccable and has been sold to millions of women all around the world for over 80 years. When your skin care delivers almost immediate benefits and results you know you have chosen the right brand.

What are your top 5 must have Lancôme products?

They would have to be; Advanced Genifique Concentrate, Rénergie Multi Lift, La Base Pro Primer, Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation and Grandiôse Mascara. In fact, any of the mascaras, Lancôme mascaras are rated number 1 all over the world.

What do you find consumers struggle with the most?

Most women I deal with struggle with the correct colour foundations, liner application, or choosing the right shade of everyday lipstick. Most women in South Africa don’t know the basics of getting it right the first time around. Find what you struggle with, get the right advice and then progress from there.

Your number 1 beauty secret would have to be …

Less is more, with healthy skin; anyone can achieve a flawless look without going to extremes. Find your 3 most loved make-up products and build from there. Additionally, always get enough beauty rest!

I firmly believe that every single makeup artist is fantastic in their own right.

What would you say is your Specialty in this field?

My true Specialty would definitely be skin! Skin needs to look like skin, seeing foundation is not the look du jour. There are too many mismatched foundation horror stories walking around. I’ve also seen an abundance of contouring, and it’s definitely only okay If you’re on set or doing a photo shoot. Absolutely not for everyday wear! Also, education! Educate your clients on products and techniques. I feel like a lot of makeup artists don’t advise their clients enough on the do’s and don’ts. Giving her that knowledge and confidence makes her appreciate you more.

Veteran Makeup Artist, David Sharp applying Lancôme Grandiôse Mascara - Photographed by Bennie Wessels
David Sharp applying Lancôme Grandiôse Mascara – Photographed by Bennie Wessels
Any advice for aspiring makeup artists?

There are now hundreds of make-up artists out there; I firmly believe that every single makeup artist is fantastic in their own right. I think each of us bring a quality to the industry. Everyone who is qualified in artistry is good at something, and it’s not a competition! Believe in your art and you will succeed. However, always continue to strive for improvement, learn your craft in a consistent way, the beauty industry is cut-throat and you’ve got to work hard. Education never ends! One can never sit back and say: “I know everything!”

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Sometimes it’s difficult to navigate a client away from something that’s trending and rather towards something that flatters her as an individual. Not all trends are flattering. Makeup and beauty are about highlighting individual characteristics. Dealing with clients who scrutinize too harshly can also be tricky. On a more personal note – It’s sometimes challenging for me to be associated with my personality as opposed to my work. Often artists are not appreciated. We do our jobs and strive for improvement because we love what we do. I don’t think that everyone appreciates or realizes the amount of thought, effort and love that’s required to excel in this industry.

What are your makeup pet peeves?

Dirty make-up brushes, and I truly have an unrequited love reserved specifically for contouring during the day! Leave it to the Drag Queens! There’s no need for daylight contouring unless for shoots or TV work. It looks ridiculous.

The beauty industry can be quite frivolous. What keeps you grounded?

I love what I do; it’s not about which celebrity or socialite you touch, for me, it’s about making that person happy with the end result. In my opinion a lot of (foppish) people are affected by “celebrity” in this country. Get over it! My colleagues and I, tend to try and keep it all together, because we know it’s hard out there at times. We adore our medium of art and for me, it’s about sharing knowledge and the love for Make-Up and how it can change a woman’s life if given the chance.

Today’s woman is busier than ever. What is the easiest/quickest way to turn a day/work look into something that works for a night out?

Re-apply your blusher and contour with a bronzer. Smudge your eyeliner into the outer corner of your eye, creating a smouldering look. Apply a shimmer shadow on the lid and use a natural highlighter just below the brow bone. Go for a stronger lip and apply a bit of gloss to your lower lip. Re-apply your mascara and you’re good to go!

Which is your favourite makeup era and why?

For me definitely the 1940’s era, I love glamourous make up, it’s absolutely classic and totally timeless.

Who is your idol and why? Is it Madonna? It must be Madonna – I follow you on Instagram!

Madonna obviously, 57 and rocking it. I’m attracted to her brilliant business mind, and I love how she pushes the envelope. Art is there to Provoke! Being able to reinvent yourself is important!

Tell us some funny / crazy / weird fact about yourself.

Lots of people want to photograph my hands for some strange reason – whenever I’m on a shoot. I think I’ve got piano fingers. I’ve got these very long fingers and perhaps dainty hands for a guy. People have asked me if I paint, etc. So yes! Crazy hands! Lol, I also love to sleep. I’m BIG on ageism looking good at 50 is definitely a goal!

David has done countless film and publication features you can find some of his more recent work in the current FAIRLADY Bride magazine. Get your digital copy at ZINIO.

You can follow David via the following social media networks;  Facebook , Twitter & Instagram.