Makeup Tips From Illamasqua Creative Director Alex Box


At the penthouse of the Soho Grand Hotel in NYC, Alex Box—internationally renowned makeup artist and creative director of the Brit beauty brand Illamasqua—spoke to an audience of editors, bloggers and beauty insiders as she worked her makeup magic on a young model.

In a long, silky red dress, with matching bold red lip, cat-eye glasses and raven-and-silver-streaked hair pulled in a tight bun, Box had a Mad Men meets Victorian-Goth elegance to her look.

Illamasqua, which launched in 2008 in the U.K., is a brand known for its vibrant colors and dramatic look. "We are predominantly a nighttime brand, but are very much about blurring the line between night and day beauty," said Box.

The painter turned makeup artist took us through her creative process from start to finish. I was completely mesmerized, watching as Box transformed the model's bare face, starting with bold brows, a wave of stunning sea-blue color extending across the eyelid and striking hot-red lips. The process seemed so much more than just makeup, and far more complicated than a simple morning routine.

"For makeup to last all night, it is important to apply cream pigment first and powder on top," she instructed. "The cream foundation will work as an anchor to stiffen and activate. First, apply a primer in a sheer wash, going a little heavier for more coverage if you feel you need it, although most people think they need more than they actually do. This primer will add instant luminosity to the face."

Box, who is known for her signature strong brow, filled in the model's brows with a dark eye shadow and brush. "The brow really changes the dimensions of the face, and no brows are just as strong as bold brows," said Box, who tried the bleached-brow look on herself for a period of time.

For eyes, Box applied powder eye shadow in Heroin, a matte neutral beige shade that I am now in love with. This dry pigment is extremely versatile. Box used Heroin on the eyes as liner and shadow, brushed across the face to warm up paler skin and dabbed over lips for a slight glossy appearance. "When I named the shadow Heroin, people told me not to tell America, and I said, 'I think America can deal.'"

For lips, Box used lipstick in Sangers—a blood-red shade—to create a sharp '80s look, applying first in the middle of the lips and then moving out. I love a bright lip, whether red or pink or even a vibrant shade of coral. When I don't have the time or energy for a smoky eye, my go-to nighttime makeup trick is to throw on a hot lip shade, and I immediately want to go dancing.

"People commit to sleeves of tattoos and they'll say 'Oh no, I can't wear a red lip,' and I just don't get that," said Box. "Enjoying makeup is having a joy and appreciation of your own appearance. It's not a sin to be high-maintenance, rather a pleasure. ... I don't consider myself commercially beautiful, but I experimented with a lot of different looks and found one that worked for me. It's important to find a beauty look you feel comfortable in."

Though I didn't get my own makeup done (just as well after seeing the bold results), I did like the model's eyes. But the combination of eyes, lips and cheeks was too much for me. That said, I might pick and choose Box's tips for a night out.