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Flannels blog article

In a world of makeup artists, Nikki Makeup is best in class. Long respected in the business for her signature fresh, dewy skin and clever artistry, she has a lengthy list of magazine covers, editorials, and famous faces under her belt.

These days, she’s something of a social media sensation too. With a cool 1.7 million followers, a quick look at her feed shows the familiar faces of Hailey Bieber, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Demi Moore, sitting alongside her cult Sunday Tutorials.

No wonder then, that’s she’s one of four FLANNELS Beauty Ambassadors and the makeup artist behind our biggest campaigns of the year. To celebrate, we sat down with Nikki to talk her beauty beginnings, top tips and what’s going to be big in 2022.

Where did your journey with beauty begin?

I remember being a very young girl and my mum very rarely wore makeup - she’d only put makeup on if she was getting ready to go to a special event or a party - she must have been getting ready to go to a party that day. And she sat down - she’d always sit on the floor, in front of the mirror in her bedroom, and lay all her makeup out - and I remember she let me wear mascara for the first time. I always talk about this moment as being quite a defining moment for me, because in my little five-year-old brain I was quite amazed at how a little bit of makeup could make a difference to how you look and feel. I’ve been a bit obsessed with it ever since.

What made you first see it as a potential career?

Growing up in the ’80s and the early ‘90s, being a makeup artist was very different from what it is today. I didn’t know that you could really make a career out of it. I thought, you either do makeup for celebrities or maybe you work on a counter, but I didn’t realise there were so many different ways of living out that dream. I remember reading an article in a teen magazine, when I was maybe 15, about how makeup artists were becoming really important on set, and they could really define people’s careers by the looks they created. I remember tearing the article out and sticking it on my bedroom wall, probably alongside my Take That posters, and just thinking: ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do’. So, I’ve been lucky enough to know what I wanted to do from a young age. I left school at 16 to study at the London College of Fashion. I’ve just pursued it ever since.


Has your relationship with beauty changed over the years?

I think I’ve always had quite a healthy relationship with beauty. It’s a form of self-care in my eyes, doing a skincare routine or even putting makeup on, and really just making yourself feel better, or being able to express yourself by the looks you create.

What does beauty mean to you now?

It’s really about being able to transform into a person you want to be with makeup, or even just enhance your best features. I think it’s a really powerful tool that’s quite empowering. It just means the ability to express yourself and be who you want to be. It had a negative connotation for a while, like you wear too much makeup... and I have never adhered to that way of thinking. I just think it’s there as a form of self-expression. Beauty is unique to the individual. You know, different cultures and people have such different ideas of what’s beautiful. So long as I’m making people feel like their best self, whatever way I do that, that makes me happy.

You’ve made up some of the biggest faces in the business. What’s been your biggest pinch me moment?

Working with Kim Kardashian was a real wow moment for me, just because I know how passionate she is about makeup and beauty. So, the fact that she sought me out, and chose me to create a look for her and gave me cart blanche to do what I wanted to do, was very flattering. I recently did makeup for her mum [Kris Jenner], which was incredible. I don’t know if I ever get starstruck. I’m always just in admiration of these people, and quite open to seeing how people live, and learning. There are always things you can learn from people, especially if they’re really into beauty. I always try and talk about beauty and pick up their little tips along the way.

What’s the best tip you’ve picked up?

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is so into makeup. I remember working with her for the first time, absolutely years ago, and she was saying how she always takes her blush across her eyes as well. At the time, it seemed like such an obvious thing: of course, you can put blush against the eyes, tie everything together, warm everything up. But I guess it’s not until somebody says it, that you really try and put it into practice yourself. It’s also going to be a really big trend, when we’re coming into 2022, to see blush placed in those slightly more unusual places.

How does the makeup you do differ according to the event?

It changes slightly, just in terms of whether that person needs the makeup to last or not. So, for example, putting tons of colour and tons of gloss on can look incredible in a photoshoot, but realistically that doesn’t have a lot of longevity if that person was wearing it in real life. And the same goes for super glowy skin. If someone’s going to be walking the red carpet and they’re going to be flashed by lots of paparazzi, they don’t want super glossy skin. You need to make sure it’s a little bit more matte than you’d think.

How do you adapt a look to the face you’re making up?

My inspiration for the looks I create comes from the faces I work on, for the most part. I’ll look and think ‘what is it that’s going to really make this person look the most beautiful?’ So, for example, if someone has really striking eyes but not really much lid space and really beautiful lips, I might opt for a dramatic lash with a red lip, rather than doing too much eyeshadow or too much detail on the eyes. If somebody has really beautiful big lid space, then I might use that opportunity to really make the most of it with shading or colour. So, I’m looking at those features and what I would like to enhance.


What’s the quickest, easiest way to transform a look?

If you prefer to concentrate on eyes, I would say a super quick, easy way to transform a look is to stick a kohl liner in the waterline. It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s something that can be done in seconds, and it can often take a day look to an evening look quite quickly and give you a little bit more of a sultry eye look. Or maybe it’s just adding a lip colour, or a little bit more contour, which can adapt a look quite quickly.

What’s your most unusual beauty tip?

Whenever I personally have a big event and I want to make sure I look my best, I will sometimes do my skincare routine and then I’ll curl my lashes and I’ll comb up my brows, and then sleep with a silk eye mask on. I know it sounds strange, to curl your lashes before bed, but if you actually curl your lashes and groom your brows and then sleep with a mask on, I find in the morning that I wake up with my lashes still curled and that curl holds for the day.

What does your beauty routine look like?

I’m really big on cleansing, so I make sure I take my makeup off, then wash my face. Then I’ll use a serum, followed by a moisturiser. I use masks several times a week. Sometimes a sheet mask in the evening if I’m relaxing, or sometimes just a quick mask that I’ll put on before I jump in the shower in the morning. I’m a big fan of masking in the morning, I think it’s quite nice that you get to enjoy the benefits throughout the day. I have a lot of facial massage tools, which if I ever have time, I use.

What’s your desert island beauty product?

Lip balm. Super boring, I know, but I have the driest lips, and I think I’ve made them completely dependent on lip balm over the years.

Is there anyone whose face you’d love to get your hands on?

Beyoncé. Beyoncé is the ultimate, for me. I just think she’s so incredible. I know her makeup artist, Sir john, and I love, love, love what he’s done with her makeup. And I would absolutely love to work with her, just because I admire her so much as an artist.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

The first ever makeup artist I found inspirational was Alex Box. I’m just in awe of her creativity. I’m just really inspired by icons from the past to be honest. You know, Audrey Hepburn and Bridget Bardot, those real beauty icons that set beauty standards all those years back and those trends have come around so many times. I often still look back at those images for inspiration and reference.

What would you say your signature makeup look is?

I always like people to look the most beautiful they can… For me it’s always been about somebody wearing makeup, rather than makeup wearing them. I like to try and keep skin fresh and natural, regardless of how dramatic anything else is. I think if skin looks fresh and natural, everything else just looks better, and fits with that person’s face, somehow.

>On our most recent shoot, we were so mesmerised watching you apply the products and how you held the brushes. What tips can you offer?

I think a light touch is quite important. My mum always has this thing, she says to me, ‘how have I done my blush today?’ and she just can’t get it right. It’s always in the wrong place, or it’s not blended properly, or its half wiped off. I think what she tends to do, and it’s quite a common mistake, is the harder she presses, what she ends up doing is just moving all the makeup… I often put powders on top of creams, and then creams on top of that, and people will often say to me, ‘how do you do that without that product moving?’ But a lot of it is just having a really light touch, and layering with the right tools, brushes etc, and not trying to press hard because you’re trying to blend out better.

What’s the biggest beauty mistake you see people making?

Social media has been the most incredible tool to allow people to learn how to do makeup. I mean, when I was like 15, 16, I used to put one colour green shadow all over my eyes, right up to my eyebrows, and I used to think I’d done a great job. Whereas nowadays, 16/17 year olds do their makeup incredibly flawlessly. And I think a lot of that is just through people learning through YouTube and Instagram, which is incredible. But then on the flipside, when you see somebody, you know do an eyeliner in a certain way, if you follow that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to apply to your face shape. So, I think a common misconception is that makeup is like painting by numbers, that you put this on first, and then you do your contour, and then you blend and then you bake. I think a lot of the time it’s not necessary and you need to take a step back and really assess what it is you’re trying to achieve and what it is your face needs before applying product.

What are the biggest beauty trends we should be watching out for next year?

There are a few that I think are going to be a big thing next year. I mentioned before, but I think blush is going to be a really big thing. It’s going to be sticking around for 2022, and we’re just going to see it in even more unlikely places: used as eyeshadow, or brought up onto the temples, used as contour etc. There’s been a big trend for skin minimalism. I think that’s going to stick around somewhat, but instead of it being paired with very natural eyes and lips, I think what we’ll see is some really daring dramatic eye looks with minimalistic, natural-looking skin. I absolutely love that trend - there was a lot of that on catwalks. There were some really graphic natural eye looks with super natural skin. I think there’s going to be a big shift in brow shapes. For a long time, it was all about the bigger the better: thick, bushy brows, the feather brow, etc. I think now we’re coming out of that craze and going into a bit more of a sculpted, almost ‘90s brow.