Make-up artist Hannah Martin has had over 20-years’ experience in the industry and has worked with some of the world’s most famous faces, from supermodels to princesses. British Vogue named her the “queen of radiant skin and smokey eye tutorials”. She was resident make-up expert on TV show 10 Years Younger in 10 days, and last year she released The Sunday Times bestseller book, Makeup – A masterclass in beauty (HQ). Recently she caught up with Premier Unbelievable’s Ruth Jackson 

Ruth Jackson (RJ): Would you share a little bit of your journey into make-up? 

Hannah Martin (HM): At school I don’t think I’d really thought of doing anything other than pursuing acting in some form. I was very young-looking and at all my auditions I got the same feedback, which was: “You look young, you look very commercial, so if you’re serious about acting, go away, get some life experience then come back.” I went to an open casting call for Hollyoaks as it was the most commercial thing I knew, but I didn’t get a call back from that either. So the door was being firmly closed on that dream. My boyfriend (now husband’s) mum was a nurse, and I thought: “Let’s give that a go.” It was a bit of bit of a rocky start but I stuck at it, feeling like I couldn’t really fail again so soon after having failed at the one thing I was meant to be good at. But then in my third year, I was miserable. I decided I wasn’t going to do my dissertation, I wasn’t going to do the management module, which meant my certificate got downgraded from a degree to a diploma. In the time that I would have been doing those modules, I did make-up for the drama society and just loved it. I was like: “Ah, this is what I love.” While I loved people and caring, and many aspects of nursing, I actually knew it wasn’t going to be a vocation that I could give myself to wholeheartedly. And so I did what any rational person would do and I walked into Debenhams in Oxford, walked around the beauty counters until the lady on the Benefit counter said: “Well, we can see you love make-up; why don’t you come and do a trade test?” Within a week, I was working on that counter. 

‘I am sometimes 50 per cent make-up artist and the other 50 per cent friend, confidant, therapist’

I got married a year later, we moved to London and all that I wanted was to be an independent make-up artist. Simon and I really wanted to grow our family. So career research wasn’t really in my periphery. I just wanted to work with make-up and enjoy it. 


RJ: So where did your big break come?

HM: I got a job with Bobbi Brown, which I absolutely loved. I got the job because I called the hiring manager every day for two weeks until she agreed to meet me in Starbucks. I was on the shop floor for three years before I got promoted into what was called the pro-artists routine, which was a global nuclear team of artists that Bobbi was the head of. I travelled internationally and worked fashion weeks and all sorts of things and with press and stuff in the UK. I got to work a high-profile wedding back in 2011, which helped put my name on the map.

I don’t so much care about how they look at the end of their time with me; what I care about is how they feel

RJ: What is your philosophy on make-up? How would you respond to someone who feels that they need to wear make-up to look beautiful? 

HM: I would say actually none of us need make-up. We are all, in principle, beautiful. And in the words of Claudia Winkleman: “What you look like is the least interesting thing about you.” But my personal philosophy is, when I’m working with someone doing their make-up, I don’t so much care about how they look at the end of their time with me; what I care about is how they feel. And that’s true whether you are an actress about to walk the red carpet, or Sarah from down the road, who’s about to go and do the school run. If five minutes with your make-up bag sounds really cheesy, I hope you’ll appreciate actually being calm with yourself for a minute and touching your face in a way that’s soft and gentle. For a lot of people, those couple of minutes in the mirror with their make-up might be the only few minutes of self-care that they practise all day. If the result is you feel good about yourself, and you feel a bit more braced for the day, then I’m a massive advocate for that. 


RJ: You write about the lipstick effect in your book – can you explain it? 

HM: After 9/11, in the States in particular, people were buying loads more lipstick than they had before. Having been through so much trauma, the purchase of something like a high-end lipstick gave people a great sense of joy. Maybe they didn’t have the budget to go and buy designer handbags or designer clothes anymore, but they could treat themselves to a nice lipstick to spark joy and make themselves feel better. So it’s really interesting that when times get tough, we see people buying make-up, and I get it.

For a lot of people, those couple of minutes in the mirror with their make-up might be the only few minutes of self-care that they practise all day

RJ: Do you have any top tips for parents who are juggling working and parenting and everything else that life brings? 

HM: I think one of my top tips would be to have a shared calendar. I love that I can nip into my phone calendar anytime and see what I’m doing and where he’s meant to be. And then we can slot in the kid’s needs and divvy out responsibilities between the two of us. I’m sure people would say: “Oh, Simon’s a modern man. He’s very capable.” No, he’s just a human being, and parenting is a joint job. I would feel like a fraud if I didn’t say that we do have help three days a week, just because sometimes my work can be so manic; I might have a very early call time and a very late finish. Jane is with us three days a week for some stability and support for the kids.


RJ: You work really closely with clients when you’re working on make-up, and obviously, it can take hours sometimes. Do you ever feel like you’re able to share your faith with them?  

HM: Certainly, if an opportunity arises, then I will share if I can – if it feels natural and comfortable. I can’t remember a job where I didn’t pray for my client at some point; I do it in my head. Sometimes I’m praying, honestly: “Dear Lord, let this eyeliner go OK.” Because when we were training, models usually sat still, but when you’re with a client, they could be talking to the agent while on the phone and the hairdresser has their head bobbing. 


The way I am with my clients speaks of Jesus’ love for them. I will say, I am sometimes 50 per cent make-up artist and the other 50 per cent friend, confidant, therapist. I’m not only there to help them feel good about their appearance, or whatever it is they’re going to, it’s also my job to ascertain what they need from me. Whether that’s a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent to, someone to calm them down or someone to raise their energy. 

Follow Hannah @hannahmartinmakeup