When I recently met with Marc Jacobs Beauty ambassador Michael Ashton (who also happens to be Adele’s makeup artist), I did not expect to have anything in common with him. I mean, he spends his days globetrotting with one of the biggest recording artists in the world, meanwhile, my weekly highlight is waiting for the latest episode of Girls to air. So what was the first thing I discovered about Ashton? Aside from being the man behind Adele’s winged eyeliner, he and I share a common love for an affordable Australian beauty product (more on this later).
Ashton embodies all the aspects of being a leader in his field. He’s eloquent, and his passion for his work is contagious. During our interview, he was direct, but considered and carefully coy about what he shares. But when we pressed on what girls should not do with their makeup, he opened up, shared suggestions, and even revealed how to achieve Adele’s enviable brows.
Keep scrolling to learn all of the master’s secrets.
BYRDIE: Is Adele open to trying different makeup looks other than her signature winged eye?
Michael Ashton: I think with any client it's always a collaborative effort. Adele has become known for that iconic eye look. I think it's as much a part of her performance and who she is as her music is now. She’s fantastic, she’s always open to new ideas, and can always bring something to the table for consideration.
B: What are your go-to Marc Jacobs products?
MA: I love all eyeliners and formulations. The Fineliner ($25) and the Magic Marc’er ($30) by Marc Jacobs Beauty are really exciting because they’re really long-wearing and I think down in this part of the world with the humidity and the temperatures, you want something that’s going to go the distance. Marc Jacobs Beauty has also bought out the Matte Highliner ($25), in Irony, it’s a great shade, like a slate grey. The highliner is dry matte, but you have 15 seconds of playtime to really work the product so you can actually create a really beautiful smoky eye before it sets. And then if you want, you can layer shadows from the Eye-Con palettes, which have really beautiful glittery shadows.
B: Do you have any Australian beauty brands that you’re loving at the moment?
MA: Edible, is really, really great. And then my favorite, it’s hardly original but Lucas PaPaw. I was really excited because it’s hard to find in the UK and we can't get the massive pots, so I went to Priceline and found this tub, it was ginormous. I’ve also always loved Kevin Murphy for hair.
B: How do you like to use paw paw ointment?
MA: I use it everywhere! I even use it on my horses. It's great for prepping the lip, and for using it over something like a shadow. For example, at a shoot recently, I used The Matte Highliner then applied the papaw over the top, so you get the color but you can also create a glossy lid with it. So that’s what I love about paw paw, you can use it a million different ways if you have dry fingers, dry elbows.
B: How do you fill in Adele’s eyebrows?
MA: I like to start with a brow gel, preferably Marc Jacobs’ Brow Tamer (discontinued). It has a really great applicator on it instead of the comb style brush. So it lifts and fills the brow first and then I go in with a brow pencil, like the Brow Wow (discontinued), and use the same shade as Adele’s brow color or even slightly lighter because once it mixes with the gel it will become a little bit darker. And then at the very end, using a flat eyeshadow brush, I like the go in, dip it in a neutral tone shadow and brush that through the brow to give it a soft finish.
B: Is there a tip or something you would tell people not to do with their makeup?
MA: I always say there are no rules. There are no mistakes because you can take it off, but I think you should try and play up your strengths and have a focus feature, and you can change up that focus feature. But generally, if you’re going to do a bold eye, maybe do a nude lip. So say if you’re going to wear the highliner in Out of the Blue, you’re probably going to want to play down the lips using In the Mood ($32) to balance the look. On the contrary, there’s also a time and a place to do a strong eye and a bold lip. If you look at the Oscars when Adele won for Skyfall, there was a lot of lash, a lot of liner, and then there’s that beautiful red lip. Generally I think you play one off of the other, so try and hold back a little bit. What did Coco Chanel say? Always take off one piece before leaving the house. Pick one.
B: Do you think the winged eye looks good on all eye and face shapes?
MA: I think it works on any shape of the face. I think it does work better on some shapes of eyes than others and it does work better if you do have a little bit more space between the lash line and where the natural crease of the eyelid is. If you have a hooded eye you might be better of to try the reverse cat-eye, so do your liner underneath the water line, and that’s where the Matte Highliners are so great because they will last under there. Take a cotton tip and dry the waterline quickly and then apply the eyeliner underneath, smoke it out a little bit with a soft pencil brush and then create the flick coming from under the eye, up and out. Rather than doing it on top and doing the flick, because if you spend all that time on the top flick, you’re barely going to see it.
B: What Australian girl’s makeup would you love to do?
MA: There is one Australian girl that I have worked with and I loved working with her, I think she’s great and that’s Delta Goodrem. I worked with Delta in Europe and we have a lot of people in common within the industry and I love her look. To me, she’s an all-Australian girl. She’s got great skin, she loves the hair, she loves it all. Nicole Trunfio is stunning and Gemma Ward for me is amazing. I was going through an old trunk with past issues of Italian Vogue in it, and I have the cover with Gemma Ward and when I was starting out in this business, and I was shooting mainly fashion and editorial, and Gemma Ward came up… It was something else. Those three are all great Australian women, and there’s plenty more!