Get to Know Beauty Industry Icon Laura Mercier

Graphic by:   Sara Plank

Graphic by: Sara Plank

By:  Caroline Vazzana

As a self-proclaimed skincare junkie, I can’t imagine a world without primer or even more importantly, tinted moisturizer. You may be thinking, what? Haven’t these always existed? The answer is a very surprising no, they haven’t. Over twenty years ago, iconic makeup artist turned creator Laura Mercier found a gap in the industry, so as they say, when you cant find what you need, create it. She set out with one goal in mind, to make women feel beautiful, and still with the same company goals in mind today, her brands motto is what “makes you unique makes you beautiful.”

But, who is Laura Mercier? As someone whose personally used her products for years, I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to meet the woman behind it all, and yes, I was blown away. After working as a makeup artist for pretty much every a-list celebrity and model in the game, Laura Mercier set out to create products she felt were missing, and boy did she hit the nail on the head. But aside from creating truly amazing products, she has helped women change the way they feel about themselves. She believes in not using makeup as a mask, but using it to simply enhance your already beautiful, natural features. Last week I was honored to sit down with the woman behind the brand, read on for her insight, wisdom, and how she's made it in Manhattan.

Caroline Vazzana: You began your career as a makeup artist before launching your brand. But, how did you become a makeup artist?

Laura Mercier: I first became an esthetician, because I was interested in beauty, so I went to the best school in Paris. I wouldn’t say it was a career, but if you choose to be an esthetician, you learn how to be an esthetician- it’s not just a few classes in the evening. I seriously wanted to be an esthetician, I loved everything about skin, about beauty, but my first love before that was art. I went to an art school prior, and I was able to combine both when I did makeup at this esthetic school. After this, I drifted, I was pulled into assisting very famous makeup artists and learning the job for photography, which is a different job than just doing daytime makeup. After that, I was just swallowed in that career without even thinking. One job leads to another one, and then you are in demand, and you go on trips, and you work for a magazine, and then all of a sudden you discover a passion for what you do. It definitely helped me tremendously to have this knowledge on skin, which actually really opened up my passion. I’m trying to always make it look real, and beautiful, and natural with anything that can be done in a way that you almost cheat a little bit. You can touch up, and correct, rather than cover and render the skin like a second skin, basically.

Vazzana: Then you went from being a makeup artist and you launched your line, Laura Mercier. What inspired you to launch your own makeup line, and how did you do so?

Mercier: I wanted to create products that I felt were nonexistent on the market. We were pioneers in primers, in tinted moisturizers; in camouflage … it was just not something that you could find easily in big brands. I wanted the right color on a skin tone and to not have the face looking lighter, or more pink than the rest of the body. Being in this field, all these things make you want to have the right tools. So, as a makeup artist you kind of cook yourself, make your little mixes, mix yellow pigment into your foundations, I mean truly cooking. Then that love for product really followed me all the way until the peak of my career. I thought I would really love to drift into doing something else, into that same passion, which would mean to be behind the product. So I searched for partners and I was really interested in creating my own line for that reason, and also to share my technique on skin, to make real skin happen in a beautiful way, not covered. To share the little tips and secrets that I learned along the way with all of my experience. I feel blessed that it happened, and I feel that I have achieved everything that I wanted to achieve in life.

Vazzana: When you began your line, you mentioned how you would travel around a lot so you could meet customers and teach them how to use the product. So, what’s some advice that you could give to young girls or people out there who are trying to stay confident and motivated?

Mercier: I’ve always tried to pass onto the brand the fact that, you’ve got to be yourself. This is now our motto; what makes you unique makes you beautiful. I honestly believe that if you don’t love yourself, you cannot succeed in life the same way. It starts with you and it’s not a selfish thing. You cannot love anybody else in a very healthy way if you don’t love yourself. It’s about feeling beautiful; it’s enhancing your own beauty, your own personality, and being French we talked a lot about personality. It’s about being an individual. You don’t have to blend in. You don’t want to be standardized. I would encourage this: try to find yourself, try to find how different you are, why you are different, and how to enhance this difference … and to accept yourself and work at it—do whatever it takes to work at it. Do sports, do meditation, do yoga, go to therapy—whatever it takes just work on accepting yourself and loving who you are.

Vazzana: In New York City, and there’s a lot of busy women on the go. What are some products that all women need in their beauty routines?

Mercier: I don’t think everybody—again, I mean in the sense of individuality—I wouldn’t give a product that’s one size fits all and you’re [out and] ready in two minutes. I would say find your own recipe. I always said that to my dear clients. Find what suits you in making you confident in respecting the time you have, and never neglecting that a little of something goes a long way, and actually puts you in a better mood and gives you a little bit of a healthy glow. Sometimes it’s not a lot. Many people complicate their recipe. They think you have to start by the foundation, continue with the concealer and you don’t have to. Sometimes the skin’s great, it’s a little bit of illumination or blush that’s sufficient, a gloss, and little bit of mascara, then off you go. Another person might need a little bit of a brow thing, because they feel naked without the brow. The recipe is to find your priority and what makes you feel better as soon as you’ve done it. The rest becomes accessories. Start with what is very important, first. Then the rest, if you have time, you can do.

Vazzana: So many people admire you and your career, what advice would you give to someone who wants to one day be a makeup artist or wants to start their own makeup line?

Mercier: In the industry I will say it’s a little tricky to give advice, but I will always encourage people to follow their passion and do what they want, because if they’re strong enough and they’re willing enough they will achieve that. Obviously, the business is a little saturated. You have so many brands, especially on social media, because you don’t need partners and you don’t need geographic location anymore, you can just start on the web. But, don’t just think it’s going to be easy, and that you’re going to make money right away, or that anyone can do it; never devalue the industry like that. It’s a real job; you need to be knowledgeable on certain things before you go there, so it’s not just about liking something. Make sure you are knowledgeable, make sure you are really passionate, and you are ready to go through all the bumps of the difficulty of what it takes. If you still want to pursue, then go for it and do it.

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