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Terry Barber On The Make-Up Hack He Swears By And More

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Anushree Sardesai

A true showman, Terry Barber thrives on the energy of backstage settings. Whether he’s jet-setting to teach Master Classes around the world, leading demonstrations at events, or keying fashion weeks across the globe, Terry’s commitment to MAC’s diversity remains a driving force. For him, the brand’s legacy lies in teaching the art of making everyone, in their own unique ways, look undeniably beautiful. Delve into the secrets of the trade as he shares exclusive insider tips and tricks with HELLO!

HELLO!:Terry, what inspired you to pursue a career in the make-up industry?

Terry Barber: “I went to art school in the early 1980s, but I quickly realised that experiencing subculture and the sights and sounds of the underground club scene in the UK post-punk era was far more seductive to me than formal education. My first experience using make-up was on my own face with a cheap foundation from the drugstore and a brown eyeshadow that I stole from my sister to sculpt my face. It wasn’t drag, it was about looking genderless and New Romantic. The idea that you could play with your identity and enter a far more bohemian world simply by painting your face felt like a very tangible artform — and I was hooked.”

H!:A pivotal moment in your journey?

TB: “When I first joined MAC, it felt like my first ‘proper’ job. I started out wanting to be a freelancer but for people like me, who didn’t come from a privileged background, this was a difficult world to enter. I’d previously had to work in clothes stores and on make-up counters to earn money to survive but it wasn’t until I started at MAC that I thought I was on the path to a career. I’ve always rebelled against the idea that you can’t be taken seriously as a make-up artist who works for a brand and MAC gave me the platform to do so. Over the 30 years I’ve worked for the brand I’ve taught myself to become a raconteur on the ever- evolving story of beauty, adding an extra layer to my profile.”

H!:How do you remain inspired in such a dynamic field?

TB: “Consistently evolving is the best way to stay motivated. My tastes change and I’m inspired by different things. Constant curiosity feeds the brain.”

H!:Can you share some insights into MAC’s approach to inclusivity and diversity?

TB: “Unlike most brands, MAC was dedicated to inclusion and diversity from day one. It democratised selling make-up with a breadth of customers of any race, culture, gender, age or background. Many brands are only recognising this concept now, but for MAC it was always business as usual. MAC started with foundation shades for all skin tones but as it became more globally available it increased this shade range to accommodate even more specific undertones.”

H!:Can you share a particularly rewarding experience you’ve had while working in this world?

TB: “The Alexander McQueen shows from the late ’90s to the early 2000s hold the fondest memories for me. They changed the way I thought about beauty with incredible references to romanticism which have inspired me ever since. It was all about shipwrecks, pirates, highwaymen or 18th century portraiture, but made into incredibly futuristic imagery which was both poetic and provocative. Models didn’t look like models, they were characters. Every show was like working on a movie.”

H!:What’s your secret to experimenting with unconventional looks?

TB: “Do it with one detail. Editorial and the runway are there to inspire and challenge rather than be copied. Trying a bold colour on the eye or lip doesn’t mean you can’t look polished elsewhere.”

H!:One make-up hack you swear by?

TB: “Mixing your make-up with your skincare. When you master the art of custom mixing, the possibilities are endless.”

This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s May 2024 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!