Tina Earnshaw

Interview, Make-up , 10 May 2018

My Beauty Story, By Tina Earnshaw

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I completely and utterly despised the make-up of the mid ‘90s, even as I was living it. The ‘80s kohl and bronze hangover that persisted until about 1993 I loved, while the ultra sparkly, shimmery, sheeny late ‘90s were also a joy – but pastel eyes and over lined lips of that mid-’90s period made me very sad indeed.

But from this arid landscape sprung an obsession with a look – or, more specifically, the signature look of make-up artist Tina Earnshaw, who is uncannily gifted at creating flawless, alabaster skin, wide-eyes, and soft, fluffy brows. The real magic isn’t in the enhancements, though – we all know from endless tutorials that make-up magic is actually a surprisingly easy power to wield – but that Tina’s subjects never look caked in make-up – they look fresh, healthy, glowing.

Titanic Make-Up Tina Earnshaw

You will absolutely know Tina’s work. She designed and executed the make-up for EmmaShakespeare in Love, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Mama Mia!, The Italian Job, and, of course, Titanic. Now picture those heroines, or, indeed, google them. See? They look like themselves, just perfected, amplified. That is Tina’s thing. And she does it better than any.

As a keen student of her work, I was so pleased when Tina launched (stellar) make-up brushes this winter gone, and when she hosted a masterclass in that Titanic make-up so that I could learn each and every step. Pleased became delighted when Tina kindly came over to my house for tea and a natter. Here’s some more about Tina’s incredible life and work, in her own words //

Tina Earnshaw

“I was always very vain as a teenager and adored make-up, and wore far too much! I got into make-up by doing a beauty therapy course when I was 16 at a la de dah school in Beauchamp Place in Knightsbridge, after which I went to work for Max Factor in Bond Street. They had a beautiful salon where celebs and wealthy people came in to get their make-up done, but I was a junior washing powder puffs. I then trained at the BBC when I was 18 and stayed there for 8 years, leaving when I was pregnant with my son, Damon.

Doing my job is about a lot more than just doing the make-up – it takes time and effort to perfect the looks you are trying to achieve, and a lot of extensive research and testing until you, the actor, and the director are all satisfied.

The most important trick is to get skin right. Once you’ve done that, you have a canvas to work on. I put a lot of care into achieving this technique and finding the right products, mixing foundations to get the perfect texture. A tip I’d pass on? Only ever go one shade lighter on the face – never darker. You want to keep the skin tone the same as your neck. Less is more.

My advice to women who are concerned about how to do make-up past a certain age is to get three things right: find a perfect foundation, get a really good lip colour, and use a bit of blush. And get a very good hair cut!

Some of my favourite products: skincare by Natura Bisse, everything by By Terry, Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Serum, Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara, Laura Mercier Eye Basics, Kevyn Aucoin Lip Pencils, and Nars Eyeshadows.

I’ve worked with a lot of well known actors, and they all have different proclivities. Michelle Williams likes her eyebrows well-defined, as it frames her beautiful, petite features. Jennifer Connelly likes her skin to glow, while with Gwyneth Paltrow, you have to be quick and know what you’re doing as she doesn’t like sitting in the chair for hours. Penelope Cruz just looks amazing all the time so mascara and lipgloss plus a few freckles are all she needs to be good to go.

I got the Titanic job through Kate Winslet – I’d just been working with her on Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet,  and she went for the interview with James Cameron in the US while we were filming and told him about me. I got the job in just one phone call! It was amazing luck and really put my career on a different level (a very special thank you, Kate!).

The filming of Titanic was challenging. The freezing water, the incredibly long hours, 1000 extras to get ready every day… But it was also fun to be in Mexico on those houses on the beach. I made some wonderful lifelong friends.


The most magical place I’ve been for work is probably the Isle of Procida in Italy, though I adore South Africa, Naples, the Jura mountains, and Sarlat in Dordogne.”


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