London Fashion Week is officially over, and this season served a whole load of stunning beauty looks. From the bejewelled, studded eye looks at Simone Rocha to Molly Goddard’s sky-high ponytails, the London looks for A/W 22 were truly exceptional. But while I was tiptoeing my way through the backstage crowds last week at Emilia Wickstead to see if I could grab a few seconds with the lead makeup artist, Naoko Scintu (she was creating the beauty looks with By Terry), I realised something quite important: Fashion week beauty has barely changed.
No, I’m not talking about the looks that make it onto the runway but rather the backstage heroes that makeup artists and models swear by to see them through fashion month. As I scanned the tables, analysed the contents of spilled kit bags and caught quick glances whenever a model opened up their handbag, it hit me that throughout the many years that I have attended fashion week, the products that beauty insiders lean on have remained more or less unchanged.
From glow-boosting moisturisers and lip-smoothing balms to strand-setting hair sprays and cuticle-softening oils, there are a whole bunch of beauty products that carry fashion month along without necessarily making the headlines. Keep scrolling for the insider beauty products that I see crop up season after season.
1. Dior Dior Addict Lip Glow
These tinted lip balms are a model favourite at fashion week. Constant makeup changes and fighting the elements outside can understandably turn models' lips dry. These tinted balms deliver hydrating nourishment and are available in a variety of pretty shades that leave behind a subtle, pretty stain.
2. MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation
I can't think of a single makeup artist that doesn't have a bottle of this stuff in their kit. It can be used on both the face and body (hence the name) to blur the skin without looking like stage makeup. It leaves skin looking like skin but just that little bit smoother.
3. By Terry Brightening CC Serum
By Terry's Brightening CC Serum can often be found in makeup artists' kits thanks to its multi-use qualities. Either apply under foundation for a glowing finish or tap onto high points as a subtle, sheeny highlight. It can also be blended onto collarbones, shins and shoulders for extra body glow.
4. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
Although typically used as a cuticle, lip or dry skin balm, I have lost count of the amount of makeup artists I know that use Eight Hour Cream as a natural-looking dewy highlight. Simply work into fingers and tap onto the high points of the cheeks for a summery, dewy look that doesn't contain any shimmer.
5. Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Cream
Every makeup artist worth their weight in gold has a pot of this super-nourishing cream to hand at all times. Use it as a makeup primer to get skin looking hydrated and healthy, rub into elbows and knees to eliminate dryness or use as an ultra-rich overnight mask for a big event—you can expect glowing skin every single time.
6. 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask
It's all too normal to walk backstage at a fashion week show and see lines of models kitted out with one of these sheet masks. The in-house pros at 111Skin are know for their skin-prepping, glow-boosting magic, and this particular sheet mask is a fashion week favourite. With rose extract and 24 carat gold, it's one of the most skin-smoothing, hydrating, brightening masks around.
7. Weleda Skin Food
When it comes to makeup primers, this rich face cream goes unrivalled thanks to its dew-giving results. Slather your face in a layer of this before applying your makeup and your base will melt into skin seamlessly, creating a second-skin finish—makeup artists and models swear by this trick.
8. Fraicheur Ice Globes
Models have to look their very best before stepping out onto the catwalk, so it's very common to see top facialists working away on models' faces backstage. Typically, models run on very little sleep over fashion week and are operating on jam-packed schedules. In order to depuff and invigorate complexions, these ice globes are rolled over the skin with a hydrating serum to create some slip.
9. Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré
Another makeup artist-favourite primer, this French pharmacy find hydrates the skin before makeup application to eliminate dry patches and prevent patchiness with the base.
10. Bioderma Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water
Not only do models swear by this stuff for quick and easy makeup removal between shows, but makeup artists also often have a bottle on hand to tidy up any mistakes.
11. Carmex Lip Pot
Lip balms can be expensive, but beauty insiders know that nothing beats a good old pot of Carmex.
12. GHD Platinum+ Black Straighteners
All of those avant-garde fashion week hairstyles require the very best tools, and that's where the ghd Platinum+ Styler comes in. Adored by hairstylists everywhere, these multi-use stylers really are the best of the best.
13. L'Oréal Paris Hairspray by Elnett
You might think that celebrity and session stylists having an array of high-end products that they rely on to keep their hair creations in place, but you'd be wrong. Most stylists swear by L'Oréal Paris Elnett thanks to its long-holding properties.
14. Schwarzkopf Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray
Speaking of long-holding properties, there isn't a single hair product out there that can keep hair in place quite as well as this product—and that's the reason there's almost always a can of this on every set I've ever set foot on.
15. Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray
This product is a real unsung hero. Celebrity hair stylists such as Chris Appleton (yes, he's the Kardashian's go-to), reach for this to create high-shine, glass-like styles. Just spray over lengths and behold next-level shine.
16. L'Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Pli Shaper
Backstage at fashion week, you're sure to see heated tools aplenty. From straighteners to curling tongs, models have to put their hair through the wringer to achieve the desired styles. Thanks to the thermo-setting aspects of this clever spray, stylists can cut back on add-on styling time. Just spritz onto hair, heat style and watch on as it stays in place for good.
17. Nailberry L'Oxygene Nail Lacquer
Nailberry polishes are possibly amongst the most popular backstage at fashion week. Not only are they easy to paint with, but they also come in countless shades—there's an option for every occasion.
18. CND Solaroil Treatment
Dry nails and cuticles have to be kept healthy at all times, but especially when they've been subjected to super-speedy manicures twice a day. During fashion week, models' nails face stick-on adhesive, harsh removers and an array of other damaging techniques. This oil is option spotted around to keep nails and cuticles soft as can be.
Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous.
Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics.
While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best.
When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.
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