Four beauty lessons from a YSL makeup maestro


If you were driving along Route 111 to Coachella earlier this month, you might have glimpsed a beauty pop-up that resembled a photogenic petrol station. The inspired idea came from Yves Saint Laurent Beauty and lucky guests could customise their own lipstick, sample new products and try on looks in virtual mirrors.

At the centre of the action was YSL Beauty’s Global Beauty Director Tom Pecheux. The French makeup whiz has had a glorious career spanning three decades – he has painted the faces of every top model from Kate Moss (“of course”) to Stella Tennant (“I love her deeply, she’s an incredible beauty”) to Kaia Gerber, YSL Beauty brand ambassador. “I have a very unusual connection with Kaia,” Pecheux told us. “It’s very special. We were doing this video two days ago, and she made me completely forget about the camera. She’s fabulous.”

Fashion shows are still one of the most exhilarating parts of Pecheux’s life. He collaborated closely with Tom Ford at Gucci in the ’90s and, more recently, with Anthony Vaccarello now at YSL. “The shows are one of the most exhausting but one of the best moments in makeup,” he says. “My assistants are like my children. I see all the models, I see all the hairdressers. We are like family. We like to argue but we love each other.”

Naturally, Pecheux has some strong opinions on beauty. He shared some of them with The Memo.

1. Makeup should always be a pleasure
“It can take you from a bad mood to a good mood. When you manage to cover a pimple or bags, or you catch one or two compliments, it gives you a smile, confidence and joy. On the other hand, if your makeup’s not right it can drag you down. I’ve welcomed hundreds of women into my chair in an awful mood but I like the challenge of putting them in a good mood.”

2. Why you need to upgrade (not change) your look through experimentation
“It’s not about changing, it’s about upgrading. If you change that means you are not happy with who you are. So, add glitter, add shimmer, add a gloss or a matte colour. Women do that very easily with lips, and if they don’t like it they tissue it off. Some have a harder time doing that with eyeshadow but it’s exactly the same. You put it on and if you don’t like it, you take a cotton tip and try again. Whenever you do eyeshadow with glitter, you are always going to have some flakes. If you put foundation and concealer on, it’s a nightmare to remove the glitter. But if you’re very light, use a cotton tip with a little bit of makeup remover, swipe it once and then blend everything together with your finger. That’s it! You don’t have to add any concealer or re-do your base.”

3. Comparing the original Touche Eclat with the new version
“There’s a huge difference. The original Touche Eclat is a totally Parisian product for women who have beautiful skin, and tiny issues that are easy to deal with. It will bring highlight and a little coverage. Basically, it’s for a 17-year-old girl who drank too much lemonade and went to bed at 10pm. For the people who are older, they need to have a true concealer (like the new version). They’re two different things. The original is almost like a highlighter. The new version is a high coverage concealer, it’s like going from coach to first class.”

4. On finding the right lip product for you
“What I think is very interesting, in the lip market but in makeup in general, is it used to be one trend and now there are many trends. At Saint Laurent there is a lipstick for everyone. You have the Slim, which is very matte and very long-lasting. The Water Stain has a nice coverage but it’s a veil. It leaves a strong stain. I want you to find your colour, I want my little sister to find her colour, and I want my mum to find her colour. More importantly, I want to hear my dad say to my mum ‘Oh my god, you look pretty with that lipstick on.’”

Words by Clementine Bachet
April 2019


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