Ian McIntosh is a hugely experienced and brilliant Hair & Make-Up Artist. He has worked solidly for 30 years and on some of the biggest names in show business- Naomi Watts, Minnie Driver, Helen Mirren, Jerry Hall, Keira Knightley, Joan Collins, Jayne Seymour, Barbara Windsor, Carol Vorderman are just a few. I guarantee you have seen plenty of his work on various TV shows, commercials and magazines- Pantene? That's him. Ian has travelled the world with many artists for promos and on tour; he spent years on tour with Anastacia, he's done Cher- the REAL one, Katrina and the Waves for that winning Eurovision, Tom Jones, Cerys Mathews, Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne. I could name drop all article, there's 30 years worth! but let's hear some tales and tips from him instead.

 A snapshot of a 30 year career

MANW: Hi Ian, you are a very accomplished hairdresser and make-up artist. Which path did you start on and how did you jump from salon to celebrities? 
IM: I came into this business slightly sideways, I had been working in offices and Selfridges on Saturdays, meeting people and discovering the West End in the 80's. I was already doing peoples hair even though I hadn't thought of it as a career. I started to look into salons and training as someone else was and I ended up getting a job at Neville Daniel (big hair salon in London's West End). The training was only one night a week so I moved to John Freida where they had 3 model nights a week. I did all 3 nights and two models a night, even though we weren't supposed to, I suppose I was ambitious or just impatient. I was 18 and found myself being trusted with more work than most of the other juniors. I ended up being Nicky Clarkes junior, he was John Freidas director at the time and, along with many other creative people, I was always out on shoots. The first video I ever did was for Kate Bush, in fact my first day at John Freida I had to help blow dry Lulu, Sheena Easton and Paula Yates's hair!

I got to work with, and watch, people like Barbara Daly. I was most annoying, asking questions and staring a lot but I was learning. I used to do peoples hair in my spare time and if they sat down long enough I would do their make up too. The make-up was basically self taught, although I was surrounded by very talented people and I learnt from watching them. Most of the people we worked with were famous or wealthy, so I became used to being around them and learnt how to "not be there" when necessary and how to make people feel confident and help them with more than just their hair and make-up. These days I tend to meet celebs on magazine shoots who then ask me to continue working with them or I am recommended by p.a.'s  etc, your reputation follows you around.

MANW: Do you see yourself as a hairdresser first and make-up artist second?
IM: I suppose I started hairdressing first but I made sure I was learning all aspects at the same time. I learnt how to cut, colour and style hair, which came in handy on hair commercials. I also learnt how to do nails, I actually did a full set of nail extensions on Tom Jones for a Cerys Matthews video 'Baby its cold outside'. There are times when I work as a hairdresser and some just doing make-up, but a lot of the time I do both.

When I worked in Selfridges, there was an event called Beauty Playground and they would invite make-up artists in to demo and the public to play with the make-up. I spoke to a make-up artist called Richard Blore, who designed the original CATS make-up, and he told me I needed to look at people and think what could I do to improve them. I already did that on the tube every morning so this got me interested in make-up, but I think I've always been both hair and make-up.

MANW: You've managed a successful career in many of the avenues that most make-up artists dream of; fashion, editorial, commercials and celebrities. Is there a favourite type of job you prefer and did you ever think about going down the drama or film route?
IM: I have done pretty much every aspect of this job, including some short films; one with Keira  Knightley and Rupert Friend and another with Barbara Windsor for Sky (Little Crackers). I had an agent for a while who only dealt with film, tv and drama and I was often asked to go down that route. I sometimes think I have a lot of unused skills that could be used more in film- I would love to do the hair in a period film. But I'm not sure I can handle the length of time that you have to be on the same job and I don't think my dog would be pleased either, he would miss me!

I love beauty but you really do have to decide that you want to do it as editorial tends to be a very single road. Editorial is something that doesn't involve a lot of money but it does have more creativity and better pictures for your book. Working with artists/singers is very rewarding as you get to do editorial, video, tv, tours, everything but it is also draining and you tend to give a lot more than you are paid for. You practically live with them and they tend to become very reliant on you, so it depends how much of your life you are prepared to give over to work. I enjoy something intense and specialised and I'm always looking for a challenge. Work has become my life and for most creatives that tends to be the case. 

MANW: You've been in the industry a long time, how do you think it has differed and what advice would you give to new artists starting out?
IM: After 30 years I have seen a lot of change in this industry, for instance the amount of work, the amount of money involved, the amount of people that want to do it and the slim chance of being successful. Once upon a time a shoot involved a big lunch with alcohol and it was very glamorous, now it is very different. Everything is digital, budgets are smaller, there are fewer trips and the industry will take advantage of people just starting out, as they want a lot for very little. But if they want experience and someone who can cope with most clients and celebrities then they will look a little further, they have to. With experience comes the ability to keep artists calm, you help to get them on stage and give them confidence, sometimes just by being where they can see you.

I think people should be wary of expensive courses and promises of work and a career. It is very competitive and things have changed, especially in TV where there is less work and less money. Assisting and trying to gain as many skills as possible will always help, especially if you have to survive when things are not good. I've seen many a brilliant make-up artist waitressing or temping in offices as they have no other way of making money when the work dries up. So my advice would be cover your back and dont expect glamour and celebrities and limos at every corner- this job is all about dragging around bags, working long hours and trying to keep yourself interested in your job and keeping yourself fed! ALWAYS have good knowledge and mental reference points of periods- 70's,  80's,  40's hair and make-up. You need to know what stars looked like through the years; Jackie O,  Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe.. it's no good just knowing who Jessie J is or Madonnas different looks.

MANW: All artists have 'the wish list'.  My current one is Towie's Lauren Goodger, I am dying to give her a make-over. Who's on yours?
IM: I have worked with Lauren Goodger and she would not let you give her a make over! The people in those shows rely on their look and don't like change. It's very difficult to approach someone and try and change them, you have to be very careful and prove yourself first. I'm not sure there is anyone on my wish list but often I find that when I notice someone on tv or in a film suddenly I find myself working with them! Kelly Osbourne came along just as I was noticing her face and thinking I would love to make her up. Most celebrities dont want to look different, they just want to be them but more noticably improved by your work, on camera or in pictures. Celebrities aren't models, they wont always look good as opposed to models, who look good regardless of what you do to them!

MANW: Right, on to the tips. What's your tricks for flawless looking skin?
IM: Good skin is important and I do like to take time to make it look good. Using good foundations that keep the skin looking like skin is the first thing and then applying it well is vital. I don't tend to use a lot of powder and the ones I use are very fine and I only apply them when I really need to. You shouldn't take away glow, that's what makes people look beautiful and radiant, but it depends on the job and the person.

MANW: Your thoughts on dip dye - just for the young?
IM: Well I think sometimes grown out colour can look good but deliberately dip dyed hair will look ridiculous on anyone past a certain age. If it looks cool, then great but if you're not sure get rid of it!

MANW: What are your top 5 holy grail kit products?
IM: That's a hard one, must-haves do change! I use a lot of cream blushers and I think I would be very lost without them, especially NARS Cactus Flower and Orgasm. MAC eyebrow pencils have become something I am never without. Eyeliner! How can anyone be without eyeliner?  My favourites at the moment are NARS waterproof pencils and MAC gel liner as it tends not to move, Bobbi Brown is also good. No-one should be without a good mascara, black not brown, unless it obvious and a statement. You really have to have lashes and blush, used correctly they can make such a difference to a face. Lastly, a hair curling wand is a must, they are very quick and the curl lasts a lot longer.

MANW: Best make-up artist tip ever?
IM: My best tip for aspiring or starting out make-up artists would be learn as much as you can from as many people as you can and develop your own style. Sometimes I do the opposite of what other people do if it adds to my style and makes me different from other artists. It's my style that makes people feel they look better when I make them up, rather than someone else. Develop your own way of doing things and using products, don't feel restricted. Think of make-up as artist supplies- use them how you want to, not how someone tells you to. Also, GET A GOOD AGENT!

For women applying make-up, my best pro-tip would be try new foundations (i.e shiseido skin refining) and use a brush to apply it. Foundations have improved a lot and you can look flawless but no make-up is going to look good unless the starting point is good. Get good skin and have basic grooming- make sure your eyebrows are "correct", if you are not sure how then get professional help!

MANW: Finally, false eyelashes - the longer the better or enough already they look ridiculous?
IM: I love false eyelashes, especially individual ones that you can build up and change the shape of someones eye. But as far as looking like "Little Mix" where their eyes look out of proportion to the rest of their face, leave it alone. Women are not blow up dolls and proportion is important- the bigger the eyelashes the higher the eyebrows have to go and the bigger the lips go and more eyeshadow is used.. and its all just too ridiculous. If you have big eyes or a big face and big features then you can take it, otherwise be sensible. Try and look as pretty or as groomed as you can for you! 

You can find Ian at Carol Hayes Management or chat to him on Twitter @mcintoshian

If you liked this interview and would like to read other leading industry makeup artists stories have a look at the rest of the 'Meet The Artist' series here.

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