Kenneth Soh has reached the top of his profession as a make-up artist. Recently touring the world with Dr Who, and doing the make-up of beautiful celebrities like Naomie Harris and Jenna Coleman, we are thrilled to have him working with us.
Here, he shares his latest, greatest, beauty discovery, some great tips…and a few funny stories. Enjoy!
Why are you a make-up artist?
I’ve always been fascinated by a woman’s ability to transform herself with make-up. As a child, I used to watch my mom and aunts put on a bit of lipstick or kohl – and instantly look more sophisticated and elegant. That’s magic!
I used to sit in the hair salon while my mom got her hair washed and blow dried, I would flip through Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar & Elle and admire all the beautiful shoots of long-limbed models. I found I was always drawn to their made-up faces.
When we had a play at school, the moms of my friends came to do our make-up for the show. I was confused as to why all my friends of various races all looked odd and chalky – the moms had used the same foundation on all of them! I kindly denied their demands to sit down and said I would do my own make-up. I rummaged through what they had, and did my own face. My friends all asked me why I looked normal, while they looked like zombies!
I just knew I had to do this for a living!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I started out in Asia studying fashion design and would help out backstage during fashion shows dressing models, and watching the makeup artists enviously.
When I graduated I did the makeup for my graduation show. By pure luck and coincidence, I was offered a makeup job and started working with stylists and magazines in Asia. After a few years, I moved to London and assisted amazing make-up legends like Val Garland, Pat McGrath, Lucia Pieroni, Lisa Eldridge and a few others, learning the ropes doing Fashion Weeks in Paris, London and Milan.
You did the make-up for our Black Beach story - do you have any advice for black skin?
Black skin tends to veer towards the slightly oilier spectrum (although this is not always the case). The important thing is to cleanse thoroughly. I like using a balm or cream cleanser: really work it into damp skin, and remove with a hot cloth. Do this twice at night and buff gently to remove accumulated dead skin and dirt. Follow with a light but nourishing moisturiser. I am very fond of Alpha H Liquid Gold, a glycolic treatment that helps in the skin’s natural cell turnover process. Many of my black lady friends have found it really useful for lightening old scars and unclogging blocked pores. I would also recommended this for men to tackle ingrown hairs!
Contrary to belief I think black girls should wear a good SPF in the sun. I know friends who say that black skin is naturally SPF-ed, to which I say maybe so, but it never hurts to provide extra protection.
Have you made any AMAZING beauty discoveries lately?
Yes, I’ve recently started using the Fresh Glow Foundations from Burberry and they are amazing!! I love how fresh they feel and the fluidity of the foundations really give great coverage on skin where you need it, but it never feels or looks heavy. Just great gorgeous glowy skin. Definitely one for my kit!
I also recently started using sponges again for applying make-up. I haven’t used a cosmetic sponge since the 90s! One that I love at the moment is the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. It applies foundation like a dream to give you coverage where you need, and also hits all those tough nooks and crannies where your fingers can’t go. A miracle!
The party season is on its way - eeek. Got any advice that will help us look our best?
For red carpet moments for my celebs, I love using a face mask. My current favourite is the Zelens Transformer Mask. It gives your face such a great glow, firms up skin, and literally transforms the texture of the complexion – so makeup lasts longer and you need less foundation to achieve that perfect complexion!
My second piece of advise also mentioned above, is always to cleanse your skin twice at night. I love cleansing with a hot cloth/flannel, as this loosens the dirt on skin, opens up pores, and with gentle buffing, keeps skin clear and supple.
Any funny stories?
Yup, I turned up to do a celebrity at a swanky hotel for a red carpet occasion a while ago: turns out, that the posher the hotel, the less they like lighting!
So I did the make-up using the torch from my iPhone!! Thank goodness I had a full charge. From then on, I’ve learnt to always bring my own portable lighting kit to do make-up. Especially when you’re doing someone who is going to be papped!
The same thing also happened on a beauty shoot trip to Thailand! Turned out it was a night shoot. And the location? A road side bar belonging to a go-go club! It was shut due to the riots, and of course there wasn’t enough light to do makeup. So once again, I had to MacGyver it and do make-up using the torch off my iPhone. It really is a handy thing!
However – this time I had a bunch of ladyboys surrounding me and the model, making comments and telling me what to do. Add more mascara, more foundation, more this and more that! I had to stop myself from laughing – and tell them to b***** off. And I wanted a high end model look, not ladyboy one!! It was fun! Who said my life is glamorous, eh?
See more of Kenneth’s work at www.frankagency.co.uk