Helen Mirren’s blue hair caused a last minute change at Cannes 2023 – read more

Few events are as star-studded as Cannes Film Festival. Serving a smorgasbord of beauty looks, dreamy hair inspo and fabulous gowns, the grand red carpet is where all the cameras are pointing.

One person with behind the scenes access is make-up artist to the stars, L’Oreal Paris Global Makeup Director and BBC’s Glow Up judge, Val Garland. “This year I’ve worked with Gemma Chan, Aishwarya Rai, Viola Davis, Elle Fanning, Eva Longoria, Cindy Bruna, Helen Mirren. So many people,” Garland told Hello! Fashion of this year’s event, “With Helen’s fabulous blue hair that Stephane Lancien did we thought, let’s keep the makeup really natural. But as I was looking at Helen I said, ‘You know what would really work here? If you had piercing blue eyes.’ So at the last minute we gave Helen these bright blue contact lenses which gave an edge to the beautiful natural makeup. It’s about all those little things and thinking, how do we lift the look? That’s our job.” 

Val worked on Helen Mirren during this year’s film festival

READ: Cannes Film Festival: the 15 best beauty looks of all time

MORE: The 14 best BAFTA beauty looks of all time

To suss out which products she used on the A-listers, how she stays organised and what it’s like having your work photographed and shown all over the world, we chatted to the industry icon, who gave us all the details on her Cannes 2023 experience:

What essential products go into your Cannes kit?

“Two essential products are the L’Oreal Paris Prime Lab 24 Hour Matte Setter Primer and the L’Oreal Paris Prime Lab 24 Hour Pore Minimiser. We’re in Cannes and in the sun. On the red carpet an SPF doesn’t work well with the photographer’s camera flashes and you want to create skin that is matte through the centre, and this is where these primes come in. They gives you a flawless base for the foundation to sit on. Both are an essential.” 

Val Garland Makeup Artist
Val Garland

“Another product I bring is the L’Oreal Paris Infallible 32 Hour Freshwear Foundation. It’s buildable, it glides on and works very well with the primers. Also, no one should be ever be without a great mascara. At the moment, it’s the L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Lift Mascara which has gone viral.”

What’s been your favourite look from this year’s festival?

“There’s been a lot of red lips this year and red on the red carpet rules. That’s been fantastic. But there’s also been a lot of naturalness, not too much in the way of embellishments. It’s all about ‘this is the very best of me, I’m confident about the skin that I’m in.'”

Cindy Bruna At The 76th Cannes Film Festival
Supermodel Cindy Bruna is one of Val’s A-list clients this year

Do you feel excitement or pressure working at such a high profile event?

“I feel both. Really, if you don’t feel the pressure then maybe you should stop doing the job. You’ve got maybe 40 minutes with your talent. But sometimes you’ve only got 20 minutes and you’ve still got to deliver. The pressure’s on but I think my team and I are so used to working backstage that when the pressures on we just get moving.”

How do you stay organised during Cannes?

“I’ve got an incredible team of makeup artists, producers and managers working with me they’ve worked with me for a long time. They know what we’ve got to deliver and how to deliver it. We start preparing two or three months beforehand. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail so we plan to win.”

Gemma Chan at Cannes 2023
Gemma Chan hit the Croisette this year with Val’s deftly applied makeup

“Usually our talent comes in and we’ll discuss what they’re wearing for the red carpet, what the dress is like, how their hair is going to be styled. The stylist, hairdresser, and makeup artist all work together in collaboration to make this final look. It’s all about how do we make this talent feel their most special? How do we feel them make them feel their most confident and most empowered?”

Do you have any crazy stories from behind the scenes?

“There are so many things that happen… I was doing a masterclass in a villa in the hills and of a sudden somebody whispers in my ear ‘you’ve got to get back to the glam room’ which is 10 minutes away by car. One of my makeup artists is throwing up everywhere and she’s out of action. I was a makeup artist short! That sort of stuff happens all the time – we conquered and it was ok in the end.” 

As a judge on Glow Up, do you find it inspiring working with up and coming MUA’s?

“Absolutely. There’s always something to learn and it’s amazing the talent that’s out there. I feel like series five is the best series so far. It’s going so well that we’ve been asked to play the London Palladium! In October we’re doing a live Glow Up – it’s so exciting.”

What makes a great MUA?

“Obviously somebody who has incredible talent. But also, somebody who is kind. I think you need to have an empathy with whoever sat in your chair. You need to make the person sat in your chair feel like they are the most important person in the room.”

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