Laura Mercier maestro Benjamin Ruiz on bloggers, contouring and celebs
MUA to the max
You know a brand is solid when one of its top make-up artist has stayed loyal for over 15 years. In fact, as the Director of Global Creative Artistry at Laura Mercier, you could say Benjamin Ruiz lives and breathes the brand, having mastered the (often difficult) art of achieving the brand's famous 'flawless face'. And all this from a man who was originally on path to becoming a dentist...
Read on to find out more about Benjamin's career path, life lessons and biggest trend predictions.
How did you get into make-up artistry?
I was supposed to be a dentist. That was my parent's dream. I was always an artist, but my parents didn't encourage it, because how you could make a living? So I just started doing make-up, moonlighting at night after school when I was in college, and discovered that I had affinity for the face as a canvas, as opposed to drawing or painting.
It's really been an exciting [career] for me and I love the interaction with people. At first, it was very gratuitous. It was about me and me creating. But the thing that I didn't count on was how it made other people feel about themselves. That was an "aha" moment for me, making people feel good.
What is your earliest beauty memory?
My mother was a movie star in my life. She was quite glamorous. I was obsessed with watching her [get ready]. My mother died very young, at 45, but she was one of those women that people would stop us and say, "You're so beautiful." So I thought that was a very normal thing.
How long have you been in the industry for?
Since 1985. I started out in fragrances. All I had to do was spray people, take them back to the counter and sell them fragrances. One day, this lady, very big Texas hair, said, "You know what? You'd be a great make-up artist. Women would love you." So she gave me a role. And I remember doing make-up on these ladies, and true story, they would walk out looking worse than when they walked in. But they bought everything.
Well, then you were really selling!
Making a connection. I obviously didn't have the skill set, in terms of application; but Linda was able to train me. That was her name, which also happened to be my mother's name.
What do you think is the biggest change you've seen in the industry, from then to now?
Oh my god, the over-saturation of brands, the products. I've never seen so many choices, and you blink your eye, you've missed the train. The way people shop today and the way they download information, it's in milliseconds.
It's funny, because I remember ages ago, they go, "You're going to meet with bloggers." And it was interesting, because editors that worked for magazines were like, "They're just kids." And then they became the big players. It's really interesting to see the change in the landscape. So it just goes to show you, you never know. Be prepared, because anything can happen.
What's the most memorable celebrity face that you've worked on?
I've had so many. But my favourite of all-time is Linda Evangelista. Because she's a transformer. As far as people go, as in the genuineness of their heart and soul, I would have to say some of the nicest people are Sarah Jessica Parker and Marion Cotillard.
Have you picked up any beauty tips from any celebs?
One make-up that I assisted on but did not do was Susan Sarandon. She was so not caving in to the pressure of all of these injections. I'm not making a commentary, whether you do or you don't. But she really embraced herself and worked with what she had, and it wasn't about trying to disguise or hide. It's wonderful meeting people like that who are so comfortable in their own skin. Meryl Streep, she's so happy with ageing process, and I respect her for that. But then there are others, like Cher, who is 71 and can get up there and do what she does and look amazing. So I like both sides.
Which beauty trend are you sick of?
The beauty trends that I would like to see retired? I think it is the obsession with contouring, it's [become] a caricature. It has great value and merit, because it's a very needed technique, but I'd like to see it become more real, which is what we've always done. And the same with over highlighting: dial it down to where it's believable and achievable. I think there's going to be a backlash and low-maintenance make-up is going to come back into trend again.
What are the five Laura Mercier products you'd take with you on a desert island?
It's always going to be the Secret Camouflage. I also adore the Radiance Primer, because you can immediately get glow to your skin, and you don't even have to put foundation on. The Caviar Eye Sticks are amazing; I call them make-up for dumb-dumbs, because you don't have to be a make-up artist to know how to use them. If you want something that's one swipe and go, and even blend it with your fingertips, this is the product for you. They also don't transfer, stay on all day and are water resistant.
We also have a brand new foundation that's out called Flawless Fusion. It is our long-wear foundation that's still quite fluid, but it does give a medium to full-coverage, and it fuses to the skin, so that it really wears all day long. It's waterproof, water-resistant, it's also sweat proof. So that would be another one of them. And then our Translucent Loose Setting Powder, which is phenomenal. It's the number one product in Sephora worldwide!
What do you think the biggest beauty trend of 2017 will be?
A reduction in the land of contouring. This non-touring type of situation, and highlighter becoming more of just a natural glow. I think you're still going to see a lot of interesting things going on with liners, because nobody's ready to let go of their liner right now.
And matte is really coming; it's made its mark already, but it's going into an even more matte. So I think that you're going to see is almost what we call "the dead matte." That means specifically it gives no light back.
And lastly, the biggest mistake that women make with their base?
I think the biggest mistake is really two-fold. Not getting the right colour; they have to understand their undertone. Are they warm, neutral, or cool? That's the biggest mistake, and then the second is when they try to look more healthy, they sometimes choose a colour that is wrong for them, and it's disconnected from the body.
Laura Mercier's six new matte shades of Caviar Stick Eye Colours will be available in August and the new Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation launches in October. Both will be available from David Jones.
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