Taking 5 Backstage with Terry Barber at London Fashion Week

Wednesday, February 22nd 2017 1

MAC's Director of Make-up Artistry talks Instagram and iconic beauty looks

Terry Barber is the Director of Make-up Artistry for MAC across the UK and Europe. He's been with them for 24 years.

I only met Terry last September, and in that short time he has made a huge impression on me. I think because he reminds me a lot of my favourite David Horne and really doesn’t mince his words about anything at all.

Terry Barber MAC

Terry is a unique mixture of two things. Hugely respected and skilled, but equally the first person to crack a dry joke and completely bring the most sophisticated of situations straight back down to earth.

What has been your favourite ever fashion week beauty look?

I did the Jean Paul Gaultier couture show in Paris this season, that was one of my favourite looks. We went really full on, with colour blocks and ketchup red. The girls looked like Andy Warhol paintings.

(Photo taken from @LesleyKeaneMAC Instagram page)

What we did today (Sophia Webster AW17) is also one of my favourite looks. I did this for an I.D cover years ago and it ended up becoming iconic. The look was kind of a Tibetan, wind-burnt blush.

Terry Barber for ID Magazine

Speaking of the ketchup, you seem to be really inspired by foods. You always have reference to foods on your Instagram page.

On Instagram I’ve chosen a world of familiar objects. Sometimes when people talk about beauty it’s either too high brow or too low brow. I love the wittiness to it. You can describe it (the make-up) as something all you want, but ultimately it just looks like spilt coffee.

(Photo taken from @TerryBarberOnBeauty Instagram page)

Terry and I were catching up after I had worked on his make-up team for the Sophia Webster AW17 show as an undercover artist for MAC. I’ve done a separate post about that which you can read here. So given our surroundings, I was keen to hear his thoughts on a great assistant…  

Who do you want on your team? Who is the right person?

Someone who can make the right decisions without having direction. They need to do your design and bring their own magic to it. I like people who are instinctive. At the end of the day it’s only make-up and it takes two seconds to take off or put it back on.

You also need to be quick – that’s one of the main disciples. There are lots of artists that can do a perfect make-up in two hours, but everybody can do a perfect make-up in two hours. Backstage you need to be able to knock it out of the park in two minutes if necessary.

Terry Barber MAC

At this point I shared my thoughts with Terry on contouring and these very full, made-up looks that we see so much on Instagram. I was saying how I had found multiple tutorials this week of girls using a condom over their Beauty Blender to apply her foundation and not have the sponge absorb the make-up. For so many reasons I was just completely sickened and really feel like the world has gone mad at this point.  

What do you think of all this, Terry? Where is it going?

These days I think we see two types of make-up artists. You have those that are more mood based and those that are more technical. Like our look today – that was a mood make-up. The cheeks were meant to look cold.

Then are those who like lines and shading, and everything is perfect and symmetrical. But I think you should be able to do both. I don’t want to show off anything when I do make-up. I drink way too much coffee in the mornings and way too much alcohol in the evenings for all of that.

And when I revisited the condom/beauty blender saga, and all of the contouring tutorials…

You can’t be a grown up woman and have a 12 year old teach you how to do your make-up on Instagram.

Terry Barber MAC

I think that last sentiment is quite the best way we could have put it. Ha ha.

Be sure to find Terry on Instagram to enter his food inspired make-up paradise.


Thanks for having me this week Terry XXX


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[…] While I was with the team I just had to spend some time with Terry. I asked him a few questions that all make-up artists will love to read – you can see my interview with him here. […]