Gucci Westman on make-up brands branching into skincare

gucci westman skincare interview
Gucci Westman on branching into skincareGucci Westman

Gucci Westman, one of our era’s best-known Hollywood make-up artists, has become as celebrated for her own cosmetics brand, Westman Atelier, as she has with designing famous faces, from Jennifer Aniston to Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Reese Witherspoon. Her signature, present in the looks she curates and facilitated by the products she creates, is that of elevated, juicy-looking skin.

“Over my 25 years as a make-up artist in fashion and film, working on clients with every kind of complexion, I’ve always believed that everything starts with the quality of the skin – including your make-up,” Westman tells Bazaar. That’s why Westman Atelier has not only garnered a cult following for its exquisite packaging (the sleek, chic aesthetic, reassuring weight and magnetic lids closing with satisfying snaps all ooze luxury), but its hybrid formulations that treat as they transform. “Our make-up line has always been 'skin-first', with the highest level of skincare actives at work in every formula.” Indeed, Westman has been at the forefront of this move towards cosmetics delivering nourishment as well as colour and coverage. It’s unsurprising, then, that skincare was always part of the make-up artist’s vision when launching a brand.

“I have always been interested in the science behind skincare because I have had so many issues with my own skin over the years,” she says. “I would use aggressive skincare products thinking that was what I should do to feel the potency, and that it had to be aggressive. I have steered far away from that, and now focus on science-backed skincare that is incredibly potent and effective, yet very gentle.”

It's not a niche move. Over the last few years there’s been a trend for make-up brands – whether artistry, celebrity or heritage – launching skincare, from Charlotte Tilbury, to Pat McGrath Labs, Huda Beauty (with Wishful), Fenty Beauty (via Fenty Skin) and MAC joining the likes of Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier and Chantecaille who paved the way prior. Why is the make-up world coming for our skincare shelves? “Because it’s the future and everyone wants more performance and promise from their products,” Westman feels. She also foresees more skincare brands branching into cosmetics, “based on the celebrity boom endorsements and the desire for more credibility behind a brand”.

gucci westman skincare interview
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Setting apart Westman’s singular skincare launch – a "five years in the making" serum called Skin Activator – is the advanced expertise behind the formulation. She collaborated with a specialist in skin barrier technology, Dr Raymond Park, who has published more than fifty articles covering his dermatological research. “He is the leading skin scientist in Korea and is renowned for his multi-lamellar emulsion technology,” Westman tells us. Harnessing this for the Skin Activator means it boasts a unique delivery system.

“I wanted to create something that had a meaningful effect on the skin that enters the dermis,” she continues. “I loved this proprietary lamellar system formula where we could include several potent ingredients that don’t cancel each other out and work together.” Blending hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramide, peptides, probiotics and more, the INCI list is a skintellectual's dream. The visible result? “It creates a juicy plumper finish to the skin that lasts the entire day.”

Her testers – which we like to picture being Aniston et al – have reported “that their skin immediately felt more hydrated, healthier, smoother, and soothed” which we too can attest to. The clear fluid glides on like a second skin, but one that feels infinitely softer than your own. It sinks in swiftly, without any residue, but leaves skin plumped and primed, providing the smoothest canvas for make-up.

Westman uses it in place of all other serums, moisturisers and priming products. “I start with my cleanser and then apply the Skin Activator on my face, neck and chest,” she says of her daytime routine. “If applying make-up, I start with our Complexion Drops immediately after and then move onto Face Trace, Baby Cheeks and Lit Up for my everyday look.” This combo, as seen on the artist (above), leaves skin looking radiant while real. Nothing feels more covetable right now.

The Westman Atelier Skin Activator, £138, will be available on Net-a-Porter, Cult Beauty, Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty from 27 March 2023.

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