A chat with Lisa Potter-Dixon, Benefit's head makeup artist

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Lisa Potter-Dixon as Head Makeup Artist at the Sophia Webster SS16 show

There’s no doubt that Benefit has solidified its status as a beauty brand that not only delivers amazing results, but also infuses a refreshingly fun and quirky breath of fresh air into the industry – and the brand's head makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon is no different.

Vivacious, cool and gracious, Lisa took on the role four years ago and remains the brand’s only head makeup artist to date. She’s managed to add a long list of additional achievements to her CV, including heading up makeup at LFW shows (this year, Lisa took the helm at the Sophia Webster SS16 show), the release of her clever beauty book, Easy On The Eyes, and, most recently, acting as the head makeup artist for the upcoming film Pandorica.

We caught up with the industry icon to discuss her career at Benefit, the release of her book and her best beauty advice…

lisa potter dixon headshot1

How did you become Benefit's head makeup artist? 

I started on the shop floor as a boutique manager at the Covent Garden Benefit. It was a very small brand compared to what it is now. I was working in an area were there were a lot of press houses and journalists around so I would invite them in to the store. There were lots of opportunities to do shoots with them. 
Soon, I became events manager and laid out the blueprint for Benefit events as well as helped with PR. I was getting lots of makeup jobs too, and one day I told them to give me the job of head makeup artist - and they did!

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Too many! My biggest highlights to date would be my book, as well as heading up shows at London Fashion Week. [This year, Lisa took the reigns at Sophia Webster's SS16 show.]
Another highlight is making everyday women look and feel beautiful. I’m very lucky to work in the most beautiful places in the world but there’s nothing like working with the everyday woman. 

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How have makeup styles and trends changed since you took the helm as Benefit’s head makeup artist? 

I think trends always come back around. For me, the biggest difference in the past three or four years is skin. The whole no makeup trend has been around for a while and it’s here to stay, especially on the catwalk. With big trends it depends where it comes from and who’s on trend in the celeb world, as beauty trends also come from that. Contouring is down to celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

Ultimately, makeup has become more beautiful and natural from the base. If your base is gorgeous, you can do anything on the eyes and lips. It’s all about enhancing natural beauty, a concept that has been around for four or five years - in fashion anyway. On social media and with celebrities, it’s different, but from an editorial point of view it’s about natural beauty. 

What beauty look remains classic to you? 

The whole Audrey Hepburn-inspired eyeliner flick and red lip will never go. It’s such a classic look and so iconic. The Hollywood era is so inspirational that people will be trying to achieve that look forever.

What’s your go-to look?

I change quite a lot but I would say something that’s very highlighted with natural skin. I also like well-groomed eyebrows. At the moment I’m obsessed with wearing the Benefit They’re Real Mascara in Beyond Blue. I then add some undersmoke - eyeshadow blended under the eyes - and a natural lip.

What’s currently in your makeup bag?

The Benefit They’re Real Mascara in Beyond Blue and Gimme Brow. I usually have eyeshadows and always have a facial oil so that I can freshen up my makeup half way through the day. I also love Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks.

Benefit They're Real Mascara in Beyond Blue, Benefit Gimme Brow in Medium/Deep and Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G lipstick in Penelope Pink

What’s your top makeup tip? 

More than a tip, it’s about not being afraid of makeup. Experiment and try something new, even if you’ve been doing the same things for years. Also, take your makeup off at night, as leaving it on ages your skin by eight days at night. 

How did it feel to see your new book, Easy On The Eyes, sitting on shelves?

Crazy, a bit overwhelming, exciting - a bit of everything really! It’s amazing and it looks great. I’m really proud of it, as I designed it, helped to shoot it, created all the makeup looks, wrote it – I did everything. 
It was great that the publishers gave me free reign - I could design hair, bring in photographers, etc. It’s been a labour of love doing it in my spare time. 

How did it all start?

The publisher contacted me on Twitter, actually. They asked for a meeting and brought a year’s worth of my work in the form of newspaper clippings and quotes. They said that they’d like to do a book with me and asked what I would like to do it on, so I went and bought every makeup book available and asked my followers on social media what they thought. Everyone said eyes.
One of my favourite cookbooks is Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meals, so I thought why can’t I do that for makeup with looks that take 5, 15 or 30 minutes? It doesn’t matter if you have no time or loads of time – there’s a different look to match the time that you have.

easy on the eyes

What was your inspiration behind Easy On The Eyes?

The biggest thing for me was to write a book for women, whether they be makeup novices or pros, so that it covered everyone. That’s why I did research on social media and I've been receiving amazing reviews.
One thing everyone wrote is that it feels like they’re learning from a friend. I put my personality in the book to make it feel personal, rather than an intimidating voice. Also, half of the women in the book are models and half are real friends and women in my life.

What’s your favourite part of the book? 

I love it all obviously! It’s hard to say a favourite part – I feel like there’s so much in it, which is great. I’ve always loved a bit of glitter and bling, so the re-creations of editorial to catwalk looks, such as a smokey eye with diamonds, was a really fun bit for me. Once you’ve got the hang of the fundamentals (the book covers topics such as prepping, priming, perfecting, lashes, false lashes and smokey eyes), you can go to that.

As well as great makeup skills, you’re known across the industry for your bubbly and infectious personality. What motto do you live by…

…in life?

I do believe that everything happens for a reason but I’m a very positive person - life is too short and we might as well have fun while we can. I always tell my girls and the Benefit team that you have to believe in yourself or no one else will. It’s not an arrogance thing but if you have good energy and passion, it will feed off on other people and they will believe in you. 

…with makeup? 

My main thing with makeup is that no one should be afraid. A lot of women, particularly those that are 40+, get set in their ways. They do what they’ve always done but they should experiment. They’ll feel more youthful and get new look. Don’t be afraid – it's just makeup and it can be taken off.

Easy On The Eyes by Lisa Potter-Dixon, £16.99, is available at Fenwick Newcastle.

Benefit is available at Fenwick Bracknell, Brent Cross, CanterburyColchester, Kingston, Newcastle and Tunbridge Wells.

By Hanna Ibraheem