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Ruby Hammer's Guide To Beauty

Ruby Hammer MBE has been working in the beauty industry for over 25 years after starting out as a make-up artist’s assistant at London Fashion Week. Fast-forward to 2016, not only has Ruby’s work appeared in industry-leading magazine titles, but in 2007 she was awarded an MBE by the Queen for her long-standing contribution to the cosmetics industry. Now the Urban Retreat Make-Up Salon Creative Director at Harrods, Ruby brings with her an arsenal of creativity and expertise, plus a plentiful side of passion and enthusiasm. We talk to Ruby about all things beauty...

On the perfect prep...
"On the catwalks now, or on the shoots that I’m doing, you don’t do just a heavy lip. You have to do the prep for everything: more and more now, we spend time doing that. Not to the Korean level of 15-28 steps, but you have to prep: eye drops, lip balm, massaging, serum, a mask, a moisturiser, maybe a dab of oil – a bit of fine-tuning."

"Most women can’t do everything.  But what you have to learn is, you can’t do nothing all the time and expect a few key tips to do just that. You have to have some sort of routine; if you’re someone who’s never done anything, it’s hard to get it to a good level and it’s wrong to expect that. If you’re busy or time-strapped, then you can cut corners and you’ll still get a result, but it is not in place of a regime. Within that, I’ll say to someone that, nowadays, serum is super. For example, with Clarins’ Double Serum, if you’ve got no time for a moisturiser, a quick burst of this will give you glow and hydration. Having a wonderful, multiple concealer, you can use this over your serum and moisturiser with a tiny brush and get into the corners you need; a multi-purpose product, like a highlighter, can give you a pick-up; a pencil that you can use lightly in the day, and with the same one, make it more intense at night."

On toner...
"I think the importance of toner depends on how thoroughly you cleanse. You need to cleanse, you need to exfoliate, you need to hydrate, and every week or so, depending on your condition, you need a treatment, like a mask. In the old days, the way cleansers were made, you used to apply it to cotton wool and wipe your skin and it used to leave a film, so a toner was meant to take that away. Nowadays, we're double-cleansing - using oil to break down make-up and sun protection - with a flannel or a muslin cloth and then doing it again with a wash. At that stage, you don't need a toner. But, what have been introduced now are essences, and they are amazing. The other day I was at the tail-end of a really bad cold; I didn't sleep very well and I was congested. All I did in the morning was use my essence to pat on my skin and applied an oil-based serum."

On masks...
"It used to be all about one mask a week but there are so many masks now: hydrating, exfoliating, clay, firming etc., so suddenly your needs become different. Are you supposed to use a mask every day? Are you supposed to use one mask or layer the masks? So now I exfoliate once or twice a week and if I'm congested then I use something with a bit more clay, something a bit more tightening. You could use a different mask every day of the week if you're doing it quickly enough, but the biggest thing I'll say to someone is, don't wait until the end of the day when you're really tired. I'll do mine as soon as I get home; I wash my brushes, I change my clothes, I wash my hands, scrub my face and put my creams on then, so that when I do go to bed I've already done it all when I was still aware and not half asleep. If I need it, there have been days when I've used a mask every single day of the week because on the same day, you can't wear eight masks!"

Make-up brushes or fingers?
"I'm never just a finger or brush artist, no make-up artist is. You can always fine-tune with your fingers, but the brushes give you control. We live in the most amazing time now, where there's nothing that you cannot get hold of. I always say buy the best you can afford. You don't need a thousand brushes, just five or six good ones: a decent lip brush, a good one to do the brows and two or three for the eyes: a narrower one for control or liner, a medium one and one for buffing and blending."

On make-up essentials...
"Every woman needs her own great base; if she's got great skin, she can use a tinted moisturiser, or a BB or CC cream. Everyone needs a decent concealer, and probably in two shades - you don't buy just one sweater and wear it your whole life. You need blusher and, like your wardrobe, you want something that's a bit warm, and something that's a bit cooler. We all need black mascara, and a funky colour - a purple or a blue - and a selection of lip colours: your ideal red, your version of a nude and something vampier."

On mastering red lipstick...
"The best way is to experiment, depending on your colouring: skin colour, hair colour, eye colour. There are blue-based reds which are more cerise and there are orange-based reds which are more coral-y. Or, there's true red which is half and half – one of these will pop. If you're teeth aren't as white, warmer tones work best. But it's all about experimenting, there is no formula. The formula is your taste and your confidence level to be able to pull it off."

On wearing coloured mascara...
"If you're wearing coloured mascara, you can go all-out - purple mascara is perfect for opening up the eyes and gives you drama without being harsh. If you're wearing blue, you should be able to see it; it's good on a sun-lit day, it's great on a beach - make a statement, and maybe wear a bit of blue pencil underneath your eyes too. But not blue mascara, shocking pink or red lips and blush all together. Let the eyes speak for themselves."

Top skincare tip?
"I never cleanse just my face and neck. I wash my hands and then use my cleanser on my face, neck and décolleté."

To celebrate the latest spring make-up trends, Ruby has taken inspiration from the catwalks to create four make-up looks we can all wear. Each look encapsulates hero products from the leading brands available in The Make-Up Salon at Urban Retreat on the Fifth Floor in Harrods.

Until Thursday 31st March, The Make-Up Salon in Urban Retreat will be hosting a limited-edition SS16 Make-Up Trends makeover service. During a 30-minute appointment, our expert make-up artists will take clients through Ruby’s insider tips and tricks to achieve one of these four beautiful, wearable spring trends: Strong Lips, Peach Perfection, Violet Haze or Bronzed Goddess (scroll through the gallery above for a glimpse of each look).

Places cost £40 and this is redeemable against products purchased on the day. Please call +44 (0)207 893 8333 to book for more information or to book an appointment.

Plus, on Wednesday 2nd March, Urban Retreat will be hosting an exclusive event with Ruby. She will be offering clients a completely personalised consultation and makeover, inviting them to ask Ruby anything they want to know about make-up, trends and their personal regime. Tickets cost £500 for a two-hour appointment and the price includes an exclusive goodie bag from Urban Retreat. Please call +44 (0)207 893 8333 for more information or to book an appointment.

Shop from our edit of make-up and skincare below.

Discover the new beauty landing at harrods.com.

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