Interview With Guerlain’s International Make-up Artist, Maxime Poulin


My love for Guerlain products was inculcated more than a decade and a half ago when I first started working. It was such a fantastic feeling to be earning my own money and not have to feel guilty about spending my parents’ money. Then, there were a lot fewer luxury beauty brands available. I remember spending a lot of time at Isetan Lot 10’s Beauty Hall and one of the counters I loved browsing at was Guerlain. I was a huge fan of their now discontinued Divinora lipsticks, with their gold fluted shape and tiny round mirror on top. Other than Estee Lauder lipsticks, Divinora was my absolute favourite.

Guerlain’s International Make-up Artist, Maxime Poulin is in town this week and shared his make-up tips with a group of bloggers earlier today. I had the opportunity to ask him him some questions. Maxime’s passion for make-up started in New York assisting make- up artists when he himself was a model. Olivier Echaudemaison, Guerlain Creative Director, well renowned for working with celebrities, actresses & crowned heads, soon became his source of inspiration. Maxime works and trained directly under Olivier Echaudemaison. Maxime has a very busy schedule as he spends most of the time travelling all over the world and has been in many countries over the past 8 weeks, from Scandinavia to Asia. His next destination is Singapore.

Please tell me about how you started working as a make-up artist and your job as Guerlain’s International Make-up Artist.

I moved to New York at the age of 16 to work as a model. At that time, I spoke no English. I also worked with a French make-up artist assisting with shoots. I was impressed with the magic of transformation using make-up. My background is in finance and accounting. I have been with Guerlain for the past 2 years. Before that, I was a freelance make-up artist doing make-up for runway, editorials and magazines.

I love working with Oliver Echaudemaison. My work takes me to different countries to meet with customers and media. I do photo shoots, training, workshops, PR events.

What are your 5 must-have Guerlain products which you always have in your make-up bag?

  • Orchidée Impériale Cream as it is an amazing skincare that works for every skin type.
  • Météorites for colour correction and radiance.
  • Terracotta for shaping and contouring, it gives a warm glow.
  • Rouge G as it contains mango butters, shea butter, hyaluronic acid. It contains anti-aging properties and my favourite is #25 Garconne.
  • Mascara Noir G as it is superblack, contains black pigments. It has keratins and is a treatment mascara. It volumizes, thickens and curls.

What are Guerlain’s bestsellers other than Météorites?

Terracotta is the top-selling make-up item with one sold every 20 seconds worldwide. Guerlain’s best-selling fragrance is Shalimar (a tribute to the unforgettable love story of Emperor Shah Jahan and his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal) which was introduced in 1925. It’s the 1st Oriental fragrance. There was a recent study of all-time best-selling fragrances and while the #1 position went to Chanel No, 5, Shalimar clinched the #2 position. The key notes in Shalimar are tonka bean, bergamot, iris, rose, jasmine and vanilla and it costs 60,000 euros for 1 kilo of iris extract. The most precious raw ingredients are used in Shalimar and this fragrance smells different on every woman. The fragrance adapts to each woman’s body scent. Since its inception in 1925, the bottle has been redesigned, the latest 2 years ago by Jade Jagger.

What are the upcoming make-up trends?

For Fall 2012, it’s about earth tones – browns, orange, burgundy and copper browns. Eyes take on elongated shapes with soft, warm colours. The focus is on lips with bold, saturated tones. It can be red, purple, orange but they are going to be bright. Complexions are nicely made up with a primer that gives glow and a matte, satin finish. Bolder pigments need to be balanced with a flawless finish for complexions.

What would you recommend to someone new to Guerlain?

Météorites and Terracotta as these are the 2 mythical products of Guerlain and represent the DNA of the brand. Météorites has the scent of violets while Terracotta has the scent of “apres l’ondée” or “after the rain shower” (literally a garden after the rain).

You mentioned that it’s best to use a primer for the face to make foundation/powder last longer but what about making eye make-up last longer?

Guerlain has an eye primer called Ombre Eclat Base Paupieres Eye Primer, a treatment for the eyes. It makes eye shadows last longer and enhances pigments. There are also skincare benefits in this eyelid base. Guerlain also has a primer for lips called Lip Lift, a treatment for lip contours, keeps lips looking sharp and defined and lipsticks more long-lasting.

What inspires your make-up creativity?

A woman, not only her face but her life. It’s the smile of a woman.

You have travelled all over the world and met women of different races and cultures. Is there anything similar among all women with regard to what they want?

Before I started travelling all over the world and when I was just travelling in North America like Toronto, New York, Miami. I thought that women wanted different things but once I travelled further and to many places, I realised women have the same beauty concerns. They all want to look better, e.g. bigger eyes or to look like J. Lo or Gwyneth Paltrow. Whether it’s China, Europe or Africa, women just want to be happy. With skincare, of course women who live in colder climates like Scandinavia want richer creams while women who live in warm tropical climates want a matte complexion. Women in Europe prefer a tanned look while women in Asia want a brilliant/radiant complexion.

What make-up should a woman put on if she only had 5 minutes to apply make-up?

Orchidée Impériale Cream, Météorites, Terracotta, Lipstick Automatique, Mascara Noir G. Foundation and powder if she has time. Red lipsticks give the most results in the least amount of time.

How would you sum up Guerlain as a brand, what makes it different from other beauty brands?

For the make-up, it is very chic, sophisticated and very French. Guerlain is not a fashion house so it does not impose a look on women. It gives women the chance to play with make-up which is the ultimate luxury. For the skincare, Guerlain uses the most precious ingredients. Guerlain has an been studying and protecting orchids in their natural environment for over 10 years. Through its dedicated research platform, The Orchidarium, Guerlain has been assessing their biological potential. Not many brands grow their own orchids like Guerlain which has The Exploratory Nature Reserve in TianZi, China. It’s a place where Guerlain protects and cultivates in the wild. It is 7 years before the first harvest can take place. All the orchids are hand-picked and it takes 9 months to harvest and extract the flowers.

What is Guerlain’s best-selling skincare range?

Orchidée Impériale which can be used by all age groups. There are no parabens nor chemical preservatives in the products and Guerlain doesn’t compromise on the quality. For example, the range has 3 moisturisers – Fluid, Cream and Rich Cream. The Fluid while being thinner in consistency than the Cream and Rich Cream, has the same potency and concentrate as the Cream even though the Fluid doesn’t contain any orchid butter. The Cream contains some orchid butter while the Rich Cream contains the most amounts of orchid butter for nourishing skin.