Interview With James Molloy, MAC Cosmetics Director Of Makeup Artistry



It’s always been a pleasure to speak to MAC’s makeup artists, no matter whether they’ve just joined MAC or have been with MAC for years. Maybe it’s because we share the same passion for the brand. Anyway, being able to interview James Molloy (if only for a few short minutes) was the highlight of my week. James has more than a decade’s experience with MAC and brings with him a vast wealth of knowledge. I could have chatted with him for a few hours about MAC but alas, time did not permit such an indulgence.

What aspect of life in Asia Pacific do you find particularly inspiring for you as a makeup artist?

It’s completely different (here), the culture is inspiring in every country – Korea, Japan, China for example. Every country has a massively different personality. Every woman really takes care of her skin, some using makeup to enhance the aesthetic. It’s almost like a soft approach here, looking beautiful and youthful.

What are your 5 must-have MAC products which you cannot do without?

1, Lightful Softening Lotion –  a miracle worker for the skin to plump and soften skin. Gets skin ready for makeup.

2. Mineralize Skinfinish Powder – skin doesn’t feel heavy after this has been applied.

3. Graphblack Technakohl Liner – longest-lasting and jet-black.

4. Ruby Woo Lipstick – a classic red perfect for every season and has the perfect matte texture.

5. Prep + Prime Highlighter – adds light to the face, freshens and brightens.

What are your 5 must-have MAC tools and/or brushes which are indispensable to you as a makeup artist and why?

1. 130 powder brush for powdering and bronzing,

2. 168 contour brush for shaping and sculpting.

3. 217 blending brush for buffing out eyeshadow and blending.

4. 266 small angle brush for brows and liner.

5. 187 duo fiber brush (skunk stippling brush) for foundation and cream products.


What is your favourite city for Fashion Week and why? Any preference between working backstage for fashion shows and photo shoots?

I have to be patriotic here and say London – there’s a raw aspect to the city. Beauty is inspired by the activities on the streets and heritage. Whether it’s Punk or Victoriana, there’s a wealth of reference.

The exciting thing about working backstage is that you’re creating a designer’s view/vision whereas with photo shoots, you have to tell the story within a small frame. For backstage, it’s more theatrical and dramatic, more high energy whereas with photo shoots, it’s freeze frame.

In the West, the obsession is all about tanning and bronzing whereas here in Asia, it’s about whitening and brightening. Fair and flawless skin is considered to be an asset for a woman to have in Asia. How would you go about reconciling there 2 trends (if at all)? How do you think MAC as a brand is going about meeting the needs of its Asian customers?

Great question. The lines are starting to blur between Western and Eastern aesthetics of skin bronzing vs. luminous skin. The Puri-tan trend answers bronzing in a softer effect with sun-kissed and honey effect. Bronzing has become more wearable and accessible with an intelligent generation of bronzers. Bronzing is now more realistic, it warms up and enhances the skin. Tanning gives a healthy glow. A woman doesn’t have to look orangey any more. Now it’s more of a golden and soft look. Natural skin tones are in, It doesn’t matter whether a woman is Western or Asian. To give life and light to skin, we use Strobe Cream and to highlight skin, we use Prep + Prime Highlighter.