Michelle Obama shows how the new ‘power face’ is done,
For influential women in the public eye, gone are the red lipsticks and make-up masks of old. There’s a fresh look taking centre stage, Sonia Haria discovers, and we can all learn from it
heresa May piled it on after the general election result last month; Hillary Clinton toned it down when she lost out on the US presidency to Donald Trump – whose wife wears heaps of it. Wearing make-up has become more of a power move than ever before. And no wonder, with May landing the top job, and first ladies Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump – both relatively unheard of a year ago – propelled on to a world stage where image is everything. Then there’s Trump’s glossy daughter Ivanka, a key cog in the Trump administration, who has her own carefully constructed image.
‘For many women, especially in the public eye, wearing make-up makes them feel more confident and empowered,’ says the behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings. ‘They don’t call it “war paint” for nothing.’
But the newest trend in powerful make-up might surprise you. Strength actually lies in a soft and subtle approach now, instead of the traditional bold red lip and fully lined eyes.
‘Wearing make-up is a mask, to some extent – it’s an attempt to show a calm, competent neutrality,’ says Hemmings. ‘Anything that can be done to hide nerves is very tempting. It’s like a poker player wearing dark glasses.’
And competency with make-up is all about getting the base right, according to leading make-up artist and Laura Mercier