Gucci Westman, one of the most famous Hollywood makeup artists of our time, has become as famous for her cosmetics brand, Westman Atelier, as she is for designing famous faces, from Jennifer Aniston to Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Reese Witherspoon. Her signature, present in the looks she takes care of and facilitated by the products she creates, is that of elevated skin with a juicy appearance.
“In my 25 years as a makeup artist in fashion and film, working on clients of all skin tones, I’ve always believed that it all starts with skin quality, including makeup,” Westman tells Bazaar. That’s why Westman Atelier has not only garnered a cult following for its exquisite packaging (the sleek, chic aesthetic, reassuring weight, and satisfyingly snap-fit magnetic lids exude luxury), but also for its hybrid formulations that treat as they transform. “Our makeup line has always been skin-first, with the highest level of skincare active ingredients at work in every formula.” In fact, Westman has been at the forefront of this shift toward cosmetics that deliver nourishment, color, and coverage. It’s no surprise, then, that skincare has always been part of the makeup artist’s vision when launching a brand.
“I’ve always been interested in the science behind skincare because I’ve had so many issues with my skin over the years,” she says. “I would use harsh skincare products thinking that’s what I’m supposed to do to feel the potency and that it has to be aggressive. I moved away from all that and now focus on science-backed skincare that is incredibly powerful and effective, yet very gentle.
It’s not a niche move. In recent years there has been a trend for make-up brands – be they art, celebrity or heritage – launching skincare products, from Charlotte Tilbury, to Pat McGrath Labs, Huda Beauty (with Wishful), Fenty Beauty (via Fenty Skin) and MAC joining the likes of Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier and Chantecaille who have pioneered before. Why is the world of make-up coming to our skincare shelves? “Because it’s the future and everyone wants more performance and promise from their products,” says Westman. He also expects more skincare brands to branch into cosmetics, “based on the celebrity boom and a desire for more credibility behind a brand.”
What sets Westman’s unique skincare launch — a “five years in the making” serum called Skin Activator — apart is the advanced expertise behind the formulation. He has collaborated with a specialist in skin barrier technology, Dr. Raymond Park, who has published more than fifty articles covering his dermatological research. “He’s the leading skin scientist in Korea and is famous for his he multilamellar emulsion technology,” Westman tells us. Harnessing this to Skin Activator means it boasts a unique delivery system.
“I wanted to create something that had a significant effect on skin going into the dermis,” she continues. “I loved this proprietary lamellar system formula where we could include several powerful ingredients that don’t cancel each other out and work together.” Combining hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramide, peptides, probiotics and more, the INCI list is every skintellectual’s dream. The visible result? “Creates a juicy, plump finish to skin that lasts all day.”
Her testers — who we like to imagine is Aniston et al — reported “that their skin instantly felt more hydrated, healthier, smoother and soothed” which we too can attest to. The transparent fluid glides on like a second skin, but infinitely softer than yours. It sinks in quickly, leaving no residue, yet leaves skin plump and prepped, providing the smoothest canvas for makeup.
Westman uses it in place of all other serums, moisturizers, and primer products. “I start with my cleanser and then apply Skin Activator to my face, neck and chest,” he says of his daily routine. “If I’m applying makeup, I start with our Complexion Drops right after and then switch to Face Trace, Baby Cheeks, and Lit Up for my everyday look.” This combination, as seen on the artist (above), leaves skin looking radiant while real. Nothing seems more desirable right now.
The Westman Atelier Skin Activator, £138, will be available at Net-a-Porter, Cult Beauty, Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty from 27 March 2023.
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