Although she was born in Sydney, Elsa’s extraordinary makeup career began in Los Angeles, where she carved a name for herself within the industry. From there, Paris became a second home for the fluent French-speaking artist. She has attended to the makeup needs of some of the finest faces in the business, including Victoria’s Secrets superstar Shanina Shaik, Top Model Montana Cox, and Australia’s golden girl Jesinta Campbell (just to name a few). Which isn’t a surprise, considering Elsa is a star in her own right—or perhaps the term “makeup superstar” is more appropriate. Creating covers and editorial shoots with Vogue and Elle, a recent stint as L’Oreal Australia Makeup Director, Elsa has flocks of fans (us included) who look to her for beauty advice.
We recently caught up with the beauty guru at her beautiful Sydney beachside home (which she shares with her adorable family: husband Nick and their two children Jet, 6, and Jasper, 5) and asked her to spill on her career and life adventures — from her makeup philosophies, to her most cringe-worthy beauty moment, and all the lessons she has learnt along the way. Lovely, driven and not afraid to speak her mind, Elsa shares the secrets behind her stunning yet perfectly understated look.
"I have always had a love and fondness of fashion and beauty
Magazines and fashion and beauty coffee table books were a huge inspiration for me when I was a kid. Even at 10 or 12 I had a pinboard up in my bedroom of beautiful images. I was captivated by the industry. I never quite knew how I would fit into it though and I didn’t think too much about a career in it early on – it was more just a love as a viewer. I became a participant later and was completely stoked to be a part of that amazing transformation to create a final image. It was the 'still image' that captured me.
Paris had always called to me. I had a love of the French language and French culture – there was a history there
I spoke the language and studied French film, so I was very much already a Francophile. I just really needed a creative boost. I had been living in the States when I started my career and I had moved back to Australia, so I was ready for my next adventure. Paris always felt for me to be the epitome of everything I loved in fashion and beauty. Just living and working in Paris had always been a dream of mine. It was a makeup pilgrimage and a bucket list moment.
Moving to Paris really gave me the creative inspiration I was craving
I've had the privilege of working with some major makeup directors that are our global industry leaders and the most influential names in beauty - Pat McGrath, Charlotte Tilbury and Karim Rahmann. Another bonus to living and working in Paris is picking up of the obsession with an array of French Pharmacy beauty goodies. Ever since I lived in Paris my kit has always included the very best skincare products available there - La Roche Posay, Uriage and Bioderma which are all now available in Australia!
I love natural beautiful skin first and foremost
I incorporate natural oils and masks into the skincare routine before carefully creating (or recreating!) a complexion that maintains or mimics a healthy glow. I always use Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse on the body for a gorgeous glow. I love the scent so much I also lightly spray my freshly washed makeup brushes with the Nuxe Prodigieux perfume! I always work to enhance the natural beauty of the face, it's so important to me that the beauty of the woman is noticed before the makeup especially when we've gone for a super strong and edgy look.
Interiors wise, I prefer keeping things pretty minimal and I like nature within the home
I love having an element of indoor plants, as well as natural fibres and a little splash of colour here and there. At the moment emerald green is grabbing me, so you’ll probably find a hint of that around the place. I am a sucker for beautiful bed linens, but I keep the general tone of things pretty neutral. I think mainly also because I have two crazy boys – my interior philosophy is it has to be able to catch food scraps and be easily cleaned up after. And there is always a toy situation going on, so I have to keep it pretty clear and organised.
My most cringe-worthy beauty moment was an ill-advised pixie short haircut – all photo evidence has been 'lost'
It was me thinking I was going to look like Linda Evangelista. It unfortunately coincided with a really bad hair colour as well. It was just a hilarious, fun two hours in a hair salon. I walked out and went “oh my lord”! I suddenly realised I was totally not that person. I am such a long haired girl. It meant wearing a lot of hats and beanies until it grew out again. I reckon if you don’t do one of those baddies you always wonder. So you have to knock it out once just to know it doesn’t work.
I believe in living a clean life. My health is also a lot of what I don’t do
I don’t do a lot of naughties. I do an occasional naughty. One glass of wine every couple of days is all I’m really going to go with. I like taking The Beauty Chef supplements and I go for a little run every day or two. To make the most of all of that, I just don’t think it makes any sense to then pollute it. I keep it pretty basic which is how my mum taught me to eat. My mum has always taken the best care of her skin, hair and nails. And never for vanity but just to feel as good as you can and always be healthy. She's a yoga teacher so I grew up with the idea that health and beauty are one and the same.
There is so much exciting innovation in skincare and makeup today
My best advice is to regularly try new products and formulas. I certainly have favourite products that I trust and rely on but I'm very quick to test any new beauty line that hits the market. Lately I've been loving Ilia - their lipsticks are amazing and the philosophy behind the brand really appeals to me - organic, ethical and cool! I also love By Terry concealers and Dior blushes and eyeshadows. Oh and Dior lipsticks are so beautiful I love the Lip Maximiser and the Lip Glow . I end up giving them away on shoots as the models and actresses I do just love them! I love checking out anything new from Mecca Cosmetica it's such a brilliantly curated beauty store!
I love to travel and meet new people and my job lets me do both!
I am constantly coming across very inspiring, successful women and they all have one thing in common - they all dedicate themselves to their work to make the most of the advantages that have come their way. I've seen how good luck just isn't enough, hard work and dedication to making your dreams a reality is the number one reason they are at the top of their game."