With her dreamy French accent and enviable style, it’s easy to see why beauty lovers the world over are a little infatuated with makeup artist Violette Serrat right now. Violette’s makeup tutorials inspire her devoted followers to channel their inner Parisienne on the daily and school them on interpreting trends for everyday wear (with a healthy dose of Gallic chic thrown in); think metallic blue lips, poppy-hued eyes, holographic lids and smudgy liner. And as Global Beauty Director of Estée Lauder, her relaxed, effortlessly cool attitude to beauty is now reaching a wider audience. Violette shared her unconventional beginnings in the beauty industry with us, as well as the secret to her perfectly imperfect hair, and why wine and cheese will always play a key role in her diet.
“Before becoming a makeup artist, I was studying art and fashion design.
I felt passionate about both - I didn't know which one to choose. One night, I came home and my friend was getting ready to go to a costume party. She was dressing up as this French character who wears a glitter mask on her eyes. So my friend asks me, "Can you do the glitter mask on my eyes?". I tell her I've never done makeup before, and she says, "C'mon. You're a painter, it'll be fine." So I did and, indeed, I felt like it was the link between art and fashion design.
My first instinct was to move to New York to get out of my comfort zone, and to find myself as a makeup artist without doing the typical training.
I thought, if I have to assist and go to makeup school, then it's not going to be a job that interests me - I want to do makeup the way I discover it. So that's why I left for New York. And I just knocked on the doors of all the modeling agencies and said, “Hey, I'm a free makeup artist” with my very French accent. And they gave me girls to do makeup on with new photographers for their books. With that, I started to build my book and work a lot. That night with my friend created a new path for me. I was thinking, "Wow, it's like dressing up a face and painting a face. Maybe that could be my job." And I started like this - like a weird hybrid artist.
I always have Re/Done jeans, and right now I’m really obsessed with Frances de Lourdes’ cashmere t-shirts.
I have always some lingerie that you can see - I always wear it in black so it’s visible when I wear a white t-shirt. It's from Fleur du Mal, which I love. As for shoes - it depends. It could be heels (either Sergio Rossi or Gianvito Rossi) or otherwise I have my Converse. And bags - I have so many brands I couldn't even tell you.
I love when beauty serves you and how you feel. It’s here to empower you, to soothe you. I don’t like when makeup is used to change who you are or how you look. I am all about acceptance of who we are and loving ourselves.
I am a makeup minimalist. My signature look is bare skin and intense red lips, or messy hair with glitter eyes - balance is key to me. I use concealer, always - I go for the Estée Lauder Double Wear Waterproof Concealer, because I don’t have to touch it up at all during the day. Then I apply black mascara (I love Pure Color Envy Mascara). And I like to use my lipstick as my blush as well, so it's the same kind of colour - the colour I choose depends on the day. Lastly, a little bit of highlighter - and that's my go-to look. My favourite makeup tricks? Doing makeup with my fingers and using blush as an eyeshadow.
I feel my most beautiful when I see myself through my boyfriend’s eyes.
It could be in a moment where I’m not prepared, but I can see in his eyes that he thinks I’m beautiful. Sometimes you get used to it, but there can be a moment that will strike and you realise it again.
My skincare routine is long and rigorous - I am certainly not a skincare minimalist.
I am loyal when I find a product I love. I have this very soft cleanser that I use (it's like a milk), and then I spritz my face with water. I then use Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Intense Recovery Ampoules. I'm obsessed with anything “recovery” and it preps my skin really well. I then have this light cream that I put on top, and that's it.
Since joining Esteé Lauder, I have discovered incredible products that are now my essentials, and I think I will stick with them for a very long time: the Advanced Night Repair PowerFoil Mask and Serum, Revitalizing Supreme+ Balm and the Double Wear Eye Pencil in Burgundy Suede. And the Pure Color Envy LipColor in Poppy Sauvage from my collection, of course.
For a night out, I'll put heels on and change my bag, but I keep the jeans and the t-shirt.
Then I like to grab a very strong or dark colour, I colour my eyes and smudge it with my finger. And then always freshen up with a little bit of my Estée Lauder concealer.
When I wash my hair, I blow dry it a little to make it shinier.
And then I just put it up in a bun while I do my makeup. And I also do something a bit funny: I have this spray from Bumble and Bumble called Thickening Dry Spun Finish, which helps keep the shape you give to your hair. I put it on the roots of my hair and I pinch it up a lot - I even have a little clip that I put on my bangs to lift them more in the centre, because it gives them more of a ‘70s vibe. I don't like when my bangs are flat and round, which looks more ‘80s. And while it's setting like this, I'll do my makeup. And then I remove my bun and little clip, and the hair has a natural, messy wave.
My beauty look is a mix of boyish and feminine.
That's why, for me, the right balance is very important. For example, for hair, I like when the texture is really beautiful, clean and shiny, but it's a bit messy. Skin needs to be super healthy and fresh, but then imperfect, or else it looks fake. Nails are always done, but then paired with messed up jeans. It's always a balance of something you didn't look after, while the other thing is perfectly done. Honestly, I think that I'm very lucky to be a woman, and when I work on other women, I'm trying to celebrate them, so it's always about the same idea of balance. It's not about being someone else, not about trying too hard - it's always about being effortless.
My biggest beauty influence is women. All women.
I don’t have one icon. I love walking in the street - New York is an incredible source of inspiration because there is so much diversity and the women here dare to try. I love to look at them and imagine a little story of how they decided to wear a particular look. It’s like every woman is showing you a little part of herself.
To relax, I do transcendental meditation.
I don’t attend yoga classes as I am not ready yet. But every morning I do five to 10 minutes of yoga stretching that my very good friend, a skincare guru and yoga teacher, forces me to do. I do Pilates almost everyday - I just bought a reformer machine for my house, since I have such a crazy schedule, so now I can do it at home - no excuses. I used to paint, but that’s pretty rare now. But I garden - this is my current passion and it totally relaxes and grounds me.
I've recently started to understand how difficult ageing must be.
Before I used to think, “Wrinkles are so beautiful. What’s the problem with ageing? Why all this surgery?” I actually still feel the same way about wrinkles - I think it’s life and it’s beautiful. But I've started to see changes in my metabolism and if I drink too much, the next day is harder than before. I now have to work out more to maintain, and all these changes are so stressful, so I understand better now why people are resistant to ageing.
I see my friends who are around 45 years old - which is still young! - and between the ones who take care of themselves and the ones who smoke and eat unhealthy foods, I can see a big difference. So it makes me feel like ageing can be beautiful, but it depends on you and how you treat yourself. It’s very inspiring.
When I was a teenager, I wore red lipstick all the time, because I was in France.
I thought that as a woman, you wear a lipstick. I think I was 14. And red nails - I wore very deep red at maybe 12 or something. A perfect manicure was very important to me as a teenager. And I started to have fun with glitter pretty early. 18 was the big glitter phase in my life, but only on myself - I was 19 when I started to experiment on people as a makeup artist. But in school I wouldn’t wear any makeup - maybe just mascara. At that stage, beauty was not an obsession. Fashion was a bigger deal to me then.
I have these boots that help with lymphatic drainage, since I am always on my feet. I love them.
I also do facials at Rescue Spa every 6 weeks. At home, I do my own facials once a week. And after winter, I do a bit of cryotherapy to help my body recover from all the heavy food I’ve eaten. In New York, I go to Hortūs Nailworks for manicures - I will only go there. I also love Soho Sanctuary for massages and Shibui Spa.
I am now following a keto diet, and it has changed my life.
I don’t eat carbs or sugar - or even fruit, with the exception of berries - but I eat lots of good fats. I am so happy - I feel great and my body is in much better shape, and I am just much healthier overall. For breakfast, I’ll have a muffin with almond flour that I make myself, and some cheese or eggs with avocado. For lunch and dinner I’ll have some protein with veggies, and I make sure I have enough fat, as that is what gives me energy. I eat all organic and clean, nothing fried. It’s very close to what my diet was like back in Europe, so it’s not that big of a change. I also make my own coconut yogurt that I can eat as a snack with berries in the afternoon. I am never hungry, as I eat good quantities, and I am always full of energy.
I must admit, my stretches in the morning help me a lot. I pour cold water on my legs every morning and night to help with circulation, and I also use a dry brush everyday before my stretching to get rid of toxins. After having moved to New York City, where the food and elements are very different from France, I have to take a bit more care than I used to. But I actually enjoy doing all of these things, as it makes me feel so good.
I love apple cider vinegar in the morning to cleanse.
I do coconut oil-pulling first thing each day - it gets rid of all the toxins your liver clears out during the night. Sometimes I’ll do a week of aloe vera juice before each meal to help my digestive system, and I love a good turmeric and black pepper supplement to help me with any irritation or inflammation. And of course omega-3 for good skin. I still drink wine, as it is keto - which is good, because I need my dose of cheese and wine - I am French after all!”
Story by Tess Schlink. Images from Estée Lauder and Violette’s Instagram.