21 January 2014 by Jo Fairley

Mary Greenwell make-up masterclass 1: foundation and concealer

In a series of five videos for high50, starting with foundation, Mary Greenwell shows Jo Fairley the secrets of lifting a 50-plus face

Mary_Greenwell_Masterclass, make-up, tutorial, video, foundation, concealer, Mary Greenwell, 50 plus, 50+, mature skin, how to apply, masterclass,

Mary (left) with model Julie Townsend (centre) and Jo Fairley

There are good reasons why Mary Greenwell has become a make-up legend.  First there’s her work with the supermodels in the 80s and 90s. (Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford not only didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day, they were even less inclined to do so if Mary – and her hairdresser ‘double act’ Sam McKnight – weren’t working on the shoot.)

Then there’s her working friendship with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, about which Mary has always (as a pal should) maintained zip-lipped discretion. Plus her face-making for virtually all the world’s Vogues, as well as Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Elle (and too many ad campaigns to list).

After 25 years at the top of her game, she is more in demand than ever: 50-something Mary has more recently whisked her brushes over the faces of Uma Thurman, Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet.

Somehow, she’s also had time to create her own signature fragrance line, which has had the beauty press raving.  (Why perfume, rather than make-up? Mary has always spritzed scent on to models as the last get-them-in-the-mood gesture before they step in front of the camera – in the same way that we mere mortals reach for a favourite perfume while getting ready to leave the house.)

But one of Mary’s greatest talents is being able to pull off the equivalent of walking and texting at the same time: in other words, talking while making up a face. Not just talking, but explaining in a so-simple, easy-to-understand style the tricks of her trade. (Many make-up pros, by contrast, are as mute as Marcel Marceau while working on a face.)

Exclusively for high50, I got together with Mary to create a series of how-to make-up videos, which (IMHO) are the best, most instructive and inspiring out there. (That’s thanks to Mary:  as a collaborator, all you have to do is virtually push a button and the wisdom comes pouring out.)

At ‘a certain age’, Mary believes, make-up becomes more important than ever but, at just the same moment, becomes more challenging. Because there are new rules.

“Make-up stops you ‘fading away’,” she says. “It makes you appear groomed, and glamorous. But you can’t wear so much, and you’re probably looking at using different shades.”

One of Mary’s key tips is that women should get department store makeovers several times a year.  “You learn new skills and discover new products. Worst-case scenario: you hate it, go home and wash it off.” The challenge of a department store makeover is remembering what the make-up artist did. But with these videos, you can just rewind until you’re stroke-perfect.

We will be adding a new video a week, until all five in the series are uploaded. It is the ultimate make-up masterclass, from one of the make-up world’s greatest experts.

Masterclass 1: foundation and concealer

No time to view right now? Try this Mary Greenwell tip: “To take ten years off your face, use light-reflective concealer on the blue shadow at the inner corner of the eyes, on the nose-bone.”

Press ‘Play’ to find out:

• The importance of super-moisturising before you start.

• Choosing the perfect shade:  the best place on the face to try foundation.

• Mary’s favourite foundations (she’s a pro who isn’t scared to name names).

• Sponge, brush, fingers…?

• Why you need a ‘wardrobe’ of light-reflecting and creamy concealers.

See Jo Fairley’s Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible | Find out about Mary’s signature fragrance

Jo Fairley is an ex-magazine editor (Look Now, Honey) and was beauty editor on You magazine for nine years. She co-authored the Beauty Bible series, including the bestselling The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible. She co-edits the Beauty Bible website and writes a scent blog. In 1991, Jo co-founded Green & Black’s, and has an organic bakery and a boutique wellbeing centre in her home town of Hastings. Follow Jo Fairley on Twitter.


Let's make the voice of 50-somethings heard! Please log in to post a comment.

Added 3 Dec 2011 - 12:58 am

We really wanted to see how Mary applies the light reflective concealer, but we didn’t. She did the hidden side of the face, then the camera cut away to Mary’s face.
This could have been so much more useful had it been edited better.

Added 7 Dec 2011 - 3:29 am

I totally agree with the previous comment. I watched because I wanted to see the concealer applied – the one thing they did not show – she talked about how important the application is and why she applies more than most, but did not show it. Such a disappointment.

Added 7 Dec 2011 - 1:01 pm

We know – we had to make the best of the space restrictions – but come back to the new videos, and you’ll see more of the full face! Thanks for visiting high50…

Added 8 Dec 2011 - 7:15 am

You mentioned that we will be able to see the concealer application better on the “new videos”. Where on the site are they uploaded? Thanks.

Added 8 Dec 2011 - 10:34 am

They’re coming out once a week, on Wednesdays. The new one is up, and on eyebrows. You won’t be able to see the concealer application – but you will see the result!

Added 2 Feb 2013 - 10:15 am

Really disappointed. Couldn’t see the concealer being applied at all. Why did the camera show the opposite side of the face?
We should have seen a front-on shot of the model’s face and less of Mary’s face.


  1. Makeup for the over 50s with Jo Fairley and Mary Greenwell | A Makeup & Beauty Blog - Lipglossiping