HIVE: an interview with Journalist and Makeup Artist Madeleine Spencer

We’re excited to bring you a new series of insider interviews called HIVE, where náu gets the opportunity to speak with a diverse range of busy women, working, living and breathing in the skincare & beauty space - we talk about all things career, beauty secrets, skincare tips, and their predictions for 2021.

First up, we were thrilled to (virtually) sit down with acclaimed Journalist, Podcaster and Make-up Artist, Madeleine Spencer, to get her quick-fire take on the path to success and what lockdown has taught her.


On Success

What are your career highlights?

Debating on Newsnight was pretty huge, interviewing Kylie Minogue for my podcast was a dream come true, and, on a more personal level, an editor I think very highly of sending me an e-mail to say she enjoyed my writing style made me very happy indeed (I bought myself a Maria Tash earring to celebrate that very same day).

Do you believe you can make your passion your job? How? 

Absolutely - but it’s important to be realistic. Any job will require some rather less enjoyable tasks to be completed and I’ve found that it’s ploughing through them that gets you to the fun bit. My advice, to borrow from Wordsworth, is to begin, begin. Just get going, and face challenges when they arise (they always will, more’s the pity).

How do you strike a work/life balance? 

There comes a moment in every day when I say ‘enough’, and put all thoughts of work to bed and actually that’s served me very well.

Tips to break into the beauty industry?

Start wherever you can. If you know someone working in the industry, ask for tips and potentially some experience. If you don’t, start a blog or Instagram account to use as a shop window, e-mail publications you’d like to work with ideas, reach out to people you admire for advice, and be persistent - the beauty industry isn’t a fluffy world, and you’ll sustain some knocks, but if you want to work in it, push through that.

Positive changes to the beauty industry?

It’s had to sit up, pay attention to what’s going on in the world, and make changes accordingly - and anyone who’s been in the industry for a while will have noticed a real shift in attitudes and practices.


On Beauty

Is Beauty your greatest passion? 

I want my beauty routine and preferred look to work for me, not be my life’s work. But I’m endlessly passionate about playing with products and in particular make-up, which to me serves as both a way to decorate my face and to have a moment of meditation. 

When did you first discover beauty? 

My family are aesthetes, and it would’ve been impossible to grow up around them without having an acute sense of taking pleasure in the way things looked, so I started very young.

Your beauty heroes, who are they and why? 

Brigitte Bardot: so effortless, so sexy. Elvis Presley, who possessed the best face I’ve ever seen. Lily Elsie, for her soft, sensual features. And Debbie Harry, for being so anarchic and spirited when it comes to her look.


On Skincare

Beauty ingredients you swear by? 

I suffer from pigmentation so niacinamide is pretty key to keep darker patches at bay, and I love hyaluronic acid when my skin feels a bit tight and tired. 

Skincare - multi-step or a few key heroes? 

Absolutely a few key heroes. I’ll use the required steps, but I’m not going to waste any time doing anything that doesn’t really work.

What does natural beauty mean to you? 

It means having a sense of ingredients harvested from nature while using, like the scent of a cherry, or the smoothness of rosehip oil.


On Rituals

Talk us through your regular ‘self-care’ rituals

Stretching in the morning is absolutely vital to my feeling good in my body, as is walking my dog. I am also of the belief that there is no mood a hot bath in something scented can’t shift, and given that I’m prone to bouts of crossness or stress, I am very devoted to my bath. 

The effect lockdown has had? 

I’ve become more laissez-faire, which in a way has been fun, but I also miss the theatre of dressing up and loading myself up with accessories and make-up. I’m overall more at home with my completely unadulterated appearance now, and perhaps that’s a good thing.


On The Future

Silver lining of 2020?

We’ve all as a global community been in it together, and the sense of a common enemy has really united us in some respects.

Predictions for 2021?

The experience of life rather than the appearance of the experience will continue to be at the forefront. 


Hive Take 5

Listen: Beauty from the Heart and Outspoken Beauty are both great.

Watch: Any Lisa Eldridge make-up videos, and stream some Hollywood Golden Era films for incredible make-up and costumes.

Read: The Five by Hallie Rubenhold, Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, and The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig.

Learn: To knit. Handy. Soothing.

Go: Anywhere we possibly can when this pandemic is over (but I have Memphis earmarked for a big trip).


Where can we find you? 

Insta: @madeleinelovesthis

Podcast: Beauty Full Lives