Makeup Master Tom Pecheux Tells Me Everything I’ve Been Doing Wrong All This Time

by Freya Drohan

It’s not every day that you get to converse with a beauty legend—particularly one whom was responsible for the high-octane Gucci ads in the ’90s! But luckily the moment arose when the chance to chat to YSL Beauty’s global beauty director, Tom Pecheux, presented itself. Ergo, it would be rude not to seize the opportunity to ask the age-old burning questions about breakouts, bleugh-looking skin, and how to banish bags under your eyes amid all of these holiday bashes. Prepare to be schooled…

Help! We’re all so tired in NYC right now. What can we do to look more fresh faced?
Umm, go on holidays during the holidays? I’m kidding! Everyone knows NYC is definitely not the place to rest. There’s an incredible energy in NYC, but after a while that beautiful city soaks up your own energy. New Yorkers are pretty good at knowing their vitamins and good food to eat, at least. In terms of makeup, what you can do is bring a little bit of warmth into your skin by adding a touch of a warmer foundation after you put your foundation on. One mistake that a lot of women make is thinking that putting more and more on is going to cover your tiredness. When your skin is tired, it’s like you: it needs a rest! So you need to put less on. I recommend going with a lighter type of coverage with a moist finish. Something that gives you a veil without looking and feeling like you’re wearing a heavy mask.

It’s so dry right now too. How can we keep our skin looking hydrated and healthy for better makeup application?
I know—I just arrived here and with all of these ACs blowing air it really does make your skin dry. A secret I learned from my mother—who had a family of five and no time to put on makeup!—is to put one or two dots of lipstick on top of your foundation. Whether it’s brown, red, apricot, or beige lipstick, it’s going to add a little flush and wake you up.

Like on your cheeks?
Yes, right on the apple. You grab your lipstick and do two little dots. Then with your fingers or a brush, blend it into your foundation. It’s like a creamy blush! When you do skincare, foundation, powder, and powder blush; it all just layers on top of each other. When you do skincare and foundation and add that creamy lipstick or blush and blend it altogether, it’s going to be just one layer and it’s going to melt together beautifully.

Tom Pecheux (Courtesy)

I never thought of that, I do a lot of powder layers!
It’s really helpful! The other thing to do, when you feel tired, is to only powder your t-zone gently. Avoid loose powder too. It’s better to use compact powder. Just do the middle of your forehead, tip of your nose, under your nose, and under your chin. Don’t powder too much under your eyes if you can! You have to go very gently. Grab the compact powder and your brush. Before you apply, tap the brush against the mirror to reduce the amount of product. This will create a veil of powder, instead of a patch. Powder under the eyes can be a big mistake. When you’re 18, it’s fine! But over a certain age, when wrinkles and bags start to show, too much powder isn’t going to help.

Any advice for making sure makeup lasts the whole night?
I don’t know how much you party?

A lot!
[Laughs] Waterproof products will help! If you don’t have anything waterproof, I would avoid putting makeup under the eyes, such eye pencil and eye shadow. Keep everything on top. If you are using eyeliner, only do the waterline as the bottom lashes will create a barrier and stop the pencil running down your face. With gravity, and when you sweat, eat, and dance, everything is going to melt. When you get tired, everything gets tired—even your eyeshadow! So you have to do everything in thin layers and in a very light way.

How do you achieve your signature understated elegance?
It’s difficult to give a general tip; it’s a very individual thing. It’s the same thing with me and Kaia—I want my vision to fit with what she likes. She’s a top model and a clever girl and she is very open minded and versatile, so I’ve done some extremely glamorous looks on her and also shoots where she was only wearing a tiny bit of Touche Èclat. I think versatility is all about a free spirit and being open minded. So that’s what you need to be—easy and cool with yourself! And then embrace it; you can’t make any mistakes.

Tom Pecheux and Kaia Gerber at the YSL Beauty master class (Courtesy)

How do we distract from any holiday breakouts or dull skin and dark circles?
Colonics?! I’m kidding! It’s like how when the winter comes, you know to bring a scarf in your bag just in case. When you know that the holidays are coming, maybe do some extra prep work. You know you’re going to eat heavy foods [that’ll break you out], so maybe try eat smaller portions. In terms of makeup, don’t forget your concealer! One thing I notice with women is that when they have one or two pimples, they cover their entire face with heavy foundation. You should keep the rest of your skin looking fresh, and just do good concealer on the pimple.

Let’s talk about lips! With masks, they were forgotten for a while. What trends are you excited about right now?
I’ve always been a huge fan of lips. And matte lipstick is much more elegant than a gloss! It’s more like a psychological issue than a trend. I’ve been desperate to do lipstick again, and women are dying for glossy, extravagant lips. Or at least I get the feeling they are. In fashion, we play with every color, but if I think of the makeup that I’ve done and the iconic women that I love the most, then it’s either a kissable lip, or a very “don’t touch me, but love me color,” and that color is red.

That’s the French in you!
I do love black lipstick! But it’s not for everyone.


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Any other skincare or prep tips to enhance makeup? Kaia says you love doing face massages. 
Yes! And I’m a huge fan of oil for the face. You put very little on, just two drops and massage it in. You can tell by your face that you love yourself! It’s amazing for blood circulation and helping your skin to fight against gravity. It wakes up your face and gets rid of puffiness too. You were asking about looking tired—that’s the best thing you can do!

What’s next for you, in 2022 and beyond?
Like everyone else, I hope that COVID ends. I’m hoping that people will have learned, and I’m hoping that people will smile and be joyful. There’s nothing wrong with being tired—but it’s important to be tired for a good reason, and for me, it’s important to have fun! And not to be bothered by the stupid virus and stupid people!

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