10 minutes with Lan Nguyen-Grealis
You have had such a wonderfully long, successful and varied career so far, what do you think is your greatest achievement to date?
It’s hard to measure the success really of my career as I’m constantly learning new skills and areas of the industry. One of my favorite highlights that surprised me the most was probably winning an award which was judged worldwide and on a point system based on my contribution to the industry. I was very humbled by the award because it gave me recognition which I never thought I would get. It gave me a confidence boost that I was doing something right.
You have worked on many famous famous - who is the most inspirational person you have ever made up and why did they leave such a mark on you?
I think working with the iconic Debbie Harry because no matter how much you think you know all the tricks, someone as experienced as her who lives and breathe makeup, and is used to doing it herself, you can always learn a trick or two! Not just in makeup but in etiquette and how you need to be at work, respecting privacy and boundaries at all time. She left a mark on me because she is such an icon to this day and I admire her.
Which song(s) evokes the most memories for you - the one(s) that makes you stop in your tracks and either smile or cry?
I love music and many tunes remind me of different times and emotions. It really depends on my mood on each day. I know for sure that orchestral music takes me on a journey and ballads make me cry. I grew up in the 80's so this reflects my childhood and many sad times as well as my adventures. But House and Garage tunes really does remind me of the best times, with my best friends, with not a care in the world and just dancing till the early hours. I just want to dance when I hear them.
If you could do Friday night at the pub with just 3 famous people (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Picasso because I loved his work and really would enjoy hearing the reason for what he painted and understanding his subjects.
Tim Burton as I know he doesn’t give interviews and would love that opportunity to be able to have a conversation about how I could collaborate with him!
Mariah Carey as she is one of the known ultimate divas and I think she is funny. I would be interested in hearing how she perceives the world.
Is there a piece of advice that you have been given over the years that has really stuck with you and if yes, can you pass this on for our readers?
The beauty of revenge is to become more successful than what you are. Never give up and don’t be afraid to do it yourself. (This advice was given to me by a powerful lawyer and has always been motivation to want to do better when times have been hard).
What is the last thing that you spent over £50 on? Was it something nice? share.
Funnily enough as soon as I was able to get to a store with retail staff in makeup I actually went and did a hoard on makeup. Really to support the industry in beauty but also to have a conversation with artists. I bought foundations and concealers from Pat McGrath range and a few other bits as I had to test it before I bought it and it’s been worth the investment.
Do you follow a rigid skincare regime? Do you have any hints and tips on maintaining clear and beautiful skin?
During lockdown I really tested some products and was put through the mill for trying to keep my skincare in check. It was all over the place. I’ve definitely moved to cleansing face wash with double cleansing, toners and certain moisturizer and serums. I learnt not to complicate the skin and only do what’s needed. So where my skin was clogged up I relied on the DR Dennis Gross daily face peels to rebalance the texture and keep it bright. Allowing time to enjoy hydrating face masks was also great and one of my must haves before a zoom call or applying makeup such as Seoulista Beauty.
ok - let's talk makeup - what is both the oldest and newest item in your makeup bag?
Oldest item is Mac face and body C5 it just something I go back to all the time! Mixing for kit or just for myself. It last ages when I store it right. The newest item has got to be Chanel bronzing cream as I held off from the original formula and experimenting with the latest one which seems to be working well.
Which makeup product could you not live without - your desert island choice?
I could not live without my mascara as my lashes are so fine it makes me feel feminine to have it!
What is your favourite lip colour - brand and shade?
My favorite lipstick colour is currently Lisa Eldridge in Velvet Ribbon.
Is there any particular makeup product from the past that really sticks in your mind and evokes memories - ie, the smell of your nan's powder etc.
My mum wasn’t one for allowing me to wear makeup and she was into a lot of tattoo makeup and surgery growing up as she never spent too much time doing it. But I do remember a bleaching cream of some sort that reminds me of a very thick version of sudocrem on the face! It was strange. I guess the one that sticks in my mind mostly is Elnett hairspray by loreal. I remember my mum, auntie and cousins all using it to get a perfect quiff! I ended up doing the same in my teens. The smell takes me back to that time.
Finally - The makeup and creative industry has taken a huge hit over lockdown. How has it been for you? How have you spent the time and Is it something you have relished or are you keen to get back to normality?
I’m really saddened on how the industry was portrayed during the reopening during lockdown. It really did make me think if we were valued enough as individuals as well as businesses. To get away from the stress I started to paint but with all that was going on while homeschooling and being there for my husband who had to be the breadwinner and take on all my debts was tough. Also wanting to help those who would be isolated and feeling lonely I often wondered about purpose and questioned myself. Life is getting to normal but it’s never going to be the same. I certainly have cherished my time with my family, got to slow down and not put pressure on myself anymore to have to do anything I don’t want to. I’m enjoying the build up and learning the new way of working and ensuring I’m happy as we all know life can be taken away very quickly so we need to live for today and be as positive as we can.