The Interview — Sofia Schwarzkopf-Tilbury, Creative Executive at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty
Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with Sofia Schwarzkopf-Tilbury, and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.
Sofia Schwarzkopf-Tilbury is one of the beauty industry’s rising stars and just like her aunt, the iconic Charlotte Tilbury, Sofia has makeup magic in her DNA. At just 26, Sofia has been a makeup artist for eight years and is currently Creative Executive at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty. An incredible makeup artist and beauty authority, Sofia is bringing a new generation of beauty expertise and insights to both the business and the beauty industry.
Growing up, Sofia lived between Ibiza and London. Her exposure to the bohemian, carefree lifestyle of Ibiza, soaking up the creative passions of others around her had significant impact on her desire to become an artist. As a child, Sofia spent lots of time with her Grandfather, Lance, a talented painter who shared his artistry skills with her, teaching her all about tonality, contrasts and how to mix colors. A keen painter and photographer, Sofia spent many years harnessing her passions and developing her love and understanding of color and tonality setting herself up for a career in the creative industries.
Aged 18, after completing a BTEC course in Art and Design in London, Sofia began training as a makeup artist, trained by the world’s number 1 makeup artist—her aunt, Charlotte. With a career spanning 27 years, Charlotte is considered a true creative visionary and trail-blazer and one of the most highly regarded and influential makeup artists of all time. Through this opportunity, Sofia received the best training and grounding in the beauty industry, learning on the job and behind the scenes as Charlotte imparted her expert knowledge and artistry.
After the incredibly successful Charlotte Tilbury Beauty brand launch at Selfridges, London in 2013, Sofia took on the role of Lead Artist at the Charlotte Tilbury Beauty counter in the Selfridge’s Beauty Hall. For two years, Sofia worked alongside other artists, gaining invaluable, first-hand experience of both the brand and its consumers, whilst also developing and honing her artistry skills.
Following her time at Selfridges, Sofia began assisting Charlotte with her work as a makeup artist, from fashion shows, including Temperley London, Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Versus Versace and Victoria’s Secret to the world’s most glamorous red carpet events such as The Golden Globes, The Oscars, The Met Gala, The British Fashion Awards, BAFTAs, The BRIT Awards and Cannes Film Festival. Sofia regularly assists Charlotte on many editorial shoots for the world’s most prestigious publications, including British and American Vogue, LOVE magazine and Vanity Fair.
Recognized as one of the beauty industries most in-demand rising stars, Sofia was the lead makeup artist for Stella McCartney’s Spring Resort 2020 show bringing to life the beauty look created by Charlotte in Milan. At London Fashion Week, September 2019, Sofia was the head makeup artist for her first three Fashion Week shows, Agent Provocateur, Temperley London, and Olivia Rubin, leading the makeup direction and creating incredible, beautiful runway looks. You can watch Sofia Tilbury's makeup diary from London Fashion Week 2019 on Charlotte Tilbury's YouTube Channel.
Sofia has also led the makeup direction for beauty editorial (Vogue Netherlands) and cover shoots (Cosmopolitan Middle East).
Through working with Charlotte over the years, Sofia has learned many of her expert tips, tricks, and techniques whilst also developing her own creative style as an artist. As a lead artist for the brand, Sofia has worked with VIP clients all over the world including Sienna Miller, Irina Shayk, Shanina Shaik, Olivia Palermo, Lorena Rae, Gizele Olivera, Suki Waterhouse, Kat Graham, Candice Swanepoel, Romee Strijd, Danielle Herrington, Frida Aasen, Maya Henry, and many more.
Sofia is not only an incredible makeup artist in her own right, but also an integral part of Charlotte’s business. Working closely with Charlotte, Sofia has a key role in the development of new products, helping all aspects from conception and creation to design and campaign shoots. In 2018, Sofia co-created the sell-out Stars in Your Eyes Palette, which garnered a waitlist of over 10,000 customers before launch.
Aside from her role as Creative Executive at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, Sofia also takes an active role on the brand’s social media channels, creating exclusive, inspirational content including how-to tutorials and first-look launch reveals. As a familiar beauty influencer, Sofia reaches audiences of the next generation of beauty addicts, introducing an influx of new followers to Charlotte’s award-winning, best-selling brand.
For more on Sofia, be sure to follow her on Instagram @sofiaschwarzkopftilbury!
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Did you always know you wanted to work in the beauty industry?
I grew up in Ibiza, surrounded by artists and musicians and writers, so I feel like I was always on a path to something creative, but after school I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do so my aunt suggested I come and work with her!
Walk us through your career backstory. How did you end up working for Charlotte Tilbury?
I started by assisting Charlotte backstage at shows and on photo shoots, with my first two years in the company spent working full-time on the very first Charlotte Tilbury beauty counter at Selfridges in London.
It was at that point that Charlotte started asking me which products were selling well, what people were asking for, which shades we were missing—so I started to work on Product Development too! It is such a privilege to work with Charlotte. I feel like I’ve learned so much about beauty and life and confidence from her, and in the past year, I’ve been able to create some amazing looks on everyone from Sienna Miller to Candice Swanepoel and Minnie Driver. It’s the best!
View Sofia's Essentials
Is there a typical workday for you?
Honestly, no two days are the same! One day I could be trialing new textures and shades with the Product Development team, the next I could be flying to Los Angeles to open a store, or creating a how-to video with an influencer, then racing off to do a VIP’s makeup for a red-carpet event! I love the fact that my role is so fast-paced and fun. At Charlotte Tilbury, we have the most amazing dream team, so it never feels like work!
You’ve worked at some high-profile events over the years. Do you have a favorite?
I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to travel all over the world and work at some of the most incredible events—from The Golden Globes to The Oscars, The British Fashion Awards and so on! I always love heading out to LA for awards season. We meet such amazing, inspirational people and I am fortunate to get really fun, interesting, challenging jobs out there!
I also have so much fun creating looks to complement designers’ collections at fashion week. Last year was my first ever London Fashion week and I keyed the looks for the Agent Provocateur, Temperley London and Olivia Rubin shows which were all so incredible!
How about a favorite client?
I’m lucky enough to work with some of the world’s most beautiful women—from Olivia Palermo to Suki Waterhouse, Sienna Miller to Minnie Driver. I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite, but I always have so much fun with Irina Shayk. She has such an incredible sense of humor and loves to play and experiment with makeup!
What are your top 3 makeup bag staples?
I always get asked this question and I find it so difficult because if you look in my makeup bag, you will only see Charlotte Tilbury! I feel like all of our products are staples. That said, I do always have 3 products with me—usually in the pocket of my blazer so they’re always on hand!
1. Magic Away concealer to blur imperfections and brighten the undereye area. This is literally ALWAYS with me. I never go anywhere without it. I don’t know how I lived without this product! It’s like a magic wand for blemishes, undereye circles, redness—you name it.
2. Then, I’d say Airbrush Flawless Finish powder to set and perfect the complexion. It is infused with Rose Wax and Almond Oil, so it actually hydrates the skin as you wear it! I love the fact this is so finely milled you can apply this throughout the night without it ever looking cakey. I like to apply it to the T-zone, leaving the cheekbones glowy and free of powder.
3. Finally, a Lip Cheat to define and shape the appearance of the lips. I’m a real lip liner girl and I feel like everyone is obsessed with plump-looking, supermodel lips these days. Lip liner is an amazing way to cheat the look of your lips and it helps your lipstick last longer too.
Can you give us the lowdown on your skincare routine?
Charlotte always says ‘you can’t have a beautiful painting without a beautiful canvas’ so good skincare has been really important for me from a young age! I love Charlotte’s Multi Miracle Glow Balm for removing my makeup and deeply cleansing my skin, I always carry an Instant Magic Dry Facial Sheet Mask with me when I’m flying to combat the drying effects on air travel, and I never, ever skip Magic Cream! Magic Cream is the best moisturizer out there for hydrating your skin and giving you that glow. It contains Hyaluronic Acid, Bionymph Peptide, Vitamins A, C and E, and Camellia oil and you can literally see results in 28 seconds!
Charlotte is obsessed with finding the most innovative formulas and ingredients for the skin, so our products are always infused with incredible, powerful formulations that are proven by science to be effective, and I’ve been using some of her newest skincare that is going to be launching later this year. My skin has been looking incredible so I can’t wait for you all to find out more!
What are the most common makeup mistakes you see women making, and what should they be doing instead?
One thing I see time and time again is a person’s makeup unintentionally dragging down their face. This can be due to heavy eyeshadow or cakey face makeup—it is important to make sure your makeup is LIFTING your face, making you the most gorgeous and youthful version of yourself!
Angle your feline flick UP.
Apply your highlight to the high points of your face.
And always consider your own unique, gorgeous facial features before any trend!!
What’s your advice for an aspiring makeup artist?
WATCH, DO and stay as CURIOUS as you can! I started out by watching Charlotte—observing all her techniques and soaking up her tips and tricks—so I do think to assist someone is essential. Working on a shop floor is also amazing for your learning curve as a makeup artist as you’re not just being presented with perfect model faces all day. You learn how to do eyeshadow on hooded eyes, how to conceal scars and pigmentation, how to contour a rounder face; it gives you an understanding of variety of faces and skin tones that is vital if you want to be taken seriously in the beauty industry.
What’s next for your career? Do you have any plans to start your own beauty brand?
I’m loving my path right now! I’m so blessed to have this incredible platform, and I can’t wait to share even more from this amazing brand! Charlotte always says, “If you give everyone the right makeup, they can conquer the world!” and I can really feel the power and magic behind all of our upcoming product launches, new stores, red carpet events, and masterclasses so I can’t wait for people to discover more!