Strictly Come Dancing has dominated the Beeb’s Saturday night schedule since 2004, a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of light entertainment. Even COVID can’t pause it in its tracks and – arguably – we, as a nation, have never needed it more. An immeasurable part of the delight of watching is the glamour: the stunning costumes, the imaginative routines and mesmerising awe-inspiring makeup: a glory of glitter. Its creator and head of makeup is one of our very own: Oxford born-and-bred, Lisa Armstrong. Armstrong started her career as a member of 90s pop band Deuce before deciding to switch up careers and train as an MUA. From a column in Cosmo to onscreen tutorials for This Morning, all her knowledge, experience and expertise has been channelled into her latest venture: a bespoke makeup range with Avon Cosmetics Ltd. Here, she tells Sophie Elkan more…
First things first, do you still spend time in Oxfordshire
Yes, I come back regularly to visit family and friends here and I love it! I’m still in contact with my oldest school friends, and I’ve even named lipsticks after them. So, you’ll probably find me hanging out with them in the local pub or hitting the shops at Bicester Village.
When I watch Strictly, I’m always marvelling that the makeup looks immaculate throughout the night – even post-routine when they’re dripping with sweat and struggling for breath. How do you do this?
Thanks, it takes a lot of time and planning to make sure the dancers are comfortable, and their look stays put. I have the best team in the industry working with me at Strictly and we collaborate closely to ensure the hair and makeup look amazing but also don’t distract from the dancing. Live TV is nerve-racking especially when dancing in a hot studio, so we do all we can to keep the look set, but it’s real life and things will move so it is what it is!
How closely do you coordinate with the costume department?
It’s really collaborative. It’s so important that as a team everything we do marries up and works both visually and practically for the dancers. Say we have a girl with long hair and the costume has detail down the back of her dress, we’ll make sure her hair is up so it can be seen. We check everything works together at the dress run. If it does, great, we’re ready for the show. And if it doesn’t, we rejig it until it’s perfect.
Which is your favourite week?
I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween week. I love the creativity of it and how we have to really tell a story. It gives us an opportunity to go BIG and be really brave with our looks. But at the same time we have to make sure we’re bigger and better than the year before, so it’s a lot of pressure!
Why did you decide to collaborate with Avon?
Partnering with Avon was a no-brainer – they are so iconic. I already loved their products and to create my own brand which also equips other women to build a beauty business is really powerful. I also have history with Avon, it’s the funniest thing, my first ever professional job as a makeup artist was for Avon! I finished my diploma at the Glauca Rossi School of Makeup and had a friend who worked at a magazine. They were doing a model search and Avon was providing all the makeup. I was young, out of college, hungry to do it and sort of blagged my way in. Because of that, doing this range with Avon, into which I’ve put my heart and soul, felt really special; it feels like a real full circle.
How did you decide which products to include in your collection?
I am a product junkie – I LOVE makeup and with over 20 years’ experience have tried nearly every product out there, so I know what works and what doesn’t. For my own range, the product creation was quite easy. I knew in my mind the iconic products I love, but also from speaking to hundreds of people during my 20 years, I knew what people needed; a go-to capsule range all thought out for you, that you can just enjoy. From a great base (All About The Base Primer and SKINvisible Foundation) to the Dazzle Stick Eye Pencils, I have created a signature range that offers everyone premium products that work, are easy to use and don’t cost the earth.
What was the best part of designing your own range?
The best part for me is right now seeing the reaction to the products – I’m still nervous about the response but so far it’s been so positive which means everything to me.
And the most surprising challenge?
How long it has taken! It’s been a huge team effort over two and a half years and I’ve loved every second, but I have been meticulous with everything so a few times we’ve had to change up formulas or packaging until we got it perfect.
If you were to extend the range, where would you go next?
I’d love to add more shades to really build my range. This is very much a capsule collection and it’s important to me that everybody can find their perfect shade of foundation and concealer, so that’s a big one for me. I have so many ideas for new products – watch this space!
Finally, what is your must-have, won’t-leave-the-house-without-it product?
It’s got to be one of the lipsticks from my range. I mean, I love them all so much that I named them all after my closest girlfriends! Plus, the lid is magnetic so it won’t make a mess in my handbag when I’m on the go – winner.