IN BED WITH NICKI BUGLEWICZ
American born and bred, globetrotting makeup artist Nicki Buglewicz moved to Dublin from Orlando, Florida as a teenager where she honed her craft making the great and the good look gorgeous for fashion and beauty editorials, stage and screen.
These days she’s based near London but will travel to wherever the work takes her. So, stick on the kettle – and your favourite face mask – to learn how she follows her bliss…
When did you know you wanted to be a make-up artist?
I have always been fascinated by art, makeup and fashion, starting when I was about five. I still have sketchbooks from a very young age of my fashion designs and paintings. I was winning art competitions at age seven, going up against 15 year olds in school.
My mother is an actor and I grew up watching her work on commercials, TV and film sets. I remember after school visiting my mom on set in the makeup trailer and watching her get camera-ready with the makeup and hair stylists. I learned set etiquette at a young age, the terminology, what everyone’s roles were and how important every single person involved was in creating everything we saw on screen.
At the end of every movie we went to go and see, we always waited till the very end of the credits. My mom instilled in us that this is a simple sign of respect to all of those people who worked so hard on the film, and I always loved when we saw names of the people we knew in the industry on the screen float by, director, actors, stunt men and women, and of course my favourite, the makeup artists. I still do this at the end of every movie and always do research into their careers.
Secretly, now I tweet or DM those individuals and thank them – it is my thank you to those individuals whose hard work I admire. My hopes and dreams are to be on these big projects – in film, fashion and commercial work.
How did you go about following your dream?
In college in Dublin, where I studied fine art and graphic design in Visual Communications, I was always late to class doing makeup on friends or fellow students, applying a new graphic winged eye liner, inspired by Amy Winehouse, or trying out a new sparkly green eyeshadow I had gotten in the States over summer holidays.
I worked on sets assisting from the bottom up. It wasn’t until I was in a bad car accident in 2008 – a giant lorry ran into me – that I realised my dream. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, I never will forget him asking me: “Now that you’ve had your brush with death, who do you want to be in this life and what do you truly want to do?” And I immediately said, “I want to be a makeup artist.” And from then on it all just clicked.
I put the settlement money I won in the car crash case towards makeup college courses and continued to assist on TV and film sets. I worked three jobs to maintain rent, bills and makeup for my kit. I still pinch myself and skip out the door everyday to work. I followed my bliss. I like to think that little girl on set in the makeup trailer watching her mom get camera ready would be so excited if she knew what was ahead of her.
What do you consider to be your first big break in the beauty world?
When I was in makeup school, my mom had a gorgeous model friend who was in an acting class with her and kindly agreed to be my model for a shoot I was doing for a project. She was a total pro – obviously – and as a thank you I invited her out for dinner and cocktails with my mom for a fun girl’s night out. She asked if she could invite her boyfriend and of course we said yes.
They both arrived, both gorgeous, I actually assumed he was also a model as well. He was all questions, genuinely interested in learning everything about my mother and I. Naturally I asked, “And what do you do?” to which he replied, “I’m in a band, I’m the singer.” And I said “Oh wow, have you supported anyone big or played any of the big venues?” and he replied with a boyish grin, “Yeah we do pretty well, our last gig was like 50,000 people there, just to see us.” Obviously I wanted to die as I still didn’t know who he was and didn’t dare ask at that point what the name of the band was.
We soon moved subject onto why he wanted to join us for dinner and it turned out we had a mutual photographer friend in common who was wondering if I would do makeup and hair for a shoot he wanted to organise for the following week – a shoot that was published in Tatler magazine later that month, my first publication! I was over the moon and still love that shoot so much.
But back to that meeting… on the way home, my mom called me in my car and said to turn on the radio to so-and-so station, and said, “Nicki, that’s them, that’s Danny’s band. He’s in The Script, even I know who they are!”
After all that I was The Script’s makeup artist for a few years, lol.
You’ve worked with many a celebrity but have you ever been star-struck?
I’ve thankfully worked with so many wonderfully kind actors, models and musicians that have always been totally at ease, making the whole day of work normal, easy and a pleasure.
Working with, meeting and doing makeup on shoots with Riccardo Tisci of Burberry fame, the band Bastille, Lisa Hannigan, The Coronas, the Princess of Malaysia, Louis Walsh and, most of all, my two favourite makeup artist role models, Alex Box and Lisa Eldridge… my dreams definitely came true on those days!
Growing up, my sister and I got to meet so many wonderful and iconic A-list actors on set when my mom was working with them: icons such as Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Elizabeth Hurley and Hulk Hogan to name a few. But I’d have to say I was star-struck by Eva Green on the set of Penny Dreadful – I topped up her makeup when her usual makeup artist was away for a few seasons. She asked me for a bottle of water, kindly asked my name and smiled all day at me between takes. She is so beautiful in real life, truly mesmerising, and oh-so-talented. I was totally star-struck to say the least.
Who surprised you the most?
Aisling Bea surprised me the most, and in the most wonderful way that has changed how I work forever.
We were doing a cover shoot for Cara magazine, the inflight magazine for Aer Lingus, and she requested beforehand that I only use cruelty-free and vegan products. So, as part of my prep, I did my research and separated out every item in my kit, colour-coding every item, even down to every brush (of which I have hundreds), with either a Red nail polish dot (not Cruelty Free), a Blue (Cruelty Free) or a Green dot (Vegan). That way I could honestly and quickly always identify and show items if I were to ever offer services to a vegan or cruelty-conscious client.
Dreamiest location you’ve been on for work and why?
Pre-pandemic I was travelling so much for work – for H&M I went to Morocco, for Primark I went to Tulum, Mexico. But if I had to choose my favourite I’d probably say Thailand, for a week shooting a swimwear campaign for the brand Figleaves. I had my very own hot tub in my resort villa!
When we weren’t up two hours before sunrise to do hair and makeup on all the models, we got to go to the Thai spa and massage or hang out by the pool or on the beach. We took breaks in the midday heat – direct sunlight is terrible for shooting, so dawn and dusk were prime times for dreamy beach shots with gorgeous pink skies. I didn’t feel all that glamorous at the time, what with jet lag and little sleep, but I remember it so fondly and made some spectacular friendships on that trip.
What’s on your nightstand?
My iGlow Lash Maximiser Serum, I slick this on right before bed on my lash line to grow extra long and full lashes. I always get asked “Are those seriously your real lashes?”.
Always a Diptique candle, the obsession is real.
My M&S aromatherapy linen sleep spray – I can’t sleep without a few spritzes on my sheets and pillows.
My favourite book, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind. I’ve read it so many times since I was a teenager, its so beautifully and fantastically descriptive.
A huge stack of foreign Vogue magazines that I’ve collected on my travels around the world, in fact this tall stack used to be my bedside table for years.
My lip treatment I wear as a lip mask overnight to wake up with the softest lips ever is by Malin + Goetz.
And, lastly, the Calm app on my phone, to lull me into slumberland.
How do you balance work and wellness?
I really have to force myself into a routine of taking care of myself, or I can easily fall by the wayside. I love trying new skincare as it’s a great way of tricking myself into wellness and self-care. I find most makeup artists are like this – always making others’ look and feel their best can be draining if we don’t also ground ourselves. As the saying goes. ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’, so fill that cup up, baby, and look after yourself! I am getting better at that.
Where and when was your last truly mellow moment?
I go on amazing walks into the forest over by a natural spring near my house in the English countryside. No phone, no music, just me and my thoughts for an hour or two in the beautiful landscape. I do this as often as I can to stay mellow and balanced. Hug a tree if it calls to you, for an extra mellow magic moment!
What is your night-time routine?
I love my night-time routine and it’s quite specific. I remove my makeup and delve into my skincare – always mixing it up and trying new products that I am lucky enough to have sent to me by PR companies and brands to review honestly.
I am loving Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley and ReVive skincare at the moment and my skin has never looked better.
Then I try and do some yin yoga afterwards, with my husband, using the Down Dog app, which we’ve been obsessed with ever since the start of lockdown. Then for the shavasana/rest I use one of those ‘bed of nails’ – the Shakti mat, to help release back tension (makeup artists have the worst back pain, pray for us).
Often at the same time as the Shakti mat I’ll put on my near-infrared LED FaceLITE Mask to boost collagen, reduce deep and fine lines, reduce pigmentation, and boost my skincare into high gear, for around 10 minutes. The results are insane. I’ve bought so many family members this as a gift for Christmas, it’s like a facelift.
Then I fall asleep to the Calm app, one of their sleep stories. They’re like bedtime stories for adults, but by celebrities. I love the Matthew McConaughey and the Stephen Fry ones best, I’m out like a light as soon as I turn them on. I actually don’t think I’ve ever listened until the end…
The festive season is in full swing. What products would you recommend for easily upping the sparkle without looking like a total glitterball?
I’m in love with the new holiday collection Lisa Eldridge eyeshadow palettes. They’re so luxurious and so very beautiful in every way, from the package design to the textures – and blend like a dream, without any effort, especially the creamy mattes. They are not only cruelty-free but amazingly micro-plastic free, which is unheard of when it comes to glittery vegan makeup.
Every colour story suits everyone, and the design is not only gorgeous but customisable. Genius makeup artist that she is, Lisa Eldridge has made them easily refillable and changeable, so you can customise each magnetic palette by popping out and swapping shades, just like us makeup artists do in our kits, which is refreshing because she’s made this simple technique so accessible to everyone.
Similarly, what instant gratification skincare and base products can we employ to make us look like we’ve had *the best* beauty sleep before a party?
Once your undereyes and lips are looked after, you can glam up or dial down to a natural look and look effortlessly rested, in my opinion.
I’m loving the RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream at night and the Sunday Riley Autocorrect Eye Cream in the morning for de-puffed, brightened and tightened undereyes.
Also the new Charlotte Tilbury concealers have this brightening and tightening effect. They go on like a creamy serum, and are seamlessly pigmented for great dark circle coverage.
The Lisa Eldridge lip glosses are truly flattering, more like a lip treatment or mask than a traditional gloss. They come in so many different fun shades and they aren’t sticky – they’re cushiony – and won’t lock in dryness. And with all the oils, and vitamin E, they actually heal your lips the more you wear them.
Tips for those flying home for Christmas: when it comes to travelling with just hand luggage, what must-have items do you squish into the dreaded see-thru security bag?
I do struggle with this but I think I have it down to a fine art at this stage. Go to SpaceNK and get samples of all your favourite skincare in those tiny pots.
I save up those sample sachets that come in magazines too, like shampoos, conditioners and perfumes. I also order things to the location I’m going to – in this case it’ll be Christmas at my mom’s in Dublin – so I always store my favourite shampoo and conditioner in my old room.
Don’t waste valuable plastic-baggie real estate on stuff you can borrow or get when you’re there – make sure only liquids go into the baggie, not powder eyeshadows, eye or lip pencils.
I always pack an extra baggie too as mine is always stretched and jammed-packed… the zip always breaks on me.
Imagine a long-anticipated night in during party season. Your Moon + Mellow PJs are on and you have the TV (and couch) to yourself. What are your go-to festive feel-good films, snacks and refreshments?
Always a hot chocolate in hand, no matter the weather. I also make a mean gourmet popcorn on the hob with Italian herb seasoning, freshly grated Parmesan and black truffle salt, with a splash of melted butter.
My favourite Christmas films are Scrooged with Bill Murray – I quote this film throughout the festive season with my family. Then Love Actually, Die Hard, and I also do an annual marathon of Harry Potter films in December.
Who would be your top three pyjama party guests?
When I think of a pyjama party I immediately think back to when I was younger and of all the laughter, the snacks, the embarrassing stories and watching movies like Grease and singing into hairbrushes – yes I grew up in the States and this is definitely a right of passage there – so I would have to include some real down to earth, relatable but most importantly hysterical people to this slumber party.
Adele – I mean, come on, who hasn’t thought they would be besties with her if they met her on a night out?! Best laugh ever, and I just love her energy and her dirty humour.
Rihanna – Such a great laugh, and I adore her music and makeup/skincare brand Fenty so we would definitely be talking all-things beauty industry. I would love to pick her creative and entrepreneurial brain. I also hear she is the best-smelling celebrity! I’m obsessed with discovering new perfume and finally found out what scent she wears and OMG it’s incredible: Kilian’s Love, Don’t Be Shy.
Jennifer Lawrence – Contagious laugh and the best facial expressions in any interview I’ve seen her in. She always has an awkward or embarrassing story that ends in fits of laughter. She’s a real human and definitely a great one to have at a PJ party, I’m sure you’d agree.
And just for funzies, because why not, we’ll invite one more to swing by with the snacks: Ryan Reynolds because… all the reasons, obviously!
What are your hopes and dreams for 2023?
This past year has been the hardest and saddest I have experienced. My husband’s whole family are living and surviving in Kyiv, Ukraine and we worry for them daily. Both of my grandmothers passed away this year in the US – they were my world and my icons.
I have had health problems and been in hospital a lot this year. My struggle will strengthen me. My hopes and dreams are to find peace, joy, balance and happiness every day and to reach my goals of being the best and most successful artist I can push myself to be.
Which are your favourite picks from the Moon + Mellow collection and why?
I love the long pyjamas, they are so soft and cosy, and feel luxurious. I love the prints so much, especially the Flora Burgundy, Jellyfish Midnight, and Tribal Flower Blue. The prints remind me of dreams and the patterns that your eyes play tricks on you in the dark before you fall asleep. Such a stunning collection of sleepwear, and a dreamy Irish brand.