Makeup and hair artist Andrea Claire has worked on TV makeover shows, the Crazy Rich Asians red carpet premiere and more. Here she talks frizzy hair, parenting tweens, and why she thinks IG filters should be illegal!
This Month’s That Mama is Canadian makeup and hair artist Andrea Claire. Andrea was one of my sources of joy over the #CircuitBreaker. I found her at-home fashion shoot selfies hilarious (as they were intended to be) and I was always checking her IG @aclairebeauty to see her latest creative escapades. Meeting up with her in person it’s clear Andrea is one creative, opinionated, sassy lady. She is mama to three girls – Zoie, her youngest, is 12; and her two eldest daughters Sage and Blaire are all grown up and working in Toronto. We sat down to chat about her 30-year career in makeup and hair and more. Read on for Andrea’s tips on taming frizzy hair (there’s a long queue of ladies hoping she’ll sort their frizzy curls out), hear about what makeup not to use in this humidity, plus we discuss parenting a tween and why Andrea is an advocate of positive ageing.
Read on for a fun interview and gorgeous photos as always, courtesy of Irina Nilsson Photography!
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My husband and I were married in May 2007, he was living in Austin, Texas at the time and I was living downtown Toronto with my two girls. We relocated to Singapore in 2007 for my husband’s job. He is a lawyer heading up legal for APAC for a US company. In May 2008 we had Zoie. In November 2008, I contracted chikungunya (translates to ‘walks like a chicken’ – a super sexy illness). June 2009 we relocated to Austin for good… lol. Sept 2010 we returned to Singapore. 2015 and 2017 I had my hips replaced because of the decline my body had from the super sexy chikungunya mosquito illness. I have three daughters, Sage (26), my eldest daughter now a chef/food stylist in Toronto is represented by my agent in Canada, Blaire (24), my middle daughter is a floral designer in Toronto and Zoie (12) is thriving here at SAS, on the swim team, active in music and addicted to musicals.
Can you talk us through your career as a makeup and hair artist?
It’s hard to streamline my career into a brief timeline because of my years of experience. I find often that I have to explain that I am not a bored housewife looking for a hobby. Both the expat community and Singaporeans have frequently asked me if I was bored and took up hair and makeup to pass the time while I’m here. I find that incredibly insulting. Did you become a GP to pass the time here as your husband is a banker?
Yes, this is a viable career choice. Yes, Virginia, women can work.
While I was in Canada I co-starred on two Canadian makeover shows that coincidentally aired in Singapore. I have been a hair spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris for three years running teams for fashion week and Canadian Idol and was the makeup artist for 7 seasons of So Chic with Steven and Chris. Since relocating to Singapore I met the then beauty editor of Bazaar quite randomly. I gave her my card and she started using me for her editorials. I quickly became a team member for many magazines here in Singapore. Elle, Cosmo, Bazaar, Cleo, Tatler. I have been on-camera for Tresemme on Asia’s Next Top Model, shot a campaign for Clear Shampoo, Revlon Canada, and continue to do hair for countless editorials and advertising campaigns for local, regional and international magazines. Other notable work I have done include working with Seal, yes, Kiss From A Rose; for MasterCard, MBS and Liv Lo Golding and Henry Golding for the Crazy Rich Asian’s red carpet premiere.
We know you are a big advocate of makeup not hiding your imperfections and accentuating your good features. How do you feel about all the IG filters and do you think there is increased pressure to look perfect?
I think my biggest issue with IG filters is that a surprising number of people don’t actually see that it’s a filter. In the fashion and beauty industry, we are often selling aspirations. You see some glam model and want to look like that. So you buy that outfit thinking you’ll look like that. Meanwhile, the model is probably 17-21 selling to 40+, lit professionally, her clothing is clamped down her back, her ‘no makeup’ is actually a fair amount of makeup just put on by a pro.
Now we see ‘influencers’ and brands on Instagram touting products with videos where you think they are showcasing seamless, real results but often you see their skin and face shape change if their movements aren’t subtle as they skip out of the filter. It’s disgusting and should be illegal. Or at least be mandatory that they say it’s been filtered.
When it’s a ‘mere mortal’ we believe that they are what they are, face value. But that value has just jumped up a ton of notches because of filters. Seriously just be honest about it. People criticize the fashion and beauty industry but I think we all need to have a long look in an unfiltered mirror. And this is allowed far too often:
She’s too fat.
She’s too thin.
She dresses too young for her age.
She dresses too old for her age.
She needs Botox.
She has too much Botox.
The misogyny of it all really upsets me.
You are very outspoken about not dismissing women as we age – what do you think can and should be done to counter the culture of being ageist especially in women?
Oh god… the whole concept of ‘ageing out’… barf. We see it amplified here for sure. Women are not kind to each other. I’m sorry if that offends people, but it’s true. As a hairstylist, I have women regurgitating what others say to them all the time. Definitely at a higher rate then back home. Maybe it’s something in the water here…I don’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of where this extends from, but the insecurities expat women feel in Singapore are not unfounded. While you can’t get new children, you can get new friends… and occasionally a new husband. Some women justify that they say these things to other women because they are “helping”. You can help someone without being insulting or cruel. Often I find it’s a reflection of how one feels about themselves. When I ask clients: well, how do YOU feel about your grey hair?
Newsflash: Most aren’t bothered by it. I believe that one of the strongest things we can do to counter the culture of being ageist is to commit to not being part of the problem. Before you lean in to a friend over lunch with a ‘Hey, can I make a suggestion?’ Or ‘You know what you need?’ Keep your stones in your own glasshouse. And when a “friend” crosses the line, say this: Your opinion of me is none of my business.
So many women come to you for help with frizzy hair – what are your 5 takeaway tips to keep hair frizz-free in this humidity?
Frizzy hair can be a sign that you have curly hair or simply that you need hydration. A good haircut by someone who understands frizzy hair avoiding haircuts with thinning shears, razors and/or dull scissors. Frizzy hair is caused from lack of hydration. The thing with humidity is that you need to have a certain level of moisture in your hair to block out more entering and swelling the hair shaft. The best way to explain this is by comparing hair to a sponge. Take a dry sponge. Flat, right? When you add water, what happens? It swells and expands – but, if you take an already wet sponge and add water to it, there’s only so much more that it can absorb and expand. Think of this when it comes to your hair, proper products such as leave-in conditioners, serums, hydrators and humidity blockers create a barrier that blocks out humidity, mainly because there’s no space left in the hair shaft for humidity to settle into. I love Iles Formula Finishing Serum. Don’t be afraid of the word ‘serum’ – it will not weigh the hair down. Avoid shampoos with sulphates as they dry out the hair and scalp. Don’t get suckered into keratin “treatments” unless you want flat hair with breakage. Always use conditioner and comb it through with a wide-toothed comb before you rinse it out. I love the Dyson comb. The tapered teeth are flexible and gently push through the hair shaft without causing breakage.
What are your top tips for wearing makeup in the tropics?
- Primers are essential as they act as a barrier between your natural oils and skincare which can cause your makeup to shift or breakdown without it. Charlotte Tilbury Brightening Youth Glow, Becca First Light Priming Filter and YSL’s smoothing primers are my faves.
- Avoid Powder! Because we tend to get excessively dewy in the humidity, powder coagulates, oxidises and looks cakey when it mixes with our sweat and sun. Reach for Clean and Clear blot films.
- Setting Sprays set makeup without contributing to cakeface. They also can help regulate reddening and exorbitant oil production by spritzing throughout the day which gives a cooling effect. Skindinavia, Charlotte Tilbury and FACEatelier are all faves of mine.
- Sunscreen. Always important but even more so to avoid the mask tan lines! There are many great brands that allow you to spray over makeup. Coola (pleasantly surprised that I found this in SG) or Anessa Perfect UV Spray Sunscreen Aqua Booster.
Tell us about your Instagram Circuit Breaker Selfie Fashion Shoots?
The peer pressures from society where I thought: why do we have to take a step back and do a kind of covid resolution akin to New Years and resolve to work on ourselves? Why can’t we just take a pause and binge watch a series while we bake… or not bake? Perhaps less of a statement, I was just a bored artist who needed to create something. Possibly envious of those who took up jogging while perfecting their sourdough. [Although I did face plant on the sidewalk while leash training our new puppy breaking my nose, so a step up to jogging for me might prove too dangerous.]
I had a lot of fun doing my self-portrait shoots actually. I would have continued on but then more serious issues were arising globally, and I started to feel that maybe it was time to put a pin in it. I entitled the series ‘Every day is like Sunday’ since we were living a kind of Groundhog Day scenario.
What do you like to do as a family to bond?
When we used to be able to leave the island, travel! The things we took for granted: airplanes. We have done live-aboard trips to Komodo and Raja Ampat on Rascal Voyages. I highly recommend private yachts. Insert an image of Goldie Hawn in Overboard here. Netflix. Way too much Netflix since the pandemic (my ass confirms this). And playing with our dogs. Despite my face-planting over my beagle puppy and breaking my nose in March… #truestory
What are the challenges of parenting a teen and how do you tackle them?
As I enter teen years for the third time, I feel more prepared this time. Maybe it’s because I’m older too. But honestly, it wasn’t so bad with the first two. (Also not a cakewalk – I don’t want to paint an Instagram filtered fake life..) You will hear: ‘But so-and-so’s parents let her!’ I assure you they don’t. Don’t fall sucker to that. But also, who cares?!? Everyone is allowed to parent their own way. I have been known to reply with: ´I can’t help it if her parents don’t love her, but I love you and therefore I say no. It’s a fine line to balance being a friend and a parent. Open lines of communication are important and your teenagers need to trust that they can come to you for anything, unconditionally. It doesn’t mean that you won’t get upset but you need to listen. My eldest is like me, an over-sharer. Sometimes she would possibly forget I’m her mother and tell me things that I wouldn’t approve of. Depending on what it was, I wouldn’t always let it go. Sometimes I’d say: well if I had found this out on my own this ‘X’, would have been the consequence but since you told me, this ´Y’, is the consequence.
I have always trusted my kids. It’s the unknown of other kids, other parents and how they parent. We live on a culturally diverse island and what is right for some may not be right for you. And that is 100% ok, just maybe save some things for your own family. Example: When my eldest was in middle school, she went to a classmate’s pool party. The parents gave the kids a beer. Truly not ok. If you want to give your kids alcohol, you do you – just not my underage kids.
All kids are different but they need to be treated the same. Kids of all ages measure fairness. It’s a hoop to jump through! Good luck! If all else fails, might I suggest a cocktail for you?
How do you maintain a close relationship with each child?
I try to spend time with my kids individually. Letting them pick where. It’s harder with the older ones being in Canada. Sometimes we do a group video chat but they also need one on one time.
What is your self-care routine?
5 am morning coffee by myself. Swimming in my pool. Soaking in a bath with LUSH bath bombs.
I wish I had more time for… facials.
I always feel saner after….traveling to Canada for the summer. So clearly not sane this year.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
We all wish we could maintain the magic of the honeymoon stage of a relationship. Life happens. Romance transitions from surprise flower delivery for no occasion, just because you’re on someone’s mind to having someone turn the heater on so you can shower after a long day. Don’t wait for the romance to happen. Life isn’t a John Hughes movie.
Favourite date night restaurants?
Da Valentino, Bistecca, Original Sin, Senor Taco…
As a mama I wish I were better at…
I think I’m good actually – maybe this is a question for my daughters 😜
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Oh god! … I’m an over-thinker. I’ve woken up thinking of conversations I’ve had five years ago where someone misunderstood me and I wonder if I should message them explaining myself, to waking up wondering if I left my curling iron plugged in. Therapists have made a lot of money off me.
My favourite moment of the day…
is my 5 am coffee when no one is awake and I’m alone.
Any last words?
‘Finding your people’ I feel is a topic that we don’t communicate enough about. True friendship. Not someone you’d simply lunch with complaining about your husband and helper. A friend. Someone who knows you close to the core. We live in such a transient lifestyle that from multiple conversations I’ve had with clients over the years, there are a lot of unhappy trailing spouses. You don’t need to ‘reinvent’ yourself. An odd belief expats seem to have here. Reinvention of self is for someone running away from the past or your life of crime. My advice is: you can totally find your tribe, so don’t give up, but don’t settle either.
Thank you for a lovely chat and some great tips Andrea Claire. And a huge thank you to Irina Nilsson Photography for the gorgeous-as-ever photos of Andrea Claire and her daughter Zoie!