MAKE-UP artist Amanda Bell has worked her magic on the faces of countless red-carpet film stars, celebrities and models over the years, including ageless beauty Goldie Hawn, actress Sienna Miller and Oscar-nominee Naomie Harris.

“Friends ask if I get starstruck, but honestly, I don't,” insists the 40-year-old, who was the official head makeup artist at the BAFTAs for eight years. “When I’ve got a brush in my hand and I’m putting on makeup, it makes no difference if it’s you, me or a celebrity in the chair. I don’t see the person, I see the features and it’s all about creating a look that will make that person look in a mirror and say ‘wow’.”

The Northern Echo: Brow grooming

“Wow” was the first word I uttered when was invited to meet Amanda at her new studio on Norton’s high street. I climbed the stairs to the loft of Constance House and was welcomed into the light, bright, pretty space she has created for her new business venture, where she plans to share her knowledge and expertise after 20 years in the makeup artistry and training industry.

Amanda admits it’s a giant leap away from the high-octane environments she once thrived in working in London for French luxury cosmetics house Lancôme, but says this side of the industry - using her training skills with “real” people - is what really makes her tick. “It’s all about real women who want to be able to use real makeup and look and feel amazing in real life,” says the mum-of-two.

Makeup has always been on the radar for Amanda. As a young girl growing up in the Eighties, she would follow the trends set by pop icons in Smash Hits magazine and covet her own mother’s makeup bag. But Amanda was also very academic and her success at A-level fuelled expectations that she would read Law at university following a gap year.

“When it came to job prospects, the idea of being a makeup artist – or anything involved in makeup – was never considered at all. I was supposed to be going to study Law, become a solicitor and do big things in the world,” admits Amanda, who grew up in Seaham, County Durham. “Then one day I woke up and thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore’. I asked myself, if there was one thing I could do every day for the rest of my life that would make me happy, what would it be? And that thing was makeup. Of course, everyone thought I was mad.”

The Northern Echo: Lip defining

Amanda got a scholarship to South Tyneside College, in South Shields, and gained a GNVQ in beauty therapy, specialising in makeup artistry, theatricals and prosthetics. She got a Sunday job with Lancôme working at its concession within Boots, in the Gateshead MetroCentre. “I was the most preened Sunday girl in the store,” laughs Amanda, who was soon promoted to manage the Lancôme studio in the MetroCentre House of Fraser store.

Her break came when she successfully applied to an internal post for a Lancôme makeup artist in Harvey Nichols’ flagship department store in Knightsbridge, London. There she was named Lancôme Make-Up Artist of the Year and was headhunted to work as a senior makeup artist at Selfridges on Oxford Street.

She worked for almost a decade in London, climbing to the specially created role of National UK Makeup Artist and Trainer for Lancôme. She headed up a team of 25 elite makeup artists and trained a further 120 experts. Amanda herself was guided and trained by some of the best makeup artists in the industry, including Gucci Westman, a favourite for many Hollywood film stars, fashion houses and magazine editors, as well as internationally renowned “makeup magician” Fred Farrugia. She also trained in Paris with Oprah Winfrey’s personal makeup artist Ross Burton and learned the true art of makeup for black and Asian skins.

Her work at the BAFTAs saw her beautify countless A-List celebrities, while she also styled the makeup at numerous shows, including London Fashion Week and Central Saint Martins Graduates, where she worked with the late Louise Wilson, a leading figure in the fashion world.

Despite thriving in this fast-paced environment, Amanda felt the pull of home when she decided to start a family and returned to Seaham to have her girls Sophie and Violet, now seven and six. She briefly returned to work for Lancôme part-time, training make-up teams at airports around the country, before taking the difficult decision to end their 13-year partnership and set up as a freelance makeup artist. “It was exciting, but also sad, like losing family,” she recalls.

Amanda has spent the past five years growing a network of loyal clients, linking up with magazines for editorial shoots, giving make-up tutorials and working with brides. Her dream was always to open her own studio and when the opportunity presented itself at Constance House, it was too good to turn down.

The studio has been designed by Amanda as “every woman’s dream dressing room” and there she will run five make-up masterclasses, giving step-by-step demonstrations and coaching on different techniques and finished looks. Clients will also be able to book private classes, bespoke to their needs.

Ultimately the goal for Amanda is to run her own makeup academy from the Norton studio, delivering accredited courses for those looking to train and qualify as professional makeup artists.

The Amanda Bell Elite Makeup Studio officially launches at a private event tomorrow. For more information visit Each masterclass is 2½ hours and costs £75.


Brow grooming – start by measuring your brows with a thin brush or pencil, using the side of your nose and corner of your eyes as guidelines. This will ensure your brows are frame and enhance your eyes. With short feather light strokes, work through the length of the brows, filling in any gaps as you go. Highlight under and over brows with a brightening concealer to give you a clean and lifted finish.

Lips – using a lip liner that’s nearest your natural lip colour, start in the centre of the top lip and with short strokes, line from the centre to the outer corner. Push the liner up and very slightly over your natural lip line for a fuller but still realistic look. Start from the outer corner on the bottom lips, working towards the centre. Finish with a creamy textured lipstick for a sophisticated result or add a little gloss in the centre for maximum pout!