Beauty and the Beat: Adventures In Makeup With Shirley Manson And Her Lifetime MAC Account Card
We have the beauty department at Miss Selfridge in London to thank for Shirley Manson’s signature look. “When I was young I worked behind the makeup counter,” the Garbage frontwoman and nineties alt-rock icon recalls. The experience left its mark on the Edinburgh native: “I love makeup—it can transform somebody, and there’s an escapist element to it. So I have always loved it,” she says, letting out a loud, guttural laugh before adding, “It’s a great pleasure in my life!” Anyone who has watched Manson perform onstage, seen her in a music video, or spotted her on the cover of a magazine knows this all too well: Between her alabaster skin, always-bold choice in lipsticks, and trademark fire-engine-red tresses, the musician has never shied away from embracing the beauty world and all it has to offer. Remarkably, that’s still the case; after a break from the band and a stint on TV, Manson has returned to the stage with her fifth album for Garbage, Not Your Kind of People—and she looks better than ever. Before heading out on a European tour, the vocalist and guitarist spoke with Style.com about her evolving views on face-painting and coming to terms with her hair before spilling the beans on the existence of perhaps the most covetable item on earth: the lifetime MAC account card.
It’s been seven years since Garbage’s last album. Does it feel different this time around?
It definitely feels different. To take so much time off, you get a real chance to get some perspective on what happened to us, the band. You get a clearer idea of what we want to do and how we want to do it. The industry has changed so much since we entered it. But that’s life; it’s constantly changing. We wouldn’t want it to stay the same!
Does that apply to your personal style, too?
I would have to say my style—if indeed I have a style—has most definitely changed. A lot of that is to do with the fundamentals of aging, and obviously I’m more economically secure than I once was, so I can actually afford to dress myself. When I first entered the scene I literally had no money. It would be pretty scary if I was 45 years old and still in tiny mini-skirts and Dr. Martens boots [laughs].
Has your relationship with makeup also evolved as you’ve gotten older?
I have to confess to maybe the biggest luxury in my life, a lifetime MAC account card that was gifted to me when I became a MAC spokesperson. It’s incredible: I’m allowed to go into any store anywhere in the world and pick out what I want. And I often do! And I’ve been lucky enough to be gifted all kinds of delicious treats from makeup companies, because they know I love it and they know I’ll use it and they know I’m photographed.
That sounds like every beauty lover’s dream! Having tried so many products, which rank among your favorites?
My favorite red [lipstick] of all-time is [MAC's] Lady Danger. It’s just perfect for my skin—it’s got orange undertones, so it really suits me. But I [am] very partial to the new Tom Ford line. And Make Up For Ever, actually. There’s a bunch. I could go on endlessly forever talking about my favorite lipstick colors.
You’ve got your signature red lipstick, but what about your hair? Who is your go-to guru?
I go to Lucy Shultz at Peter Ishkhans [at Joseph Martin Salon] in Beverly Hills, and ever since I met Lucy, my hair’s been perfect. And that’s the first time in my life!
Wait, you haven’t always loved your hair? It’s so iconic!
No, I didn’t! It took me a long time to fall in love with my red hair. I was a lot older when I finally accepted and then began to adore having red hair, realizing that actually to be different and a little bit off-center, that’s a wonderful thing, but it took me a long time. I was always having trouble finding the right shade, and because I was touring so much, I’d have somebody in a different city doing my hair. It would be months, and I just had literally rainbow reds in my hair. Now with Lucy it’s perfect, and she calls ahead to any salon in any city I may be in and organizes my color process so I finally have someone taking ridiculously good care of me.
That is crazy (and awesome). How else do you prepare for touring?
I go to an amazing woman [in L.A.] for facials, and my skin has never looked so good since she got her hands on it. Her name’s Dee Bartolo, and she’s incredible. If I go have a facial with her, the benefits of it last for two weeks, so I try to see her, like, the day before I leave. And she sets me up with my whole kit and gives me a bunch of masks for emergencies.
There’s a whole new roster of bands you’ll be playing with at festivals this summer. Of this new generation of female musicians—which you’ve undoubtedly had a big impact on—are there any who you’re particularly excited about?
I’m crazy about Azealia Banks. Every time I hear her I feel a pang of utter jealousy. She’s so great at what she does, right out of the box, she’s just exploded. And that song “212″ I think is a work of genius, actually [laughs]. I love a lot of the young girls that are coming out right now, and it’s exciting to watch them bloom and grow and just forge their own path; it’s different from mine, but it’s wonderful to watch.
Photo: Autumn de Wilde