She’s a celebrity makeup artist, Brand Ambassador and Product & Content Creator for prized beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury… with a surname that’s just as iconic as her client portfolio.
An avid traveller, content creator and heir to more than one thriving dynasty, Sofia Schwarzkopf-Tilbury is forging her own creative path, fortifying herself as one of the beauty world’s most beloved rising stars.
Both a beauty and connoisseur in her own right, we caught up with the bubbly blonde for an insight into her career evolution, ultimate beauty staples and her multifaceted role with the Charlotte Tilbury brand.
Over to you, Sofia!
TJ: What first inspired your passion for beauty?
SST: I grew up in Ibiza, surrounded by artists and musicians and writers, so I feel like I was always on a path to something creative. My grandfather, Lance Tilbury, is an amazing artist and I used to watch him playing with colour and texture and light. I was obsessed!
Photography and art were my favourite subjects at school, so I my first real experience with beauty was looking at all the fashion magazines and trying to recreate my aunt’s looks on my friends so we could take photographs.
TJ: How did this evolve into working as a celebrity makeup artist… and ultimately taking post as Brand Ambassador and Product & Content Creator at Charlotte Tilbury?
After school, I wasn’t really sure about a career path, but I knew I wanted to do something in fashion, so I headed straight into an internship at Alice Temperley and then Charlotte suggested I come and work for her!
She took me under her wing, and I began assisting backstage at shows, on photoshoots, with my first two years in the company spent working full-time on the very first Charlotte Tilbury beauty counter at Selfridges in London.
It was at that point that Charlotte started asking me which products were selling well, what people were asking for, which shades we were missing—so I started to work on Product Development too! It is such a privilege to work with Charlotte.
I feel like I’ve learned so much about beauty and life and confidence from her, and in the past year I’ve been able to create some amazing looks on everyone from Irina Shayk and Sienna Miller to Candice Swanepoel and Minnie Driver. It’s the best!
TJ: For those not familiar, what does your role entail?
SST: Honestly, no two days are the same!
One day I could be trialling new textures and shades with the Product Development team, the next I could be flying to Dubai to open a store, or creating a how-to video with an influencer, then racing off to do a VIP’s makeup for a red carpet event!
I love the fact that my role is so fast paced and fun. At Charlotte Tilbury, we have the most amazing dream team, so it never feels like work!
TJ: How much of a hand do you have in the inception/development of new products?
SST: I think people are always shocked at just how hands-on we are with product development!
When creating something new, it will usually start with an idea Charlotte has had. She might be inspired by the light-play of a particular sunset or by how social media filters are being used to make people’s eyes look bigger, or by the colour of an actress’s lips in an old Hollywood movie.
From there, I work with the artistry team and the New Product Development team to create mood boards, find the best colours and textures, and to trial looks on models for months before we present it all to Charlotte!
Charlotte is a real perfectionist when it comes to her products, so we always work with the best labs in the world to find the perfect ingredients and the most innovative formulas with truly incredible skincare benefits.
TJ: What role do such platforms as Instagram play in your day to day working life?
SST: I’m on Instagram every day! It’s so funny that my passion for beauty stemmed from creating makeup looks on my friends and then taking photos because that is basically what I do at work now.
It’s such a great way to reach out to people and I always try to spend some time in the evening going through comments to reply and repost the looks people are creating using the products we’ve worked so hard on!
TJ: What are your three must-have, can’t-live-without staples from the Charlotte Tilbury range and why?
SST: 3 products I can’t live without are:
1. Magic Away concealer to blur imperfections and brighten the under-eye area. This is literally ALWAYS in my handbag. I never go anywhere without it. I don’t know how I lived without this product! It’s like a magic wand for blemishes, under-eye circles, redness—you name it.
2. Then, I’d say Airbrush Flawless Finish powder to set and perfect the complexion. It is infused with Rose Wax and Almond Oil, so it actually hydrates the skin as you wear it! I love the fact you can apply this throughout the night without it ever looking cakey.
I always slip this in my clutch bag before an event and I know so many celebrities have it with them, too, as it’s incredible with those unforgiving HD cameras! I use it on every red carpet! I like to apply it to the T-zone, leaving the cheekbones glowy and free of powder.
3. Finally, a Lip Cheat to define and shape the appearance of the lips. I’m a real lip liner girl and I feel like everyone is obsessed with plump-looking, supermodel lips these days.
Lip liner is an amazing way to cheat the look of your lips and it helps your lipstick last longer too. I like to slightly overline the lips at the Cupid’s Bow and then follow the natural lip line to just give you a fuller-looking perfected pout in seconds.
TJ: Who is your ultimate beauty muse?
SST: That is such a tough question. I feel like I have so many. I’m obviously hugely inspired by my aunt when it comes to beauty. She is like a walking beauty bible! I’ve learned everything I know from her!
When it comes to makeup looks, I adore my grandmother Patsy Tilbury’s style. She has always told me to keep my face out of the sun and wear Magic Cream (SPF 15) every day, and she rocks a red lip like no one else! Charlotte actually created a lipstick in homage to her as part of her Hot Lips 2 lipstick range: Patsy Red.
TJ: Can you describe your typical off-duty day look?
SST: In terms of fashion, I love jeans and a blazer—something really simple and clean and sophisticated—so I like my makeup to be the same.
I never, ever do makeup without Charlotte’s Magic Cream, so I start by massaging that over my skin, then I’ll conceal with a bit of Magic Away concealer, using a lighter shade under my eyes if I’ve had a late night or if I’ve been getting a lot of flights for Fashion Weeks or awards season!
I can’t leave the house without a brow, so I use the Brow Lift in Supermodel to give myself a little more definition. Then, I’ll use Charlotte’s NEW! Pillow Talk eyeliner to create a feline flick. I’ve been using this on everyone lately. It’s this gorgeous berry-brown shade that works so well as a soft, dreamy alternative to brown or black.
Finally, I wear the Lip Cheat in Hot Gossip every day to just redefine and shape the look of my lips. It’s the perfect peachy-nude for day or night!
TJ: …and your favourite evening glam look?
SST: We’re always on the go, so more often than not, I amp up my day look when I’m on the way from one thing to the next!
Charlotte’s Pillow Talk Palette of Pops is amazing for a bejewelled, shine-bright evening look and the shades are super emollient and creamy, so you can literally apply it with your fingers.
After that, I’ll add a bit of highlight using the Beauty Light Wand in Spotlight, some Pillow Talk blush for a kiss of colour and a glossy lip like Charlotte’s Superstar Lips in Pillow Talk or the Hot Lips 2 lipstick in Glowing Jen!
Everyone is obsessed with plump-looking supermodel lips these days and a glossy, hydrating formula is the easiest way to get a fuller look in an instant.
TJ: What has been one of the best, time-tested beauty tips that Charlotte has ever shared with you?
SST: One of my favourite beauty tips Charlotte has ever given me is how to create the ultimate feline flick. Charlotte wears one daily and she inspired me to do the same.
My version is a little bit different to hers but it’s the easiest way to elongate the eyes and create a sultry, smoky look.
TJ: Any advice for professionals looking to follow in your career footsteps?
SST: I’ve been really fortunate to have the opportunities I have, but my family made me WORK. Be ready to work hard! I started out by watching Charlotte—observing all her techniques and soaking up her tips and tricks—so I do think assisting someone is essential.
Working on a shop floor is also amazing for your learning curve as a makeup artist as you’re not just being presented with perfect model faces all day.
You learn how to do eyeshadow on hooded eyes, how to conceal scars and pigmentation, how to contour a rounder face; it gives you an understanding of variety of faces and skin tones that is vital if you want to be taken seriously in the beauty industry.
So, WATCH, DO and stay as CURIOUS as you can!
TJ: Can you (attempt to) walk us through a typical day in your life?
SST: For me, a typical day will start with a green juice and a workout. I am obsessed with reformer Pilates at the moment! After a shower, I’ll check in with Charlotte and take a look through all of our social media accounts to post new content or tap into what people are talking about in the beauty industry.
Then I’ll quickly do my makeup. If I’m trialling a new product, I’ll take some photos and notes for our product meetings, but otherwise I like to do it as quickly as possible! I actually challenged myself to create a full look in 5 minutes flat using Charlotte’s Instant Look in a Palette in Stoned Rose recently. People loved it!
From there, it’s all about meetings, shoots, events, working lunches and VIP appointments, which make my day so fun and varied.
For dinner, I often try to meet friends in some of my favourite restaurants and bars in West London. I love seafood and Mediterranean restaurants that remind me of my home in Ibiza!
TJ: Any professional highlights/pinch-me-moments to date?
SST: I have been lucky enough to work with some truly awe-inspiring women and designers since I’ve started working with Charlotte. It’s an amazing experience every time and I could never choose a favourite…but working with Irina Shayk is always incredible!
I ADORE travelling to LA for award season, and a huge moment for me was last season when I led my first ever London Fashion Week shows, keying the makeup for Olivia Rubin, Agent Provocateur and Temperley London!
TJ: Your top beauty trend for 2020?
SST: GLOW! Glow is always on trend, but I feel like this year, it’s really become the focus.
People are so skincare savvy these days, and Charlotte was actually known for her skincare before her makeup, so she is all about finding the best ingredients to make your skin look and feel amazing, all the time.
TJ: What’s next for Sofia Tilbury?
SST: I’m so lucky to have this incredible platform, and I can’t wait to share even more from this amazing brand!
Charlotte always says, “If you give a woman the right makeup, she can conquer the world,” and I can really feel the power and magic behind all of our coming product launches, new stores, red carpet events and masterclasses!
Watch this space.