Photography: Julie Adams Makeup: Georgia Hull Hair: Sarina Zoe Words: Georgie Abay
Striking, stylish and smart: it’s hard not to instantly admire Elsa Morgan. The Sydney-based mother began her career as a fashion stylist (which seems fitting given how naturally chic she is) before moving to Los Angeles where she trained as a makeup artist. Morgan later relocated to Paris where she worked with the likes of Balenciaga, Dior and Valentino. The more you talk to Morgan, the more you realise her list of achievements seems to be as long as her enviable pins. She’s collaborated with industry veterans including Pat McGrath, Charlotte Tilbury and Karim Rahman; worked on glossy magazines such as VOGUE, Harpers BAZAAR, Elle and Marie Claire; and can list celebrities such as Abby Cornish, Russell Crowe, Teresa Palmer, Wentworth Miller and Claudia Karvan as past clients. Currently she’s the makeup director for LOreal Paris Australia. Yet her proudest achievement is raising two energetic and adorable boys, Jet, 6, and Jasper, 5. I love the daily loving that I get to be a part of. I absolutely love to play with my kids and husband Nick and relish all the kisses, cuddles and laughter, says Morgan who lives by the beach in Bronte with her director/cinematographer husband and their sons.
Given it’s her job to transform faces, it’s no surprise to hear it takes Morgan less than five minutes to get ready in the morning. My personal beauty routine is quick and effective five products in five minutes! says Morgan. Her go-to beauty products? BB cream, cream eye shadow, black mascara, bronzer and lipstick or gloss. For hair, she loves Shu Uemera shampoo and conditioner and Elnet hairspray. For pampering, she’ll go to Jocelyn Petroni in Woollahra for facials and Alex at Deep Holistic Therapies in Bondi for massages.
Morgan says her career changed significantly after the birth of her children. My career changed a lot after I became a mother, she reflects. I had to cut back a lot, especially as Nick is often away with his work so juggling is extra difficult in that area. It helps that I have a few great babysitters I call on regularly, as well as very caring friends and family to help now and again. But mainly it’s day care and after school care that gets me through!” While balancing work and motherhood is a constant juggle, Morgan makes sure there’s plenty of family time thrown into the mix. We are all very relaxed, but I do like to have us all around the table for meals. It makes for some funny conversations. Also because our home is so small, we probably find ourselves all squished together on the couch a lot, which is cosy! she says, laughing. Cooking with her sons is another favourite pastime. I love to cook with the boys. It’s horribly messy but so much fun, she says. We spent the afternoon with Morgan to talk beauty tips and tricks and motherhood .
“Motherhood has taught me how to do 20 things at once! To also prioritise and to make the best out of rainy days! The best advice I’ve been given is to cherish every stage your child goes through as they move on so quickly. And to let life get messy and be ready to throw away well made plans at the last minute! The hardest part of being a mum is not being able to fully focus on myself (work, play, travel) like I used to, but the best part is probably that too! When the boys were babies, I learnt that even a five minute nap helps. Also having a great chat with a friend who had gone through the same experience was gold!
I like to focus on a kind of pure beauty fresh glowing skin, beautiful lashes and nothing too perfect, just lovely tones and textures. I love to really respect the face Im making up by enhancing what I see as the most beautiful elements of the woman in front of me. I might end up creating a really strong or abstract look, but it’s always about making the woman look her most beautiful, most alluring, even most fascinating self.
On her favourite makeup tricks and tips:
I think it’s really important to blend foundation into the skin using your fingertips; to allow the warmth of your hands to blend the makeup in as seamlessly as possible. I love a winged eyeliner and the best way to apply the liner is to draw the little flick at the outer corner first, then finish by drawing the rest of the line in small dashes towards the inner corner of the eye. I love it when women go bold with a graphic black liner, even if it’s not completely perfect the effect is so cool! I love to use highlighting concealers to create a more chiseled bone structure and to sharpen and perfect the edges of liquid liner and bright bold lipstick.
On being the makeup director of LOreal Paris Australia:
I love being a makeup artist as I feel I really do get to explore the things that excite my creative brain colour, form, texture, nature, all things earthy and magical! And I love the teams I get to work with, the industry is filled with fascinating and fun people that I feel lucky to work with. LOreal Paris is brilliant brand to work with, I love that they are bold, confident and innovative in their approach to beauty and they take great pride in bringing the top beauty trends and best products to every woman.
I try to eat healthily, exercise when I can and try to keep up with the boys! I eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. I make lots of soups in winter and salads in the summer, but generally it’s just a focus on clean pure foods. I avoid processed foods whenever possible. I love snacking on raw vegetables and it’s my daily afternoon offering for the boys as well. I love all our home cooked meals like slow cooked lamb with potatoes and green beans or home made gnocchi with pesto. Oh and I do love coffee! I try to add a bit of Udos oil to smoothies whenever I think of it and if I feel a bit run down, I take vitamin supplements to keep myself from getting sick. I try to incorporate yoga into my life whenever I can, but it’s not as regular as I’d like at the moment (see motherhood lesson I’ve learnt above ha!). I don’t exercise a lot these days, but if I do have more time I love soft sand running (when I say running you could walk next to me easily haha!)
On her home:
We have been in our place here in Bronte for just over five years. I love that we can see whales jumping in the ocean! And we have light all day, which I could not live without. I love that we can walk to the beach. I also really love our street – we have a gorgeous café on our street (Favaloso) and Iggy’s bakery and most importantly lovely neighbours!
On her personal style:
I tend to wear jeans and some form of a cashmere jumper most days. My favourite designers for every day are Acne, bassike and Scanlan & Theodore. That’s my uniform! I don’t think my style has changed since being a mum though.”
Elsa’s little list of loves:
Reading books is a daily joy for me. We now have a balcony to sit out on and I’m there any chance I get!
Dashing out for a glass of wine in Bondi with a girlfriend feels like such a treat.
Cooking with my boys.
I love that we can all ride our bikes together.
Putting on some music dancing like lunatics or Nick playing the guitar and making up silly songs for the boys (its actually how I first fell in love with him I’m now remembering!).
I actually love that first part of a shoot day when I feel anything is possible and I massage my models face and let my creativity get kick started my kit is actually an endless inspiration to me all these colours and beautiful product I have to play with is such fun!
Having a lovely long soak in the tub is blissful too.
Nick and I try to have coffee in bed to start the day and I think thats my favourite moment of all!
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Elsa is just one of those mums who inspires everyone, a natural natural beauty and the best mumma! Love her xxx