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Athena Paginton
courtesy of Instagram/@athenapaginton

Athena Paginton: five beauty products that defined my life

From blue brow cream to lemon cologne, make-up artist Athena Paginton describes the products that shaped her

Beauty Biographies is a weekly column where we ask some of our favourite people to reflect on the beauty items that have influenced their lives and have a sentimental place in their heart. From their grandmother’s perfume to the eyeshadow they wore to their first dance, these are the products that have had a significant impact on them and that instantly transport them back to a particular time, place, or person.

Think face paint is just for children? Think again. Dazed Beauty contributing editor Athena Paginton is the London-based make-up artist and illustrator redefining and revitalising her medium, slapping on the paint for clients as diverse as Alexander McQueen, Nike, Gucci and Stussy, to name but a few. Never without a make-up brush in hand, her work constantly blurs the line between the real and the surreal. One look at her Instagram is like falling down the rabbit hole - think butts smothered in pink glitter, neon-dyed pubic hair poking out of jewel-encrusted G-strings, models transformed from head to toe into monochrome heart checkerboards.

But it’s not all about appearances. Not only is Paginton a truly talented artist in her own right, but all of her product recommendations are cruelty-free alternatives, proving that make-up can be just as ethical as it is gorgeous. A passionate animal rights activist and vocal mental health spokesperson, Paginton is a co-founder of Weathergurlz, a creative project that includes a podcast, zine and a wellbeing workshop, all geared towards improving and maintaining high standards of health within creative industries. She also recently curated a six-part beauty series for Vogue to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day. Here, Athena talks us through the beauty products that shaped her life growing up.

Snazaroo Face Paint

“Reminiscing on childhood birthday parties and summer fetes, I remember music blasting through speakers taller than ourselves and dancing without a care in the world. Film cameras were flashing and food was abound while we held balloons and had temporary tattoos, deliberating over the options of puppy or clown face paint. Oh, wait - that was yesterday on set with Elizabeth!”

Get it here: Snazaroo Glitter Gel Red Gold

Black Kohl Eyeliner Pencil

“Back in my wannabe-grebo days of heavy metal and Sonisphere festivals (while secretly listening to Mary J. Blige when nobody was around), my morning routine was somewhat backwards. I’d apply black kohl through my water line and drag it down under my eyes, then take a shower, rubbing my eyes under the hot water so it would melt and stain my skin. I managed to achieve the ‘I’m angry at the world’ look or the ‘I’ve cried and smudged my makeup - but you’ll never know the truth’ look all day long, sometimes even for the rest of my school week. That, my friends, is what you call true dedication to a look.”

Get it here: Illamasqua Eye Colouring Pencil - S.O.P.H.I.E. Jet Black


“Picture this - all my girlfriends wearing the latest Britney perfume from Boots, while I rocked up smelling like a lemon. That’s right, a lemon. My Spanish family would bring back Nenuca for us, a lemon-scented spray used for babies. Mostly used by parents to cover up any accidental smells while on the go, I was a highly unconventional client, pouring the potion into huge spray bottles and spritzing myself before leaving the house. Call me citrus sister.”

Get it here: Nenuco Cologne 1200ml - Agua De Colonia

Cream Pigment

“At one point of my life, I was like a walking Wes Anderson palette, always in perfect aesthetic sync. Depending on my mood, wardrobe choice, or hair colour on a given week, my brows would have to follow suit. A red lip certainly wouldn’t be right without a red brow to match. Turquoise hair? Everywhere.”

Get it here: Kryolan HD Cream Liner


“The trick with mascara is always to apply it twice. It’s like Christmas, you just keep giving and giving. Me and my school friends would share a mascara between us, applying the first portion on Thursday, adding another layer for the all-nighter ahead, then again the next day. By Friday evening, the wand had travelled between six of us - if your lashes don’t look like weapons, they’re not ready yet. After a weekend spent in a field with no sleep, your lashes are ready for the school week ahead, turning into Monday morning spiders. Come Wednesday they’re flaking off, leaving dark freckles. Ready to restart the process all over again?”

Get it here: Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara