The up and coming nail technician shares what's in her makeup bag and her vision for the future of beauty
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It wasn’t a straight path to becoming a nail technician for 27-year-old Sylvie Macmillan, although she did unexpectedly receive the training she needed from a young age. Between eight and 18, she would traipse down the street in Bath where she lived to visit an elderly neighbour, a Chinese lady called Rebecca Yue, who taught her the art of Chinese brush painting. “I learnt most of what I know about colour, observing form and how to hold a brush from her,” says Sylvie. “A lot of my work is inspired by her.”
After relocating to London, doing a degree in technical arts and special effects, then working as a graphic designer, a model maker, a set designer and a chef, Sylvie finally decided to sidestep into nails. The model making gave her a leg up in that she already had a skill set in sculpting and precision painting, as well as an understanding of the science behind polymers. Early jobs included creating the long, talon-like nails for Fashion East designer Asai’s SS18 and SS19 shows, to painting the nails of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Peppermint, which she considers a personal career highlight (“she was just the sweetest diva”).
One year in to her new career, Sylvie reckons this job might stick: “Every day is different. And it’s not only creative but also makes people really happy. It’s so therapeutic having your nails done, and it’s often the only time people get to concentrate on themselves,” she explains. “In terms of nails for fashion, the right nails can completely finish a look. Even if it’s just well-manicured, natural nails they have the ability to make the model hold their hands differently, and that’s really satisfying to see.”
What three beauty products are in your bag right this second?
Tri-Balm by Frances Prescott (highly recommend). It moisturises, exfoliates and cleanses your skin. But also Little Treasure by Nailberry (my favourite cuticle oil and I’ve tried A LOT). High Volume Mascara by Trish McEvoy (the best mascara in the world).
What’s your earliest beauty related memory?
My mum buying me a lipstick when I was seven or something and my brother laughing at my hideous application. It had gone far beyond my lip line, to be fair.
Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.
Rich, luxurious and simplistic.
What’s your favourite smell and why?
Cedar wood, it’s somehow fresh and rich at the same time – nature condensed.
Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?
Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) in The Fifth Element. He’s cynical, hands on and gets the job done even if his methods are chaotic.
Who is your beauty icon?
Diana Ross! She’s undeniably one of the most fabulous women in history. Nothing sexier than long nails wrapped around a microphone, probably why female singers have influenced nail trends so much.
When do you feel most beautiful?
When I’ve had a spray tan, guilty!
Finish this sentence: the future of beauty looks like…
Less snobbery and more opportunity.