Tête-à-tête: Arabella Preston

Jo Lorenz

Meet Arabella Preston, famed British makeup artist, former beauty editor and co-founder of cult skincare range, Votary.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Arabella a few months ago to talk about Votary and how this amazing range is transforming the way people are viewing skincare. Yet today, we are talking to the woman behind the range.  And a very cool woman at that!

Welcome to tête-à-tête WITH ARABELLA . . .

Arabella Preston Votary Jo Lorenz

How did you get into makeup artistry?

"I didn’t specifically plan to be in makeup and skincare - yet in retrospect I’m not surprised this is the path I end up walking, as I’ve always been a visual person.

"After University, I started working for Charlotte Semler, in the vibrant PR fashion world of London (Ed: Charlotte is now Arabella's Votary business partner). I loved it and learned so much, however I was always the annoying person standing around the makeup artist’s table on shoots, asking a million questions. I just loved that aspect of it!

"My official move from PR to make up artistry was a slow transition at first. People I knew in the industry were kind and started hiring me for small jobs. And then I met Kay Montano. I was in awe of Kay’s portfolio - everyone was! The work she did with Kate Moss in the 90s was legendary (below). I still adore them today."

Kay Montano Kate Moss

"Kay changed my life and is a true inspiration to me. I was so incredibly fortunate to be able to assist her for two years. I worked with her on a lot of celebrities and red carpet events and really learned to hone my craft. In fact, I can probably trace pretty much every job back to Kay."


Who has been your favourite client so far and why?

"I’d have to say it was Michael McIntyre. Such a funny man with some hilarious stories!

"I also loved working with our Olympic cyclist, Victoria Pendleton, on her nude shoot for GQ magazine. I was doing bodywork on her and it was so inspiring. She was just so beautiful, strong and fit! Being able to work on someone in that peak physical condition is really something I will never forget."

Who inspires you in the industry?

"Definitely Kay, in terms of my journey, and how I do makeup now. Yet also Kevyn Aucoin – his books are like my bibles in the industry and each and every one of his products, I just have to have in my kit."

Arabella Preston Votary Jo Lorenz

On to Votary . . . how was it founded?

"Charlotte and I were having lunch with a few friends and some of the ladies starting quizzing me on my skin. I explained to them that I had actually been mixing my own facial oils in my kitchen – trying out new combinations on myself.

"Charlotte looked at me in earnest across the table and just said ‘We’re going to do something with that’ – and in typical Charlotte-style, we did!

"I am genuinely passionate about getting people to try cleansing oils. I believe every skin can be transformed with the right facial oil – and this is the very ethos of what we do at Votary."

You have two hours to yourself with to nothing to do with but relaxation on the cards . . . what you are going to do?

"Is the weather lovely in this scenario? If so, you will find me in the garden – it’s my new-found passion and oddly enough, amazing exercise!"

And finally, The 12 . . .

Home city:

No longer a city! I live in the beautiful Kent countryside

Favourite city:


Define your personal style in three words:

Simple, over-the-top and inconsistent

Style icon:

Cate Blanchett

Words to live by:

‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’ – it seems more apt then ever in recent years

What is your favourite aspect of Votary:

I love nearly all of it! But I think the pride I feel when I open the box of a new product that has just launched might come top of the list

Three people you want at your dinner party (and why):

Barack Obama, because I know he would exceed my expectations (but can Michelle come too?) - then my sister and my husband, because they would never forgive me if they didn't get to meet Barack!

Favourite drink:


Favourite movie or book:

Movie is ‘Gigi’. Book is ‘Love in a cold climate’ by Nancy Mitford

Three things always found in your handbag:

Tissues, portable phone charger, lip balm 

When you're not working, we'll find you . . .

In my garden!!

And lastly, what is your advice for someone looking to improve their skincare routine:

Start listening to your own skin – you don't need to be an expert to figure out whether or not something works for you. Keep it simple, natural and unfussy.