Selling Sunset's Christine Quinn Used to Steal Makeup—Now She Has a Beauty Line

I've been lucky enough to interview a few famous faces during my time as a beauty editor, and while I might get an "Oh, that's cool" or a "She seems nice" from friends and family that I share the news with, I can safely say that none have elicited the kind of giddy excitement and outpouring of adoration as Christine Quinn. Yes, despite being painted as a kind of pantomime villain in Selling Sunset, people are truly obsessed with her—and I can see why. Like many people, the real estate reality TV show basically got me through 2020. As we weaved in and out of lockdowns and found ourselves estranged from loved ones, many of us found a new family—albeit a slightly dysfunctional one—in the form of the Oppenheim twins and the most glamorous team of real estate agents that you've ever seen in your life. (Foxtons, eat your heart out.)

And while the sunny, L.A.-property market and out-of-this-world houses provided plenty of welcome escapism, there was one woman that had me hooked from the start: Quinn. Her witty one-liners, perfectly timed eye rolls and audacious wardrobe choices were a welcome antidote during a rather subdued year and have earned Quinn legions of fans—and plenty of critics too, I'm sure.

So, when I heard that Quinn was going to be in London launching her first makeup collaboration with Ciaté London I jumped at the chance to meet her in the flesh. And I'm happy to say that Quinn did not disappoint. Emerging from her suite dressed in head-to-toe purple, Quinn is truly a vision. In fact, I have to keep my inner fan girl in check as Quinn pulls me in for a hug, exclaiming how she loves London: "This is a London designer I'm wearing—you guys have such cool stuff out here!" As we head to the sofa for our beauty chat, one thing is clear—there's no hint of a villain to be seen. 

Ahead, keep scrolling as I talk about earliest makeup memories, favourite products and beauty collaborations with the inimitable Christine Quinn.

Can you describe your earliest makeup memory? 

Hmm, that would probably be shoplifting Wet n Wild Kohl Eyeliner from CVS [laughing]. I didn’t always have the budget that I do now, but beauty was so important to me. My mum is a natural beauty, she’s like 5'10" and looks like a supermodel, but she never wore makeup in her whole entire life. I had this aunt actually—Aunt Mary—and she was fabulous. She was always dating the most wealthy men and in her house she had an entire bedroom that was just used a wardrobe room. I was like [gasps] "I would die if I had my own wardrobe!" So, she was really my inspiration because she loved makeup and all that stuff. Because mum wouldn’t actually let me wear makeup I was always sneaking out and shoplifting eyeliners and stuff like that. I got a job at 15 just so I could buy products because I always had such a fascination with makeup and learning different tricks and tips. It's been in my blood since day one.

Where did you pick up inspiration for your early looks? 

You know, back in the day we didn’t have YouTube and all this stuff! I was in the days of AOL Messenger and dial-up [makes impressively realistic internet dial-up sound], so I remember looking at a lot of fashion magazines getting inspiration from there. I would look at the way that they would do makeup and I would try to replicate it, but back then we didn’t have video tutorials or anything! It was really just about experimenting and playing and going with the flow with makeup.

Since then, how has your relationship with makeup changed and evolved over the years?

It’s evolved and changed because I’m constantly on the hunt for the latest and greatest. Whenever I'm asked what my favourite beauty brands are, I'm like, "How long do you have?!" [Laughs] It’s a list of so many. I love constantly trying new things and I think that the beauty industry is so interesting because it’s so individual to people, you know? For some it’s about packaging, for others it’s about long-term skin benefits... I really think that for me it’s about trying everything and seeing what works for me. Plus, with makeup, it's all about a feeling. Sometimes I want to be super glam, and other days I’ll want to be really, really natural so I’ll just do a light concealer, a bit of bronzer, lip gloss, mascara and call it a day. My beauty routine is ever-changing.

So, have you got that beauty wardrobe of your own now?!

Yes, I do, actually. I have an entire room! I call it my office [laughs]. It’s not really an office, but my laptop is in there and there’s a desk in there but it’s more of my wardrobe-glam kind of room. It’s my creative space and really where I get inspired.

Since becoming a mum—congratulations, by the way—has anything about your beauty routines and rituals changed compared to beforehand?

Thank you! Well, you know when we’re filming the show [Selling Sunset], it’s really important for me to be glam because I love to make a statement on television. It’s fun for me and a chance to express myself. But when I’m not filming, I would rather spend time with my son. So I don’t wear makeup if I’m not working or if I do, because I’m going out or something, then I’ll just do the simplest mascara, bronzer and lip gloss. I find that I just never want to be away from him  and I want to spend time with him, so I’ve learned to be a little bit more of a natural beauty with a quicker routine.

Honestly, for so many years I thought that makeup was something that I needed to feel beautiful, but once I started to become confident in myself and I started loving myself I realised that it doesn’t matter. The people that are around me are around me because they love me as a person, so it turned into a deeper thing. I now wear makeup because I love it, not because I need it. And I used to think that I needed it. And that has been a big shift since becoming a mum.

You mentioned that you love looking glam on Selling Sunset your makeup always looks incredible on the show. Do you have any tips to keep your makeup looking good all day long?

Honestly, I think it’s all about a really good setting spray keeping it simple. For me, I have really, really dark circles and I always will, so I focus on a good concealer and then I use a powder to pack it down. But I think the most important thing that people forget is setting spray. There are so many great ones—Urban Decay makes one that’s really good and so does Patrick Starr. Plus, a primer! No matter if your makeup routine is super glamorous or super minimal, I think that using a primer and a setting spray will help you to get the most longevity out of your products and give you a really long-wear effect. 

Is there a primer that you personally swear by

See, that’s one of the questions that I find hard to answer! [Laughs] I have so many products girl! So many products. But right now I am really loving Urban Decay. They have a great primer that I really like.

Christine Quinn Ciate Collection

Photo:

Courtesy of Ciate London

Let’s talk about your collection with Ciaté London, which looks absolutely amazing. How did the collaboration come about and how long have you been working on it for?

We’ve been working on this project for, gosh, I want to say close to two years. Charlotte [Ciaté's founder] reached out to me and I knew exactly who she was—she’s an icon! I was so flattered. She'd watched the show and she said, "I love the two sides to you—I love that you’re this sassy villain that no-one messes with, but I know you have this heart of gold and there’s this sweet side too." She loved the duality. So we worked on this collection together and we wanted to do something that was sweet but sassy, and we really played up to that. We have this fun villain theme on the outer packaging, but then the products themselves are so fun and girly. [Ciaté] put so much faith in me and they really let me create throughout the process. You know, a lot of celebrities do collabs or collections and they’re sent stuff and told "Okay, here’s your collection," but I was really involved—playing with formulas, testing products on my friends, working on textures and consistencies. It was really collaborative experience from start to finish. 

Can you talk me through how you'd use the products yourself?

So, first of all, the No Filt-Her (£26): This was originally meant as a highlighter for cheekbones and brow bones, but then I started playing with it. Obviously I'm a busy mum on-the-go and sometimes when we're filming I'll have to switch outfits and maybe go from long pants to shorts. There were times when I'd think oh gosh, I didn't bring a lotion or any shimmer or anything with me, so I started using this as more of a universal body product and it's really, really great. I just take a big brush and rub it on my shoulder blades and my arms and because the formula is so creamy you don't even lotion underneath—it just gives a beautiful golden glow.

Then for the eye shadow palette (£35), I wanted to do a mix of beautiful matte neutrals, some colours that would look good on everyone’s brow bones, and then I loved the idea of having glitter if you want to have fun and amp it up. The lip plumper (£20) I love because it’s a hyaluronic formula with a little bit of a mint flavour so it feels very clean on your lips. The great thing about it is that if you wear it along it has a beautiful natural berry colour, but last night I wore it over a red lipstick and it really amplified it. Then the lip creams (£17) are really fun! It comes in a beautiful, natural mauve which transforms into a darker shade and then a red which turns into more of a deep burgundy. This is a patented formula that changes colour depending on the temperature, so you won't see this from any other beauty brand—it really plays into the duality of the collection. And it's great for a day-to-night look.

So, moving onto your personal beauty bag. I know that you probably switch it up a huge amount, but besides this collection what products do you normally carry with you on a daily basis?

Oh, gosh, so many! In terms of skincare I really love Sisley Paris. I naturally have slightly oily skin and I love Origins—I use a lot of their products and they have a great vitamin C serum (£39). Miranda Kerr has an amazing line and I love using her turmeric products. In terms of makeup, I grew up in theatre so I’m definitely a MAC girl I use a lot of their products and foundations. I use everything, that's the problem. [Laughing] don’t know how to answer that question because I use so much. The most important thing in my kit is always sunscreen, setting spray and perfume though.

What’s your favourite fragrance?

Well, I created my own fragrance called Bitchy. I love wearing that and I’m working with a fragrance house right now to scale and be able to do more. But I also really love one that I brought on vacation with me. I’m going to butcher this [laughs]: Serge Lutens. They have one that has top notes of amber, musk and vanilla and it's really beautiful. It also has a little hint of almond so it’s kind of a gorgeous gourmand fragrance that really lingers.

You spoke a bit about growing up during a time when Instagram and YouTube didn’t exist, but where do you get beauty inspiration from now

Well, you guys, first of all! I like looking at magazines online still. I love watching a lot of makeup artists too—Nikki LipstickNikkie Tutorials, Ariel… there are so many. 

Do you have any advice for people who want to experiment more with colour in their makeup bags but are nervous to do so?

Of course! When I was working on this line I invited a bunch of girlfriends over to my house and we just had a day where we sat down and played. I really think it’s about experimenting first in your home and getting really comfortable in that. Practice helps you to get really confident with application so when you’re ready to wear the look in real life, you’ve got it down. But never try a look and then run out the door—that's my biggest advice! I’ve been there and I’m always like what the hell did I just do afterwards? I just think turn on the TV and just practice over and over and over. Get different colours and some makeup wipes until you feel confident enough to do it. It will happen!

Finally, what’s next? Can we expect to see more beauty from you?

Oh, I absolutely think so! This collection was so much fun and we have so much more to offer. We’re already brainstorming what we can do next and what else can we work on in terms of innovation and technology. This is just the start and I’m so excited to be a part of it.

Shop the Christine Quinn x Ciaté London collection and her other beauty favourites…

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