Meet The Woman Behind Your Favourite Lipsticks

There's much more to it than you may have thought. The Debrief partnership with Boots.

Meet The Woman Behind Your Favourite Lipsticks

by Tabi Jackson Gee |
Published on

Imagine having this as your job title: Colour Scientist. Sound too good to be true? We thought that too until we met Dr Jo Watson.

Jo got a PhD in colour science (just imagine how on point her interiors must be) then began working at Boots with colour match powder products. Lucky lady gets to combine her favourite subject – Chemistry – with her love of trying new beauty products.


But beyond the Pinterest-perfect home and a make-up collection big enough to give the Kardashians a run for their money, we wanted to know a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes. Like what’s the best way to find your perfect foundation match? Why are we all so obsessed with red lipstick? And when will someone invent self-applying make up, for those of us not blessed with steady hands and an artistic flair? Jo, it seems, has the answers.

Like the often dictatorial fashion industry that tells us ‘don’t mix prints’, ‘don’t wear red and pink’, ‘don’t wear white in winter’ the beauty industry suffers from a similar number of misconceptions and ‘rules’ that stop women from experimenting with make-up. Jo is on a one woman mission to change all that.

'I think the biggest misconception is that the suitability of lipstick shades is that only warm-toned lipstick shades suit warm-toned skin, and cool tone lipsticks suit cool toned skin,' Jo explains, before offering some helpful advice. 'Those with warm-toned skin think they can’t wear pink, but there will be some pinks that are suitable. Warm skin tones would generally steer away from bright, bluish pinks – but these can work really well.'

And if you’re struggling with colour inspiration, No 7 has the answer - their revolutionary colour-matching service. 'If you look at the lipstick shades recommended as part of the No 7 Match Made Lipstick service, you will see that there’s a variety of shades available for all skin tones,' says Jo.

Similarly, she tells us, women need to be less governed by their hair colour when it comes to their make-up choices. 'Redheads tend to steer away from bluish pinks and they actually work really well,' offers Jo. 'I have a redheaded colleague who only ever wore browns, corals and very warm colours because of her hair, as this is what she’d been told to do. But because suitability is linked to her skin tone she can actually wear pinks which is a revelation for her.'

One shade that most of us will have in our collection is post box red; the classic colour which always gets wheeled out on date nights. 'It has such an impact on how it makes you feel, it makes you feel strong and confident,' says Jo. When it comes to the No 7 range she recommends one particular shade: Soft Paprika. 'It suits a wide variety of skin tones and people love it.'

But as we all know from those early teen years spent experimenting with kohl-ringed eyes and sticky, sparkly lipgloss, the path to finding the right shades and tones is long and treacherous. Fortunately, science has done us all a favour and colour technology has come a long way. Places like Boots are full of advisors who can help people avoid classic pitfalls like tangerine-toned foundation.

'My top tip would be to go and get your skin tone measured at the No 7 counter, then the guesswork about which shade is right for your skin tone is taken away,' recommends Jo. 'My second tip, if you’re self-selecting a shade, would be to always test the shade on your jawline as you want your foundation shade to blend in seamlessly with your facial skin tone.' So no testing foundation on the back of your hand? 'Never test on the back of your hand as this can be such a different colour to that of your face.' Noted.

And whilst you'll never be able to erase those dodgy (albeit formative) mishaps, the future of make-up has got our back. 'I’m working on lots of exciting things that you’ll have to watch this space for,' teases Jo. 'We’re always looking at key trends when it comes to products we develop, some of the big ones being product personalisation and products that play into the “healthy” trend that’s big at the moment.'

But what dream beauty inventions Jo would like to see revolutionising the industry in the next few years? Fake eyelashes you can design and create at home with a 3D printer? Lipstick that stays on as long as you need it to? 'I like the idea of a lipstick that lasts for as long as you want it to but remains comfortable to wear too,' agrees Jo. 'As for other products, it would have to be an eyeliner that applies itself. It drives me mad that the slightest slip of the hand can be so devastating when applying eyeliner.'

Fellow cack-handed make-up appliers – there is still hope.

Don't forget to check out Beauty Hunter; our ace hub for all things beauty related. Plus, you can order on or in store today by 8pm and collect free in store from 12pm tomorrow. See for more info. Monday-Saturday only. Geographical exclusions apply. Subject to availability.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

All The Aeroplane Beauty Essentials To Get For Your Upcoming Flight

Festival Make-Up Hacks: 5 Make-Up Looks With Only 5 Products

We Asked An Expert All The Questions We Have About Adult Acne

Follow Tabi on Twitter @tabijgee

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us