Meet Helen Bennetts: A Modern Day Quaintrelle

Some people are said to be ‘born with style’; Helen Bennetts is undeniably one of them.

With her piercing blue eyes, wavy brown hair and endless legs, Bennetts could easily be mistaken for a model. Instead, you will find her working behind the camera, as a makeup artist, hair stylist, fashion stylist and photographer.

Bennetts’ friendly approach, light-hearted nature and warm smile are positively infectious. She is a woman with an appetite for life and creativity; fixated on pursuing her passions and achieving her dreams.

NetStyleShopper recently caught up with Bennetts to talk fashion, beauty and business.

Helen Bennetts.

Helen Bennetts.

Q: Helen, you are without doubt a woman of many talents! Tell us more about yourself!

A: After moving from the UK to Australia in 1999, I decided I wanted to do something more with my career than work in the financial sector. Paperwork and the monotonous regime made me realise there was a void in my life! I wasn't fulfilling my creative side…so my solution? I decided to concentrate on my makeup and photography skills and start my own business, ‘Helen Bennetts CREATIVE’.

Over the last couple of years I have had the amazing opportunity to work alongside some incredible peers in my industry, like the wonderful Rae Morris and Nigel Stanislaus assisting with fabulous events such as the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival and Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival.

Q: In a nutshell, tell us what 'Helen Bennetts CREATIVE' is all about?

A: Helen Bennetts CREATIVE is a one-stop-shop for creativity. I offer a range of services, such as makeup artistry, hair styling, fashion styling and photography. The diverse range of services I offer gives clients the means to hire me to do one or all of those things, taking the stress out of sourcing individual services.

I work with a wide variety of clients, from individuals wanting to update their portfolios to larger companies and fashion houses compiling seasonal look-books and marketing materials.

Q: Name some of the clients you have worked with.

A: I have worked with some well-known industry labels including L’Oreal, BrasNThings, Honey Birdette, Seduce, Sheike, KUKU and Napoleon – just to name a few! I am very fortunate!

Hair & makeup by Bennetts.

Hair & makeup by Bennetts.

Q: What makeup trends for Autumn/Winter did you spy on the runways of this year's international fashion week shows?

A: I spied dewy and not heavily made-up looks with messy fishtail braids and no-nonsense hair styles anyone can replicate. Also, lots of lipstick and natural skin!

Q: What is the biggest mistake most women make with their make-up application?

A: My pet hate is a very common one! That is, not wearing the right shade of foundation for your skin and also wearing too much foundation! You really don’t need to ply it on with a shovel. It’s about emphasising your best features and hiding your worst, rather than piling a layer of thick foundation over every square inch of your face. Less really is more!

Q: How can a woman best enhance her features using make-up?

A: I always tell my clients to wear a nice primer or moisturiser under their make-up as a base to keep skin looking healthy and hydrated. There is nothing worse than a dry base that sinks into every line, as that actually ages you!

It’s important to learn how to apply your makeup correctly. I suggest booking in for a makeup lesson to be colour matched. It’s invaluable to learn about your skin tone, personal colour chart and how to apply makeup to suit your eye, face shape, skin tone, and so on. It really does make an extreme difference to the end result and it usually only takes an hour or so to learn the basics!

Lauren Vickers. Hair, makeup & styling by Bennetts.

Lauren Vickers. Hair, makeup & styling by Bennetts.

Q: What beauty essentials call your make-up bag home?

A: Oh, I have 3 or 4 things that are a constant in my handbag! Pawpaw as my lip balm, mascara (I’m a big fan of Max Factor Calorie 2000, having used it since I was 16), Chanel Matt Lumiere Foundation and my Benefit blush.

Q: Share with us your best beauty secret.

A: Then it won’t be a secret ;) haha! Let me see…I always use tea tree oil facial wipes to take off my makeup. Depending on the season, I have normal to combination type skin, which can get a bit oily in the t-zone if I wear makeup every day or in the summer. I find that the wipes remove excess oil, whilst leaving my skin refreshed. I’ve hardly suffer from breakouts since using these!

Also, I highly recommend using pawpaw balm on your lips before bed. You’ll wake up with beautifully soft, plump lips!

Q: Who are your style influencers?

A: I have so many, but if I had to choose I would say Nicole Ritchie, Kate Beckinsale and Victoria Beckham. I admire strong, beautiful women who have amazing careers, kids and an innate sense of style.

Erin Victoria Holland, Miss World Australia. Hair & makeup by Bennetts.

Erin Victoria Holland, Miss World Australia. Hair & makeup by Bennetts.

Q: Describe your personal style.

A: I would say I’m a no-nonsense kinda girl, lol! I love my jeans and tees. I own numerous pairs of boots, long cardis and tank tops. I love to layer and I love comfort! But when the weekend comes around, I’m keen on a bit of structure for going out.

I’m a huge fan of brands Staple The Label, Cameo and Finders Keepers. For the right dress I will spend the money; after all, it’s an investment!

Q: What does your styling and photography work involve?

A: Basically, a client can approach me with a concept or brief and I put things together. I am fortunate enough to know a lot of amazing Australian designers who very graciously loan out their garments to help me create some amazing looks and shots!

I source all the styling requirements for my shoots, so it’s a very personal thing between me and my client. A client won’t be turning up to a shoot not knowing what they’re going to wear! I plan and discuss the shoot with them beforehand based on their personal style preference and what they want to achieve.

Q: What's the one item in your wardrobe you personally can't live without?

A: Winter coats! I actually have a real problem…I love them and have a collection of way too many!

Woolmark 2013 International Designer Vishna Collins.  Hair & makeup by Bennetts.

Woolmark 2013 International Designer Vishna Collins. Hair & makeup by Bennetts.

Q: When it comes to women and style, what's the key thing we should be paying heed to?

A: The fact we are all unique! Every woman should learn to dress and style herself according to her individual body shape, height, skin tone, hair colour and whatever other features she possesses. It’s mind-blowing how good someone can look when they are styled correctly. The confidence it gives you is priceless!

Q: Any new, exciting projects in the pipeline for you?

A: At the moment, I’m working with fashion brand SEDUCE on their online marketing campaign. I’m responsible for hair and makeup. I just love seeing all of their new lines!

At the end of the day, I love my job and get a real sense of excitement from doing what I do. I learn new things all the time!

To get in touch with Bennetts, email her @ helen@estilohq.com.

The Truth About Beauty

Beauty. Exactly what does it mean to be ‘beautiful’? According to society, beauty is more often than not a perception of what appears on the surface.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘beauty’ as ‘a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.’ That is, beauty is essentially a direct appreciation of superficiality.

I personally believe it’s time to redefine society's construct of 'beauty’. As the writer of a fashion blog, you may label me a hypocrite, but I’m not calling for women to abandon fashion, throw away their make-up kits and stop tending to their physical appearance. Rather, I am strongly advocating we reformulate the concept of beauty so it is not solely focused on physical attributes, which are ultimately dependent on genetics, an inherently good sense of dress and/or a genie of a plastic surgeon.

It’s not how we look which make us truly beautiful; it's not how thin our bodies are or whether our faces are perfectly symmetrical. As cliché as it sounds, what makes us beautiful is the person we have residing on the inside. The question we should all be asking ourselves is when we strip away the outer layers of clothing, make-up, skin and hair, what kind of soul do we reveal?

As women, we should be revered for the person we are within and not for our genetic composition or man-made attributes. If the focus was solely on our personalities and not our appearance, society's unhealthy obsession with body image would dissipate. Conditions such as anorexia and bulimia would become as rare as the Ebola virus. Women may even cease treating each other as enemies in warfare to attract men.

Advertising and the media controls our perception of beauty. Fashion magazines create hysteria around models and actors, holding them out as benchmarks of beauty. But I ask, what life-altering contributions have many of these women made to the world (and I say many, as some have indeed done their part to make a difference)? Most of the time – nothing; they simply fit the Oxford Dictionary definition of 'beauty'.

Young girls across the Western World are encouraged by advertisers and the media to adore and aspire to be like these women. Why? It's quite obvious. Their appearance sells fashion and beauty products, lining the pockets of clever marketers, large corporates and plastic surgeons. Conversely, women who have made incredible advances in the science or medical fields, or who fight for human rights and women’s equality in society or in the workplace on a day-to-day basis, do not and are unlikely to ever appear on the covers of Vogue or Harper's BAZAAR; that is unless these women can sell fashion and beauty products or until WE take a stand and change the definition of beauty.

If I am blessed to have a child of my own one day and that child is a girl, I don’t want her to obsess about her outer ‘beauty’; I want her to recognise and cultivate the beauty she possesses within her soul and in her mind.

To me, TRUE beauty is found in a person’s contribution to the world and in their ability to think intelligently, contribute, care for, empathise with and love other people and all of our planet’s creatures.

I do not want my girl to grow up believing the pinnacle of beauty is a woman with a surgically enhanced bust or a perfectly airbrushed face. I want her to grow up knowing beauty is embodied in a woman who is intelligent, kind, compassionate, generous, strong and loving (an apt description of my amazing mother and a fellow mentor).

My favourite quote on beauty is by life coach Steve Maraboli. In the context of women's obsession with weight loss, he tells us:

'You are beautiful. Your beauty, just like your capacity for life, happiness, and success, is immeasurable. Day after day, countless people across the globe get on a scale in search of validation of beauty and social acceptance.

Get off the scale! …I have yet to see a scale that can thank you for your compassion, sense of humour, and contagious smile. Get off the scale because I have yet to see one that can admire you for your perseverance when challenged in life.

It’s true, the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it. It cannot measure… talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength, or love. Don’t give the scale more power than it has earned. Take note of the number, then get off the scale and live your life. You are beautiful!'

Outer beauty is an illusion created by marketers to sell fashion, beauty products and plastic surgery. By focusing on outer beauty we line the pockets of large corporates and plastic surgeons at the expense of cultivating the other amazing talents and attributes we possess. It's time we move beyond outer beauty to reveal true beauty; for the truth is always found in what lies beneath.