Meet X Factor’s Makeup Guru Kath Gould

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Above: (from left) Ruby Frost, Kath Gould and Mel Blatt.



Have you noticed how amazing the makeup is on X Factor? Okay I’ve been an X Factor fan from day one and each week I find myself drooling over the gorgeous makeup looks on the show. From Cassie’s pretty, sparkly eyes to Mel’s perfect pout – the show is a beauty girl’s dream come true. I recently caught up with X Factor’s head of makeup, Kath Gould, to get the inside running on how she’s created these show stopping looks.

How did you get the X Factor gig?
I’ve been living in the UK for the last 8 years working as a makeup artist. A friend emailed me with names she knew in the TV and fashion industries so I dropped Mediaworks a line to let them know I would be back in the country. When I got back I was interviewed and landed the job.

How much input do the judges and the contestants have into their own makeup?
Every day we work with the judges to design their looks. We have a great relationship with them and sometimes they come in with clear ideas and others leave it completely up to us. That’s the joy of working with people over a number of months, you establish trust and you come to know what they’d like and can push them out of their comfort zones.  I usually have a pretty clear idea of what direction we’ll take each contestant after our weekly creative meeting when all the department heads and producers get together to discuss the week ahead. Once wardrobe has got a final edit of outfits for each contestant I can start to tweak and refine my ideas. I always attend Saturday rehearsals in order to make sure what we’re doing is totally in line with the rest of the creative aspects and it also allows me to have a quick chat with the contestants and their mentors to show them my hair and makeup designs. They have all been really receptive to our ideas and, again, they have become more adventurous as our relationship builds.


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Above: Melanie Blatt (left) and Kath Gould.


Do you have to work closely with wardrobe when coming up with a makeup look?
Yes, Kylie (Cooke) and I had met and worked on a couple of jobs together prior to the show starting so we hit the ground running with X Factor.  Clothing is constantly being sourced and fittings are held around the clock so Kylie feeds me images as soon as outfits are finalized. It’s always crucial that wardrobe and makeup work well together and both roles require great communication and flexibility to achieve a cohesive look.



Above: Makeup inspiration on the wall in the X Factor makeup room.


Do you have a favorite makeup look from this season of X Factor and why?
Mel’s purple glitter eyes were certainly a highlight!  I loved how Jackie looked when she sung Black Velvet, she was sultry and glamorous and when she’s on stage she just glows. Cassie has wonderful hair so it was great to do some big ‘expensive’ looking hair on her when she sung ‘Torn’. Gap 5 looked fierce when they sung ‘Bills Bills Bills’ we added purple tips to some of the girls’ hair and an on-trend purple lip and glowing skin.


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Above: Jackie Thomas ready to sing Black Velvet.


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Above: Cassie Henderson.


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Above: One of the Gap 5 godesses.



Above: Gap 5 gets some colour.


Everyone has been talking about Mel’s purple eyeshadow – can you tell us how you achieved that look?
Mel is a total magpie when it comes to glitter and on that particular day she was feeling very adventurous. I buffed ‘Macroviolet’ Fluidline all over the lid to give a solid deep purple base then pressed a touch of ‘Eyeliner Mixing Medium’ to her lids followed quickly by the ‘Purple Glitter’. I then meticulously cleaned her lashes and underneath her eyes before adding Number 12 Lashes and applying foundation and concealer.


Above: Mel’s famous purple eyeshadow.


Mel has been rocking some amazing bold red lips during the show too – what colours has she been wearing?
Mel is a girl after my own heart and loves a strong lip. Some key MAC Lip colours we have used on her are:
‘Lady Danger’ – a really great (almost neon) orange-red. I love using it with “Cherry” Lip Pencil (a more true red) to add extra vibrancy and dimension to the lip.

‘Ruby Woo’ – A classic retro matte lipstick that stays put forever and channels a bit of Hollywood glamour.

‘Fulfilled’ – Plushglass. Gives a lovely sheer peach wash on its own and great for adding shine when layered with nude lipsticks. It’s slightly plumping so helps lips to look really full.



Above: Kath’s makeup kit.


The makeup looks flawless – how long does it take you to create each look?
Thank you! We usually allow 45 mins to one hour. The looks have already been designed, the team and contestants briefed so there’s no surprises on the day – we can just get on with it and have fun. Because of the nature of the show and daily schedule changes, we often have to execute the looks much faster then the allocated time so it’s always good to keep a buffer in place.

How many artists on your team?
We began with a core team of five freelancers (including myself and my assistant), which expanded to 14 during the live shows comprised of artists from MAC Cosmetics and Servilles Academy. They’ve all been fantastic to work with.


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Above: The makeup team in action.


What is the most used lip colour in your kit?
That’s a hard one! During the last few months See Sheer lipstick from MAC has been a go-to natural lip for Mel’s ‘everyday’ looks so I’ve been using that a lot.

What do you use to create such flawless skin?
Prepping the skin is really important so we cleanse and moisturise and add eye cream and serum to those areas that need it. Hydrating sprays like Fix+ or Charged Waters have helped faces to look fresh and healthy.  Types of foundations have differed during the blocks of filming as locations and lighting can have an impact on how they look. My go-to products have been Face & Body, Studio Fix Fluid, Moisturecover Concealer, Natural Pressed Mineral Powders and Blot Powders.

Is there one universally flattering eyeshadow that everyone should own?
A dark brown eyeshadow can be used in numerous ways and be a fantastic addition to your makeup bag. Use it all over the lid for a rich smoky eye, buff it close to the lashes and add mascara for a natural look or use it with a damp angle brush for defined eyeliner or eyebrows.  I think it’s always important to realize that products that look one way on someone may look completely different on you. Be open to product suggestions and remember to look in the mirror to decide if you like it instead of getting hung up on product names.

What’s your can’t live without beauty product and why?
For skincare – cleansing oil
For makeup – a strong lipcolour!

The funniest moment working on the show so far?
Having such great teams both in the makeup room and in the production have made the whole experience so much fun. We’re constantly in stitches in the makeup room with the contestants and mentors. For me one of my highlights was catching Tom Bachelor doing Fletcher’s makeup when he thought no one was around and making a video of it. I think I’ll be employing him in the future! On that same day I let the boys Tom, Benny, Fletcher and Whenua do my makeup and I looked awesome. Green cheeks, a mono-brow and a decidedly lopsided lipliner YES!


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Above: Tom Bachelor working his makeup magic on Fletcher Mills.


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Above: The boys give Kath a “makeover”.


Any makeup mishaps on the show?
During the Judges auditions we were sitting in the auditorium with fold down seats and I’d neatly tucked my can of hairspray underneath. Ten mins later I was wondering why people in the audience were yelling at me. Turns out that when I’d sat down the chair pressed down on the nozzle and I was sitting there in a thick cloud of Elnett wondering where the ‘smoke’ was coming from. Oops!


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Above: One of the Moorhouse boys helping to make Kath’s day at the “office” a little easier.


For regular updates on Kath’s cool work follow her on Instagram @KathGould_MUA or check out her website

If you have a favourite X Factor beauty look I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.