‘I beat depression to become make-up artist to the stars’

Karen Alder, 42, is a celebrity make-up artist from Windsor who got her business started with the help of The Prince's Trust

Karen Alder, 42, is a celebrity make-up artist from Windsor who got her business started with the help of The Prince’s Trust.

‘The first time I did Kylie’s make-up 10 years ago, I was so nervous, I couldn’t hide it. So many things had gone wrong in my life, yet, here I was on German television, applying lipstick to one of the world’s most famous faces in the world.


In my teens, I fell in with the wrong crowd. I left school at 16 and trained as a hairdresser, but getting in with the wrong people affected everything. I tried to hold down a job but couldn’t. Then when I was 27, I had a breakdown and became depressed. I went on medication and had two years of counselling. It was a turning point for me. I was either my dad or the dole office who suggested I contacted The Prince’s Trust.

Sometimes I didn’t even turn up to meetings, but my mentor Don never gave up on me. I told him that I’d like to work as a freelance make-up and hair stylist doing wedding makeovers. I had no self-esteem, but he made me feel there was someone who believed in me.

I was given a £2,500 grant and loan to go on a make-up course and buy my kit. The plan was to do weddings, but my style was too extreme so I started cutting hair for people like Roisin Murphy who I knew through doing make-up for a music video in Sheffield directed by Dawn Shadforth.

Dawn asked me to do the dancers for Kylie’s Spinning Around video, after which I was hired to travel with her full-time. I remember looking at on screen and thinking, ‘this can’t be a fluke. I must be okay at this’. Since then I’ve worked with Debbie Harry, Jade Jagger, Danni Minogue, Anna Friel, Colin Firth, Pixie Lott and many more. I’m now planning to launch my own make-up line.

The Prince’s Trust threw me a lifeline. Recently, I had the idea to create a lipstick for them called Trust with the beauty brands on their fund-raising board. It’s great to feel I might be helping someone else out there who was in the position I was in.’

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