Sister act that's reviving heyday of movie goddesses like Marilyn
They may be stars of the digital age, but sisters Sam and Nic - aka Pixiwoo - go back in time for their latest project, a new documentary about the make-up looks of Hollywood's Golden Age. Katie Wright finds out more.
They may not be household names (yet), but as online influencers go, Sam Chapman and Nic Haste are nothing short of megastars.
Their YouTube channel, called Pixiwoo, has more than two million subscribers, who flock every Thursday to catch the latest make-up tutorial or chatty video, documenting the fruits of a recent shopping expedition.
Not that the humble sisters consider themselves famous.
"We're not celebrities," insists Sam. "If anything it's a push to say we're personalities because, unless you're into the same stuff we are, you wouldn't know who we are.
"We know if we go into Selfridges beauty hall or a MAC store, people will definitely stop and talk to us, but that's absolutely fine.
"It's so humbling to meet people who enjoy our videos and have the same passions we have."
The warm, friendly 39-year-old takes the lead during our interview to talk about the siblings' latest project - a DVD documentary shot on location in LA, which explores the make-up methods used on the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich in the Golden Age of cinema.
Called Hollywood Icons, the film got the pair ruminating on how different life was for the starlets of yesteryear.
"[I was surprised] how little control they had over their look," says Sam. "The studios chose exactly who they would appeal to."
"And they were told when they could or couldn't have kids," Nic, the younger sister by three years, adds.
Both mums themselves, they trained as make-up artists before posting their first vlog eight years ago.
Still based in their home town of Norwich, they now split their time between vlogging, designing their bestselling Real Techniques brush range, and special projects like the DVD and their new book, Face - as well as mummy duties, of course.
"I've literally just got back from spending two hours at my daughter's school making bird feeders," Sam reveals, chuckling.
Surely, being a renowned beauty guru, she had a full face of slap on for the occasion?
Nope, not a stitch.
"We spend half of every video with no make-up on, so it's really not a stretch to leave the house with no make-up on," she says.
"Sometimes, make-up is the last of my priorities, 'cause I've got to get my a*** to my kids' school, or be on a phone call."
Nic agrees: "We want make-up to be something you love, not a hindrance."
It's that combination of expertise and enthusiasm, without taking it all too seriously, that keeps fans coming back - and lucky for them, the sisters say they've still got a surplus of video ideas up their sleeves.
Plus, despite a never-ending influx of freebies, they still love to hit the beauty aisles.
"I prefer it more now than ever, because when you get sent a lot of stuff, it becomes part of your job, and you don't get the same enjoyment as if you go into Space NK or Boots or Superdrug and actually think, 'I'm going to buy this because I love it'," Sam enthuses.
So what are the products they adore? Here's the low-down on Pixiwoo's all-time heroes and latest favourites.
"I can't be without moisturiser, so I'd take Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre Nourishing Moisturiser (£13, Boots), or a lip balm like Carmex Original (£2.69, Superdrug), that's an essential. And I love red lipstick, so I'd go for MAC Russian Red, (£15.50, MACcosmetics.co.uk)," says Sam. "It's a classic."
Nic adds: "Dr Pawpaw Tinted Ultimate Red Balm (£6.99, DrPawpaw.com). I use it on my lips, eyelids, cheeks; I prefer it to Eight Hour Cream. YSL Volume Effet mascara (£25, YSLbeauty.co.uk) is the best, and Hourglass Illume Sheer Colour Trio in Sunset (£50.40, John Lewis), because it has a highlighter, blusher and bronzer. They're all cream and it's just lovely."
When it comes to budget buys the sisters are clear about the brand. "I really like Maybelline Age Rewind Eye Concealer (£7.99, Superdrug)," says Nic. "It gives really good coverage without being really thick." Meanwhile Sam adds: "Mine is Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Mascara (£4.99, Boots), which is like a mascara for your eyebrows. The colours are really good."
But, of course, they love a little luxury, too.
"The one thing you should spend your money on is foundation, because the ingredients make a massive difference," according to Sam. "The new Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick (£42, Space NK), is so nice, it's like silk on your face."
And sister Nic is in agreement.
Go to cosmetics for the Pixiwoo duo include: "MAC Studio Face And Body Foundation (£22, MACcosmetics.co.uk) I've been using since I started make-up," points out Sam. "You can use it really sheer, or you can build it up."
With Nic adding: "I've been using MAC Hush Cream Colour Base (£17, MACcosmetics.co.uk) as a highlighter for I don't know how long. I'm still yet to find a better highlighter."
With new products hitting the make-up market constantly, which are hits?
Nic says: "'Soap brows', which we discovered in the documentary, is an old Hollywood trick. It's the most amazing cheap brow gel ever and keeps your eyebrows completely in shape. You can use any kind of glycerin-based transparent soap, like Pears Oil Clear Bar Soap, (99p, Superdrug)."
And Sam adds: "Clinique Pop Matte Lip Colour + Primer (£16, Clinique.co.uk); lipsticks with a matte payoff and the colours are gorgeous. I've been wearing Blushing Pop relentlessly, which is unheard of for me."
Pixiwoo Present: Hollywood Icons, £14.99, amazon.co.uk