Claudia on her fast make-up hacks (and why she's Christmas crackers!)

As her new range, Full Panda By Claudia, launches in Boots, we sit down with the TV star to discuss eyeliner, napping, and all things festive
Photography: Matthew Shave

I think we can guess, but let’s start with the name of the make-up range – Full Panda By Claudia. What’s the idea behind that?
I like to look like a panda and I think lots of people would enjoy being a panda. I mean, I don’t eat bamboo but, otherwise, I’m panda-esque – although I do have sex more than once a year! Pandas only do it about once a year, which is adorable; it must be a very special event. Also, when I’m with my girlfriends, they’ll say, ‘Are you doing a full panda?’ Thankfully, when I suggested it to Boots, they didn’t go, ‘Pardon?’!

Who do you see the range being aimed at?
It’s aimed at anyone who wants to buy it! I’m not fussy. I’m not saying they have to be 38 and called Lucy. I’m open to all. But I think the range is good if you’re quite busy. I’ve tried to make products that create lots of short cuts. For example, there’s a lipstick that’s red at one end and nude at the other. It’s all super-easy.

Why was it important for you to create products that can be used on the go?
I’m unbelievably lazy. I’d love to say, ‘I’m busy, I’m juggling, I have 19 children and I’m constantly cleaning my house.’ But that’s not true. I just like lying down. Even if I have an hour that I could spend getting ready, I’m often horizontal and dribbling, and I wait until the very last minute. Then it’s orange (face), shiny (cheeks), black (eyes) and white (lips). Boom.

Full Panda By Claudia Double Ended Lipstick and Full Panda By Claudia Shiny World

Which is your favourite product and why?
There’s a special machine they’ve created – the word isn’t machine, but let’s go with it – which is half-mascara and half-brow product. It’s a little compact wand of happiness. There’s a really good mascara at one end and a brow brush at the other, so you’re halfway to becoming a panda.

Do you have a morning routine?
I wake up with yesterday’s make-up still on, which already gives me a certain amount of oomph when I look in the mirror. I brush my teeth quite seriously. A little person is often in my room following me around. They have to eat and get dressed and then I do the school run. I come home and tell anyone who’s listening that I’m ‘going to a meeting’, which is code for having a nap, and I go back to bed.

You never take your make-up off?
When I’m back from the school run, I go to my ‘meeting’. After that, I get up and step under the shower to cleanse my face. When I say cleanse, I get it off somehow. I’m not doing a four-step system. I’m not insane. Afterwards, if I’m parched (I’ve never knowingly had a glass of water, so I’m also unbelievably dehydrated. I don’t like water; I don’t believe in it), I might put on some moisturiser. I think that’s happened four times in the last three years.

Sleep seems to play a huge role in your life?
My beauty philosophy is to get back into bed. If I could have it wrapped up in a box, I would. I think you need to sleep more. When I was little, my mum met a doctor who said the key to life is sleep. She was the only mum who never said: ‘You’re wasting the day. Up you get.’ At university, I’d wake up at 4pm, heat up a shepherd’s pie, eat it with my hands, then go back to bed. She was delighted.

Could you take us through your unique, full-panda look, step by step?
First of all, you get some sort of base. Some people call it foundation, I’m happy with gravy. Smear it over as much of your face and neck as you’re going to show. Don’t be particular. Don’t use a brush. Wipe your hands on whatever you’re wearing – that’s key. Then you get the black. I’ve got brilliant eyeshadow pencil things in my range. There are three colours, because they said I couldn’t just do black. So there’s also a brilliant camo green, which is quite sexy, and a gold bronze. Sweep that over the top and bottom, again in some haste. Next, highlighter. I don’t know where you’re meant to put it, but I like it everywhere: nose, cheeks, chin, forehead, clavicle (unless you’re in a balaclava, in which case it would be wasted!). Then a white, Tipp-Ex-style mouth, a zhuzh of the hair, and I’m done. Zero- to-full panda in three minutes.

Claudia Winkleman with baubles

When did you start your distinctive look?
In my thirties. Before that, I was quite polite with my make-up. I mean, I wore white eyeliner on the inside of my eyes on my wedding day. Apologies. But, when I was younger, there was a singer, Wendy James, who was in a band called Transvision Vamp. I remember watching her on Top Of The Pops, singing angrily to the camera. She was all black eyeliner and white lips, so I always had her as an influence. Then, I’d always be asking Debbie, the girl who does my make-up (the poor woman has lost a lot of work because of the way I want to look!) to do more smudge, more smudge, more smudge, to get it right… which, for me, is when it looks disgusting.

Can it ever go wrong?
The good news about the full panda is, if it does go wrong, it’ll only ever look better. But full panda is all about scale. At one end there are the perfectionists – for example, the couscous should be fluffier – and at the other end, there’s me, who really doesn’t give a hoot. I mean, I agree about the couscous, but I prefer lentils.

Where do you apply your make-up?
Usually in my car. Not as it’s moving, obviously, but when I’ve stopped at traffic lights. My reflection is absolutely outstanding in that little pull-down mirror. I don’t really have any mirrors at home. I grew up without them, because my mum was a staunch feminist and believes it doesn’t matter what you look like, and it’s stuck. So, most of the time, I don’t know what I look like. Which is why, if you see me and think I look like I’ve slept in a skip, I haven’t; I just got ready without a mirror.

Can you ever wear too much make-up?
No. You can never wear too much make-up, too much black, too much spray tan, too much eyeliner. I think a night can be graded on how much eyeliner you’ve used. If you’ve taken an eye pencil out and you’ve used it right down to the stub by the end of the night, then it’s been excellent. If you’ve only put a bit of mid-brown on and then you’ve come home, that’s a disaster.

Is there a make-up look you’d like to try? I see make-up on other people and they all look brilliant. But if I try something different, I look like ET. It’s not like I’m a gorgeous blank canvas. I know what I have to look like: heavy fringe, white mouth, black eye. I’m never going to put a gloss on – that’s when you know something’s gone terribly wrong.

Full Panda by Claudia Add to Basket

It’s Chrrriiissstmaaasss! What does this time of year mean to you?
You’ve never met anyone who loves Christmas as much as me. I can’t abide summer, and spring is for losers. I wanted to call my three kids Christmas. If I could rent reindeer, I would. You know people complain about decorations going up too early? If it was down to me, they’d be up in March. Christmas is joy in a bucket. It means family, delicious food and warm wine – I love warm wine. I don’t like wine, but I love warm wine with cloves, cinnamon, a bit of ho, ho, ho. Christmas is my life.

Any Winkleman family traditions?
My husband grows a Christmas beard. When the kids were tiny, that’s how they knew it was the start of Christmas! And 1 December marks the start of a few things. It’s when only carols and Christmas songs can be played. Tim Minchin’s ‘White Wine In The Sun’ is the best Christmas song. I have brandy butter on toast every morning, and we all have sweet jars that are meant to last until Christmas Day. Last year, I went for peanut M&Ms. This year, it’ll be After Eights.

Christmas can be a stressful time of year. How do you manage to juggle everything?
I’m incredibly close to my family. We all really help out. I’ll often phone my mum on the 22nd in a panic and she’ll calm me down. But it also helps that we start to think about Christmas pretty much as soon as the previous one is over!

Why should readers buy your new range for someone they love at Christmas?
Oh, I don’t want to force readers to buy anything. If they don’t want Full Panda By Claudia, I totally get it. But if they want to, that’d be lovely, because I think they’re really good value, the products are beautiful and the packaging is insane.

Fancy a game of Christmas charades with Claudia Winkleman? Your festive wish is our command!


*Available from 4th November on and in selected stores.
Words: Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith. Stylist: Olivia Pomp. Make-up: Debbie Dannell. Hair: Amy Heath. Nails: Robbie Tomkins. Still-life photography: Getty Images