How I became a make-up artist

Trying to edit the ‘About me’ section, I found myself writing a story about how I became a make-up artist, but it seemed too long to put there, so it’s going here instead.

When I was little, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  What I did like was playing with my mum’s make-up and creating my own beauty magazines.  I can’t remember the title of those magazines, but they’d always feature the ‘latest shade of lipstick’ and there’d probably be a makeover in there somewhere.  I got a bit older, I mean, nine or ten and learned how to use Paint on our old Omega computer.  This is when drawing faces started.  I’d use the oval shape to draw the face and again to add the eyes.  Then I’d add in the colours.  Not too orange, not too pink for the skin tone (something I still live by now when applying foundation).  I’d make the eyes white and choose a suitable colour for the irises, this time using the circle shape function.  For the blusher and eyeshadow, I’d use the spray can as the pen looked too ‘liney’ (didn’t blend). I didn’t know it, but I was creating face charts at the age of ten using a very basic computer. I’d spend hours doing this. I didn’t have brothers or sisters living at home so this was how I entertained myself.

I must have got distracted by the Spice Girls at that point, or perhaps we got a new computer, because I don’t remember what happened after that. I just knew I really liked playing with makeup.

On the day that secondary school started, I put my mascara on as usual.  Mum  told me I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup to school, so I replied, “I know, that’s why I’m wearing it now, so no-one will know the difference”, my intentions truly were to never go to school makeupless.  This carried on over the years and I’d try to get away with wearing makeup in any way I could.  It backfired when my Maths teacher shouted at me to remove my ‘blusher’ (I have naturally red cheeks).  I think he genuinely thought I’d been putting on makeup again, probably because I’d previously made some ridiculous claims like ‘having’ to use a tinted lip balm to ‘heal my chapped lips’.  I ended up running the tap in the toilets to pretend to wash it off just to please him.

I didn’t know makeup artistry was a job until I got to university, when my friend Joanne told me about a course at Jemma Kidd’s makeup academy.  Joanne and I were on the same course and often ended up talking makeup.  This Jemma Kidd school seemed like the stuff dreams were made of.  It was expensive though and my parents had already spent their savings on me going to uni, so I put it to the back of my mind and carried on.

A couple of years later, university over, the recession had just been announced so I did any job I could just to survive.  I got some work experience but wasn’t really getting anywhere with an actual career so decided I’d like to work doing something I really loved.  During this time I’d been keeping cut-outs of make-up looks I liked just to try out on myself.  Again, I didn’t realise it, but I’d picked up another make-up artist habit – scrapbooking.  Nowadays we use pinterest and the like to keep images for inspiration, but back then I had a huge art pad with all the looks I loved, dates, designers and makeup artists written beside them.  Joanne introduced me to – Pixiwoo’s original makeup channel, and I became fascinated.

I decided to move to London and do a make-up course as I thought a qualification might help me get a job.  There were so many to choose from, but in the end I went to Christine Blundell’s make-up academy for film and TV.  There, we learned how to do basic make-up, which I already knew, how to make wigs and do hair and how to make and apply prosthetics.  I spent most of the course wishing I didn’t have to do hair and was frustrated that it didn’t come naturally.  I wished I’d embarked on a fashion makeup course instead and left CBMA with little intention of going into TV and film.  It turned out getting into the fashion industry was very tough indeed.  First you have to assist an established make-up artist, often unpaid, unless you land something really luckily and to do that you have to have an outstanding fashion portfolio.  I didn’t, but I could show them a wicked ‘burn victim’ or ‘Mad hatter’.  With a bit of luck and hard graft, I managed to assist a makeup artist I met while doing work experience on a music video.  I went on a few jobs with her, which was fun the first few times but soon realised not getting paid wasn’t fun for anyone.  It hit me particularly hard when I got offered a photoshoot and excitedly exclaimed “and it’s PAID!”, when my brother-in-law commented, “that’s usually what doing a job means.”

Determined not to give up, I decided to go and get a job doing makeup that I’d actually get paid for.  So I started working at Inglot.  I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience.  Suddenly I was working with some very talented make-up artists and had a whole Aladdin’s cave of makeup to practise with.  Customers from all different races and backgrounds wanted my advice and I was there to try out different looks on them until they were perfect.  The other make-up artists I worked with there gave me the boost I needed to do test-shoots to get a strong portfolio and customers became regular clients.  A couple of years later, I became store manager.

I did a couple of weddings and realised that this is what I love doing the most.  On my own wedding day, I did my own make-up whilst Joanne did my hair (she became a hair colourist at a top West-end salon).  Prior to my wedding, I came into Inglot every day wearing different bridal looks to try.  I became a bit obsessive over the ‘perfect bridal look’ until I nailed it.  I now use this knowledge and personal understanding when I’m doing a bridal trial.  It’s about finding the balance between looking like you’re not wearing much make-up and looking your very best on your wedding day.  You want that Cinderella moment, where you look more beautiful than usual, but not overly made up.  I think I’ve found that balance, and over the years I’ve picked up so much knowledge about the type of products to use for weddings and how much of them to use to make brides look amazing in photographs.


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