Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

Make-up Transforms

I often get emails from aspiring makeup artists asking how to achieve a certain look; or what products hold up best under lights. Sometimes the questions are about ethnicity: How do I match brown skin tones without making the model look ashy? These are the same questions I had when I was starting out.

I was blessed to have worked under makeup artists like Laura Mercier, Brigitte Reiss-Andersen and Bobbi Brown. These women had been working in the field for a decade when I came along as an assistant. Whatever I know now, it's because I mixed what I learned from them with my own talents to create something that was distinctly mine.

One thing I learned from Brigitte Reiss-Andersen was to have "new eyes" each time I looked at a model. What do I mean? When you work in the fashion/beauty industry, it's natural that you will work with a few star models over and over again.

It's tempting to fall into a rut and say, "Oh, I know her eyes look great lined like this. I did it for the cover of Elle." The challenge is to look at the same beautiful face twenty or thirty times and come up with a new way to interpret their features.

Desiree, in the picture above and the previous post (just scroll down the page) has already made rounds to many of the agents in New York and she has a portfolio and a composite card. In every single one of her portfolio shots her hair is straight and her lips are some hue of red.

Okay, I'll admit the first thing I saw when I looked at her was a Modern Spanish inspired look with straight hair and red lips. It's a given with her complexion and features. But I'm sorry. That's the lazy choice.

As a makeup artist, never go with the lazy choice. You'll never set yourself apart from the crowd that way. Even as a "regular" woman doing your own face, it's important to have new eyes when you look at yourself in the mirror.

My workshop clients tell me all the time, "I have used this pink lipstick from (fill in the brand) for the last 10 years."

What? Are you kidding me? With all the great colors and textures out there...With the changing color schemes based on the seasons and fashion's direction...the same pink lipstick has worked for 10 years. I don't believe you.

It's just simply the lazy choice. Push past the lazy choice to explore. It's not hard. It's actually fun. As an artist working on someone else's face or as an individual trying a new look for a big night out, challenge yourself.

With Desiree (who is only 16, by the way), I decided to skip the Modern Spanish girl look altogether. In this shot, I kept the modern but ditched the Spanish theme. I wanted something more "South Beach Socialite." The inspiration for that came from her bronzed skin and great accessories (the girl brought amazing clothes to the shoot!).

But when it came time for her second shot I wanted to go as far left from the South Beach theme as possible. As a model, it's important for her to be seen as having a very versatile look that could easily represent a myriad of ideas and products.

As a makeup artist, it's important for me to show that I can take a model and transform her into many different looks. I can see her with "new eyes" even 30 minutes after making her a South Beach hottie.

When I studied Desiree's face the second time, I imagined a romantic theme. I didn't want something too sweet or predictable. It may have come off as a caricature. So to give our romantic theme a twist, I gave her dark eyes and matte, skin toned lips (created by blending foundation over her lips).

But as you can see, everything else plays up the romantic theme - the hair, the clothes, even the wallpaper behind her. And Paul (our wonderful photographer) gave us completely different lighting for this shot than what we had in the South Beach shot.

Now this young model has two looks in her book that are completely different from anything else she has. I'd venture to say if we shot with her again and again, I could find other ways to show her versatility. One reason is because I really like her face. It's harder to do when you're not inspired by the model.

Or the model doesn't do her job well. Nothing's worst than working as a team to make a model a work of art and then she stares at the camera like a deer in head lights. But I'm going off the subject here.

So, my question for you is this: Will you look at your own face with "new eyes" now? Will you venture away from your favorite lipstick or eye shadow to create a new theme for yourself? If you're not sure where to start, buy a fashion magazine (Allure is great for this sort of stuff) and find a model who has the same hair and eye color as you do. Notice what colors were used on her and go to a department store and sample those colors on yourself.

One word of caution: I don't mean the weird, runway inspired looks with streaks of paint scrawled across a model's face. I mean the "pretty" makeup looks. Just wanted to clarify. LOL

If you take the challenge, please let me know. I'd love to see pictures!