Steal Like a Makeup Artist

This post was brought to you by Urban Decay’s Glinda palette, inspired by the movie Oz: The Great and Powerful. (Read the review from Makeup and Beauty Blog here.)

(I like this video, by the way. Not just for the look, but also for the way Sam talks about how she doesn’t expect the ethereal “good witch” look to work for her because the villains have always been more interesting for her.)

Not too long ago, I posted a little rant about my dissatisfaction with Pixiwoo, which I thought (at that time) was a little too random and irrational. After watching a few of their recent videos on their channel, however, I did figure it out: Most of their videos were often done by request from followers – as in, “OMG, I saw this picture of X, could you do her look for your next video please?” It seemed kind of charming, at first, because who else is out there willing to teach you how to re-create what you’ve seen in a magazine, and inspired enough to show it to you?

But then I thought about it for a long time, and I figured that the whole concept has become too childish and ridiculous for me. People expect you to re-create somebody’s look, and then they complain that you put on too much makeup, or your stuff is expensive, or it’s too much of a bother overall. And why would you do that to yourself? It’s no different from the way people get mad at their hairstylists when their haircut does not match the picture that they’ve brought with them to the salon: Regardless of how inspired you are, or how your lifestyle or personality can carry it, you’re still trying to nail a look that was not created for your face.

On the other hand, one of my many favorite YouTube makeup artists (apart from Pixiwoo) is Lisa Eldridge, who has done a lot of editorial and red-carpet work to the point where she rarely does tutorials on her channel of celebrity looks that she has not done herself, unless it’s a source of inspiration for her. (See her tutorials inspired by Keira Knightley and Kylie Minogue – and a step-by-step recreation of Tippi Hedren’s look in The Birds, where she also tells anecdotes about the history of makeup in Hollywood between applications.) On a few occasions she has mentioned that it’s OK to use brands other than the ones that she uses; in her own words, “a brown eyeshadow is a brown eyeshadow.” This is an official makeup artist for Chanel talking here, and if she doesn’t care where you buy your makeup, why should you?

And consider this quote from a recent interview (from New York Magazine’s The Cut) of one of the senior makeup artists working on Rihanna’s upcoming concert tour, sponsored by MAC:

How long does the whole process take to get her face ready? 
The thing with any stage makeup look is you get better and quicker as the tour goes on. I’d be curious to know how much time will be shaved off by the end of the tour!

See? It already takes a lot of practice to make Rihanna look like Rihanna, even with an army of makeup artists and crates full of professional-grade cosmetics at her feet.

People forget that makeup artists are makeup artists. These are people who are used to putting on makeup because they’ve done it so many times before on so many different faces. They’ve worked for so long and so hard that it’s practically an insult to them if they’re asked to do somebody else’s look. No matter how many times you copy it to the last dab of gloss, there’s no way to capture the same style and the same spirit that went into the original look. What makes a makeup artist is not the technique but the philosophy behind the aesthetics, and the dedication to the work. Once that’s established, they can be hired, and trusted, and even be inspired to create their own brand of cosmetics.

So what’s left for a regular woman to do if she doesn’t have a steady hand, and there’s nobody else to do makeup for her every day?

Why not go all the way and pull an Austin Kleon on your beauty routine?

This is how I would do it: Know your own face first, then take the parts you like and run with them. If you break out a lot, take yourself to a dermatologist. If you don’t have time for eyeshadow, line your eyes with pencil and smudge it. Wear lip balm if lipstick makes you look freaky. Skip the blush if you’re already red in the face. Don’t even think about false eyelashes if you don’t have a place to wear them.

And remember the words of Francois Nars: “Why so serious? It’s only makeup.”

Love, Stella

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

Browse the blog