Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Backstage Pass: The Real World of Makeup Artistry

So you want to be a makeup artist? Well congratulations! Makeup artistry is a very rewarding career. A lot have found love and success in this field, and the world is an absolutely beautiful world. It has been my home for almost a decade, probably the longest job I've had. Before you hand over your resignation letter to your boss and then start buying your stash (a fun part, believe me, it's like shopping for the prettiest office supplies in the planet), take a moment to read this first, Because I am about to talk about the reality of this kind of job. I'm not saying it's not a rewarding career because it is, and there are names to prove it. Yet it is not an easy job as most people think.

When I was still studying in makeup school, the older makeup artists said that going into the business is much easier now (i.e. the time I was studying) than before (when they were studying). I was enrolled in a makeup school based locally when they had to travel abroad because there were no makeup schools in Manila then. It was much easier to network and get your work out there since there was Multiply and Facebook (which was very very young at that time), which are free sites when you can't afford a dotcom yet. I can say that it is even much easier now. More affordable but good-quality brands of tools and gear are popping up in bazaars and social media. Social media and the Internet has even helped a lot of us get our work through. And also, there are so many local schools out there available for those who would want to study makeup. Heck there are even makeup artists who didn't get to go to makeup school at all but learned makeup by practice and watching online tutorials. The Internet is a wonderful tool after all.

The misconception of other people is that makeup artists have the easiest and funnest job on the earth. Again, we have the Internet for this. We are surrounded by beautiful people most of the time, have beautiful things as tools (A Naked Palette is much prettier than a stapler yes?), go wine and dine at fancy events and wear so many beautiful clothes and look beautiful most of the time in our Instagram photos. Hello our main job involves BEAUTY!  I'm sure you have heard of these expressions:

"Makeup is so easy! You just stand there and then after you get paid Php3,000!"

"You party every week! It's so fun!"

"Wow I saw your makeup haul post! You are so lucky to have all of that!"

That's what our social media accounts say. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. That's what most of you guys see. You do not see what goes behind that. That it's all not just parties and pretty things. Just like a day job, or any job for that matter, there is still hard work involved. Blood, sweat, and tears name it. It is not an easy money kind of job. I repeat. And I will be real as this lunch of sisig and sinigang I am having right now on my desk as I am typing this post.

Being a Makeup Artist is Hard Work and Here is Why.

You Have To Network

You may be super skilled at eyebrows or have the best HD skills ever. You may possess that enviable stash or that pretty makeup stand. If you do not know who to approach, it's gonna be hard. I had a really hard time with this even though my skills are awesome and I graduated makeup school at the top of my class (yeah, Nerd.). I didn't know anyone. Some of my batchmates worked in ad agencies, salons, or were designers who took this as a backup course. Then there are the fashion models transitioning to a different career path and the artistas. They already had their network. They're one step ahead. But then again, like I said, thank you Internet, networking is easier now. Get your work out there and make your presence known. Blog. Post. Add friends. Follow. Like. Comment. Repost. In person, befriend people in fashion shows and shoots. Hand out your calling cards. Oh, and get a really awesome person to make your calling cards. And that process doesn't stop when you've established yourself as a pro, it goes on.

Even if social media made networking much easier than before, it doesn't mean that it's still easy. Remember,  there's more competition. More accounts and Facebook pages will open, new talents will be discovered, more students will graduate from makeup school, You gotta know what to do and where to go and how to stand out and stay there.

It Takes a Toll In Your Body

What was the first thing I bought when I enrolled in makeup school? Compression stockings. I knew that I was going to stand for long periods of time. Makeup artistry is both a physical and mental job. MUAs carry heavy gear. Be prepared to carry because there won't be someone to carry things all the time. MUAs stand for prolonged hours, sometimes not in comfortable positions. They do not have OT but they have long work hours. 24-hour shoots actually exist. If you plan to do movies or TVCs, be prepared to be sleep-deprived on certain days yet still have the energy to be able to go to your next gig the following day. Some bridal work does not stop when you put your brush down when the bride's makeup is done. It still applies when you go to the reception to do her second look,

The solution to this: Take care of your body. Balance your work and know when to stop. Enroll and invest on a gym membership because this will make you stronger. Eat healthily and try to cook healthy food when you can. Also, please rest. Being coffee-powered with no hours of sleep will not do your body good. Take good care of yourself because that will make you do your job better.

It Is a Constant Learning Process

What separates a real makeup artist and a fake-up 1000-per-head  artist: education.  I'm not saying that I limit the definition to just makeup school, I know a lot of very talented real makeup artists who didn't undergo formal makeup training. Yet, it also took them years or practice, hard work, and networking before they established themselves. And up to now, even the most talented makeup artists are constantly learning and updating their knowledge by attending classes, master classes, workshops, taking courses, and even reading and researching.


Makeup does not come cheap. How much is a bottle of Make Up For Ever HD Foundation? Php 2,800. A MAC Lipstick? Php 1,000 (Php 1,100 if limited edition packaging). A tube of L'Oreal mascara that won't budge? Php 599. How about Shu Uemura Eyebrow Pencil? Php 1,400. These are quality makeup brands that perform really well so your makeup lasts with minimal retouching up to the time you take it off, Also, a real makeup artist would never, ever buy fake makeup off of Ebay because the skin of her client's is her top priority. A real makeup artist buys original makeup on the makeup counter or reputable sellers and distributors. She knows what makeup to buy because she does her research. A real MUA will also know how to wash her brushes and take care of her gear because she spent good (hard-earned) money on it.

It Involves Patience

Waiting for your second look, waiting to be called for retouch, change look, waiting for your paycheck etc. Patience also involves dealing with clients (oh and please future MUAs, don't let these clients bully you. be patient but know when enough is enough. I shall write a future post on that later)

A MUA is Professional

Darling, it is a job. not a hobby. There are  BTS shenanigan photos which are fun and cute, and yes things like these are allowed. But know when 5 heads in the fashion show is supposed to be done in time for their tech run. Study the pegs, Know that 9-10 am is the time for the first character and by 9:45, you should be wrapping up in time to do makeup for the next one scheduled at 10-11. Arrive on time, do your paperwork, and keep all contracts, reservation forms,  and receipts. You are running your own business, not painting faces for the heck of it.

I am not writing this to discourage everyone to become a makeup artist. Like I said, it is a very fun and fulfilling legitimate job. But like any other job, it is not a walk in the park. Makeup artistry involves a lot of hard work,  Let's face it guys, there is no such thing as easy money, even though how fun this seems to be. There's the long hours, the back pain, the constant updates, those clients that you just want to give your right hook to but can't, the list goes on. If deep in your heart, you know that this is a career that you will fall in love and you are prepared for the hard work and time and monetary investment, then I say go ahead and take that leap. Despite the fact that it is a hard job, you still love where you are.  But if you would rather not the hours of training and work and if you just want to learn makeup to be able to put makeup flawlessly on yourself and your friends, then just go online and watch tutorials and just make it a fun bonding experience for you and your friends.

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