How I Started As A Makeup Artist

One of the questions that people always ask me is “how did you get started with makeup?”

My interest with makeup artistry was sparked by my passion for dance and movement. I took ballet lessons from prep to high school, and part of dancing ballet was learning how to put on stage makeup for recitals and performances. By around age 12, I already have a Caboodles kit full of makeup, and I can already apply full stage makeup on myself, complete with contours and false eyelashes! As a cheerleader in School of the Holy Spirit and in Ateneo de Manila University, my makeup skills came in handy as I had to glam up for competitions and halftime performances. I think my teammates eventually took notice, they started lining up to me to do their eye makeup.

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As with most people in the creative field, I didn’t think of makeup artistry as a viable career for me at first. I didn’t know anyone personally who’s a makeup artist, so it never crossed my mind. After getting my degree in Business Management, I went the usual corporate route and did marketing work for 2 years. It was also during that time where my younger sister Sasa, frustrated with how salons do her makeup so unnaturally and thickly, always asked me to do her makeup for her special events. Her friends soon followed. While I was doing debut makeup for her friend with the few personal makeup and brushes I have, I had a lightbulb moment. What if I study how to do this properly?

I enrolled in Basic Makeup Artistry in Center for Aesthetic Studies (CAS) shortly after. Twice a week, 5:30pm on the dot, I make a mad dash from my office in Paranaque to make it in time for my 6:30pm class in Makati. I have never been this excited about something aside from dance. I soaked in the colors, technique, and complexity of makeup. The class left me broke (try building a good makeup kit from scratch), but really happy with this newfound passion.

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After a few more months in the corporate world, I decided it was not for me and resigned from my 2nd job. I’ve been getting some makeup gigs already and I thought, why not try doing this full time? My parents, worried over the future of their middle child, accepted the fact that I will probably never earn an MBA and offered me the MBA equivalent in makeup. Would you like to go to New York to study makeup again? Hell yeah!

I took up Beauty Makeup, Airbrush Makeup, and Studio Hairstyling in Makeup Designory (MUD) New York. They say it’s the “Harvard of makeup schools,” and while I have no way to compare it with the other schools in the US, I can vouch for their high standards. During our first day of classes, I completely felt like a newbie as my teacher thoroughly went over my work with a critical eye. Slightly crooked lines and uneven applications do not go unnoticed, and my international classmates and I were made to practice over and over again until we’ve done makeup the MUD way. While CAS gave me the foundation, MUD on the other hand gave me the confidence. My strokes definitely became cleaner and more polished, and after six months of grueling schoolwork and collaborating with photographers and models all over New York, I was 100% sure I’d pursue makeup artistry as a career.

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I was all pumped up and inspired upon returning to Manila, and then the reality of freelancing hit me. Now what? With no stable income, I had to slowly build my network and portfolio. It was definitely hard at first, not knowing what you’re going to do the very next day. But as the cliché goes, when you really want something, the universe will conspire to make it happen. After a few months, bookings started getting regular and now, I’m fortunate enough that I get bookings a year in advance.

Since being a full-time makeup artist in 2009, I’ve had various work tucked under my makeup brush belt. Bridal makeup is easily my favorite, I love the challenge of making my clients the best versions of themselves without going over the top. I’ve done makeup for a slew of magazines and print ads. As the former National Education Manager of Make Up For Ever Philippines, I’ve led several fashion shows, did countless makeup demos, and helped elevate the brand through educating its in-store makeup artists.  And as one of the makeup instructors in the Manila branch of Makeup Designory, I’ve already trained several aspiring makeup artists and helped them launch their own careers.

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People always tell me how lucky I am that I get to do what I do, and I wholeheartedly agree. I’m forever thankful that I have a job where I get to learn from and meet interesting people. Every day offers something different, I may have a wedding today, photoshoot tomorrow, then a makeup class the day after that. I get to work with creative individuals who are also passionate with their work. Each face I do makeup on is unique, so there’s always something new to do. It has given me the luxury of time to travel the world and pursue other interests, such as yoga. Best of all, I’m living proof that you can do what you love as a career and earn well from it. The list goes on, and I sincerely hope that you have also found a job that excites you to get off your bed every morning and that gives value to other people, too.