Here’s the thing, as much as each makeup artist ought to be able to do a wide variety of makeup styles extremely well, and many certainly do, none the less makeup is an art and with art comes personal preferences and taste. There will be an over arching aesthetic taste every person doing visual creative work will bring to what they do.
So when you find yourself venturing out into the jungles of the beauty world seeking that new special product or just the right person to polish you up for a special event, where do you even get started!?
This is how we find ourselves at the mercy of the beauty counter artists working at the various higher end department stores, wandering the aisles of our local Shoppers Drug Mart, or maybe on the sofa at a friends as their Avon salesperson friend hosts a social gathering.
Sometimes (hopefully!) you strike gold and you get incredible advice and just the right few new things that truly do make a positive difference. Or you score yourself a makeup artist who really gets you and does a gorgeous job.
And other times…. well, not so much. I have heard so many tales from the beauty trenches, many of them hilarious in retrospect for the innocent souls involved, but sometimes these experiences also leave a long lasting imprint that deters you from venturing out and trying again. The impromptu makeup counter makeover that has you looking like a tv star from a 1980's soap opera. Having your makeup done to be in a wedding bridal party and barely recognizing yourself under the inch of foundation, powder and over the top thick heavy false eye lashes.
So how to avoid this? The trick is to seriously take in the makeup advisor giving you help or the potential artist wielding the makeup brush. Take in the whole package of how they’ve pulled themselves together. Clothes, hair, shoes, nails, fragrance, accessories, how they’re speaking and yes without a doubt, their makeup. There are a lot of clues here as to how this creative beauty advisor experiences and translates the world of makeup artistry. Are they more of a bold dramatic person? Or are they more subtle and understated. Do they gravitate to a lot of colour in their makeup/hair/clothes or do they gravitate to more neutrals. Do they love thick heavy mascara or something more refined? Do they represent someone that you could see yourself wanting to emulate in some ways in your appearance?
The trick is to do your homework as much as possible and seek out brands and makeup artists that align as much as possible with where you want to end up. Is this everyday makeup you're looking for? Or are you attending a themed costume party and need something more over the top?
Some brands lean to more subtle understated sophistication - Bobbi Brown, Gucci Westman and my beauty brand, AF Makeup for example, this is our playground; understated and chic.
Other brands love bright bold strong, or more fashion forward makeup looks - MAC cosmetics and Makeup For Ever as examples. Or a glitzy glam rock and roll party makeup brand such as Charlotte Tilbury.
And then there are brands that specialize in different skin tones - Fenty Beauty, Rhianna’s cosmetic line, for example is a brand leader in colours for deeper skin tones. Or there's another brand I've come across called Redhead Revolution that specializes in people with red hair and fair skin.
And this is not to say that as a makeup artist someone at Bobbi Brown, or myself for example won't ever do something bold and dramatic, we definitely will! But even those bold dramatic looks will still have a consistent theme of being on the more sophisticated side as opposed to the wild and crazy side.
So when you approach a beauty counter or are looking at a brand online really size up the over all feeling of the brand and then if possible try to flag down a makeup artist who you resonate with on some level - it’s not a surefire way to guarantee the success of the advice you’ll get but it’s definitely a big step in the right direction.
Curious to experiment with big bold makeup? Catch the eye of the makeup artist who's got gorgeous colourful eye makeup on. Dying to try a bold lip colour? Find someone wearing a gorgeously done bold lip and ask them for tips and ideas.
Same concept when you’re hiring a makeup artist to do your makeup, or to teach you makeup skills. Look at all the clues given above, and then also look at a portfolio of their makeup work if possible (Instagram is perfect for this - for example you can check out my work here). Each artist will have a style, there will be range in what they do, some looks softer, some looks more bold and dramatic, but there will be an undercurrent of consistency, I promise you, when you start to look for it you’ll be able to spot it. Do they tend to heavier or more sheer foundations. Lots of powder or more dewy and natural? Do they gravitate to more natural looking eyebrows or more sculpted and defined? High fashion creative or more on the everyday side of things? Lots of bright lip colours, lots of gloss or more matte lips - you get the idea!
This concept is no different than for example when you might research an interior designer to decorate your home, they’ll all have a different style. You find your right person first and get them working on what they do best, don’t try to shoe horn a designer who clearly loves light and airy cozy neutral spaces into a project that is bright bold glitzy and glam - it’s likely to just be a headache! Or when you go to hire a photographer. Some gravitate to lots of light and hazy dreamy looking images and others love dark dramatic images, some love outdoors some love portraits, particularly the more established and experienced the creative person you're looking to hire, they'll eventually have settled an area of expertise. There are themes there waiting to be spotted, just look for them!