Makeup: The artistry of beautification

Makeup is acquired through skill, authenticity and creativity. But while some people are self-proclaimed makeup artists that learn tips from Internet sites such as YouTube, others learn naturally.

According to MintLife, a finance website, women spend an average of $15,000 on makeup during their lifetimes. Nearly $4,000 goes toward mascara alone. Eye shadows and lipsticks budget at $2,750 during a lifetime.

Me’Shun Vann, a professional freelance makeup artist who has worked with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, said there is a lot of training involved in becoming a makeup artist. The very things she detested in school, such as history, art and geometry, are most important to what she’s using in her profession.

“It’s more than just putting on eye shadow, lipstick and foundation,” Vann said. “Contouring is an art most often used for drag makeup, and prior to HD television when it was viewed in analog … that’s geometry.”

Vann said makeup should be applied differently for television, film, theater, fashion, red carpet and special events.  

To give a global perspective Mus Emin, a United Kingdom freelance makeup artist who is a confidant of Vann, doesn’t understand how so many people can call themselves makeup “artists.”

“I suppose it is the same as if I woke up tomorrow, microwave a meal and called myself a chef,” Emin said. “It is an injustice to an incredible industry.”  

Emin has networked with industry professional, Kevin James Bennett, a five-time nominee and winner of two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. 

“Networking is about having something to offer in exchange with another professional,” Vann said. “It’s not just a handout.”

Emin said being able to put on makeup is only a small part of the job.  “Makeup artist” is used far too widely, and the line between beauty therapy and makeup is thin, he said, adding that half of the “makeup artists” today would be better described as “beauty therapists.”  

According to eHow, beauty therapists help clients enhance their overall well-being. They look at their clients as a whole, as opposed to concentrating on a specific area.

Emin said makeup artistry is a craft that requires time to perfect and a vast knowledge of technique and art history.

“The honest truth is that anyone can be taught how to apply makeup,” Emin said. “Creativity, however, cannot be taught.”

But it isn’t just women shopping in the makeup department. Men wear makeup as well.

According to a survey of 1,000 men in the U.S. and U.K. conducted by J. Walter Thompsona marketing communications company, men are increasingly feeling the pressure to beautify themselves. Of those surveyed, 54 percent approved of skin-care products such as moisturizers and eye creams and 24 percent approved to facials. Nine percent had no problem with foundation. 

Makeup is commonly used on male actors, news reporters and anchors so they don’t become washed out when the lights are shining on them. Makeup is also used on men and women to control shine so they won’t appear to be oily on camera.

Gina Glover, a MAC makeup artist in Tallahassee, said a true makeup artist is always eager to learn and implement new trends, not only on themselves but also on their clients.  

“They are never satisfied with their work but always strive to excel to greater technique,” Glover said.

Glover said most potential artists forget that the beauty industry is about an image, not an ego.  The ability to receive and apply feedback immediately and the eagerness to learn new and challenging skills to perfect their art, she said, is a great way to start for potential makeup artists.  

The mistake most people make when they are aspiring to be makeup artists is failing to know the chemistry behind the products. For example, when to use water-based versus silicon-based products.

Attending professional events such as IMATS and TPG are good ways to gain knowledge and skill about makeup, Vann said.  

Vann also said people must learn the business aspect of being a makeup artist. She knows some people who work two full-time jobs, one being a makeup artist, while others work as hobbyists – people who apply makeup – because they haven’t invested in their crafts and don’t charge professional prices.