The person who taught you how to do your makeup will always hold a special place in your heart.
I first started learning how to do makeup when I was in the fifth grade, after being cast as a member of the ensemble in a community theater production of Beauty and the Beast. At 11 years old, I was one of the youngest members of the cast, and I absolutely loved being involved. Although I wasn’t getting paid a dime, and I didn’t have a single line in the entire show, I thought I was a real, real actress, and it was an absolute dream come true.
Aside from the thrill of performing on stage for a live audience, what I loved most about being in the play was getting my makeup done. At that point, my personal makeup arsenal consisted of a dozen Lip Smackers and an eye shadow palette I’d been allowed to buy from the dollar store. Having someone else–a makeup artist, nonetheless–put real makeup on me before each performance was huge.
The small team of men and women who did our makeup for the show was lovely, in the way that I’ve come to learn is the norm for makeup artists. They were all funny and warm and extraordinarily complimentary of the cast. I would usually spend about 10 minutes in the makeup chair before every performance, and my God, did I cherish those 10 minutes. The makeup team made me feel like Miss America, which was quite the feat, considering that I was A) a Canadian, B) very chubby, and C) the not-so-proud owner of a mouthful of braces. But still, every time I sat down in front of them, I would hear, “Oh my gosh, I’d kill to have your beautiful curls!” or “I’m not going to have to work very hard to make those blue eyes POP!”
Eventually, I began spending time sitting on an overturned milk carton in the makeup room, watching the team do their thing. I got a world-class education sitting on that carton. I learned the difference between eye shadow and eyeliner, and why it’s important to put mascara on your lower lashes, and the myriad of different ways to cover a pimple (little did I know how important that lesson would be in the coming years). I learned a lot about proper makeup application techniques by carefully watching the team do their work on my castmates. The artists also taught me about sanitizing makeup brushes and beauty product “expiry dates”–two lessons that I still struggle with today, to be perfectly honest.
As I’m sure you can imagine, some of the beauty lessons I learned during that production didn’t translate well from the theater to my real life. For example, wearing bright red lipstick at the age of 11 is totally fine when you’re on stage pretending to be a flower who has come to life. Wearing bright red lipstick at the age of 11 in almost any other scenario is not.
Over time, I began picking up makeup tips and tricks in all of the usual ways: watching makeover shows, reading magazines, and experimenting with friends. But the most important things to know about makeup–that it’s supposed to be fun and that it’s a great way to bond with others–I learned from those artists. The people who made me feel so special as a kid taught me the joy of applying makeup, and for that, I can’t thank them enough.
Now I’m curious: who taught you how to do your makeup? Or are you a self-taught beauty queen? Have you taught anyone else how to do their makeup? Share your stories in the comments below.
Makeup Expert & Manicurists, Contributing Editor
Jessica is a writer who feels it is a job requirement to own every shade of nail polish. She thinks any bad day can be improved by a trip to Sephora–provided there aren’t 10 people giving themselves makeovers, in front of the new lipsticks.