Global Beauty & Interview by Katie Bae
What are your thoughts on American makeup?
Firstly thank you for asking to interview me it's awesome to discuss something that I love! American makeup is very regional, I've noticed that there are drastic differences in trends depending on which state which is definitely different to the UK. We have literally like such a small country in comparison that you don't notice major differences even comparing the North to the South. For example KLMA Academy runs makeup courses in Manchester that showcase the same sorts of techniques we'd see in the South of the UK.
How long have you been working with makeup?
I started working as a makeup artist almost by accident. I was working in Tokyo as a model and one of the photographers asked me to come back and do makeup. It felt like a natural direction to take as I had always insisted that I be involved when there were other makeup artists. That was in 2009 so we're coming up to 9 years.
What is your favorite makeup product?
I love a lot of products that are sadly discontinued. Some of my favourite products are by Shu Uemura, they did a phenomenal foundation that I haven't found anything similar to since they cut it from the range. It was called Face Architect and had a really unique texture, sort of like Mac Studio Sculpt but a lot higher pigmentation, stability and skincare additions. I guess today I love Dermacolor products and I always go back to Mac Studio Fix out of habit.
What do you think about other makeup trends around the world?
We definitely don't get to see a lot of the trends that are going on outside of the West because we kind of exist in an insular society where we all wanna either fit in or rebel. There are really drastic beauty trends that are so different to the US, whether it's Nollywood, whether it's in South Korea. I found it really fascinating to see the experiment that was conducted a couple of years ago when 18 countries were selected to edit their ideal beauty onto the same face.
I remember finding it completely mind-boggling when I first visited Asia because, at the time, you couldn't grab foundations in drug stores that were very pale or very deep. It was eye-opening to see the same brands have completely different ranges in a country like Japan where people are naturally more tan, yet the products were far paler than here in England. I think we're starting to be more inclusive with different skin tones but it's taken a while to catch up.
What makeup do you dislike the most?
I honestly became infatuated with product formulation when I started wearing makeup, I was always trying to mix things that didn't work into new formulas just in a kitchen bowl at the time. I later went on to study Cosmetic Formulation as an MSc in BioChemistry at LCF in London, so I got the opportunity to learn about how formulas work, what ingredients create what results, as you would expect to learn if you attended a top makeup academy. If something doesn't immediately work for me, I can work out quite quickly what it needs and add products I'm familiar to make it work better. I think trend wise I find it completely stupid a lot of the time to see people on Instagram trying to garter views by using a lot of odd product combinations. It's been very on trend to use illuminating or metallic base makeup under full coverage foundations, well that just completely covers the pigments that reflect light back it doesn't do anything at all. Or there are a lot of people using foundations and concealers that look wonderful in a flash photograph but if you are actually in daylight the results are really quite different. I love creativity and people to explore and try new techniques, I think I have more of a bone of contention with the idea that it's all about living on the internet. I'd rather people use social media as a tool to propel their art than try and mould themselves into what's popular.
What do you look for in a product?
I am pretty easy going with 'colour' products. So eyes, lips, blush, pigments. I can make them work whether foiling them or using mixing mediums or even decanting them into loose pigments. Foundations and skincare for me, are absolutely the most integral part of the look and I definitely want something that covers my problem areas, whether it's beard shadow or under eye circles. If it's a case of my work as a makeup artist, I will experiment until I know the product and wait for the right person to apply it to.
Why do you think makeup is important?
Makeup has a profound effect on how you perceive yourself. It's always been used traditionally to identify your role in society, for example in Indonesia they use a type of substance from a cow liver that creates a yellow ochre paint. This is used ceremonially or in cases like in many indigenous Amazonian tribes to identify who and what you are. I think it's an amazing tool that anyone can use to their advantage.
What do you think is the best part of makeup?
My favourite part of makeup is physically sitting with a fabulous playlist on and just painting away. It's almost like meditating and I can take up to three hours just getting into the concept I have in my head. I actually hate filming new tutorial work on Youtube because I really enjoy the calm of it nowadays haha. Which doesn't bode well for that aspect of my work. But I love painting.
What do you think makes American makeup stand out against other countries?
I think American makeup stands out against other countries because of the diverse range of people in the US. It's a real melting pot spread out across a number of different geographical areas whether super hot, super cold. There are definitely some products that are more suited to a hotter climate like SPF powders which are really commonplace in Brasil or Thailand, to very light or moisturizing products for a winter in NYC. There are so many cultures that have migrated and found home in the US, that each plays an important influence.
What inspired you to become a makeup artist?
It was honestly a complete accident, it wasn't my ambition at all. I knew I was great at painting but I never wanted to be a makeup artist. I always say to people that my actual work is mostly about creating the concepts. I prefer the title visual artist for that reason and I've definitely had more success in things that I'm super involved with.
Who is your biggest icon in makeup?
I grew up with books by Way & Kevyn. I definitely looked up to Mathu Andersen and Zaldy. I love Pat Mcgrath, I love Kabuki Starshine. I love Billy B. I have a great respect for the people responsible for my favourite music videos or fashion moments. I got the opportunity quite early on to reach out and talk to artists like Barbara Daly, I love Linda Mason. My personal style of makeup is really quite different to what I see in trend at the moment. People love the graphic style that I really associate now with amateur work. If you look through my work particularly on Youtube, the bold, colourful glittery, gleaming cut creases and experimental looks were things I did when I was 16. Now I'm 26 I have a much more reserved taste and I paint a face almost like I'm looking through someone and I'm trying to bring to the surface what I see.
What are some current American beauty trends you dislike?
I don't really have an opinion on the physical trends, I really do have a major dislike for the obsession with social media though and I find it the main reason why I've stopped regularly posting. I used to really find solace and a sense of community when I started on Youtube and today it's a contrived set of wealthy kids who have no creative experience in the real world & have used social media to magnify what they've achieved. It just doesn't feel any different from a scripted reality tv show and I wish the people who have the most incredibly unique styles like John Maclean, Arabia Felix, there are loads of artist who are more creative whether it's Isshehungry to Wayne Marshall to Ryan Burke and much more. I would like to see them with the highest following and not people who have zoomed in on a metallic dripping foundation base or written something silly on their head in a contour stick. I just want artistic people to gain the respect for doing something creative.
What are some current American beauty trends you like, and why?
I love that people are getting into the idea of inclusivity, there has always been a huge lack of dark and pale skin tones in foundation ranges and it definitely comes from a lack of funding. My partner is an executive at Fenty and works very closely with Rihanna's business so he was arranging the Fenty deal in January before going off to do her Puma stuff. I think it really brought home to corporations that you can gain a much bigger sale if you include a wider shade range because there is obviously a market for it. So I hope to see more!
What do you think is the most important part of makeup? (Ex. Brows, blush, contour)
Definitely skin! Great skin is essential.
For makeup, what do you think is too far?
Again it's not so much that I have an opinion on the style of makeup people wear, it's just the intention behind it. If people are doing it to get likes on an Instagram post it loses all credibility to me and I'd rather they explore makeup in a personal way and create something unique. Ultimately it rewards you more.
Have you ever heard of kbeauty? If so what are your thoughts about it?
I absolutely love K Beauty and learnt a great deal about makeup application through one of my best friends at the times subscription to Egg magazine, which gave how-to guides on the Host style fifteen years ago. I used to use the jawline slimming skincare that will probably make it's way to the western market in the next year or so, the fruit jelly peels. The transfer makeup, the skin fairness products etc. Some of my biggest tutorials have been about eyelid tape and glue and I'm super familiar with the products. I think that there is a lot of fabulous products and I love Korean skincare.
What do you think makes American makeup unique than Korean makeup, French makeup, etc.?
One of my favourite things to do in Paris in go to the Pharmacies and stock up on my Bioderma. There just is a cultural difference in what people aspire to look like. In many Asian lines you will find fairness creams and colour correctors, it's about creating different ideals. I think there was a lot of trends in Korea about minimizing lip shapes by using only a touch of colour in the centre of a nude lip, so basically a reverse ombre lip. Compared to in the West we see that literally, lip injections with ombre and exaggerated styles are the thing to be. American makeup is very driven by celebrity trends if Kylie transforms herself the culture of young people her age emulate her steps with the hope they will achieve her success, unaware that she has many teams involved that have orchestrated it for her. So it's different intentions. I use a wide combination of products, I was a huge fan of Dior Snow which was only available in Korea to minimize my dark freckles as a kid. I also use a lot of colour corrections, SPF powders with the Western products.
What do you think is a must in everybody’s routine?
I hope that everyone uses a great cleanser. I think clean skin is the must to create a beautiful finish. I love using natural oils and removing the oils with a cleanser and it's super cheap and great for the skin.
What do you think makes your makeup unique from others?
My makeup is definitely unique to me in the sense that when I look at my face, my initial concerns were that my nose was uneven, my eyelids were uneven. I worked on creating symmetry unique to me but the style is very classic. There is nothing new under the sun. When I started on Youtube, there was no other content comparable to mine, I wanted to bring the techniques from the Way's and the Mathu's to the platform and I achieved that. Many of my techniques from cutting in the nose contour to drawing hair by hair the eyebrows in, are common place today from osmosis so I'm definitely proud in what I've achieved. I hope to always do things in a new way, push myself out of my comfort zone, try and bring new styles to the table and keep it expensive!
Thank you for the opportunity to interview me!
Please find my social media here.