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Sustainable Beauty: Becoming an Eco-Friendly Makeup Artist

Sustainable beauty is a topic that has been on my mind for a number of years. From the book retail space to working at a spa and now as a makeup artist, I have witnessed firsthand the tremendous waste in each one of these industries. I know, too, that these are certainly not the worst offenders and, as consumers, we generate a heavy burden to the environment as well. In response to these eye-opening experiences, here are some of the changes I have implemented to reduce my carbon footprint both personally and professionally.

  • Instead of plastic and acrylic single-use lip and mascara wands, I now purchase re-usable bamboo handles.   
  • Stainless steel palettes and palette spatulas have replaced my plastic disposables.
  • I am making an effort to source products with minimal packaging.
  • Instead of disposable lip brushes, each client’s touch-up kit now has reusable ones, and kits are stored in reusable organza bags.
  • Rather than using travel-sized versions of product, I am taking the extra time to transfer depot or decant product from full-sized containers into smaller, more portable, reusable containers. This is usually more cost effective as well. I source mine from Qosmedix.
re-usable bamboo mascara wands
  • With every new purchase, I am choosing to be more intentional. Part of that is selecting products with sustainable packaging such as cardboard, metal, or glass components versus plastic, as these components tend to be more easily recycled or repurposed.
  • As I dispose of makeup products, packaging, and tools, I ask myself if any elements can be repurposed, passed along, recycled, up-cycled, or donated. For instance, you can take your empty MAC product containers back to the MAC makeup counter and they will recycle it for you. When you turn in 6 containers, you will receive a free full-sized MAC lipstick on the spot through a program called Back to MAC. I have been using this program for years.
  • Sometimes, sustainability comes down to asking whether or not I really need to buy something else. Implementing low- or no-buy periods slows down my contribution to the cycle of consumerism, and I have saved some money in the process!
  • Many brands have made a commitment to sustainable and responsible packaging. Aveda is an excellent example: https://www.aveda.com/living-aveda/responsible-packaging
re-usable bamboo makeup wands
  • Instead of buying everything online, I try to source my products locally when possible, which allows me to support local businesses with every purchase. Right now, even former retail giants are vulnerable to closure because we as consumers are abandoning brick-and-mortar stores for online shopping. Am I guilty of choosing the ‘quick and easy’ option at times? Absolutely, but I am making a concerted effort to use online retail as a last resort for those items I simply cannot find in my market or at times when the price is not even remotely competitive. Ultimately, buying from the area where I live impacts the jobs and tax base of our localities.
  • In the fashion industry, there is a sector called fast fashion. This is also prevalent in the makeup and beauty communities as brands constantly release new “collections” of products curated with an eye towards seasonal color story, trends, textures, packaging, etc. I fully admit I was a bit addicted to buying each new collection that was released since I love beautiful or unique packaging, but am working on reforming my ways. Eyeshadows are a particularly prolific offender, since the “brand new” color palettes are usually not that unique aside from one or two “pop” shades that you likely have in another palette. A good question to ask yourself is: how many different shades of brown, blue, green, purple, beige, pink, or burgundy can you actually wear? If you blindfolded yourself and sampled several similar shades, would you really be able to say with certainty which shade is from which palette? I know I couldn’t and I have been a professional makeup artist for over 12 years!

While I am not yet an expert in eco-friendly makeup trends, these ideas are a good starting point towards the goal of sustainable beauty in the wedding and commercial makeup industries. I never want to deprive myself or my clients of the joy, benefits, and aesthetic pleasure that personal care product brings to our lives, but I want to incorporate these products in a responsible way. Each day, I am attempting to implement best practices for myself and my business that provide less of an environmental impact.

If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please leave a comment! I would love to know what else you think I could or should do to be a better steward of our environment.

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My Story: Diversity and Artistry in Makeup

The question I am asked most frequently is…

“How did you get started in makeup?” The answer is that I learned makeup because, at the time, I was not able to find anyone to teach me how to properly apply mine in a way that respected and flattered my features, age, and skin tone. Up to that point, I had not been interested in wearing makeup since high school so I was quite out of practice (not that I was especially good at it even back in the day). But I was interested in updating my look as I had experienced some milestones and felt it was time to start putting a little effort in to my personal presentation. This was 2007 and the YouTube beauty community was in it’s infancy. I had watched a few videos but there was still relatively little content compared to what it has grown into today. I then became obsessed with the style of Robert Jones, who was doing exquisite bridal artistry. Hi style and artistry ultimately inspired me to become a wedding makeup artist, but not just for Asians. My goal was to enhance the beauty of any woman who sat in my chair. That is how About Face MakeUp Artistry came to be in our little corner of Hampton Roads, VA.

Hampton Roads makeup artist applying bridal makeup.
Jessica Ryan Photography

               I decided to invest in a course teaching bridal makeup and even convinced my best friend to join me! After just one week, we had the basic knowledge and skills to begin a new venture as bridal makeup artists if we were so inclined. My initial intention was not to do makeup for others or to monetize what I perceived to be a self improvement skill but, upon completion of the class, I experienced an epiphany: this was more than just an interesting skill I had acquired for myself. I actually loved every second of the class and decided that I did want to pursue it further as a potential profession. Based on my personal experience I knew a primary mandate for my artistic growth was that I learn to be not just proficient, but excellent when working with clients of every age, ethnicity, and skin tone. I relentlessly hounded/recruited friends, family, coworkers, and even total strangers to come to my home to let me practice my artistry. I learned to transition techniques from client to client and I always asked for feedback.  Today I look back at my early work and cringe but alas as artists, even human beings, we grow and learn.

I am so honored and appreciative to have clients who recognize the training and dedication required to artfully create beautiful bridal makeup for all members of the bridal party regardless of ethnicity or age. The gorgeous bridal party featured here is a perfect example of deep diversity of ethnicity, skin tone, and skin type. Each client had their unique challenge areas which they wanted to address as well as their own favorite features they wanted to highlight. As a point of pride and professionalism I was so pleased to know that I possessed the talent and skill set to ensure each of these ladies were beautiful and confident when they left my chair.

Bride and groom smiling in front of the Historic Post Office in Hampton, Virginia.
Jessica Ryan Photography
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Styled Italian Villa Wedding at The Royal Courtyard with Wild Heart Films

I had such a privilege to work with some fantastic vendors for this stunning styled shoot at The Royal Courtyard.  With an Italian Villa wedding inspiration, we took Europe and brought it right here to Hampton Roads.  The collaboration amongst everyone turned into something incredible.  The images from Wild Heart Films were breathtaking, and showcased everyone’s work beautifully.  The makeup was some of my favorite, as we went slightly dramatic but still with a natural feel.  I enjoyed working alongside Victoria Gillchrest from Elle Madison Salon, as she did the hair.

Featured on Big Love Small Weddings, this styled wedding inspiration was one for the books.  You won’t want to miss the gorgeous details and fantastic ideas that came from this amazing collaboration – check it out below!

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Vendors Involved:

Photographer: Wild Heart Films

Ring Designer: Diamonds Direct

Dress Designer: Truly Yours Bridal and Formal

Model: Daniel Gomenyuk Modeling

Model: Katie Cominsky

Event Planner: A Queen’s Touch Events, LLC

Hair Stylist: Elle Madison Salon-Victoria Gillchrest

Makeup Artist: About Face MUA

Invitation Designer: Kalos Designs

Linens and Coverings: Splendid Seating

Second Shooter: Shawn Sawyer Photography

Cake Designer: Kadi Bakes

Design and Decor: Chic Unique Vintage Rentals & Events

Event Venue: The Royal Courtyard

Floral Designer: I Do Weddings with Love

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Styled Tides Inn Wedding Inspiration with Will Hawkins Photography

Game Day Wedding & Events wanted to coordinate a styled shoot that beautifully accented the already gorgeous location of The Tides Inn. With stunning centerpieces, beautiful attire, and a few fun details, I love everything that they put together.  I loved working with Curl Up or Dye for the beauty for this shoot – I was able to apply gorgeous makeup to our model, and she did an incredible job with hair.  This Tides Inn wedding inspiration brought about the beautiful oysters of our Hampton Roads area, right on the water.  It was so amazing!  Our models from Splash Model Management did an incredible job.  Be sure to check out all the beautiful photos from Will Hawkins Photography below – and see a full vendor list at the bottom.

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Vendors Involved:

Photography: Will Hawkins Photography

Venue: The Tides Inn

Models: Splash Model Management

Makeup Artist: About Face MUA

Hair Stylist: Curl Up or Dye

Dress Store: Studio I Do

Grooms Attire: Miguel’s Formal Wear

Signage: The Letter Label

Specialty Foods: Dog & Oyster Winery

Culinary: Country Cottage

Bakery: Cindy’s Cakery, LLC.

Invitation Designer: Papeterie

Floral Designer: The Wild Bunch

Event Designer: Game Day Weddings & Events

Featured on Hill City Bride

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Styled Norfolk Botanical Garden Wedding with Dragon Studio

This was such a fun photoshoot to be part of!  Working with Joyful Send-Off for this styled Norfolk Botanical Garden wedding was amazing!  We got to apply gorgeous makeup for our model, Skylar, and see the eco-friendly send-off ideas that they would be promoting.  Beyond that, this inspiration ended up being featured in Coastal Virginia Magazine, Capitol Romance, and more!  Working with Dragon Studio was so much fun, and the photos from the day were amazing – check out some of my favorites below!

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Vendors Involved:

Venue: Norfolk Botanical Garden

Photography & Concept: Dragon Studio

Coordination: Misty Saves the Day

Makeup: About Face Makeup Artistry & Aesthetics

Florist: Roost Flowers

Rentals: Distinctive Event Rentals

Paper: Letterlyn

Cake: Kadi Bakes

Hair: Beauty by Sharra

Jewelry: Either Ore Jewelers Strawbridge

Bridal Attire: Jeilyne Santana

Umbrellas: Big Top Entertainment

Videography: Intellect Media

Models: Skylar Dryden & Josh Tibbetts

Featured in Coastal Virginia Bride for Joyful Send-Off

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