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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. I started to think about how I could become an Eco-Friendly Makeup Artist and what changes I would need to implement 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 products, 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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Two Rivers Country Club Styled Shoot Wedding with Heather Hughes Photography

Wedding makeup and bridal parties are always exciting combinations filled with expectations, fun, and memories in the making. I was excited to be a part of this Two Rivers Country Club Styled Shoot. The shoot featured two brides of differing skin tones, skin types, and with the same desire . . . to look her best on her wedding day. With that primary goal in mind I chose to style them to best reflect their personality, existing comfort level with makeup, and of course their preferred finished look. 

I used a combination of airbrushed makeup for the skin finish with traditional powder product to create the looks featured on our models. When styling bridal makeup, my clients prefer the lighter and ethereal feel of airbrushed makeup, especially for their foundation. I can then add additional touches to the complexion by adding highlighting, contour, and blush with the airbrush product.

I like to finish the look with a light dusting of powder. Powder imbues additional dimension, as well as longevity to the makeup. While it is possible to do eye shadow with airbrush product, I prefer to use brushes and powder product. This allows me to create a much more detailed and multi-tonal application to ensure I stay true to my painterly style of artistry. 

Of course no look is complete without a gorgeous set of false lashes to create unparalleled drama for your eyes. Often clients are a little apprehensive about false lashes. They may not be accustomed to wearing them, but the styles I select are very comfortable. Clients typically acclimate to them within 15 minutes and then barely notice them. It’s all about finding the most flattering style.

Products I used to create the looks:

MAC: paint pots

MAKEUP FOREVER: eyeshadows and lip liner

Estee Lauder: lip liner

Viseart: eye shadows

Temptu: airbrush foundations, contour, highlight, blush

HourGlass Cosmetics: finishing powders

Anastasia of Beverly Hills: highlight and contour powders

NARS: blushes

Bobbie Brown: concealers/correctors, lipsticks, eye liner

RCMA: cream foundation

Urban Decay: eye liner

Skindinavia: setting spray

Real Techniques: sponges

L’oreal: mascara

This might seem like a long list of products. However, each item is thoroughly tested to ensure it withstands all the hugging and high emotions encountered during a wedding. While this quantity of product may feel a little intimidating, each product is selected and vetted by me to ensure it is absolutely necessary to contribute to your beauty. Any extraneous product/steps have been edited out for the sake of timely services and to ensure your makeup never looks or feels heavy.

The Benefits of a Professional Wedding Makeup Artist

A professional artist can accommodate women of all ethnicities. As pictured, these two brides are equally gorgeous and their beauty is not limited by the skillset of the artist. 

A professional artist will equally adapt when working with women of all ages. Your Mother of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, and grandmothers will also want to be part of the fun! Having your makeup professionally done is a rare treat for most women so make sure your artist is prepared to include everyone for this special and luxurious event!

A professional artist will provide timely service to every person in your party. A professional will provide a timeline and adhere to it. They may even need to corral the ladies to ensure everyone gets her turn in the chair. 

A professional artist provides sanitary service to every person in your party. Now more than ever a professional artist must ensure and take full responsibility for the health of the client and guard the sanitary integrity of her kit. This has always been an expectation but now that we have all been touched by COVID-19, we must all double down to protect each other. Your artist should have COVID-19 protocols available upon request, or better yet, provide them unsolicited. 

Vendor Shout Outs

All of the other vendors did such a beautiful job with this Two Rivers Country Club Styled Shoot. They worked hard to make sure every detail was perfect and the photos from Heather Hughes Photography were so beautiful. The gowns from Truly Yours Bridal were so gorgeous. I love the off the shoulder neckline of one of the gowns, as well as the flowing trains. The models looked so regal in the glam venue of Two Rivers Country Club.

Just as important as your makeup for your bridal look is your hair! A great hair stylist like Hair by Crystal Dawn can make you not only feel beautiful on your wedding day, but also make sure that you are comfortable. All hair stylists should offer a trial before your wedding day so you can make sure they understand your vision and also make sure that you feel comfortable with the style.

The flowers from Morrison’s were just stunning. I love the tall centerpieces with cascading greenery, as well as the florals throughout the space. A great florist can help you plan for each space within your venue.

Two Rivers Country Club has so many beautiful spots within the venue for your guests and also for photos. I love the beautiful blue carpet and the rentals from Big Top Event Rentals looked so elegant next to it. I definitely think that navy blue is a neutral!

Styled Shoot with Heather Hughes Photography
IG: @heather_hughes_photography
Facebook: @hhpva  

Venue: Two Rivers Country Club
IG: @tworivers_cc

Makeup Styling: About Face MUA
IG: @about_face_mua
Facebook: @aboutface757

Hair: Crystal Weiss
IG: @mermaidluxestudio
Facebook: @mermaidluxestudio

Flowers: Morrison’s
IG: @morrisonsflowers
Facebook: @morrisonsflowers

Video: LNR Productions
IG: @lnrproductions

Dresses: Truly Yours Bridal & Formal
IG: @trulyyoursbridal
Facebook: @trulyyoursbridal 

Rentals: Big Top Event Rentals
IG: @bigtopentva
Facebook: @Bigtopinfo  

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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 still wasn’t seeing a lot of diversity in makeup. 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. His 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 wanted to make sure that my clients understand that diversity in makeup is essential and that I understood how to care for their beauty needs. 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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