My Story: Diversity and Artistry in Makeup

A bride and bidesmade

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