Make-Up as an art form is truly having a moment. We’re increasingly seeing bold looks making it not only onto social media but also on the streets. But what does this say about the role of makeup in society and how it has evolved in recent years?
It seems that makeup might be playing a role in the breaking down of binary stereotypes. To what point this is a certainty that will carry on in the future or just a social media trend is another question. What we can say for sure is that social media has had a transformative effect on the profession of a Makeup Artist, perhaps even in the relationship between beauty and make-up.
Still, rather than hypothesize aimlessly, we’ve decided to bring this debate to some extraordinarily talented Makeup Artists whose work speaks volumes.
Sergio Anton De Las Nieves
Makeup Artist, Hair Stylist & Creative Director
Makeup has always marked an era and moment in each of its trends forever. Now, thanks to social networks, it has expanded to all the people who like makeup in a much more powerful way. I would say that we are in the best moment of makeup.
Makeup has no barriers or gender. And thanks to the moment in which we live, makeup is a free way to express yourself. It belongs to all people.
Makeup is a free way to express yourself. It belongs to all people.
Makeup thriving on social media is totally positive. It makes all kinds of people enhance and perfect their art and that is something super good because you never stop learning. Professionalism and learning are really acquired from the experience and passion that a person has.
For me, beauty and makeup go hand in hand. Makeup is used to express the beauty of each one in their own way and in their own way of seeing it.
Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist
Make-up is a medium with which one can express oneself. It allows us to visualise a certain style, mood or feeling – crucial elements that shape every person. People are getting bolder with their makeup looks, which I love to see because the art of make-up has a huge emotional component. It’s very empowering that there are more and more people who use make-up as a tool to express their inner selves and ideas to the outside world. Not so long ago, bold make-up looks were only seen in magazines and on runways, but now people are bringing the runway into their commute to work, which is brilliant. This means that the art of make-up is not reserved for celebrities or people who can afford professional make-up artists. Everyone can be their own make-up artist.
Inclusivity regarding makeup has made progress and is moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. Make-up is not just a technical skill – we need to see the bigger picture here. Many components such as history, culture, political movements and emotions play a role in make-up artistry and need to be taken into account. I still see models who bring their personal makeup bags to jobs just in case the make-up artist on set doesn’t have the right shade of foundation. Unfortunately, this is still the sad reality. That’s why we have to continuously educate ourselves and have those difficult but important conversations.
Binary stereotypes are being broken, and make-up plays a part in that. What I’ve always loved about make-up is that there are no rules. No one can tell you what to use and how to apply it, and that is what makes makeup a powerful tool. It can be transformational on the outside and inside and it allows you to create and shape the version of yourself that you desire. I think this has helped the industry to evolve and grow because more creative minds are being heard and recognised.
In general, the rise of make-up artistry on social media has helped many people improve their technical make-up skills, and that is without a doubt a good thing. However, sometimes it feels like beauty influencers are competing against each other trying to snatch the biggest brand deals, which is a killer for creativity and originality.
Make-up doesn’t have to look pretty, it has to make you feel something.
It has definitely become harder to be a make-up artist these days. The fact that anyone can call themselves a make-up artist after watching a YouTube tutorial on how to contour like Kim K. is creating a lot of noise in the beauty industry. Working as a freelance make-up artist in the fashion industry or with celebrities requires more than just technical skills. You have to have set etiquette and know how to act around different people. Understanding what real people want and knowing how to customize and manipulate their make-up to make it their own is crucial. This is quite different from doing makeup on yourself in front of a camera.
As a society, we have become obsessed with the idea of perfection. Fitting into an arbitrary new trend or striving for a beauty ideal has become the new norm. Even though studies have shown that certain beauty standards are consistent across cultures, this does not mean that beauty is one-dimensional. Being aware that beauty is a variable construct can reduce the pressure we often face in this context. I use make-up as a tool to enhance a person’s innate beauty, not to create it.
To be honest, I find perfect make-up looks a bit boring anyway. For me, real beauty has a bit of controversy, a slightly unexpected or weird element. When you create a make-up look, once you’re done, you should take a step back, look at what you’ve created and deconstruct one element of the look. It’s harder than you might think, but it will take the look to the next level and make it much more interesting. Make-up doesn’t have to look pretty, it has to make you feel something. For me, it’s all about the emotions.
Makeup is definitely now more than ever a way of self-expression.
Makeup gave people confidence and is increasingly being considered an art by itself. With the rise of social media, it goes beyond the codes of classic beauty. Everyone wishes to stand out by creating unique looks that inspire people to wear more on the streets.
Makeup is playing a big role in shedding a light on diversity and enhancing the uniqueness of each individual.
Inclusivity in the beauty world has also grown so much in the last few years. You can see every type of skin, gender, and age on campaigns. Makeup is playing a big role in shedding a light on diversity and enhancing the uniqueness of each individual. Makeup has always been considered a tool for beauty but now more than ever it is breaking down binary stereotypes in a society that’s evolving into a more gender-fluid one.
There is nothing negative about creating and you don’t have to be a professional to showcase amazing concepts.
For me, a makeup look doesn’t have to be clean or perfectly done to share an emotion and inspire others.
Many makeup artists of the new generation started by creating on social media before getting recognized and they are also contributing to setting the trends in the industry.
Beauty nowadays is all about self-expression and makeup is an amazing tool to achieve that.
Freelance Makeup Artist
Bold looks have always been there, from Pat McGrath’s runway looks, Leigh Bowery, David Bowie, Nina Hagen, amazing films and art, anything can inspire a look, and the internet has just made it easy for everyone to access those images and references and take them as part of their identities.
When I was a student there were just 2/3 retail brands that will really cater for ALL skin tones in Spain, where I am from, otherwise, you will need to go to a TV/film specialised brand. Now we have are more options accessible to everyone everywhere.
I see makeup as an extra tool to express yourself, social media has just made it easier to see and seek representation and other types of realities so everyone can find someone they relate to and feel inspired by.
Social media has just made it easier to see and seek representation and other types of realities so everyone can find someone they relate to and feel inspired by.
The same way that you have artists that specialise in stage makeup or SFX or weddings…. Now there is a social media makeup artist too. Some people specialise in one industry and are more comfortable sticking to that one and some fluctuate in between more than one. It has for sure taken makeup to a wider audience and made it more accessible to everyone. Also having programs like Glow Up that will give those amateurs the option of having a taste of how other industries work, something that wouldn’t have happened without the popularity and accessibility that social media gave to makeup.
Makeup has always been there to help people express themselves and tell their own stories, I see it as a tool to show your own idea of beauty and what beauty means and looks like to you.
Freelance Makeup Artist & Beauty Editor
Amsterdam / Paris
I think for the biggest part of the public, makeup used to be about trends, and about a certain look that was ‘in’ during that period. For most people makeup also used to be about achieving a beauty ideal. Nowadays, people have a lot more fun with makeup and a lot of people see makeup as a way to express individuality.
Regarding the idea of makeup breaking down binary stereotypes, I don’t think we’re quite there yet in the least. Anybody who is not a woman wearing makeup is still seen as ‘making a statement’, and something to be commented on. And while every movement needs its Vanguard, that doesn’t make it more fun to be in it.
I think most beauty brands show a very limited range of gender identities/makeup expressions in their advertising. Even if it’s a campaign with any type of diversity, it’s nearly always a group of women, someone presenting as a male wearing no visible makeup at all, and someone gender non-confirming/a drag performer with a lot of makeup. There is so much in between.
There’s a lot of freedom and progress in colouring outside the lines.
I also think there should be more room for bad or experimental makeup. Makeup in commercial advertising is so much about beautifying and colouring within the lines. That is another binary. I personally love ‘ugly’ makeup and think there should be more room for that as well. There’s a lot of freedom and progress in colouring outside the lines.
Some of the best makeup artists in the world are self-taught,
But because everybody can call themselves a makeup artist nowadays the “beginner pool” is humongous, and very hard to get out of. It’s very hard to get noticed as a starting makeup artist, you really have to find a way to be seen and heard. And it’s almost impossible to earn a living in the beginning because of over-saturation. Everybody wants to be a makeup artist for the ‘fun’ but nobody tells you how hard it is. I definitely had to scrub a lot of hotel rooms and hand out perfume blotters when I got started to pay for my education, materials and create a buffer to go freelance.
I think being a makeup artist really used to be a ‘backstage profession’, something mysterious that didn’t really get shown to the public. In the age of social media, we are a lot more visible, which I think has its pros and its cons. As makeup artists, we’re also half-expected to be influencers, which is not always good for your creativity. The bar also has never been higher, as we’re bombarded by pictures of perfect makeup in every style and clients will find unrealistic images within a quick search, without understanding the work and hours that went behind it.
I can only speak for myself, but I see makeup as an art form, while beauty is for anyone that chooses to feel it. When I approach beauty I look at an individual. When I approach makeup I try to see someone as a blank slate to create my own little character on.