Recently Frances took some time out to sit down with the lovely Leah of Makeup by Lee to hear about how she got started and ask her for a few make-up tips for those of us who aren’t regular make-up wearers.
Did you always know you wanted to be a makeup artist?
I think it was probably more gradual-ish. So I used to do a little bit of modelling at home, and it came to the point where I was trying to decide what I wanted to do and there was always a make-up artist there. I was always like “What are you doing now? I want to see what you’re doing”. I was into it. I also knew I didn’t want to be at a desk, so when it came time to choose, it was kinda like well, that’s what I want to do. But it wasn’t like “oh yes! This is definitely what I want to do” It was definitely more gradual, and I couldn’t have made a better decision!!
How did you get started?
I went to school in Orlando, and then I went back home and just kinda started. Obviously I had to build clientele, it wasn’t just going to come straight to me so I worked with a photographer for about a year. He did everything. He did a lot of real estate, which didn’t really help me with make-up, but I got to see how it all worked. How the equipment worked and how it was from the other side of the camera. When we did do fashion shoots or portraits, I would do the make-up but I would also get to see what I needed to work on, or what needed more, because obviously in person and on camera things can look a little different.
I feel like so many people could benefit from working in other areas of the industry. Just to have a better understanding of everything.
Oh 100 percent.
Like even just you doing our make-up for that branding shoot, I mean, I didn’t even wear make-up to my wedding. I put on mascara and that was essentially it, so I was nervous and a little skeptical of how important it was, but the make-up you did for us for that shoot made such a huge difference.
Yah totally. It always has to be heavier in person. It always seems crazy. But then you see photos and you’re like “oh! That still looks like me”
Do you find that you have a lot of people that are taken aback by how much make-up it takes to look good on camera?
Some. I feel like everyone understands it. To a certain point. When they first look at themselves, they’re like “oh wow! That’s a lot” But then as the day goes on they realize it’s not that much. I’ve gotten to a point where I would say natural make-up is my thing. I can make people feel comfortable but I can still get the coverage that they need. So when they look at themselves they still feel like themselves. I haven’t changed their features, just enhanced them.
I would definitely say that that’s what you did for us. It didn’t feel heavy, or like it was too much, I just felt like myself. The foundation was a bit weird, because I never wear anything on my skin, except maybe sunscreen when I’m feeling responsible.
That’s the weirdest part. Because the foundation covers everything, and then I’m the one that brings back the colour. There are little tricks that I do to keep it lighter. In school, I was always taught that you never want to cover everything. You don’t want to cover the freckles, you want the freckles to come through, and I love freckles.
Those little things that make you unique are the things you want to keep.
Have you ever come across somebody who really is uncomfortable with how they look at the end, or it was way more than what they were thinking?
Good question. I think what I’ve come across more is when people bring me photos or their ideas of what they want or what they think they want, and they have no idea how much make-up that would take. So if someone brings me a picture of beautiful make-up, but I know it’s a lot of make-up and they’ve never worn make-up, or they don’t wear make-up often, I always start light. It’s easier to build on it, then to take it off.
That’s a smart way to do it. What do you normally ask people to bring you, or instead of bringing you a picture, what’s a better way for them to express what they’re looking for?
Usually we do a trial and at the trial, if they don’t have pictures I tend to just chat with them about what make-up they usually wear, how they do it and what they don’t like. I also ask them what they’re looking for. That kind of stuff. I just go with that and then I put the colours and everything together that I think would suit. Almost all the time, especially with brides, it’s “I want to look natural, I want to look like myself. I want my fiancé to recognize me.”. I like to see the style of the dress too, so I get a feel of how they want to look.
Is there a certain style you prefer?
That is a hard one. I do like natural. At first I always wanted to be avant garde and I wanted to be known for that, but then I realized for me, natural is just where I am. It’s my style, and I just embrace that now.
Do you give your clients any prep work that they have to do before showing up to work with you?
I usually give them lots of tips. For example, come with a clean face, have your contacts already in, if you wear them, and brush your teeth. Otherwise the lipstick will come off if you try to do it after. I have a print out, I give them at their trial, that covers a bunch of those things and the frequently asked questions. It’s helpful and it’s not only just for the bride, it’s for everyone else as well.
What would you say is your biggest tip or trick for someone doing every day make-up?
It’s hard because everyone is so different. If there was one thing, I would say maybe brows because they shape your face. Or maybe brows and eyes. For brows, the shaping of them is key. And also not to over pluck. Go with what you have because that’s your natural shape. And also! A lot of people seem to think that your brows are supposed to be identical, and I’m always saying things like “They’re actually sisters, they’re not twins.”.
What are the three products you can’t live without?
I’d say, urban decay brow beater, lip balm, whichever one is closest, and then I’ll say mascara. I like the Estee Lauder one for every day. I also really like a cream blush. I find it just blends in nicely. Throughout the day you still look glowy, but you don’t look made up for something like working out.
When you’re putting on the cream blush, what do you do?
I use my brush, or you can use a sponge as well, and I take a little bit and I put it on in a circular motion. It’s actually quite pigmented so you only need a little bit. Then I put it all around the face so that it’s not clown like, and you have warmth throughout your whole face.
Oh! That’s a trick I wouldn't have thought of. What’s your favourite brand?
I have one that’s my go-to, it’s Joe Blasco in cola.
What is your own make-up routine like?
Sometimes I feel like, as a make-up artist, that I should be wearing make-up every day, but then I think that’s not realistic. I strongly believe in letting your skin breathe. I’m not a cosmetologist, I never studied skin, but I do think that that’s important. Taking care of your skin will give you a better canvas. You can’t expect the make-up will cover everything.
Do you have any special skin care routines that you follow or are you pretty lackadaisical?
Well I’m not lax, but I’m not regimented either. One of the tips that I learned from one of my friends, is not to use the same product always. So when that product runs out, switch to another one, because if you don’t keep your skin working it’s just going to get used to the product and then it’s not doing anything. So that’s something I do. I’m always switching, or I’m adding something in, or trying something out. Just out of curiosity, but also to keep your skin guessing. It’s kinda like a diet, so if you’re eating the same thing every day your body just gets used to it.
Let’s talk lash extensions. Do you do them?
I do them, but I’m also torn. It’s good for day to day, but only for the people who can maintain it and are going to follow the rules. It’s a lot of maintenance. You get them done and you have to come back within 3-6 weeks, to get them filled in.
Oh wow! I thought it was once every 3-6 months!
It depends. People will notice them start to come off when their natural lashes shed but often the reaction is to start picking at them and when you pull them, you’ll pull your natural lashes out too. So there are rules. No sleeping on your side, because they’ll fall out faster. No saunas, no oils, and it all has to be non-waterproof make-up. If you can maintain that then sure, but it all has to be good.
You just determined that I will never get them. I love saunas too much.
For me, I’ve wanted to get them done, but I also like to have all of my make-up off at then end of the day and to feel clean. So I know that I would be one of those that just ends up pulling at them and playing too much and then I’ll regret it.
Thanks to Leah for taking the time to chat with us! Follow her on instagram, @muabylee, or check out her website, www.makeupbylee.com, where she shares tips on her own blog. If you’d like to get in touch with Leah to inquire about her services, you can contact her here.