Tuesday, November 29, 2011

MUAs: Are We Relying Too Much on Photographers & Photoshop?

I am nowhere near where I need to be in my career as a makeup artist. However, I am in the pursuit of trying to perfect and better my techniques.. I have a lot to learn and a significant amount to improve on but have realized that being an artist is a continuous learning process. 

As makeup artists, we strive to be the best in our element so it really sickens me to my stomach when I hear other fellow MUAs say: "oh I kind of messed up but it's okay the photographer can photoshop that." It is almost to the point that photographers are sometimes better makeup artists than the actual artists. I try my best to not be lazy or sloppy with my artistry and make sure that the makeup I do on the models is as perfect as possible to lessen the amount of retouching and also diminish the amount of hours the photographer must spend photoshopping my errors. Part of our job as makeup artists is to perfect our techiniques and provide flawless makeup in a timely fashion.

If you are new and feel that you need more time, it would be a good idea to tell the photographer that you are going to take a little extra time because you want to make sure the makeup is perfect. Keep in mind other contributing factors such as studio rental time, model booking time, and how much time is really necessary to complete the makeup look required. I can almost assure you that photographer would rather you take fifteen extra minutes to do a better makeup job than to rush rush rush and end up with a messy look that needs plenty of touching up througout the shoot and also desperately need a tremendous amount of retouching.

Make sure that the intial makeup application serves as a solid base to with stand the entire shoot and will need minimal retouching. This will allow for you to switch just the lip or add heavier eye makeup if needed. Skin preparation prior to any makeup application is key to good skin on camera, so do not bypass this step. Take the time to walk back a bit and look at the model from a distance to more or less know how she/he will look in a further away shot. Doing this will help you discern from a different perspective if more makeup is needed, if it is even etc.

Ensuring flawless makeup is of extreme importance because it can determine whether or not a photographer will opt to use you in the future. If the makeup is poorly applied, then more retouching will be needed, which can lead to two things, one being the photographer will not be a happy camper because of all of the extra work. Also, the more retouching on photos of your makeup can lead others to wonder who actually did the makeup...you or the photographer?

Keep the art true in Makeup Artistry and make sure that your canvas is properly painted instead of having others perfect our techinique and work. It gives you more credibility and gives overworked photographers a break.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Makeup Kit Hygiene...Is Your Kit Clean & Presentable?

As makeup artists, we make sure our nails are short and clean, sanitize our hands, use disposable mascara wands, & do everthing possible to ensure our clients have a great, comfortable experience with our services. However, with so much focus on the obvious, we tend to forget about other visuals. Does your kit look messy, dirty or non hygenic? This can send chills down the spine of your models and clients. A messy looking kit can make the person in your chair feel uncomfortable, perhaps even be skeptical of your skills and wonder if they will be getting pink eye after your services.

Avoid an embarrassing situation by taking the extra time to give your kit a maintenance check up. Cleaning and prepping kits is no fun but can be a deal breaker or maker for word of mouth referrals that can result in more cha-ching in your wallet $$$.

Below are a few ways that I make sure my kit looks clean and presentable:

* I always spray my products such as bronzers, shadows, pressed powders, lipsticks, etc with Beauty So Clean cosmetic sanitizer. It disinfects, sanitizes, cleans, removes bacteria and dries super quickly. A must in every single makeup artist's kit.

* Make sure that your makeup palettes, especially the ones with black cases are clean and free from smeared shadow and makeup marks. You can do this by cleaning with makeup remover or baby wipe around the outer case. The inside (in between shadows, blushes, etc) can be cleaned by taking a q-tip and dipping with makeup remover and swiping over palette.

* Brushes should always be clean and washed. It grosses me out when I work with other MUAs and I look over and notice that their brushes still have makeup from a previous job from another day, and do not bother to even spray and clean before use on present client to at least make up for not washing. So if I feel uneasy for the client, imagine how they are feeling? If your brushes do not look clean, then more than likely your client will assume you are using a dirty brush on them and not practicing good hygiene, which can result in not booking you again or referring you.

* Prior to using a lip liner or an eye liner, sharpen and then spray with alcohol to disinfect, then wipe again with a clean tissue to remove alcohol.

* When having to take cream, or a product from a jar, it is best to scoop out with a small spatula instead of dipping your hand into the product, applying on client with hands and double dipping again.

* Make sure that foundation mouths or pumps are clean and do not have any leaking foundation liquid falling from it, dry or wet.

* Always have tissue paper or papel towels along with makeup spray brush cleaner to use in between clients if you do not have an extra set of brushes. However, it is always good to have at least one back up set of brushes instead of just one set.

* I prefer my lipsticks to be crushed and placed in a palette. I have a case that I purchased at the Makeup Show this year but prior to that I used a bead jar and pill containers to carry crushed lipsticks. This is great to do because it looks more professional, is more hygenic and saves you time by avoiding having to disinfect lipstick prior to each use.

* Disposable mascara wands are always a must in my kit. If you do not have access to purchase some or cannot order online, then you can use a small fan brush, they work marvelously. I never recommend using the actual mascara wand from the tube, because even if you disinfect it does not look professional.

* You can purchase small travel cases at your local drug store or pharmacy to fill with alcohol, and sanitizer etc. It makes your kit look polished and you will be ready to clean anything necessary while on set.

* Use a mixing palette to mix any foundations, lipsticks, or any colors instead of the back of your hand. It is more sanitary. (I must admit, I sometimes add product to the back of my hand...hey I am not perfect lol).

* Never double dip when using a gel or cream liner. Instead, scoop a small amount with a spatula and place on a mixing palette and work from there. Sure you tend to sometimes waste a bit of product that way, but I would rather waste a bit of product that to have my client end up with pink eye and then tell others of the bad experience with me.

There are many things besides makeup that a MUA must carry in their kit besides cosmetics, I have list on a previous blog posting but some of the things we must carry to help sanitize and maintain a clean kit while on set are:
* Disposable mascara wands
* Q-tips/Cotton Swabs
* Baby Wipes
* Makeup Wipes
* Beauty So Clean-cosmetic disinfectant spray
* Brush Cleaner Spray
* Tissue paper/paper towels
* Hand sanitizer
* Alcohol (preferribly, one that is pharmaceutical or at least of 70% alcohol)

I know that this may be annoying to have to do and not everyone has time to clean their kit everyday, especially those working MUAs that are doing makeup everyday on clients but doing a thorough cleaning often can make your kit look polished and more inviting.

It feels so great as a MUA to have been told by several other makeup artists and clients that I am the cleanest, most sanitary MUA they have ever worked with. That means a lot to me and I want to continue to provide good, clean service to my clients and respect them by making sure to maintain a clean kit and use proper hygiene practices.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Appropriate Nail Length For Makeup Artists


Long, neatly polished nails are often associated with beauty, elegance and  being feminine, but unfortunately for a makeup artist this can look extremely unprofessional and unsanitary. I have come across many makeup artists that not only have long nails but also wear an acrylic layer to keep nails stronger and prevent their nails from breaking. Others, opt to have a fake nail tip. Acrylic nails, silk wraps or fiberglass nails can look very nice if kept at a semi-short length but are not ideal for makeup artists because long nails, natural or fake harbor more germs and bacteria.

A study taken by the Infectious Disease Society of America  showed that women with longer nails had more bacteria that could cause yeast & urinary tract infections, colds, pneumonia and blood stream infections. These tests were done on women who work in the medical field, women who are constantly washing their hands and sanitizing them. Having that in mind, it would be entirely unprofessional and inconsiderate on our behalf as a makeup artist to have long nails or fake nail tips while applying makeup on our clients.

I am the type of makeup artist that massages oils and moisturizer with my hands on clients, so long nails are defnitely a "no" for me. Even if you are the type of makeup artist that only uses brushes and sponges to apply products on clients, what about applying false lashes? Or how about when your nails touch the sponge tips as you blend?

The most appropriate nail length for makeup artist is short, without fake tips or acrylic and with a natural, clear or nude color. It looks highly professional and clean. Sure, I miss having my french tip nails, but I respect my clientele, respect my image and my profession more.

*Photo copyright of GettyImages

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Clean Makeup

Like most beginning makeup artists, when I first started, I wanted to do dramatic, bright and creative looks to show off my skills. However, I soon found out that just about any one can create a rainbow bright, cut crease look or do makeup that you would never walk out into the street in. I feel that many aspiring MUAs or women interested in makeup feel it is necessary to do dramatic makeup to prove they can do makeup. I partly blame this on Youtube and all these overly dramatic looks. Surprisingly, a clean makeup look is sometimes harder to do because on occasion it can be a challenge to make someone look naturally beautiful.

A friend of mine, (whom I look up to a lot), an agency represented makeup artist and hair stylist by one of the best agencies in the world told me: "Maria, master a clean face, I know you can do creative makeup but a clean face will get  you respect and will be your key to opening the door to booking paid jobs." That is some of the best advice I have ever received. It is true, bridal makeup is clean, special occasion is usually always clean, and all of my clients that are everyday women simply want their natural beauty to be enhanced without pounds of makeup and need something quick and easy to do. Not to mention how most photos that you want and need in your portfolio as a makeup artist will be "clean makeup."

There are various styles of clean makeup: fresh face, barely there makeup, no makeup look and natural. However, the idea is pretty much the same and below are a few tips on how to achieve a clean makeup look...leaning more on the fresh face side. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but this is one of my styles of achieving a clean look. These tips are usually what I do when at a shoot doing a clean face look on an agency model for basic testing.


1) Exfoliate skin to remove dead skin cells & polish skin. Benefit Refined Finish Facial Polish is a great pick. Does the job and has a good price point. It buffs away dull skin and brightens your face.

2) Use an eye cream of choice and dab around orbital bone and under eye. Philosophy Eye Hope is an all around fabulous eye cream and using eye cream will set a perfect base for concealer to glide on.

3) Moisturize with your cream of preference. I use Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre, a french cream that moisturizes/cleanses on all of my clients except for those with oily skin. For those with an oily skin type, I opt to massage DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew. Clean makeup calls for supple, juicy, healthy looking skin, so even if i am going to use a tinted moisturizer, I still add moisturizer before.

4) I use Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Primer on most clients, but if you have a specific condition or concern, refer to my posting prior to this one, in which I break down the different primers and uses. The primer step can be skipped if you like but I like to use primer because I feel it fills in lines, and provides a smooth base for foundation.

5) Use concealer under eyes & to spot treat any areas needing extra coverage. My favorite is Cargo OneBase.

6) Foundation: Opt for a tinted moisturizer such as OCC Tints or a foundation such as MUFE HD foundation. Start from the center of face and blend outward.

7) This step is ideally for women who want to add a bit of color on lids. On most models I usually skip and use foundation on lids instead.  Use a primer to serve as a base on lids such as Lorac Behind the Scenes. Apply a shadow one shade lighter than you skin tone all over lid, preferribly a matte one. Secondly, take a shadow in a brown tone two shades darker than your skin  tone and with a blending brush blend from the outer edge of your eye, above your crease and blend to fade color upward. Then blend a bit more of the darker shade on the outer corner of eye inward.

8) Line bottom water line with a nude color such as Nars Rue Bonaparte a light almond.

9) Use a cream blush and apply right on the apple of your cheeks with fingers or a stippling brush and blend upward towards temples. My pick is Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Moist Glow in Bliss. Keep in mind you are aiming for a "just pinched" flush of color your cheeks.

10) Use a translucent powder and lightly dust over face with a kabuki brush. I use MUFE HD Powder.

11) Brush brows and groom them. If needed use a clear mascara or brow gel to tame unruly brows. If you must add some color or define brows, then opt for a powder. Anastasia is best.

12) Curl lashes and top with either brown or black mascara, top & bottom. (When doing makeup on models, I usually just add clear mascara vs. a colored one)

13) Apply a shade of lipstick that is the color of the inside of your lips. My go to color is: Kevyn Aucoin Elegant Lip Gloss in Molasses. I apply with a lip brush, then with a tissue or blotting paper blot to make it look like a stain.

For the everyday woman, this may seem like a lot of steps, but some of the ones listed should already form part of your daily skin care routine. Also, you do not have to use a primer or choose to do eye makeup. You should do whatever makes you look best and feel even better. 80) Remember, the key to great makeup is great skin. So never skip out on a good skin care routine.

For the aspiring MUAs, make sure you master a clean face. It will be your makeup look that will become your bread & butter and book you more jobs. Master a clean face and then get crazy with the creative looks after your book has plenty of clean makeup looks, all facets of clean.

*Photo copyright of Nick Suarez & Maria Ortega Makeup

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Regular & Colored Primers: Which to Choose?

With so many options in the market, choosing a suitable primer may seem like a difficult task and can be confusing. Every woman has a different skin type and concern so selecting the proper primer can make a significant difference in your overall makeup look.

Before purchasing a primer, decide on what your main concern is along with  your skin type. Below are a few tips that can help in choosing the best one for you.

Optimal skin- if you have normal skin, not dry, not oily without any particular concern then a regular one is your best choice. These usually tend to be clear or slightly white.  My favorite are: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Primer & Smashbox Photo Finish Primer.

Dry skin: I would opt for a hydrating primer such as Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer it cools and adds moisture.

Oily Skin: A light weight water based primer is your best option. My pick is: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Light

Anti Aging: Aging skin needs extra moisture and hydration. Tarte ReCreate Primer is  natural, silicone free, and  has a clinically proven wrinkle rewind technology that helps with firmness.

Acne Prone skin: My favorite for this skin type is CoverFX Clearprep FX. It mattifies, and is infused with an anti acne treatment, suitable for those with acne or blemish prone skin.

Sensitive skin: A primer that is silicone free, fragrance free, oil free, sulfate free, formulated without petro-chemicals and dyes is ideal for those with sensitive skin. Lorac AquaPrime meets all of these requirements and hydrates the skin.

Redness in skin/Rosacea: The best hands down for this is Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Primer "Adjust."  It is green in color and cancels out the redness.

Sallow, yellow or dull skin: If your skin is a bit on the yellow side and needs some adjusting, then Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Primer "Balance." This purple hued primer really balances sallow skin and evens out discoloration. If your skin is just dull, another great option is Benefit That  Gal Primer this luminizing product brightens any face!

Discoloration, freckles, dark spots: To even out and blend uneven skin color Smashbox Photofinish Correcting Primer in "Blend," is the perfect choice. It's apricot color works wonderfully.

Orange skin: Did you over-tan or have a bad tanning experience and now look like a navel orange? No need to worry, MAKE UP FOREVER HD Primer in 5 Blue will tone down some of the orange.

Lighten dark skin: MAKE UP FOREVER HD Primer in 6 Yellow

I hope that a break down and listing of these primers can be of some help in deciding which to purchase. Make sure that whatever primer you choose to use, you first moisturize skin with an appropriate moisturizer for your skin type. Apply primer and wait a few seconds, like thirty or even a minute for primer to set and do it's job then apply foundation.


* Photo copyright of Paul Tirado Photography & Maria Ortega Makeup

Friday, November 11, 2011

Makeup Tips for Acne Skin & Post Acne Scars

Having acne on your face or post acne scars can be a difficult thing to deal with and may make you feel insecure. No need to worry, with a bit of makeup, you can conceal those marks and enhance your skin.

I am very big on skin care. I  recommend finding a good skin care routine within your means to suit your skin type. Having a few blemishes does not necessarily place you in the acne skin type category. Know your skin and with that in mind find a routine that includes: a wash, toner, treatment and moisturizer to treat your condition. Make sure to follow it religiously and that will definitely aid improving your skin.


Not all acne cases are the same and can occur to people at any age. Some acne cases may be more severe and other pimples may just be scattered throughout your face sparingly. Scars too, are not all the same, some may be darker some may be lighter. Therefore, the coverage needed for them is not the same. To ensure adequate coverage and to conceal properly, layering your makeup is best to do rather than to slather on a thick layer of cream foundation that can end up looking "cakey."

Below are a few steps on applying makeup for acne skin with scarring:

1) Wash face and apply a moisturizer such as Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion 

2) Apply a foundation primer. My pic  for any acne prone skin is Cover FX Clearprep Matte Foundation Primer & Anti-Acne Treatment. It is has a long name but lives up to it! Apply a small amount, a little goes a long way. This will provide a smooth base and fill in any dents in the skin.
3) Spot apply a concealer such as Cover FX Camouflage Concealer. It is lightweight, waterproof and conceals just about anything. It's my favorite tatoo cover up so you bet it will cover any blemish or post acne scar. Dab a small amount onto the problem areas with a flat concealer brush and pat, pat, pat. Then blend with fingers or a wet sponge. You can go for round two if you feel it is necessary.

4) Start applying a foundation with a damp, disposable sponge. I prefer to use Natural FX Water Based Foundation SPF 15. This liquid foundation can be built up to a medium coverage and is oil free. It leaves the skin looking flawless. Apply foundation, dab and blend from center of your face outward. Apply a second coat if needed, or for a fuller coverage opt for Cover FX Total Coverage Cream Foundation instead of the Natural FX.

5) Blot face with Boscia Blotting Linens to absorb excess makeup.

6) Dust face with Lorac POREfection baked powder. This powder is amazing because it is free from parabens and fragrance. It is infused with Salicylic Acid which is great when attempting to combat acne. If you have a darker skin tone, then a great choice is Matte FX Oil Absorbing Powder in dark.

7) Optional-spray face with Evian Mineral Water Spray and blot face with a tissue.

It is also important to keep in mind that makeup is going to help improve the appearance of your skin. If you are a bit embarrassed about your skin, a good idea is to have another focal point on you face such as bold lips or great eye makeup to draw attention from skin.

A few more tips for acne prone skin, escpecially those with acne scars:

* When blending concealer opt to use a damp disposable sponges. When damp, sponges blend easily and secondly, you can toss right after finishing and you don't have to worry about spreading bacteria on your face the next time you use.

*Clean brushes with a spray after every use.

* Avoid shimmery eye shadows, opt for matte shades instead.

* Hold off on the highlighter on cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. The last thing you want to do is give the illusion of shine on your skin.

* Shy away from shimmer blushes and opt for a matte bronzer or a matte blush.

* Curl your lashes and apply two coats of mascara. This makes your eyes pop, shadow or sans shadow.

* Opt for a bold lip such as a berry or any color of your choice.

* When touching up, try to blot with a linen and then simply dust an oil absorbing powder, the less powder the better.

We all get blemishes and pimples for different reasons and they tend to surprise us when we least need them to. However, know that beauty is much more than our face and figures. Beauty truely comes from within and no matter what your skin condition may be, never get depressed over your skin. Play up your eyes and pout and walk with confidence!

*Photo copyright of Jelena Balic & Maria Ortega Makeup

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Achieve the Perfect Pout

When it comes to makeup, nothing is more seductive than attention grabbing, lucious lips. Everyone takes at least a couple of glances at a person's lips when they are talking despite what they are wearing on their lips. Even if you prefer a more simple makeup look, sans all the shadow and glitter, you can still make a fierce statement with a bold lip color in red, hot pink, coral, plum, orange or any color of your choice.


To achieve a perfect pout a few steps are key to obtaining it. Below are a few steps and tips that can ensure a great bold lip.

1) Exfoliate your lips prior to applying your makeup. You can mix honey & sugar and use a toothbrush that you do not use on your teeth to gently scrub off excess dead skin cells.

2) Apply a lip balm like Rosebud Salve on lips and proceed to apply your regular makeup, foundation, shadow etc.

3) Dab off extra balm with a tissue

4) Line lips with a nude lip liner or with a neutral color, a shade similar to your skin color. Start from your outer corners of your mouth working your way to the center of you mouth. Do this for both top and bottom then fill in lips as well.

5) Using a lip brush apply your lipstick, once again try and start from the outer edges and work your way to the center. Use small strokes similar to connect the dots vs. one single stroke as this can easily mess up your line. Fill in lips with color.

6) Blot lips with a tissue paper. This removes excess lipstick & absorbs oil.

7) Apply a light touch of loose powder with your finger to your lips to make it long wear lipstick.

8) Reapply your lipstick with lip brush.

9) Blot with tissue again.

10) Optional: you can top with gloss but I prefer to apply the sheerest wash of lip balm to ensure that lips stay moist.


I hope these tips can help you achieve the perfect pout the next time you choose to go bold with lips!


*Photos copyright of Maria Ortega Makeup
There was an error in this gadget