The Black Dog’s Spell

It was World Mental Health Day when I started writing this, but with a hectic work and freelance schedule and a 16 month old constantly getting sick from day care 🤒 – my writing took the back seat…in any case, I found my voice on this and feel it’s relevant, my intention is to address the weird symbiotic relationship that creatives, the Beauty Industry and mental health seemingly have…

Firstly I’d like to state that I have battled with the black dog, my earliest memories of poor mental health date back to when I was 8 and by 15 years old my 5’7 frame was 38kg and I almost became one of the grim statistics of Anorexia Nervosa, which of all mental health disorders, has the highest mortality rate in Australia – and I understand why…

Being a makeup educator I come across more makeup artists than the average, and are no longer surprised by the high percentage of makeup learners with severe and debilitating mental health disorders – it seems to come with the territory!

The link between creativity and psychosis has been well researched and documented with most psychologists and genealogists agreeing that creatives are more likely to be predisposed to mental health disorders.

And so it is with some understanding and experience when I say that I can see that the beauty industry can be both problematic and profoundly healing for mental health.

I think there are worse problems in the world than cute boys and girls posting pics of themselves on social media, but there have been some worrying findings…Now ‘Selfitis’ or the ‘Selfie Syndrome’ [the obsessive need to post selfies] is a recognised addiction of varying levels, but with posting selfies there also comes the reward of how many ‘likes’ the post receives which triggers the reward centres in our brains to light up as if we’re junkies: and how you look in selfies will influence the likes.

Add to that the Facetune, photoshopped non reality of instagramable imagery we devour everyday and in short, it’s made us even more obsessed with looking ‘amaze’!

Great news for the Beauty Industry 🤑

The Selfie Syndrome: According to the California State University: Excessive use of social networking may be connected to psychiatric problems:

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    Narcissistic Personality Disorder
    Schizoaffective and Schizotypal Disorders
    Body Dysmorphia

Dr Natasha Cook dermatologist recently posted an insightful piece on ‘fillerexia’: the new dysmorphia fuelled by selfie syndrome, cheap accessible fillers and the normalisation and glamorisation of over enhanced features. With the pursuit of physical perfection being ‘a’ priority and the cosmetic filler train pumping clients full like never before, Dr Cook is urging clients to seek out cosmetic practitioners with ethics and integrity, like herself, to make informed and unbiased decisions for clients seeking fillers.

Not great huh? But it’s not all doom and gloom… Cosmetics can make a hugely positive impact on our confidence and moods – for me it’s a form of creative expression and is such a huge chuck of who I am.

On her road to recovery, an artist, a friend and battler of mental illness said that putting on her makeup each day was helping her find the way back to her life before her psychotic episode.

I’ve heard ignorant pseudo experts label us as ‘manic’ and ‘troubled’ as they try to cover their uncomfortableness with the whole topic.

Suffice to say, I’ve felt and watched poor mental health affect the lives of many creatives (and non creatives alike) and believe that like many ailments, with treatment it can be improved, you can even go into ‘remission’ – but for that to happen, we must drop the bullshit stigma that surrounds mental health and start normalising it by having open conversations 🖤

The Smart Money’s NOT on influencers…

Seems like some members of the YouTube makeup community are getting their knickers in a knot over who said what, did what and why. But for many of us makeup artists, we could continue to work week in and week out in the industry and not know what the heck is actually going on on YT…

If you didn’t already know, the dramas of YouTube makeup artists and the current cosmetics industry is so O.T.T right now that Netflix is making a series about it!

Bring on the popcorn, but if you honestly have no idea of what I’m talking about: see below ⬇️

So Marlena Stell who started out a decade ago as a makeup vlogger and then created Makeup Geek (which she currently CEO’s) came out recently and spoke publicly (via YouTube ) about how her company has had a bad year and the ‘influencers’ haven’t been supporting her as much because as a small business she simply can’t afford to pay them their exorbitant fees which they charge to sponsor products in their videos… We’re talking $60k as a starting rate for talking about a product in a YouTube clip.

The more telling thing here is that the big makeup houses are hurting – to quote Stell “it’s not jut me” – in her tell all, she states that big cosmetics brand CEO’s’ have expressed to her that they too are feeling the sting of not being favoured by influencers!

Hot on the heels of this ‘Expose’ Kevin James Bennett a makeup artist and brand consultant of over 30 years spoke up praising Stell and stated:

“a brand I consulted with asked me to inquire about working with a top-level beauty influencerthe influencer’s management team asked for $25,000 for a “product mention in a multi-branded product review,” $50,000 to $60,000 for a “dedicated product review,” and $75,000 to $85,000 for a dedicated negative review of a competitor’s product.” 

Well that’s a game changer! A dedicated negative review for the exchange of $$ is breaking the law in most countries.

Jaclyn Hill infamously had a collaboration with Makeup Geek which fell through, ‘due to ‘bad timing’ apparently. Soon after she teamed up with Morphe to make her eye shadow palettes which have had negative reviews, with products returned due to being faulty and inconsistent. Hill denies being paid for merely mentioning products for sponsorship, instead she ears her $$ via ‘commission’: social media influencers tell you to use their ‘code’ to receive a discount when you purchase a specific product, the buyer receives money off their purchase and the influencer takes a cut of the sale.

Hill has stated that she has attended Influencer parties hosted by large corporations and there she found out that $60k is pretty pedestrian compared to what some influencers charge for sponsorship!

Huda Kattan came out and said she was offered $185k to endorse a cosmetic product.

There’s also Jeffrey Star with a 5 part YouTube series of his own, speaking up again, about his ex friends in the beauty industry. James Charles (JC) recently tweeted that YouTubers don’t get paid enough and accused Netflix and Stell of ‘stealing his ideas’ 🤣 and there have been racist tweets…

Drama, drama, drama!

And it’s not just the YouTubers getting their hands dirty: small independent makeup artist Vlada Haggerty has sued Make Up For Ever and Louis Vuitton for using her trademarked Lip Drip art work.

Emails circulated regarding quite a few offers from Make Up For Ever to collaborate with Vlada, who politely declined due to her commitments with Smash Box and other cosmetics houses. She later found her signature ‘Lip Drip’ artwork used by the company without her authority.

Haggerty also went after Kylie Cosmetics for copying her ‘gold hands & ombré lip’ and ‘Lip Drip’ artworks. Vlada has now created a @stopiptheft

on Instagram and is figure heading the protection of creative rights for smaller independent artists like herself.

It’s no secret that cosmetics houses have been capitalising on the, well, influence of influencers seen through countless collaborations, but as audiences become more savvy to these machinations, the influencers traction may well, slide…Hill even came out and apologised for ‘shoving it down [her viewers’] throats’ when the Morphe Jaclyn Hill brush range was released immediately after the palette!

So with influencers losing their credibility and authenticity while independent makeup artists gain following due to their integrity and talent – it would seem like, moving forward, the smart money is on ‘us’ – the genuine, independent, makeup artists 👊.

Be Authentic.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

[MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 ]

Jim Jarmusch

Skin, sweat & ‘backne’

Recently I volunteered to offer up some content for missactive and thought, what better than some tips on how to have great skin while staying active. But why oh why would a makeup artist be active??

Believe me when I say that in the makeup trade, we must stand and deliver beauty perfection for hours and hours without wavering or stopping; we must lug our ‘kits’ (including: high chair, ring light, makeup kit/trolley, hair styling suitcase, airbrush compressor etc.) around with us from location to location… It is e.x.h.a.u.s.t.i.n.g!

So being physically up to the challenges of the job definitely is important!

Even more important is the need to disconnect from everything and everyone else.

Reconnecting with ourselves by being active is a welcome release from the intensity of our work. The same can be said for so many roles or jobs we have in life from parenting, teaching, counselling etc.

Some of the downsides however include: sweat pimples, backne (back acne), sun damage and dry skin (which can lead to premature fine lines and ageing 😱).

These are all common skin symptoms I find in myself and in my fit and active clientele who have ranged from triathletes, life long runners and marathoners, swimmers, lifters, yogi, dancers, fighters, cross fitters, tough mudders…

Here are some super simple things we can do each and every day to keep these issues under control.

1. Eat your 5 & 2 – seriously! I don’t know many people who actually get in 5 serves of veggies and 2 serves of fruit a day, but committing to eating these minimum recommendations makes a tremendous difference to your skin and complexion.

2. Hydrate from within – I know it seems like the elixir to everything but drinking water is crucial to keeping our bodies hydrated and detoxed, including the integumentary system (our skin) being the largest system in our bodies!

3. Sunblock – use it! Sunblock should be applied to the delicate facial area daily. Relying on your makeup’s SPF is useless because unless your reapplying every 4 hours, it won’t be effective. Choose a sunblock which won’t clog your pores.

Side note: I will only mention brands which are professional or very high quality AND which I use myself. I am not sponsored by anybody! (Not saying I don’t want to be 🤣).

Personally most pharmacy and supermarket sunscreens eventually made me break out. Enter Dermalogica oil free matte SPF 30!

Not only does it protect my skin from the sun, it’s loaded with nourishing botanicals and sits under my makeup with no problems at all. I know it’s a pricier option, but considering that you should apply this product to your face every. Single. Day. Then the price variance is balanced by the importance of high quality ingredients which will nurture your skin for the long term.

4. C.T.M – Cleanse. Tone. Moisturise. Twice a day everyday! If you don’t already do this, then it may sound excessive, but believe me it. Is. Not.

You’ve got to make this a part of your daily routine by inserting it into things you already do, like cleansing your face while you take your shower.

Cleansing is important because it removes the surface layer of sweat and the bacteria which thrive in alkaline (or salty and sweaty) conditions, along with dirt, pollution and any left over makeup, to ensure that the skin’s fine pores don’t become clogged which can then escalated to a pimple.

Side note: While sweat itself isn’t bad or harmful for the skin, due to its salty alkaline nature, excessive sweat can change our skin’s natural acidity called the ‘acid mantel’ (our skin’s pH ranges from 4.5-6 making it acidic and not very hospitable to bacteria, viruses, fungi and other interlopers), in turn making it easier for bacteria to cause breakouts.

Toner is an excellent way to add subtle hydration to the skin and include targeted ingredients which return the skin to its acidic pH following your cleanse. I love using a toner with a subtle amount of salicylic acid to control breakouts and redness.

Lastly moisturise! Depending on your skin’s unique needs you may need more or less oil and/or water in you moisturiser and a good consultant or beauty therapist can help you figure that out.

I prefer an oil free moisturiser which is light and creamy for the day time, but for night I go with a more nourishing oil or serum.

My go to skin care for some time has been Paula’s Choice, a brand which has a cult following – the products actually work (and the prices are so ⬇️).

I pepper this with a few bits and pieces which I can’t seem to live without:

Dermalogica Active Moist Moisturiser – an oil free, non greasy, nourishing drink for the skin.

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre 24 Hour Miracle Cream – for an extra bit of softening and nourishing, great for a night cream, when I’m feeling drier than usual like during the winter, or used under makeup (for a dewy look).

Hurraw Lip Gloss – to protect and nourish the delicate lip area.

Dermalogica Intensive Eye Repair – O.M.G where do I begin with this product: brighten dark circles; slows down premature fine lines and wrinkles by nourishing, hydrating and keeping the delicate skin around the eye area supple; is a great under eye primer for before makeup; visibly makes a difference!

5. If scrubbing your skin post workout isn’t quite cutting it when it comes to controlling sweat pimples or backne then there are some fantastic Paula’s Choice body products which actually work!

Lastly, when trying to achieve a change in our bodies or training, it usually takes 12 weeks of dedicated conditioning in order to see any true, consistent and lasting changes and your skin is no different! Make a commitment to better skin today and reap the benefits by say, Summer 😂.

Not Another CC&B!

And what, you may ask is a ‘CC&B’? Cut Crease [eye design] & Block [eyebrow]- you know the look which has dominated social media for the past 4 years?

Like most social media crazes (like extreme contouring and oil pulling), we can thank the Kardashians for this one.

Makeup artists know this look well and it’s currently the most requested look from clients; it always gets the ‘likes’ on ‘the socials’ (social media); and for most makeup artists, this trend needs to hurry up and pass!

I’ve been described as transient:

‘a person who is staying or working in a place for a short time only.’

I know I’m not alone here, loads of creatives can probably relate to that description! So how is someone like me able to do the same job and love it for so long?

Simple answer: variety and job satisfaction!

For me this often means pouring my whole self into my artistic work by tapping into another part of myself and the uniqueness of either my client or a character I’m creating, and then expressing that on their own personal ‘icon’ – their face.

It’s a powerful and moving thing for me, not just another beauty makeup slapped on the face, but a place and time where I tap into something else. This may sound absurd to some, even self indulgent, but because of this experience each time I work, to this day, I still love doing makeup.

This is my art form and as the iconic pro Mua @thealexbox coined the phrase, it is #artfromtheheart

So how does it feel when so many clients, each new makeup student I meet and most of the attention on ‘the socials’ is focused on one look, rinse and repeat ‘CC&B’?

I first saw a CC&B done beautifully by a co-worker about 12 years ago, he was and still is an awesome drag performer and we were working in retail together on a makeup counter; he smashed out this look for a girl’s 21st and I still remember the Smokey chocolate brown blended up from the socket and the vivid sparkly dusky pink on the lid brought up to the crease, he’d custom made by mixing a shimmery pigment with a sealant – it was stunning!

I then did some research and realised that this look dates back at least to the black and white screens of the 20’s and was used to enhance actresses eyes.

Silent movie star, Mildred Davis. I spy a cut crease 🔪

This makeup trend, like all the trends was started by makeup artists – but what makes CC&B stand out, is how popular it’s become and how it has redefined the way the populous perceives how makeup ‘should’ look and what is beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong, all trends get their time in the light and shape the public perception of glamour and beauty, like the vintage looks of the past. Ten years ago I felt like if another client asked for another Smokey Eye, I might just cry 😂…

My point is 1 cookie cutter mould for makeup cannot suit everybody’s style or facial features and cannot define what is beautiful – and neither should it.

What I do love is that this trend has brought so many new people to makeup, to our beloved industry, to become makeup artists and spread their own beautiful art.

So to those of us who are truly over it I say: CC&B is just a trend and like all trends, it too shall pass!

To the devotees of CC&B I say: it’s worth knowing and experimenting with other styles, pushing the boundaries of your art and comfort zones, to find your own unique style and maybe stumble onto the next big trend.

Born Creative

Being creative seems to be a thing you’re born with and only a select few are blessed with this gift… but I call bull. Anyone can find their inner ‘creative’ and I’ll share the secret of how.

The Picasso Anecdote

The story goes that a young woman ran up to Picasso in a park and asked him to draw her something. He promptly drew her a beautiful piece of art on a bit of paper, handed it to her and said, “That’ll be $10,000”. Shocked she said, “But it only took you 30 seconds to draw!”, he rebutted with, “No, it’s taken me 30 years to draw this beautifully”…

The term ‘Being creative’ can mean so many things, like people who:

Do makeup

    Write well
    Are a Genius at science
    Capture perfect photos
    Make and decorate insta worthy cakes
    Draw, sculpt or paint beautifully

This list of gifted individuals with amazing skills could go on…But what if instead of focusing on the ‘creative’, we focus on the ‘being’ instead?

Inspiration is for Amateurs

So often (particularly being an educator) I hear, ‘I’m just not inspired’, or ‘I’m too busy’ and these are a total block for coming up with something creative. The reality is that being ‘inspired’ may happen once a year, decade or lifetime, so waiting around for that moment is kind of pointless. Don’t get me started on not having time, I feel and know this one well, the solution ? Schedule time.

For successful creatives the most interesting thing is that once they embarked on a creative path, their existing ‘inspired’ ideas usually get used up pretty quickly – and the really good stuff, comes after! They find that the more regularly they ‘do the work’ of ‘being’ in their creative zone, the better they get at it!

Fancy that, huh?

This seems too simple, but in a recent study which looked at Nobel Prize winners’ and compared when they commenced their careers to then they experienced any recognition in their chosen fields (art, science, writing etc.) the trend in all cases was that there were 10 or more years of work, coined the ‘10 years of silence’ prior to achieving any success.

Finding your inner ‘creative’ need not be impossible, unattainable or intimidating – you just need to do the work.

For me it almost feels like there’s a ball of yarn and within the ball there are ideas to tap into, I just have to tease out a thread from that ball and start unravelling – and follow that thread, keep unravelling that ball until the thread turns into a full blown idea – and then see that idea through, express it fully and completely.

The idea gains its own presence or identity – a creation – give your creation the permission to be: itself; imperfect; unique; to be bad; or to be good; amazing; whatever it is, don’t judge your creation too harshly, the main thing is that you ‘created’ it and you did the work!

The trick now is to do it again, and again…

Creative Makeup Play