Hello beautiful People

I just hosted my very first collaborative Instagram live with Hao from @haodoyoungo. We had a much-needed conversation about the current state of the beauty community. For those of you who couldn't join the live or just wanted to have a summary of the discussion, this post is a recap about the things we talked about.

What's the difference between a beauty enthusiast and a makeup artist?

Hao: I don't think anyone should call themself a makeup artist unless they can put makeup on other people. For me, that's really a low criterion to be a makeup artist. I would describe myself as a makeup enthusiast. Most of the time I am just playing with Makeup and not intentionally creating content.

Yue: I think you can call yourself a makeup artist if you're comfortable putting makeup on all kind of skin colors, skin types and facial features. If you can analyze a person's face within seconds and know how to adapt a template to someone's face. Graduating from makeup school isn't enough, it only teaches you the theory and technics. Every makeup school is different in what kind of criteria you have to fulfill in order to graduate. So the quality of makeup school alumni varies a lot. Just don't call yourself a makeup artist if you mainly put makeup on yourself.

Is necessary to go to beauty school? 

Hao: I've seen people who never went to beauty school and they are so good at applying makeup on other people.

Yue: It's definitely possible but it requires a lot of talent and discipline. Going to school gives you confidence in your skills since you're guided by professionals. Additionally, it provides a network which is crucial in this industry.

Hao: One of the things I heard with makeup school is that they overly emphasize sanitation, is that true?

Yue: Sanitation is very important since we are touching a person's face. It needs to be emphasized repetitively to make it a habit instead of something we have to remember.

Do makeup artists wear a lot of makeup themselves?

Yue: This is very individual but from my personal experience I have yet to see a working artist wear lots of makeup all time, especially on set. You gonna get hair products blown in your face all the time, it's just not practical. I've seen people wearing lipstick or mascara but anything more wouldn't be necessary. Imagine having a mix of hair products on your face and you can't wipe your face properly 'cause you are wearing full-face makeup.

Hao: There is this one makeup artist I follow and she says herself that she only has one look and uses one eye pencil to death for it. We talked about it and it's kinda like how cooks don't wanna cook for themselves.

Yue: This is so true! I got lazy with my own makeup ever since I became a makeup artist. On a good day, I'm wearing foundation. But it also has to do with the fact that I don't feel uncomfortable showing my bare face.

Why is there tension between the pro community and influencers?

Yue: In the old days marketing budget for pr samples was meant for celebrities and pros. Now we have to split this budget with influencers and we're getting the shorter end of the stick. Influencers are considered to have a direct influence on consumers while pros steer trends of the whole beauty industry. The impression I got right now is that brands favor influencers over pros.

Hao: It is one of those topics I want to find someone in the industry to really figure it out. I read on Reddit that brands spend loads of money to send beauty editors on luxurious trips, I am curious about how the marketing budget is split. How much is affecting makeup artists and magazines? It also makes me wonder, how much products are they sending people?

How generous are brands with pr samples?

Yue: It depends very much on the brand itself as well as how "important" they consider you to be. Most brands have different tiers of how much they will send. I do think some brands are guilty of creating tension between Influencers and pros. There's no reason to send someone who does not do other people's makeup the full 40 shade range of foundation. It's upsetting because not only is it a waste of money & products but also because of how often we hear there isn't enough budget when we are hired for a campaign, event, etc.

Hao: I think there needs to be a change but I don't really know anyone to talk about it. It's very wasteful for sure. I understand that as a company you want to make sales, but you're wasting products if you send a full range to someone who only does makeup on their own face. I have a theory as well that flat lay accounts are more favored since you can actually see the product. It gives the brand something they can repost. I don't actually show the product itself but only how it looks on the skin.

Yue: It might be to create brand recognition, so when people go to a store or online shop they remember that's the product they saw on Instagram.

Do companies want to get reviews or just to promote?

Yue: I started out as a content creator myself about 8 years ago. Back then companies wanted lots of reviews online so customers were able to inform themselves before buying a product. I don't really think it matters much these days, they just want to create hype.

Hao: I used to get this earlier when I was blogging. I would receive emails from companies who would propose to send me products, but they had very strict guidelines about what they expect in return. They wanted multiple blogposts, unboxing video, post on Instagram. Then I would ask what's your budget and they said that the products are the payment. I deny such offers since I have a full-time job and I'm taking care of my monster cat. I don't have time to do free work for people. Right now I feel like one of the goals is just for someone to talk about the launch.

Yue: If they cared about feedback, they wouldn't have influencers on their pr list who never share any information with substance and just like everything they get sent. I don't trust people who "like" the product but can't explain why exactly. Especially with skincare, I've seen people who got sent a cream and they're like "That my favorite cream", but they haven't even opened it and it's a new product pre-release so it can't be that they have been using it for the pasts months.

Hao: I think people's need for review has gone down. I like to talk to people about products but I no longer want to do reviews myself, because I believe people get overly critical of what I want to say. I love science but I am not science-based. I would get comments of people saying things like "but this has coconut oil, how can you give this a good review?" or "but it didn't work for me so you're a liar". That's a lot of pressure.

Yue: I assume it's because of all the professionals joining social media. We have chemists, doctors, dermatologists on Youtube now. That is hard to compete with.

Do Influencers really have influence?

Hao: I have read a study about that and it has shown that using a familiar face/celebrity does affect the sales. It's a weird thought process about how much an influencer can influence. I don't know about anyone else but I definitely have been persuaded by Instagram to buy things. I saw Sally from @actually.skin start wearing lime green nails and thought I want to do that too, I wanna be fun! Some sponsored ads have gotten to me by just looking at the product. I think because of blogging and Instagram my relationship with makeup has become different. A normal person might not be as easily influenced as I am because I think "Oh, I could use that for my Instagram!".

Yue: I must admit that I have bought things too, like background fabrics for flat lay so my posts would be prettier.

Hao: Whenever I see a really pretty makeup with the products listed, I have to deep dive into their caption and buy the things they used.

Yue: I do that sometimes, but I stay away from posts that have a huge product list. It's too many options and too much money I gonna spend.

Is pr really "gifted"?

Yue: As a person who worked as beauty PR before, I can ensure you that pr samples are not really gifts. The brand wants something in return. Either content or just generally having people promoting a product/collection.

Hao: I see it as a form of payment. You have to be really careful about what to accept. Some companies specify that they send it to you for content while others don't. Sometimes I feel like it's a bribe. They send you stuff so you talk positively about them.

Yue: Even if the company does not require you to do anything, it pretty much common sense that they will eventually kick you off the pr list if you never post anything about them.

Do companies pressure you in how fast you need to post?

Hao: I'm really careful about that. For me, any required content requires payment. I've gotten to a point where I am overwhelmed with pr but I also buy a lot of makeup myself. For paid content I tell them that I need at least 2 weeks. I don't accept any skincare request as I need at least 1-2 months to be able to see the results and companies are not willing to wait that long, especially when they reach out to you 1 week before the launch.

Yue: I think for me it is a bit different than a traditional content creator. I use the products on shots mostly instead of on myself. I will always make sure they understand that I won't able to pop out content very fast since a shot involves multiple parties (photographer, model, stylist, etc.). Same as you, I think required content requires payment.

What do you do with products that you don't like, do you toss it?

Yue: It depends on whether it's a bad product or simply not working for me. Sometimes it might also be that I already own lots of similar products and it would take me ages to use up my stash, so I choose to give some away to friends and family.

Hao: If I can get a product to work to a certain degree I will use it, it takes a lot for me to throw a product away. I also give products away to my friends and family.

How do sponsored fashion shows work, do you get to practice with products before?

Hao: I was always curious about how these sponsored shows work. Do you have to figure it out on the spot or do you get some practice rounds prior to the show? And how do you get busy models like the Hadid sisters to schedule a time for the artists to practice on their faces?

Yue: You figure it out on the day, and it needs to be quick. Fashion week will test the flexibility and adaptability of artists. Normally you don't get a full kit, you'll get some key products to work with. So you still get to use your products.

Are there brands you don't support because of their values or the founder's behavior?

Hao: There is a brand's owner that is kind of known to attack people, so I just choose not to talk about them or support them. I don't really want to be involved in any kind of drama. There is a brand I don't use because they spread a lot of misinformation and make insensitive comments. I remember there was something about bleaching vaginas and it was not ok for me as it was approached in such a sexist manner. I didn't follow them for a while and someone told me they did apologize for it and they're making an effort to spread more positive messages. It showed me that a brand can admit their mistakes and change. Now I am more open about buying their products.

Yue: I have brands that I don't promote because I had a bad experience with the company's pr. There is a brand I really liked and I offered to credit them for an editorial in a major mainstream magazine. The usual practice is that the brand will send the makeup artists some products in exchange for credits. It is a free production and advertising space for them after all. Instead, I got told that they could offer me 1 or 2 products, not 1 product in a selection of shades, but literally 1 or 2 products. People who aren't in the industry might think I sound ungrateful but please understand that advertising space in these magazines usually costs around 7-15k per page. I wouldn't mind rejection but this is a slap in the face of every pro artist out there and utter disrespect for our profession. 

How do family & friends react?

Hao: My family doesn't really know about it. I got asked to do my sister's makeup for her wedding and it was really stressful since I have never done other people's makeup before. I would practice on her before the wedding. On the wedding day, I got asked by relatives to do their makeup and I thought  "Do you really think I know how to put makeup on your face?" I want to cry in the corner now, thank you very much.

Yue: My stepdad comes from a very traditional academic background, he is a mathematician in the insurance industry. He does not understand what exactly my job is. My mum has become very supportive, maybe because she had her fair share of bad experiences with me rebelling whenever she would pressure me to do something.


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