At many salons, make-up falls into either no-man’s land or just the opposite—one of the “trades” of the jack-of-all-trades technician. When you have no dedicated make-up artist on staff, who should be coloring clients’ faces?
Consumers mentally couple “hair and make-up,” so after giving the client a new hair look, it makes sense that the hairdresser might offer to touch up the make-up as well. In a departmentalized salon, the colorist may take over this duty, since fresh hair color calls for rethinking the make-up tones. Then again, the nail tech might be the one to do the make-up since she knows a lot about color, may have more time and can more easily justify charging a fee. But when you get right down to it, a logical conclusion may be that the person best suited to brush and dab product on the skin is you, the esthetician.
“Estheticians are able to look at the skin and know where it’s dry and how to prepare it for make-up,” says freelance educator Christine Kolenda, who is both a make-up artist and an esthetician. “They can do that better than people who are solely make-up technicians.”
Skin care professionals can be naturals, agrees Caroline Rushworth, director of education for Sothys USA. “Many estheticians I’ve trained do not have make-up training in their background, but they often have some talent for it,” she notes. “Usually the interest and passion are there.”
Bolster that interest and passion with some solid product knowledge and technique, and you have a whole new profit center for your business. Even if you question whether you have a keen eye for make-up, with training you’ll begin to trust your skills, even if you have to work at it.
“Make-up can be very daunting for estheticians who don’t have a natural flair for it,” Rushworth continues. “They’re nervous and apprehensive, maybe because they’re not sure about color choice or uncomfortable with the risk of making a mistake.”
Agrees Kolenda, “Estheticians can be shy about working with make-up, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Most clients don’t want to go out looking painted. They just want to look fresher. My personal observation is that estheticians tend to have a more conservative eye when it comes to make-up, which can work very well with clients.”
back to school
Many cosmetology schools welcome working professionals to their make-up classes. Some schools specialize in make-up or even certain areas of make-up; others house advanced make-up programs within a general cosmetology program. Rushworth recommends visiting schools to talk with administrators, instructors and students.
At Academy of Makeup and Fashion in Encino, California, owner and instructor Barbara Layne picks up where beauty school programs leave off, in addition to offering basic courses to both licensed and unlicensed people with no make-up background. Graduates from Layne’s master program complete a minimum of 16 four-hour classes for a total of 64 hours. Layne provides live models so that students are not spending “dead time” serving as each other’s models, and she arranges photo shoots to give their portfolios a professional look.
Layne breaks down her program into two segments. The first, which addresses “real people” make-up, covers beginning techniques through bridal make-up. Layne offers a certificate for students who opt to take only this first part, which includes more than just application methods.
“You need to learn a lot of psychology in order to come up with the right look for an individual,” explains Layne. “Otherwise the client will look in the mirror and say, ‘It’s nice, but it’s not me.’”
Layne’s courses focus on both analyzing a client’s face and identifying her “fashion personality.” Students learn to ask the client what she wants her image to convey and all about her daily grooming routine. “Some people will not sit for 15 minutes and do their make-up,” explains Layne, “while other people see it as a ritual that they look forward to every morning.” As a specialist in corrective make-up, Layne also educates make-up artists in techniques that can alter, for example, the perceived shape of a nose.
The second part of Layne’s program provides instruction in media make-up for models and actors. Students who take this hope to get gigs in advertising, do fashion shoots or work on the sets of movies and television. While Layne’s school does not offer classes in monster make-up, pretty much everything else is covered: black-and-white vs. color film; fantasy make-up, which is currently popular in fashion magazines; period make-up; and special effects.
“We have a huge dressing room filled with costumes,” says Layne. “Students learn about wardrobe styling and how to do ‘light’ hair for the camera. They can’t really do hair unless they’re licensed, but they can backcomb and fluff up the hair.” Since the school is in Southern California, work opportunities come in regularly, she adds.
Some estheticians seek out make-up artistry as a creative outlet. “Being alone in the esthetics room can be tough,” says Layne. “But make-up is also a quick route to extra income. It takes a while to build an esthetics clientele, and being able to do make-up can help. With these skills, you can even become a full image consultant.”
Like hairdressing, make-up always has something new going on. Seasons change, and product lines come out with new shades. Different parts of the country have their own make-up styles that you can study. Today’s technology is adding a wrinkle, too, with even long-time make-up artists back in class to learn make-up for a world of digital cameras and high-definition screens.
“Today the camera picks up everything!” exclaims Kolenda. “You have to be careful in your color selection and your blending.”
Whether you’re new to it or you’ve been doing make-up for years, take as many classes as you can, Kolenda advises. “Every instructor approaches make-up differently,” she says. “You’re always going to walk out having learned something, or maybe you’ll just come away inspired and motivated.”
When you do make-up regularly, every day is different. “If you get bored easily,” says Layne, “doing make-up is a great job.”
how to sell it
Make-up moves like any other salon retail product: with a push from the professional. In addition, it must be visible, accessible and inviting.
“So many times I walk into a salon and see the make-up stuck in a corner,” says Rushworth. “Nobody gets to it, and not much is sold. People need professionals to help them choose a foundation or concealer. While lipsticks tend to be impulse buys, clients still want to pick up the tube and get a good look at it. You can’t keep it behind glass.”
Visuals can aid greatly. Layne recalls an esthetician who came in complaining that she couldn’t move any of the several make-up lines her spa carried.
“I noticed that the spa owner was quite attractive,” says Layne. “I gave her four different make-up looks, and we photographed each one. The salon blew up these photos, so when clients walked in the door they saw a big visual of how the owner looked in ‘clean beauty,’ which is for the sporty woman and also appropriate for the office; a classic face, with all the features perfectly defined but not overdone; a romantic look with heavier, but well-blended, color; and a dramatic look that makes everyone in the room turn and look at you.”
When you market make-up this way, clients immediately identify with one of the four looks and ask to have it done, Layne says. But she encourages estheticians to lead the client toward a full program of make-up instruction. “Clients go for it, and you have four appointments,” she reports. “You teach them how to do each look and, by the way, the price goes up when you’re teaching.”
Bridal make-up comes with its unique sales opportunities and incentives. “Financially, weddings can be very rewarding,” notes Rushworth. “You may be able to set up a whole package of appointments for 10 women, and often the bridal party will purchase the make-up so they can maintain the look all day. In addition, you’re bonding with them on a very emotional day. They may book subsequent appointments once you’ve built those relationships. After the event, the bride may send you a photo, which really tells you that you’ve done a great job.”
Being an esthetician gives you an extra edge with brides, notes Kolenda. “Estheticians know what to recommend to set a bride off on a healthy journey toward the big day,” she explains. “Brides are stressed, and your skills can help them through that period of their lives while making them look good, too. An esthetician can provide something that’s much more full-service than a make-up artist can.” It also helps to be an esthetician if you don’t meet the bride until the day of the wedding, she adds, because “you have to figure out how to make the skin look good for eight hours.”
You can give brides, as well as all clients, the option to have an airbrushed make-up service.
“This make-up lasts from a few days to a week and looks perfectly natural,” Kolenda says. Applied with a small spray airbrush, the creme-to-powder spray covers the skin with a light film. “Bridal parties do it because it stays on and gives a flawless finish,” Kolenda adds.
Any time a spa client is poised for a life change, a make-up artist can help her match her image to the new situation. College graduation is a good example. Says Layne, “When young women first hit the pavement in search of the right job, they usually they need some help. They shouldn’t wear trendy make-up; they need to look credible and serious about working. A make-up artist can be very helpful in introducing a classic look that will open doors.”
For evening, these young professionals can handle a trendy look, but they still want to appear more sophisticated than they did in college. “You can stretch this out over four appointments for four different looks,” suggests Layne. “At each visit you say, ‘Next time I’ll teach you how to do make-up for this other mood.’”
Estheticians have ample opportunity to close the deal. “The nice thing about being an esthetician is you have so much time while you’re doing a facial,” Layne says. “Sell the sizzle! Say, ‘I just took this wonderful make-up course, and you have such beautiful features that I would love to do your make-up sometime.’”
Once you become your clients’ make-up consultant and give them permission to shop in the comfort of the salon, watch nature take its course. “We women like to treat ourselves with cosmetics,” says Rushworth. “It’s retail therapy!”