What Makeup Artists REALLY Think About Your Skills

Get ready - it’s not pretty


I once overheard an irate makeup artist say to a demanding model, “You are not a client. You’re a model and I decide how you look because that’s what this shoot is about. You’re not the star of this parade just because you had a boob job.” 

Talk about a mic drop. And that’s only the stuff they say out loud.

Makeup artists are experts on the human face, maestros of beauty armed with tinted moisturiser, custom lipstick palettes and about 152 MAC brushes. And as with any vocation that requires high levels of creativity and artistic skill, the industry is filled with bitc…uh, passionate individuals who have loads to say about their clients.

Since we like playing with fire, we asked one of the best in the biz - celebrity makeup artist and established beauty maven Larry Yeo - to dish the dirt on what really goes through his mind when he sees us mere mortals. Turns out, everything you put on your face is fair game.

Oh and if you’re a bit heavy-handed with the foundation, Yeo would like you to stop. As he eloquently states, “It’s your face, not uneven flooring.”

Is it second nature for you to look at a woman and think about how you can improve her look? 

Absolutely! Just ask my close friends - I’ve changed their makeup one focal point at a time over the past 15 years as a makeup person.

What are some common beauty mistakes women make?

They don’t embrace their own face shape and want to get into trends that are wrong for them. Like Korean-style brows (which they often draw really badly); gross orange lipstick; red lipstick that’s too dark for their skin tone; using the wrong foundation colour to make their skin look brighter; using too much bronzer that makes them look like they fell into a muddy pool; drawing thicker brows than their face can handle; and too much highlighting which makes wrinkles shinier than a full moon.

Photo: Beauty of Epiphany

How often do you walk past women and get the urge to wipe all their makeup off and redo it?

Every f**king day! Let me tell you a tiny secret - I actually carry makeup in my bag, just in case I need to do a touch-up for friends who have too many faux pas on their faces.

What are 3 makeup tips every woman should know?


#1 Have the right brows for your face shape

...Unless you have a personal makeup artist and the budget of a Korean entertainment company to tweak your face to death. Note that the thicker Korean-style brows don’t make you look younger - in fact, they make you look like you’re constantly frowning. And if you have a narrow chin, the perpendicular line formed by your brows will give the illusion that your face is wider than a widescreen TV.

#2 Use foundation sparingly

It’s your face, not uneven flooring. Stop plastering your face with so much makeup that no one can see your skin. Most women have better skin than they allow themselves to believe. It’s an issue with self-image.

#3 Always use lip balm

Dry lips are gross. Stop blaming lipstick for being so dry when your damn lips are under-moisturised or moisturised with a horribly formulated lip balm. If I can brush my teeth before talking to you, please moisturise your lips before you talk to me.

Photo: Candy Lipz Australia

When you meet a woman for the first time, do you instinctively pick apart all her makeup flaws?

Always, but it’s all in my mind. I don’t voice it out because: 1) It’s not my business to diss her makeup skills; 2) I’m not paid to work on her face; and 3) I’m a bitch when I need to be, but I’m not an a**hole.

Do you then feel bad about it if she turns out to be really nice? 

Nope, never feel guilty. Why should I when I’m not attacking her?

How often a day does the thought “I could make her look SO much better” cross your mind?

Every time I’m out of my apartment. It gets worse in the CBD during peak hours and on public transport.

Would you tell a stranger if her makeup looks glaringly bad? 

I wouldn’t, unless she is very rude to me or to any service staff. If that’s the case, I’ll tear her makeup skills apart. 

What’s the biggest misconception people have about makeup artists?

That since it’s just makeup, they can bargain with the price. It took me 40,000 hours to get where I am today and to learn my skills from amazing fellow makeup artists from around the world.

Makeup on Thai star Pearypie by Yeo in a recent ELLE Singapore issue

I had a recent client who booked me to do makeup for a photoshoot with an agreed number of people. On the day of the shoot, they had two fewer people to be made up, and asked me to lower my fee. I told them my fee was for the time locked in, not for the number of faces. Do I look like a Geylang Lorong 18 street-side prostitute?

Which is worse: People who use makeup poorly, or people who don’t bother using makeup at all?

All I can say is that some people need more coverage than others, some need less, and some look best with a paper bag over their heads because their personalities are just hideous.

For more on beauty, head here. Or check out For The First Time, The Face Of Beauty Is Transgender and You Have No Excuse To Skip Sunscreen Ever Again.

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