Interview / Leah Baines: Make-Up Artist

If you haven’t already heard of Leah Baines then you definitely need to get on the ‘gram for a scrolling sesh (@leahbaines_mua) – and prepare to be amazed! Leah is a make-up extraordinaire based in Sydney, with a passion for enhancing natural beauty. Her unique and natural light-handed style of makeup application has enabled her to build an extensive range of clientele throughout Australia and New Zealand.

We recently had the pleasure of having Leah into Superette HQ, where she held an epic master-class and showed us how to nail an everyday fresh and flawless look. We took the opportunity to get to know our favourite MUA a little bit more, and of course, get some exclusive tips and tricks straight from the expert…

How long have you been a make-up artist and when did you know a career in beauty was for you?

I studied makeup artistry 16 years ago here in Auckland on a scholarship but I never pursued it as a career at the time, I went onto other working adventures. Just over two years ago I got back into it and I am obsessed, I love what I do.

If you weren’t a make-up artist, what else would you do?

Oohh good question, I love interior design! I think it would be down that kind of path. I did an online course and loved it. Or any job where I can be creative, I’m not designed for a desk or 9-5, I love getting out meeting new people and being hands on.

Who’s your make-up muse? Where do you get your inspiration from? Is there anyone that has inspired you throughout your career?

I definitely have a few muses, I think it’s good to have people to aspire to and adore their work. There are some really good Australian MUA’s that I love like Emma Chen, Ania Milczarczyk and Ashley Penfold. And international, the likes of Britt Sully, Makeup by Mario, Nikki Makeup and Patrick Ta.

I met the founder of The Ouai hair care and celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin a couple of years ago and since then she has always been my inspiration for how hard she is always working. She never takes life too seriously but is always on the grind, I love that!

Who have you not worked on that you would kill to get into your chair?

The ultimate dream would be Emrata, Hailey Baldwin and Kendal Jenner!

What’s one make-up trend you can’t stand?

Heavy contouring and baking, I can’t deal with the caked on heaviness and unnatural makeup. Personally, I hope this phase slowly fades.

What are your three beauty do’s and don’ts?

Do take care of your skin, look after it. This sounds super boring but drink loads of water and use SPF. I never used to care about either till I got a little older and actually did what my mum had always told me to do and when I noticed the difference I wish I had started at an earlier age. Don’t take your skin for granted.

Do visit a makeup professional to get your right shades of makeup. Never buy foundation after testing on your hand, our hands and faces are not the same shade. Once you have tested on your face walk around the store for about 10 minutes to make sure your skin hasn’t oxidized (this is when the acid in your skin has reacted to the pigment in the foundation and turned the makeup a shade or two darker). Samples are always a good idea.

Also having a summer and a winter foundation is a good life choice, our skin tone changes in these seasons.

Investing in a couple of good natural hair brushes. They can cost a wee bit at the start but they will be your best investment and you can keep them for years – if you don’t lose them. Don’t forget to wash your brushes once a month if not more, you can do this with brush cleanser, white soap or shampoo.

How has the industry changed since you began?

I feel like there are a lot more makeup artists now than back when I studied – a lot of amazing MUA’s are now self-taught with no actual studying qualifications. I think it’s awesome they have turned a passion into a career and by themselves, that wouldn’t have been a thing back when I studied. The industry is evolving so quickly.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

It was definitely when I first decided to go freelancing and take the risk of working for myself, that has been the scariest thing I’ve ever done for myself and career. I was so nervous I wasn’t going to get any work, I would say yes to every single job that would come my way even if it meant not having a day off for a month, missing out on weekends, having no social life and even sometimes working for next to nothing at the beginning just to get more experience. Freelancing can be hard, but my advice is to keep doing what you’re doing the more you get yourself out there and the more experience the better.

How would you describe your signature look, and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other make-up artists?

I feel like my signature look is fresh, natural and polished – I love perfecting skin. A good makeup starts with a perfect base. When you start out as a MUA you quickly discover what kind of artist you are, I am more natural and light-handed so I stuck to exactly that, I didn’t put myself out there as someone I’m not, like a heavy Instagram MUA or special effects etc.

What is the most important beauty advice that you can give to women? And any tips for the aspiring MUA’s out there? 

To any aspiring MUA’s reading this that are finding getting into the industry hard, stick with it! Think of ways you can get yourself out there as much as possible. Whether it be reaching out to modelling agencies and offering your services for test-shoots with models and getting good pics for your social. Be consistent with your work on your social and show what kind of makeup you like to do. If it’s shoots, show mostly shoot make-up, if it’s weddings, show bridal make-up etc – know your niche. Also learning hair! Hair and make-up go hand in hand and most clients want you to be able to do both so it’s definitely worth learning the basics. This is such a fun industry to be in, stick with it and have fun – there are no rules!

For more info on Leah you can check out her website here.

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