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Makeup Artists during covid

Student makeup artists adapt to pandemic

At her childhood home, bored, in the middle of the night, Emilie Burch put on a full face of makeup. 

Burch, a junior studying strategic communication, said sometimes she spends hours working on her fun, “artsy” makeup looks. 

“I do a lot of line-work,” Burch said. “I call it doodling on my face because I’m doing as much actual blending makeup as much as like, actually drawing on my face with liners and stuff.”

Burch isn’t the only one invested in her makeup looks. Throughout quarantine, makeup artists have been coming up with new ways to face the pandemic.

Burch got into makeup through YouTube. She’s found it to be a rewarding hobby, especially during the pandemic.

“I found myself actually having more free time to do it (over quarantine),” Burch said. “When I was at my childhood house, I would just do it because I was really just hanging out by myself and that’s what I was doing. I found a lot of enjoyment doing it.”

She often finds herself doing her makeup when she’s stressed or feeling creative. 

“It was always something that made me feel better about myself,” Burch said. 

Burch thinks one of the most important parts of doing makeup is knowing one’s face. For her, faces are blank canvases. She attributes improvement in her makeup skills as a combination of practice and learning her features.

“That's something about makeup that helped me build confidence in myself,” Burch said. “When I was doing it, I really had to look at my face and look at what I wanted to accentuate and what I wanted to work with.”

Though her work isn’t traditional glam, it still makes her feel beautiful.

“I never did, normally, the traditional style of makeup – beauty and glam, I guess they call it,” Burch said. “I liked the artsy parts better to see how to conceal or look pretty or feel pretty about myself without doing contouring and all that.”

Myra Nkansa, a sophomore in the College of Business, does makeup semi-professionally. Nkansa has always loved the craft and got into makeup at a young age. 

“Basically I've been using it my whole life,” Nkansa said. “Growing up, my mom would let me play in her stuff, nothing too serious, just color one-streak eyeshadows ... I was always wearing it in school – even though I wasn’t supposed to – I always wore a little bit to school.”

Around age 16, Nkansa started practicing with family and friends. Around 18, she became serious enough about makeup to start offering cosmetic services. 

It’s somewhat harder to do makeup on others, Nkansa said, because she knows her own face so well. 

“It kind of depends on the person and what I’m doing,” Nkansa said. 

Johanna Antonuccio, a senior studying retail merchandising and fashion product development, like Nkansa, got into makeup at a young age. She started in seventh grade, after finding a Bobbi Brown makeup book at the library. 

Like Burch, Antonuccio used YouTube videos to learn about makeup looks. 

“Through the years, I would just practice more and more,” Antonuccio said. “I kind of found myself sort of getting more advanced and doing different looks.”

Since the pandemic began, Antonuccio has not done makeup on anyone other than close friends. But as a part of her work as the head of makeup at VARIANT magazine, she started making makeup tutorials for the publication’s Instagram account. She enjoyed making tutorials immediately, she said.

“As soon as I did the first one, I was hooked,” Antonuccio said. “This is what I like to do.”

Antonuccio also does makeup tutorials for remote photoshoots for VRNT magazine. It’s been somewhat tricky adapting her makeup artistry to remote instruction, she said. 

“I still assign artists to models,” Antonuccio said. “Then, (we) find a look for the model, film a tutorial or find a tutorial to send to them that they can follow along to.”

It can take Antonuccio up to three hours to complete one look, she said. As for filming her own tutorials, little things, like background noise, will sometimes force her to start all over again. 

“It takes a few tries to get it right,” Antonuccio said. “I’m just a beginner, I’m sure that people who are into tutorials – like YouTube and everything – have it down to a science.”

Nkansa is currently taking a break from doing makeup. She hasn’t even really been wearing makeup during the pandemic. 

“I’ve barely even touched my makeup bag,” Nkansa said.

Nkansa has only had a couple clients throughout the pandemic, as she has been following CDC and state-issued guidelines.

“I don’t know if COVID killed my vibe, or I’m just not really feeling it anymore,” Nkansa said. “I’m focusing on school right now.”


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