Making people look good is quite literally their job. Singapore’s top makeup artists (from left) Peter Khor, Dollei Seah, Clarence Lee, Sha Shamsi and Larry Yeo took years to hone their craft, but were happy to share what they've learnt to help everyday women (including makeup beginners!) look great and save time while doing their own makeup.
"If you have no time to do your makeup, you only need to focus on three areas: Eyebrows, dark under-eye circles and lips "
After working as a makeup artist for different makeup brands, Larry Yeo eventually decided to take the plunge and go into freelancing. “The first six months were horrible and I didn’t know what to do even though I still got a few shoots from friends in the industry.” But he persevered, becoming a successful makeup artist with an impressive list of loyal clients.
According to Larry, only three basic steps are needed to complete a natural, daily makeup look. “The eyebrows have to be filled in, dark under-eye circles hidden and lips moisturised. Everyone wants five more minutes of sleep rather than five minutes of extra time on their face, but these three steps should not take more than 15 minutes.”
One quick way to save time would be to use less foundation or skip it all together. “Many women tend to pile on foundation thinking that it evens out their complexion, but they should really just layer products where they need it. Unless your skin is really that bad, most Singaporeans don’t really need foundation. Foundation sounds complicated but most women only need a sheer coverage.”
"Practice makes perfect. Once you know your own facial features, it's easier to do your own makeup"
Starting out as a makeup artist was a tough journey for Peter. But after taking a short break from it, he decided to give it another shot and his perseverance and passion paid off. “I told myself that I shouldn’t have given up so quickly, so I did it again, working at little features until more people noticed me and bigger names started working with me.” In order to do your makeup in record time in the morning, he says that we should actually set aside time to experiment and understand what products and techniques work with our facial structure. “For example, if you have a long forehead, don’t draw your brows straight. If you have a narrow forehead, don’t arch your brows too much as you end up hiding your forehead.” “The face is about proportion. So when you have the experience, you will know your face the best and it gets easier to do your makeup.” Once you familiarise yourself with suitable makeup techniques and products, getting ready in the morning will be a breeze.
"Less is more. You don’t need a full face of thick foundation"
“I think I am very lucky that things progressed smoothly for me.” Since young, Clarence had always been interested in makeup, starting with school performances and applying makeup on his friends for fun. Eventually, he got a small gig through a friend and more jobs began coming in.
To still maintain that dolled-up look, Clarence suggests using lesser amounts of product while following the same steps. “Use the same amount of makeup but with lesser product. You don’t have to use a full face of thick foundation or powder, just a light dust of powder and a thin layer of foundation is enough.”
A clever use of product can be an efficient way to cut down on the amount of time you need to get made up in the morning. “Some people with blemishes around their face don’t require coverage over the entire face, just on the areas that need it.” Focus on spot correcting instead of trying to cover up the entire face and you will be surprised at how much time you’ve saved. Plus, less product on your face means a lesser chance of caking throughout the day!
"It's not a must to follow all the typical makeup steps. Use only what you need"
Shamsi got her start as a makeup artist through theatre and expanded her clientele from there. “I had to do 80 peoples’ makeup on my own and it was a very humbling and exciting experience. As the show ran for 14 days, it opened up a lot of doors for me. From then on, I became the head of makeup for that theatre company.”
She feels that many women are too rigid in their makeup routine, thinking that they have to follow all the steps of makeup application. “We always think that what we see on Instagram is the norm, but we forget that such makeup looks do not hold up in our weather.”
For natural, day-to-day looks, she suggests using only what you need and not what is deemed necessary by beauty gurus and social media. For example, instead of spending time carving out a contour, a light touch of bronzer would achieve a similar effect. “Less is more. Unless you have a spotlight on your face all the time, you don’t need to put everything on.”
"If your face gets oily, don't add more powder, just blot it off with a tissue"
With close to twenty years of experience, Dollei Seah is a veteran in the industry. After getting her start working behind makeup counters, she eventually branched out to commercial, bridal and editorial makeup. “I’ve had this desire to become a makeup artist since I was three and loved flipping through magazines to look at hair and makeup.”
To immediately look put together, Dollei feels that getting the brows down is key. “Drawing the brows are very important because they frame the whole face. If I do not get the brows right, I cannot continue with the rest of the face. For a quick regular brow routine, I think brow powder is the easiest to use. Powder your brows, get the shape you want and use a cotton bud to clean away mistakes.”
Dollei stresses on the importance of skin prep but warns against using too much as it would cause the makeup to run.
Instead of packing on loose powder in the morning to ensure your face stays matte, Dollei advises to just blot the shine away. “Bring tissue out with you and if your face gets oily, don’t add more powder. Just blot it off.” This gives your face a much more natural finish without drying out the skin.
TEXT: TAN GIN YEE / PHOTOS: VEE CHIN