Thursday, December 10, 2009

Diary of an MUA - Sam Fine edition

So as some of you know I attended a "class" (not hands on) with the wonderful Sam Fine held at Bennett Career Institute here in Washington, D.C.  Before D.C. decided to do away with licensing for makeup artistry (why, why whyyyyyyyy????) Bennett was the only certified school in D.C. where you could get your license, however they still offer classes and seem to be really good about continuing education for graduates.  Check them out if you get a chance.

Anyway, that morning I had some issues with Zipcar which made me late to the class so I was WAY in the back but thankfully, the class didnt start at the time indicated so I didnt miss any of the presentation.  The room was filled with artists, bloggers and everyday women - I loved that.  This aided in a great Q&A session as all levels of makeup questions were answered.  Here is a synopsis of what I learned from him that day:

  • It usually takes him an hour and half to an hour and 45 minutes to do a face because he is sculpting the face and there is so much that goes into makeup before you even do shadow...

  • He allowed life to guide him into makeup artistry, it isnt something he set out to do - he actually wanted to go to FIT or Parsons (go FIT TIGERS!!! yes we had a mascot...LOL) He moved from Chicago to NY and just took a job to work in New York.  He chose the makeup counter because his best friend was doing it and he thought it would be an easy thing to do.  HA!  How do you like that?  Effective 2010 he will have been in the industry for 20 years! And no he didn’t go to school for makeup or to become an esthetician

  • With the boom of HD he has only had to tweak his technique a little bit and was working hard at his craft before retouching really took off.  Sam urges that retouching should not be your goal or your fix, its your job to do a great job from the start.  Know the basics well enough to know things like shimmer wont read well on TV, colored blush and heavy contouring wont read well either and that HD brings more attention to what you aren’t doing and what you are doing well. 

  • For those artists who want to work with celebrities he offers this bit of advice - Be where celebrities are located (plain and simple right?)

  • Keep in mind that you are only as good as the models you work with and that you need to align yourself with the people who share your vision.  He often gets requests on Face book (which he is currently addicted to and happened to know a lot of the audience members from that as well as YouTube!) asking him to check out images that they have done but often he cant get a good look at the makeup cause he cant get past the model that the makeup is on (MESSAGE!), take heed to that when developing your book.

  • Free your mind to see other products - don’t limit yourself to one brand some of his favs are -
  1. Bronzers - Cargo, CoverGirl Queen (he actually used the one I own on the model), MAC
  2. Christian Dior, YSL, Chanel glosses are great
  3. Jolene, Sally Hansen, Invisi-bleach for brows (yall know how he is about bleaching brows honey!)
  • For the every day woman who is just getting into makeup he advised them to answer this question: what is your makeup personality? There are no dead set rules - If you want to match your shadow to your clothing, then do so!

  • He ultimately wants to be able to look back 10 years from now and still like what I did - although you do go through phases, which is fine - you’ve got to free yourself from the rules and regulations.

  • When asked about his influences and who he thinks his biggest competition is he said he was influenced by Fran Cooper and got the opportunity to assist her while working at the makeup counter (her work is amazing by the way).  For artists he offered that you get in by assisting other people and that you are in an industry that does seek out talent but don’t take it personally if they don’t pick you.  He doesn’t think about who his competitors are, jobs come in all the time that you cant do or don’t want to do, there is no competition only compliments.  You get a different perspective from looking at other artists.

  • He doesn’t use primer or sealers (neither do I, cause after testing them on myself they make my skin oily as hell-sorry that was a side bar!)

  • Buys things out of need, not out of hype (I feel him and although not there 100% I have DEFINITELY cut back on my frivolous makeup spending...just gotta work on the shoes now LOL)

  • He doesnt use color theory (i.e. orange is best for dark circles/spots for women of color - he said just use concealer honey!)

Now for the demo...dont kill me y'all but the only images I got were on my blackberry and they SUCK!  LOL  I mean like big time!  So these are not my images - I borrowed them from his Facebook page (he's my FB friend HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) so hopefully the picture police wont come after me but if you do - please dont hesitate to let me know that they are your images so I can credit them accordingly as I am not trying to steal from you in any way shape or form.  :-)  Ok so again my apologies for the whole pic thing but I did take very copious notes if that helps any!  :)

Brows first
  • Don’t want it moisturized because then you cant tweeze well
  • Clear mascara used to brush brows up straight (CoverGirl clear mascara)
  • Use a spoolie to then brush the mascara through
  • Use cuticle scissors to trim what falls below/above the main brow
  • Use your finger to cover the brow, the hair that peeks over the finger is what you trim
  • Trim down at an angle towards the nose
  • Tweeze under the brow, tweeze out
  • Brush brows up again to see your work then go back in with tweezers as needed
  • You can take some from the top if it distracts from the shape
  • Moisturize (kiehls applied with a wedge sponge)
  • Use concealer 3 shades lighter, something lighter just looks lighter it doesn’t look wrong
  • Tap under eye with sponge and fingers, tap under eye and onto cheek out slightly past eye, up towards temple, up the center of the nose and above the thicker side of the brow
  • don’t just target the problem (i.e. putting concealer directly on the blemish and thats it) you have to blend it out so that it looks more natural

  • Used Heavenly Honey foundation stick by Black Opal
  • Take a darker foundation around the hairline around the forehead
  • Also use the darker foundation down the nose
  • Use 2 ply facial tissue to blot, tap under eyes, around nose and along the face
  • Smooth products under fine lines
  • Have client look up, head held down to stretch the skin, do the sour lemon face
  • Place translucent powder directly under the eye with a sponge
  • Keep the highlight in the places that you highlighted
  • Use the small sable brush to blend the edges of the powder in
  • Place translucent powder down the bridge of the nose and up the center of the face
  • Apply matte bronzer along the hairline and cheeks
  • Apply translucent powder under cheekbones and in smile lines before applying blush (have the client smile)
  • Iman After Glow blush
  • NARS Angelica as an "after pop"
  • Go back to the clear mascara for the brows
  • Then powder



  • Apply a little foundation on the eyelid
  • Use a flat small foundation brush to apply highlight under eye NARS Nightstar (has a dull bit of shimmer-beige with gold)
  • Stila cosmetics - Twig (brown color-AMAZING and I must have it)
  • Place the brown all over the eyelid
  • Use an angle brush with the same shadow to apply under the lash
  • Line the water line-using Kevyn Aucoin liner
  • Use medium brown pencil from maybelline to slowly build the brow to the tail
  • Using light feather-like strokes
  • Brush with a spoolie
  • After you create the shape go back in with a darker pencil (Maybelline dark brown)
  • Go back in with a qtip to the head of the brow to soften
  • Go back in with a highlighter under the brow
  • Go back over with clear mascara to set the brows



 After the demo we received certificates for completion of the class along with cake and sparkling cider (very nice touch Bennett, loved it) which I quickly left for the very end because I had to get in line to get my DVD!  LOL  I was one of the first people they called for my certificate and I acted like I didnt even hear them.  I really enjoyed this class - one of the things I can say about all of the celebrity makeup artists that I have had the pleasure of meeting and taking classes with thus far (Billy B., Michael of The Powder Group, Jon Hennesey, Eve Pearl, Sam Fine) they are all so personable and down to earth and so willing to share their experiences and offer advice to up and coming artists.  Just goes to show that personality and being humble takes you far in this industry despite those that display diva antics.  More than likely Sam will be at the Makeup Symposium that Bennett has every year so be sure to keep your eyes open!












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