Jennifer Nam, Makeup Artist
One of the things I fell in love with the most was the connection you have with people when you're doing their makeup.
Once upon a time there was a young girl from NYC, named Jennifer, who went to a Korean after school program following a full day of “normal” school. That's where she met a new friend named Jiyun who would bring her mom's makeup to class. It was a three tiered black lacquered compact that was everything a 3rd grader could ever wish for, including 4 pearlized eyeshadows (one of them was mint green), pressed face powder, and several lip colors. It was love at first touch!
I started to get fascinated with fashion magazines and was curious on how these beautiful glossy photos came to life. At the speed of light I dashed to my nearest CVS and purchased the blackest eyeshadow from L'Oreal. I started to practice the most infamous look of the early 2000's: Blackest black smoldering eyes with just a touch of silver in the inner corners, tanned skin, and the palest nude lipstick by MAC in Myth.
Shortly after, my mom decided she wanted to give me a very unique high school experience. She sent young Jennifer to a Military boarding school called New York Military Academy. She understood that life was short and you know... You only live once to have the chance to enroll in JROTC and learn how to spit shine your shoes (btw this is very handy as an adult). The real trick is after you apply two coats of shoe polish, you must then light them on fire, followed by generous amounts spit, and then rigorously buff and shine away with an old t-shirt.
In the most strangest unconventional way, this was the place where I started practicing to be a makeup artist. I became the unofficial makeup artist for my friends and peers for winter formals and prom. Twice a year the girls were allowed to strip down from their uniforms, shake their hair out of their tight buns and wear a pretty dress for the night. I remember I would have a line of girls waiting outside of my room to have their makeup done. I had six products to my name and used it on everyone, from the lightest to darkest skin tones. By my senior year, the school participated in a local fashion show and started a drama club, which I did the makeup for!
One of the things I fell in love with the most was the connection you have people when your doing their makeup. It's such a satisfying feeling to see someone smile and watch them glow when they're feel good. My first two models were my best friends, Victoria and Lauren. When we weren't busy falling into formations, early morning PT, studying, sports, and white glove inspections. We would play dress up in our room and do a photoshoot using disposable cameras and I simply got intoxicated with the feeling of having fun with your girlfriends.
Leap of Faith
Of course, I had doubts. Doubts if I had what it takes, can I pay for my bills, will I ever leave the makeup counter and become the freelancer makeup artist that i dreamt of being, etc...? Practice doesn't make perfect, but the more hours you put into something you love, then you'll 100% sharpen your skills and will get better at it. In many things in life, it's about constant repetition. Don't give up because with patience and hard work, your dreams can became your reality.
I always dreamt of working fashion week and being back stage in NY. I didn’t have any connections or even know how I could even be part of it. I decided to take my portfolio to Bryant Park and thought to myself "Well, maybe there's a chance someone might need an extra pair of hands very last minute”. I waited by the back of the tents and became friends with the entry guy. We discovered we shared the same birthday. He asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I replied "I wish I can experience fashion week and hopefully, one day I can be part of a team and do makeup for the shows". As I was finishing my sentence, someone came out and gave their backstage pass to my new friend and he put it around my neck and said "Happy birthday!" and opened the door. I couldn't believe it! I had the best time that day and it was truly a birthday wish come true! Sometimes, you just have to go for it and life will surprise you with beautiful gifts.
"No Makeup" Makeup
My universal go to products to achieve the infamous "no makeup" makeup look is Glossier's boy brow and Anastasia's Brow wiz. I apply the boy brow 1st and if there are still some gaps that needs filling, I touch it up with the brow wiz. I love the fine point on her pencil. It really gets in there! I like Nar's radiant creamy concealer for under the eyes and any blemishes on the face. If you're feeling tired or just want to feel brighter, I love YSL's touche eclat highlight pen for under the eyes. For cheeks and lips, I like using something natural and fleshy looking like, Glossier's Cloud paint in Dusk. To top of my natural look, I love warming up Weleda's Skin food in my palms and pressing it onto the cheekbones and eyelids for a fresh glow.
My eyeliner look I did on model Carola Remer is one that needs to be practiced before you try it for a night out. Do not drink caffeine or alcohol while doing this eye because you will need steady hands as much as possible. If you don't feel comfortable free-handing the liquid or gel liner, I highly recommend dotting out your desired look with an eyeliner pencil 1st and then, going over it with the liquid or gel liner by Taste called Tarteist Clay Paint Liner. Don’t forget mascara and a good eye lash curler to complete the look. I like to use Charlotte Tilbury’s Full Fat Lashes Mascara and Shiseido’s Eye Lash Curler.
I love any good Korean eye, face, and lip masks from K-town. You can use one everyday for your skin needs. I stick the fabric sheet masks in my fridge because I love the cooling effect it has and the chill helps with puffiness. For breakouts I stick with Mario Badescu's drying lotion and I make an appointment with my nearest Skin Laundry to zap those suckers away. It always does the trick for me and I'm not left with scarring. For makeup remover or simply cleansing my face I like Burt's Bees facial wipes in Cucumber + sage and The Face Shop's herb day lip + eye remover. Sometimes I will just use Skin laundry's 3 in 1 cleansing oil as my cleanser if my skin is feeling dry or sensitive. This one has tea tree oil in it. Smells good and helps with breakouts. Score! If I want a deeper cleanse after or my skin is feeling oily I the use Skin laundry's gentle foaming wash. I hydrate my face with Caudalie's Beauty elixir spray or Mario Badescu's Rose water spray. Both wake me up and leave me feeling very invigorated! Biologique Recherche’s Lotion P50 1970 is my exfoliating toner of choice. Afterwards I apply Tulura’s Vitamin peptide serum + Cold season oil. Every time I put this on my skin, I can feel and smell the wellness.
The lip balm that I'm currently obsessing about is Embryolisse's lip balm. I love the way it smells, feels, and delivers. I like the twist packing for your personal use. I also, adore Glossier's balmdotcom in Coconut. It makes my lips feel yummy and it reminds me of the beach. For night time, I use a sleeping lip mask from Laniege and I wake up with hydrated and lush lips! I'm really into products that are multi-purpose like RMS's lip and cheek. Free People has a wide range of natural and poppy colors. I also like turning any of my fun colorful lipsticks into a creamy cheek color as well. That's what the beautiful ladies did back in the day and you can do that now too. Take your finger and dab some of that color, smile, and press that color onto your cheeks!
-AS TOLD TO TGH