By Sydney Jones/El Inde
“Whoever is ready, I’m ready for you!”
Georgina “Georgie” Dominguez is a freelance makeup artist based in Tucson, ready to conquer another day of wedding glam. Joined by her fellow artist AnaLia Martinez, the two have their Red Bull energy drinks ready to apply makeup on 12 giddy bridal party members.
A travel-friendly black director’s chair is professional and inviting next to a Glamcor LED ring light that illuminates every inch of someone’s face when natural lighting isn’t available.
Laid out on wide tables are the contents of ZÜCA professional makeup bags separated by each product’s respective category: skin, powder, lips and lashes. These miniature fridge-sized rolling suitcases can support up to 300 pounds of makeup.
While most of the makeup is from MAC Cosmetics, a wide array of brands entice and excite clients as they see all the products that are going to make them feel just a little bit more beautiful today.
Ben Nye’s translucent powder promises a smooth and matte finish to the face. Anastasia Beverly Hills ensures locked-in eyebrow hairs that won’t move a millimeter and the luxury brand YSL Beauty’s waterproof mascara lets brides enjoy their special day without worrying about black streaks running down their faces.
The two artists get to work, beautifying the faces of the bridal party by providing a hydrated base with skincare products. They then move on to the rest of the face, evening out skin tones and mattifying pores. Dominguez sculpts the cheeks with contour powder as if she was carving an ancient Greek statue, and Martinez lightly dusts iridescent glitter on the eyelids to make them pop. Lastly, no full-glam look is complete without a set of wispy false eyelashes and a spritz of setting spray to lock in the look for the entire night.
When Dominguez and Martinez are finally done with the entire bridal party hours later, they look at all the dolled-up women in exhausted pride before packing up their $6,000 kits, going home and cleaning each item of makeup and doing it all over again the next weekend.
The days on the job are long, but the results are especially rewarding during a time of great uncertainty such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the entire world was put on hold, people didn’t know when it would be safe again to host an event that would constitute a professional makeup look. Thankfully, the strong always adapt.
Both Dominguez and Martinez have always had an artistic side that they wanted to express through makeup.
“I have known that this is my passion for as long as I remember,” Martinez said. “I was the second oldest out of my cousins and I would always want to play with their hair, and if I could get into makeup and put it on them then I was there.”
As she got older, Martinez enjoyed the recognition she’d get from doing makeup for school plays, musicals and dances.
“It was always me getting all of my friends ready with their hair and makeup,” Martinez said. “I didn’t care if I was the last one to get ready, I was never in pictures because I just loved being in charge of my friends getting their glam.”
After graduating from the University of Arizona in 2010 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, Martinez started learning makeup professionally as a makeup consultant at the MAC Cosmetics retail store.
She stayed there for 9 years while also working as a freelance makeup artist. But it’s at the MAC store where she’d meet fellow artist Dominguez.
The two of them received extensive training from other artists within the company that honed their skills for freelance work. They were sent to on-site training locations where they’d practice preferred techniques on models and other makeup artists.
“I would meet clients at the counter and they would need wedding makeup or private lessons, so I would just book it,” Dominguez said.
From there, Dominguez would get the clients’ contact information, schedule a date and time for the event and potentially set up a trial run to nail down the bride’s desired look before their big day.
Over the past 15 years, young people around the country have started taking their own makeup more seriously thanks to the rise of YouTube. Right after the video-sharing website was created in 2005, cosmetic-savvy creators such as NikkieTutorials and Michelle Phan began sharing their favorite products and techniques. And thus, the “beauty gurus” were born.
These influencers migrated to different social media channels to expand their audience, promoting new items made by more independent brands. As the industry grew at breakneck speed, MAC Cosmetics began to lose its shine.
“We started seeing the numbers decreasing dramatically because of online shopping,” Martinez said, referring to MAC’s sales. “We weren’t doing as much makeup at MAC because people were getting savvier as well. When it came to prom season, the younger girls weren’t coming in as much as they were when I started in 2010.”
While the growing industry was creating more makeup enthusiasts, the retail side suffered dramatically when news first came about COVID-19 spreading to the United States.
“When 2020 hit we were unfortunately furloughed as a lot of people were, and I think personally it just really resonated with me that retail is not a secure job,” Martinez said.
Dominguez refunded all the clients she had in the coming weeks due to weddings and other cancelled events, and all freelance makeup work stopped on a dime as people waited to see when it would be safe to get glam again.
While most were staying home, the makeup industry experienced major changes in its sales and trending products.
According to The NPD Group’s 2020 Makeup Consumer Report, a collection of data from an American market research company, 71 percent of women who wear makeup in the U.S. said that they wear it less often due to COVID-19 lifestyle changes.
For those who did decide to play with makeup, other beauty trend-spotting channels reported an increase in sales of colorful eyeshadow palettes and a decrease in lip products due to mask-wearing.
Another adaptation brought upon by mask-wearing is “maskne,” or blemishes on the face caused by persistent use of a face covering or mask. Because of this, skincare is getting more attention attention as people work to counteract the less serious negative impact of wearing masks.
According to The NPD Group’s 2020 Women’s Facial Skincare Consumer Report, 22 percent of women have changed their skincare routine because of the pandemic. One-third have started using more products than before, and the majority of women have been washing and moisturizing their faces more often than pre-pandemic and plan to stick with this new routine even when things go back to normal.
“The skincare trend is huge right now,” Martinez said. “Facials, masks and at-home skincare routines are all popular.”
Contrary to popular belief, the beauty industry is not on an island.
Makeup and fashion have always followed closely behind the impactful happenings in the world or in popular culture.
During World War II, Elizabeth Arden created a signature red lipstick for the American Marine Corps Women’s Reserve that matched their uniforms. All around the country, putting on makeup was seen as a woman’s patriotic duty to look spiffy for the brave soldiers fighting for their freedom.
The 1940s also saw the invention of sunscreen for soldiers exposed to countless hours of sun, and the product still exists today as a staple in the skincare routines of many.
The progressive and pro-feminist views of the turbulent 1960s contributed to the funky geometric makeup styles that were acceptable on androgynous fashion models such as Twiggy. Conversely, Farrah Fawcett’s “All-American Girl” look inspired women of the 1970s to look tan and naturally radiant.
The beauty industry doesn’t create the trends by itself, it simply relies on the never-ending passage of time to dictate what will be in style each year.
Yet in a time of a global pandemic, the most important trend is staying as safe as possible.
“I’m going through alcohol like crazy, sanitation is through the roof,” Dominguez said. “I’ve taken a lot of things out of my kit so I have less things to clean.”
Every inch of surface on the makeup table and chairs gets cleaned with disinfectant spray to ensure that no two clients are sharing germs with each other or the artist herself. Dominguez has even altered aspects of her makeup routine to make sure that her clients see how seriously she’s taking her safety precautions.
“We have stainless steel spatulas and palettes that we work off of,” Dominguez said. “I used to use the back of my hand because it’s fast and the heat of my hand would warm the product up, but I’m trying to break that habit because it just doesn’t seem right anymore.”
When she works on her clients, Dominguez wants to show just as much respect for them as she expects out of them during a makeup session.
“At the end of the day, I would want somebody to take care of me that way,” Dominguez said. “Especially if I’m paying them.”