Make-up is an expression of style and personality

Ayesha AK, Hyderabad-based hair and makeup artist and educator, does not follow fleeting trends, but rather focuses on make-up that accentuates a bride’s unique personality
Ayesha AK
Ayesha AK

Can you tell us about your makeup style? What do you specialise in? 

Each artist has a style based on the work they do most. I feel my style has grown over a decade to suit my clients’ demands. The words most used for my work are natural, non-cakey skin, brides looking like themselves and not having such a drastic makeover that they don’t believe it’s them after getting their makeup done. I specialise in airbrushed, glowing and natural-looking skin and smokey eyes that my clients keep coming back for. 

How do you give a make-over based on different ethnicities? 

I work a lot with South Indian clients, but I have also worked with other Indian brides in Telugu, Punjabi, Bengali, Marwari, and Malayali communities. Then there are cross-cultural marriages from the UK, US, France and Australia. I start by understanding their culture. By bridging the gap between ethnicity and culture, I check the jewellery, outfits and accessories, and create a look that harmonises and blends it all. For me, it is the bride wearing the makeup; the makeup shouldn’t overshadow the bride’s personality.

What does makeup mean to you?

Make-up is just like clothing, an expression of style. Everyone has a style they are comfortable with which enhances their personality. It is not about hiding flaws but more about one’s manner of being themselves. That is how I view my clients too. I try to understand their individuality and create a look that best expresses their unique style statement. 

How do you deal with mature skin/clients when giving a makeover?

You’d be surprised to know that mature client are the most interesting to work with and not as complicated as they are portrayed to be. With the stigma attached to age, anyone who is above 30 can be considered mature and then there are social norms restricting the creative process. Let me share a few secrets that can help them – moisturise well along with oils, stick to cream-based formulas and avoid using too much powder that only highlights creases and dryness on the skin. A lot of experience is needed to do make-up that doesn’t make one look older, which is their most common complaint with drastic makeovers. Less is more, but it is all about strategic product placement rather than hiding every pore and line.

With the arrival of the wedding season, what’s your schedule like?

The wedding season is what bridal make-up artists look forward to. My schedule involves a lot of meal prepping, brush washing, making sure I am well hydrated, eating healthy, and catching up on sleep at any time slots I get. If my on-location call time starts at 3 am, the prep starts at 6 pm. I go to bed early, wake up on time to leave for the venue and set up hair and make-up stations. Having a diary also helps, so I note down locations during those mini breaks to head to the next bridal location with a fresh set of brushes. 

Which celebrities have you worked with and how has your experience been?

I have worked with several names, but my favourite celebs are Lauren Gottlieb and Surbhi Puranik. Working with them has been a learning experience. I’ve learnt to be on time, have patience with clients to develop a good rapport, not sweat over minor issues and pick up the best features to work on first.

What’s the most challenging part in your opinion, about giving a makeover?

After 10 years in the industry, it isn’t a skill that motivates me, but the curiosity to know more about my clients’ unique personalities to create a look that they feel most confident in. Every face tells a story it’s lived and it’s only challenging not to get carried away with your own creative ideas so as to focus on the clients’ individual personalities.

Why is the no-make-up make-up trending?

Self-care is part of a growing movement in personal health and well-being that includes taking care of your skin – not perfect skin, but a person’s naturally lush and undamaged skin. Healthy skin looks different for each individual, and that’s also what makes them so special. Filter-free skin is the new goal and it is as empowering as it is liberating. We don’t want to look like mass-produced Barbie dolls anymore. We are growing, and we aren’t afraid to embrace it.

What are the latest make-up trends? How do they interest you?

Trends pass with the tide but style is forever. I mostly work with brides and I want them to be able to look at their wedding albums 10 years later and think how graceful they look, which is why I don’t follow fleeting trends. Looking back, I am proud that I did the no-makeup natural looks much before it really caught on. Natural makeup should enhance the beauty of your features and that has always been my mantra. I pay more attention to using formulas with the right texture for various skin types.

How has makeup evolved over the years? 

Make-up trends and products keep evolving. Early make-up had ingredients like arsenic, lead, and mercury, and there was absolute disregard for the health and safety of its users. Awareness about the harmful effects of carcinogenic ingredients has led to a decline in such products. Brands have started to respect the cultural norms and values of their customers and the demand for cruelty-free and vegan products has grown significantly in the last few years. Until the last decade, many companies did not make shades for dark skin, but now there is a wide range of colours available to match different skin tones from all ethnicities. This brings me joy because as a make-up artist, I want the opportunity to work with any skin tone.

What is your advice for brides before their special day?

Here are a few things I’ve noticed having worked with hundreds of brides all over India and abroad, and they can save you a lot of last-minute stress. Make sure to book your make-up artist in advance and be on time for your appointment to get the best look and pictures, avoid any new salon treatments the week prior as it may trigger rashes and allergies that we can’t cover up; always wear sunscreen and keep your skin well moisturised, practice your poses for the wedding photos in front of a mirror well in advance, and last but not the least, try purchasing mini lipsticks or samples of all the shades you’d like to try in the months ahead so you know your likes and dislikes already.

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