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Sharing Their Experience: Self-Taught Makeup Artist

Our generation is filled with professional makeup artists that learned all that they know from cosmetology school. However, there are multiple makeup artists with their own expertise in makeup. Rather than taking the recommended path, there are others that let their creativity thrive and teach themselves. Hear about Aaliyah Ford’s journey in the art of makeup and the world of cosmetology as a self-taught makeup artist building her name.


Knowing Aaliyah Ford for over two years, I’ve seen her express her love for makeup and progress as a makeup artist within these two years. However, the two years of knowing Aaliyah doesn’t offer a proper insight on her journey of makeup artistry. Take a look into what made Aaliyah the self-taught makeup artist she is today. 


Lynese: What’s the history behind your interest in makeup artistry?

Aaliyah: I’d have to say that I didn’t have any interest in makeup initially. Going into high school, I decided to go to a vocational school and I only picked cosmetology because my family always believed I was good at doing hair. I didn’t really know much about makeup because I wasn’t allowed to truly explore my options. Nor did I think makeup was apart of cosmetology as a whole, I only focused on the hair aspect of it. As I learned more in school it piqued my interest and I began getting more into makeup in my junior year of high school. The rest is history.


Lynese: Was cosmetology school successful for you, if not, why?

Aaliyah: Yes and no, it showed me that I actually do like to do hair. It also taught me about face shapes and that the point of contouring is to achieve the perfect face shape of an oval. But it wasn’t successful in the aspect that I didn’t take it seriously enough and kept telling myself, “I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life so why should I pay attention? Why should I take this seriously? I could’ve been a licensed cosmetologist for free.” Now if I decide to pursue it, I’d have to pay for all the testing again and I’d have to study all over again so I think that was a fail on my part.


Lynese: How did you go about teaching yourself the ways of makeup?

Aaliyah: Practice makes perfect and you don’t even have to go anywhere, you just practice. My roommate from freshman year of college would always think I was crazy because I would just sit in the room and do makeup then ask, “Where are you going? And I wouldn’t be going anywhere. You should practice, it’s the best way to learn and practice on other people. Knowing how to do other’s makeup is a huge aspect, but don’t forget to do your own face. 


Lynese: What steps have you taken to build/perfect your craft? 

Aaliyah: I look for people who inspire me on Instagram. I usually save different looks that I want to try to recreate for myself. Any chance that I get to do my friend’s makeup I’m always willing to do it because that’s practice. Any opportunity I get to do makeup, or to practice, or to learn about makeup, or watching youtube videos about other’s techniques to do makeup is an opportunity to learn. 

Image provided by Aaliyah Ford


Lynese: What part of your timeline in this journey would you correct, why?

Aaliyah: I would correct the senior year of my cosmetology school experience because I passed my written portion of my cosmetology exam but failed the hands-on portion because I didn’t practice enough. So I would rethink that whole thing so I could be licensed. Other than that, I don’t think I would change a thing. 


Lynese: How do you feel about this generation of self-taught makeup artists?

Aaliyah: I respect them because at the end of the day I consider myself one even though I went to cosmetology school. However, I do feel like we’re taking away a lot of respect from the individuals that did go to school for makeup artistry and paid money for it. Even though you can be good at your craft you still have to respect those that took a different route than you did.


Lynese: Do you find this to be a passion, career, side hustle, hobby?

Aaliyah: If I wasn’t set on becoming a teacher that I’d want to pursue makeup artistry as a career. However, at the moment it is a passion and a hobby. 


Lynese: Any advice for other self-taught makeup artist or beauticians?

Aaliyah: Do it, do what you got to do. Don’t listen to what anyone else says. You’re going to be bad at first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked back on my own work and said, “Wow, look at the progression that I’ve made.” Don’t let anyone discourage you, you’re going to get better, it just takes time, it takes practice. Never stop learning, always look for a different method. Different things work for different skin types or different face shapes or different skin tones. Just be mindful that you have to invest a lot of money into this because not everyone is the same shade or skin type so you need to have different shades. You have to be prepared for everything so just be prepared for the unexpected. Be prepared for people not liking your makeup and critiquing your makeup.

Image provided by Aaliyah Ford


Aaliyah Ford is one of the many self-taught makeup artists paving the way for others who don’t take the preferred route of cosmetology school. Aaliyah had the opportunity to pick up a few skills in makeup artistry but since she didn’t have that much of a successful experience she took it upon herself to teach herself the ways of makeup artistry. Although Aaliyah didn’t become licensed during her high school experience she didn’t allow that to stop her from pursuing her passion. This generation of makeup artists have the skills and talents but as Aaliyah said there is still a high found respect for those that did go to cosmetology school and paid for their experience to be a licensed makeup artist. Aaliyah Ford is one of the many that pay their respects and take the proper steps to build her name on her own. You can see Aaliyah’s work on her makeup page

Lynese Salmon is a Senior majoring in Communications and Media Arts. Hoping to pursue a career in social media strategics and/or to land an editorial/writing position for an online publication. Her list of hobbies are endless since she takes interest in so many things. Lynese adores the arts, whether it's visual, performing, digital, etc. She is an outgoing individual with a willingness to learn. Lynese believes the possibilities are endless for everyone so why should you limit yourself. Loves to meet new people and learn more about different identities. Lynese is an open book so she's pretty approachable. All in all, Lynese is a creative personality that likes to think outside the box.
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