Local MUAs Share The Hottest Dramas Of Malaysia’s Beauty Industry

While we’re all caught up in the beauty drama created by Jeffree Star and the YouTube beauty community, have you ever wondered what kind of tea does our own beauty industry have?

You may be surprised that being a makeup artist isn’t just about making people beautiful. It’s about making people ugly too – with blood, gore, and lots of artistic imagination involved.

We talked to four Malaysia-based makeup artists and got them to share about their beauty journey, and spill some piping hot tea about the local beauty industry. If you’re here for the tea, you’ll be in for a ride.

1. Kiki Qabuki

Don’t be surprised if you feel that there will be little or no pay.

Making people beautiful for a living isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. One of Kiki Qabuki’s most bittersweet moments was when her mom criticised her makeup skills. “I was doing makeup for my aunt, and my mom was there watching my every move,” the MUA shared. “Then, my mom started throwing some bitter comments and advised my aunt to do her makeup at a salon.” Kiki kept her cool and carried on, even though the comments really stung.

Soon, the vanity tables turned and she got a job as the official makeup artist for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, and she has recently worked with the models at the 2019 Gaya Koleksi Raya fashion show. “When people doubt you, don’t take it personally,” she said. “Instead, take a moment to reflect on their doubts, and prove them wrong.”

Dewy to Matte foundation hack. Photos courtesy of Kiki Qabuki

Her favourite beauty hack? Turning dewy foundation matte, of course! “Sometimes it gets cakey if you put powder on top of foundation,” she said. “Mix in your favourite loose powder to mattify dewy foundation. If you mix on compact powder, it’ll increase the coverage too.”

Kiki advises newbies in the makeup industry to take part in fashion shows. “Don’t be surprised if you feel that there will be little or no pay, but as a someone new in the industry, you gotta start somewhere.”

2. Hammada Bamadhaj Omar

People still look down on this profession, even clients, when they ask for ridiculous price cuts.

October 2016 was a fateful month for Hammada. “Halloween month when I first got started,” he said. “I painted my face for fun, posted it up on Instagram and I got a lot of positive feedback from people.” Taking inspiration from the world of fiction, Hammada persevered in his makeup journey until his skills were noticed by a makeup academy in Australia, who sent him $400 worth of makeup to get started.

At that time, the former graphic design student didn’t have a solid background in makeup. “I thought to myself, now that I have all these makeup, I might as well do something about it,” he said. Three years later, he’s still recreating absolutely fascinating looks on Instagram, and in real life.

Seeing is believing. Photos courtesy of @hammadart on Instagram

The MUA is a true fan of lip gloss. “It just adds that extra oomph to your lips,” he said. “I’ve also added pre-makeup oil into my routine,” he continued, explaining that the product is a primer, but in the form of oil. “It gives your skin that extra moisture so dry skin won’t flake off, and oily skin won’t produce as much oil.”

When asked if he has bittersweet experiences as a makeup artist, Hamamda laughed. “I just have bitter ones,” he said. “That would be having people who still look down on this profession, even clients, when they ask for ridiculous price cuts.”

His favourite memories are always when he works with people who appreciate his artistry. “It gives me so much satisfaction when my clients look in the mirror & are in awe of my art.”

3. Chan Li Yin

“Do not let anyone take advantage of you.”

Fun fact – Li Yin never wanted to be a makeup artist. She was pursuing fashion design and doing makeup on the runway models for student fashion shows. “I had a lot of makeup, and we were poor fashion design students who couldn’t afford a real make-up artist, so I became her,” she shared.

Her passion for makeup artistry was further developed when she helped out with the makeup looks on her friend’s short films. Unfortunately, they’re not friends any more, but that’s the tea for another day. Soon, she was on her way to London to study SFX makeup, like the ones you see on TV – blood, gore and more. It probably runs in her family too, as her uncle is the late celebrity fashion stylist and makeup artist, Alex Eu.

The late Alex Eu, celebrity fashion stylist and makeup artist. Photo courtesy of Li Yin.

Meanwhile, the MUA observes that local makeup brands constantly churn out rose and nude-toned palettes, all which are loved by many, but there’s a catch – she admits that it can get boring. “Local beauty brands need to be fearless when it comes to creating products. Go bold, put a rainbow of colours together in a palette.”

To up-and-coming makeup artists, Li Yin has a few words for you so take your notes. “Make sure you know your worth,” she said. “Don’t let anyone take advantage of you and put your foot down if you feel like they are.”

4. Jynn Looi

Do not do free jobs for exposure.

You wouldn’t believe that bubbly and unicorn-haired Jynn was once labelled as “Ugly Duckling” by her relatives when as a child, that understandably haunted her for the longest time. Fortunately, she discovered the magic of makeup, and it changed her whole life. Makeup gave her the confidence to be herself, and she was inspired to be a makeup artist so she could bring the same confidence to others.

When it comes to contouring for us non-MUAs, Jynn explained that there’s no need to suck in your cheeks. “As long as you swipe your angle brush upwards from below your cheekbones can liao,” she said.

If you’re an aspiring makeup artist, the bubbly pro has some advice for you. “Please do not lower your value with your rates,” Jynn said, firmly. “Do not do free jobs for exposure. Exposure is a given, and being a makeup artist is an important job in any industry that requires one. If it’s not us, who else is gonna transform people’s looks?”

Looks like making people beautiful for a living isn’t as easy as it seems. Like, some of us feel like crying when we mess up our eyeliner. Meanwhile, these MUAs persevered despite the odds and bad makeup days to make people beautiful. So guys, always pay your MUAs! They can do wonders that us regular people can’t. Tell us about your local beauty inspo in the comments below. After all, beautiful things are meant to be shared.