Beauticians on social media and Covid-19
Published on: Sunday, September 13, 2020
By: Audrey J Ansibin
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Rachel working on a client under strict SOPs
ONLINE streaming service Netflix had just released “The Social Dilemma”, a hybrid documentary-drama, which portrays the dark side of social media as you’ve never seen it before – and how it negatively affects modern society. 

Three Sabahans who run beauty salons, however, had only good things to say about  social networking and how they are gaining more clients than before the Covid-19 pandemic crisis brought the world to a standstill, thanks to social media.

Previously seen as merely a “hobby”, the billion-dollar beauty industry has proved itself worthy of being taken seriously and garnered a steady following on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. 

“Social media is very crucial! I get most of my bookings from my Facebook platform. I also use Facebook marketing tools to reach out to a larger audience and target a specific demographic,” said a 37-year-old Sabahan who runs a beauty salon on the North Island part of New Zealand. 

“My clients come from all walks of life – some are nurses, politicians, teachers, students and stay-at-home mums, among others.”

Rachel Ansibin-Woods added that although her clients come from diverse backgrounds, they all share the same passion for beauty. 

On how her beauty salon Chel Artistry is doing in face of the pandemic, she said New Zealand’s “Level 2” allows those in the beauty industry to operate but with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs). 

“I wear PPE at all times when providing beauty services and get clients to reschedule their appointments if they feel unwell. 

“The pandemic hasn’t affected the number of clients I’m getting. In fact, I’m busier now more than ever!”

She was, however, concerned how the pandemic crisis led to an economic recession worldwide where millions have lost their livelihoods due to the months-long lockdown. 

“I get my products and tools for cosmetic tattooing from Europe and America and a lot of the products are on back order and very low in stock. 

“No tools, and I will be out of business. I’m extra vigilant with financial side of things to prepare for the worst,” she said.

Beverley Shim, 36, said having an online presence helped to keep her business afloat for the past 13 years.

“I use it as a way of communicating with my followers, to share tips and tricks and to connect with new people,” said the Kota Kinabalu-based beautician.  

“I’ve even connected with a celebrity client through my Instagram account. My clients all reach out to me via my online platforms and it has made communications more efficient.

“Not only is it a means of marketing, but it is also a place to find new ideas. It has provided me with collaboration opportunities with brands both local and international,” Beverley, who runs BevStudio, said.

She said although she was not able to operate during the lockdown, it did not deter her from connecting with her followers. 

“I could not operate at all but I used the time during lockdown to create tutorials on Instagram and YouTube to stay connected and keep my sanity in check.

“The demand for beauty will always be there and from the moment the lockdown has been lifted, my studio has been in operation with clients back to back. Bookings for bridal makeup are steadily increasing. 

“Opportunities for training are also great as many people have lost their jobs or see the need to have a secondary income, so more women are looking into skill-based qualifications to supplement their income.”

Among the SOPs practised at her beauty salon included scanning and filtering each customer for an appointment, frequent sanitisation as well as wearing mask and gloves.

“These are common practices in my studio even before SOPs were enforced. Due to the work conditions where I deal with needles and skin penetration, I am very vigilant in hygiene and making sure my work space is clean.”

For another local beautician Carls Evert Sayun, he gained his clientele from his online presence. 

“Whichever platform that is available right now, use it! I’ve met a lot of customers with the help of social media.

“I got to do jobs outside of Sabah because of it,” said the 23-year-old who has also worked with former Unduk Ngadau Hosiani Keewon. 

As for work place etiquette during the pandemic, he urged people to adhere to the SOPs.

“Wear your face mask! I’ve been using face mask ever since I’ve started doing makeup professionally. It’s already a routine for me to use face mask every time I’m doing makeup for clients.”

Meanwhile, on the seemingly myriad ways to refer a beautician in their field, Beverley shared an encounter with someone clueless of a makeup artist: 

“A guy once asked me ‘Ko kerja apa?’ (‘What do you do?’)  I said, ‘Makeup Artist’. He then asked me, ‘Oh, artis mana?’ (‘Oh, which artiste are you?’) 

“I thought that was hilarious because the term ‘artist’ in his mind was reserved for celebrities only and not for people in the art world,” she said.

Rest of the interview: 

Question: When did you realise you wanted to have a career in the beauty industry? 

Rachel: I was really passionate about beauty in my early teens. While in university studying business management, I worked at The Body Shop during term breaks and developed my passion for makeup artistry. Since migrating to New Zealand, I worked for a chartered accountant firm and was a freelance makeup artist. I was torn between pursuing my study to become a certified associate chartered accountant and beautician. I ended up choosing the accountant path after seeking advice from my family and employer but in 2012, I fell pregnant and suffered really bad morning sickness and had to put my study on hold. I started a personal makeup page on Instagram (@chelartistry) showcasing my makeup looks which took off really well.  My passion grew from makeup artistry to permanent makeup (cosmetic tattooing). I am now a full-time cosmetic tattooist.

Beverley: I graduated at the top of my class as a Quantity Surveyor (QS) from University Malaya, and came back to KK to work. I quickly realised that this was not the profession I wanted and started to daydream about working as a makeup artist. I had no prior experience in the beauty industry but my instinct was pretty strong and on faith alone I resigned my job as a QS against my parents’ advice and went to KL to pursue my diploma in makeup artistry. This was in 2007 so it’s been 13 years since my daring stunt and I’m glad I followed my heart because I’ve achieved so much in this industry. 

Carls: From the age of 11. My mother inspired me. I know it’s kind of cliché but since I was very little, I’ve watched my mum do her makeup before she goes to work and I saw how makeup can change one’s perception.

Question: Describe your experience in trying to get to where you are today.

Rachel: I learn from my mistakes, that is how you grow and better yourself in the permanent makeup industry. I also invested heavily in high quality pigments, machines and courses, Never stop educating yourself as the beauty industry is constantly evolving. I attended PMU conference which was held in Australia last year to broaden and deepen my knowledge further.  

Beverley: Early on, my biggest hurdle was getting my parents’ approval of my new chosen career. They were very sceptical and often questioned my choice to abandon my degree. I used that as fuel and I was very motivated to prove to them that I was in the right path. I started being a makeup artist and trainer at a retail outlet in 2007. I was later approached by a beauty academy to head their makeup department and I was fully in charge of the course and marketing it to get students in. This is where I found my calling to start my own studio which eventually turned into an academy in 2010. I called my studio Muah, which stands for Make Up And Hair. Muah had since produced hundreds of makeup artists whom are now actively working in the beauty industry. My husband eventually joined the business in 2012 and we both worked on the business till 2018. 

The demand for long-term makeup course had slowly declined over the years as YouTube and Instagram enabled people to find tutorials at the tip of their fingers. Although it’s not a substitute for hands on, face-to-face training, it has reduced the demand quite significantly. 

In 2018, we decided to cease operation as a makeup academy. Yes, it’s a roller coaster ride! In the eight years of running a makeup academy, I stayed active as a makeup artist and participated in makeup competitions to sharpen my edge. I have won five awards and even travelled to Los Angeles representing Malaysia for a makeup competition. 

In 2019, I pivoted into Semi-Permanent Makeup industry which involved brow, eyeliner and lip embroidery. I’m glad to have started into this industry right before the lockdown as the demand for bridal makeup has reduced significantly. 

So now, I run BevStudio a makeup and semi-permanent makeup studio and I am also training artists in this field. Needless to say, if it wasn’t for my parents disapproval I may not have found the motivation to push so hard in my career as a makeup artist.

Carl: I started doing makeup as a freelancer at the age of 11. I played around with my mum’s makeup and started learning techniques from magazines and at the time my only reference was pictures. I tried my best to copy the makeup on the picture and that’s where I learnt how to do makeup. Then I started doing makeup for my relatives. My family is very supportive and I’m very lucky to have them. 

Question: What do you have to say to people who are sceptical of the beauty industry? Some people would go as far as saying those who hide behind layers of makeup are those who are insecure of themselves.

Rachel: Be respectful and do not judge! You never know what others are going through. Makeup and cosmetic tattooing enhance appearance and help boost self-esteem and confidence. In saying that, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There are things we like and dislike which applies to everything in life, so be kind to each other.

Beverley: I’ve had many experiences with scepticism about the beauty industry from the very beginning. I was seen as a superficial, unintelligent, a non-high achiever, non-professional and vain person by most people I meet. I don’t really mind the judgement because I know they are unaware of the scope of my work and the impact it has on my clients.

The contributions of the beauty industry may be downplayed by many but it is actually a billion-dollar industry. One of the top 10 highest earners on YouTube is a makeup artist. 

Makeup can be seen as a tool to increase one’s confidence, it may be a necessity to some to feel “alive” or it could be just a fun thing for others. Just like playing video games, some get the same hit of dopamine when they play with makeup. Makeup can be many things, but to me it has changed my life and opened so many doors. 

Carls: Everyone has their own mindset and opinions. Let it be. If you don’t like makeup, fine. If you like makeup, good! We can’t please everyone. So, we only please those who have the same interest. Sometimes you just have to keep it to yourself. 

Question: What are some of the highlights of your career in the beauty sector (achievements)?

Rachel: Becoming a well-known cosmetic tattooist in my area, Bay of Plenty and in the East Coast is such an achievement.  I am also a member of The New Zealand Association of Registered Beauty Professionals. 

Beverley: My  highlight would be winning Nyx Face Awards Malaysia in 2018 representing Malaysia in Los Angeles, California and my latest award in 2019, I bagged the first Malaysia Makeup Artist award in Kuala Lumpur. 

I recently reached the summit of Mount Kinabalu and managed to see the sunrise from the peak! Do follow me on my IG @bev_muah for skincare and makeup tutorials and I also share about local spots where I continue to discover beautiful Sabah.

Carls: Well, every job that I’ve done is the highlight of my career. I’ve collaborated with the Body Shop and conducted a makeup workshop earlier this year. I’ve also done makeup on Hosiani Keewon during Unduk Ngadau and she won. I’ve also done Hosiani’s makeup during her wedding. The list goes on… 

Question: How has the beauty industry grown in the past decade? What’s the current “trend”?

Rachel: Beauty has evolved for sure! Cosmetic brands are producing better quality products and tools. Also, eyebrows have gone from being an afterthought to a priority! Powder brow technique is becoming very popular and is one of my most requested services! 

Beverley: Applying makeup for a teenager has become a common thing since Instagram and YouTube entered our lives. I remember back in the late 90s when I was a teenager, I was only aware of the existence of lipstick and eyeliner. Youngsters now know every single makeup step and trend and the latest makeup products better than working makeup artists sometimes. 

There are so many trends right now I can’t even keep up, certain trends would hit Asia first then the western part of the world like K-Beauty and trends like contouring or self-tanning has been brought on by our western counterparts. 

Carls: Nothing much has changed but with the help of social media, a lot of ‘new techniques’ popped up. “Baking” and “Cut Creases” had been around for some time. These specific techniques were popular among the “Drag Community” for ages. For me, the current trend is “Evergreen”. Follow Carls on his Instagram: @carlsevert.

Beverley working on a client before the pandemic.

Carls at a Body Shop makeup demonstration in 2016


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