I’m a Celebrity Makeup Artist—One Client Taught Me a Valuable Lesson

From a young age, I was the neighborhood’s go-to girl for hair and makeup. At just nine years old, I felt as though I was running a salon out of my childhood bathroom. I was the one who styled my neighbors’ hair and applied their makeup.

I taught myself how to French braid and experimented with various makeup products, often borrowing from my mother’s collection. As a child, I found joy in styling not only my neighbors but also my Barbies—anyone or anything I could get my hands on.

I own a pageant coaching business. I recall one of my first makeup clients being beauty pageant participants, who were mostly around 10 to 12 years old. They didn’t have much of an opinion, so a bit of makeup and some curls in their hair were good enough for them.

Despite this early passion, I did not initially pursue a career in beauty. My degree is in dietetics, and I was working as a dietitian and personal trainer. My clients would often compliment my hair and makeup, asking if I could do theirs. So, in 2016 I started offering beauty services alongside my planned career path.

I remember my first adult client. She was a colleague who was competing in a fitness competition. I did her hair and makeup for the event, and she won. While they judge these competitions on various factors, I like to think that I played a small part in her victory with my styling skills.

This experience solidified my belief that I was meant to be in the beauty industry, and I haven’t looked back since.

Allison Kaye Celebrity Makeup Artist
Allison Kaye (L & R) is a celebrity makeup artist. She began doing makeup professionally in 2016.
Allison Kaye

Makeup for fitness and bikini competitions is a unique art form. The looks need to be heavy, glittery, and dramatic to stand out on stage. I recall creating a look with brown and gold shimmery eyeshadow, paired with a pink lip. The competitors are usually very tan, so the makeup has to complement their spray tan.

I realized that makeup was working for me, to the point where I quit my job in 2016 and fully committed to it.

When I quit my personal training and dietitian job, I was also dancing professionally for the hockey team in Cleveland, called the Cleveland Monsters, so I had another source of income. I ultimately picked up a waitressing job where I worked lunch shifts during the week just to make a little more money.

One day, I received an email inquiry through my website. A woman named Sophie Scott was looking for hair and makeup services because her partner, Mac Jones, was being drafted into the NFL.

At the time, I didn’t follow college sports and had no idea who he was. When I read the email out loud, my husband was shocked. He told me that Mac had just won the National College Championship and was likely to be a top 10 draft pick in the NFL.

At the time, I was living in Florida, but the draft was in Cleveland, where I have a second home. This is how she found me as a potential makeup artist. I agreed to the job, flew up to Cleveland, and did the glam for her, Mac’s mother, and his sister.

Mac Jones is now the quarterback of the New England Patriots, and they are still together. It’s been fun following their journey.

After I did her makeup, she kindly posted about it and tagged me. I never asked her to do this but her posts led to many other people in the NFL following me.

Initially, I thought the draft job was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, it turned out to be the start of something bigger. My NFL clients continued to refer me, and from there, I started gaining influencers and celebrities as clients. It was a snowball effect.

Allison Kaye Celebrity Makeup Artist
Mac Jones pictured with Sophie Scott (L) at the NFL draft in 2021. Sophie Scott pictured (R) after her makeover by Allison at the NFL draft in 2021.
Allison Kaye

It’s been fascinating to meet people from TV shows in real life, especially those from reality TV shows, who often turn out to be much different—and better—in person than they are portrayed. This is understandable because producers may sometimes manipulate situations to make their shows more appealing.

As for makeup styles, they’re more situation-specific than dependent on the individual’s profession.

For instance, red-carpet events call for a full glam look due to the heavy camera and lighting presence. You don’t want to appear washed out. NFL clients vary—some prefer a natural look, while others want full glam for the game. It depends on their personal style.

The majority of clients tend to request an elevated everyday look—bronzy, glowy skin that appears natural, even though there’s a lot of makeup involved. The process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the look and how much we chat during the session.

The location also plays a significant role. I work in both Cleveland and South Florida, which are two very different markets. My rates generally start at $200 and can increase depending on the city and the event. For example, in Miami, spots are limited and traffic makes it difficult to get around, so rates would be higher.

In my experience, I’ve been fortunate to work with polite and respectful clients. It’s a dynamic and exciting field, and I’m grateful to be a part of it. The only instance of rudeness I can recall was from a bridesmaid at a wedding about seven or eight years ago.

I understand that weddings can be stressful, and bridesmaids might not be thrilled about waking up at 4 a.m. for hair and makeup. But I pride myself on my patience and ability to take direction well.

Even if someone is having a bad day or wants something tweaked, I’m always open to feedback. I often say that I don’t have feelings when it comes to my work, so clients should feel free to tell me what they want.

I consider myself a perfectionist and won’t leave a job until I’m satisfied with the result. This doesn’t mean I impose my preferences on clients—rather, I believe people hire me because they appreciate my work and trust that we’ll be on the same page.

Thanks to social media and online portfolios, clients generally know what they’re getting when they book me. For instance, one of my clients from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit told me she hires different makeup artists for different looks. When she hires me, it’s for a neutral, glowy look.

There have been times when I’ve had to adjust my approach due to unexpected results, such as a foundation turning pink or orange due to quick oxidation on a client’s skin. In such cases, I don’t just try to fix it, I’ll remove it and redo it until it’s perfect.

I believe in being honest with my clients about what happened and how I plan to rectify it. They appreciate this transparency and my willingness to ensure the best outcome.

One of my MLB clients, Kara Bieber, taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of honesty and adaptability in my work.

When I first worked with her, I noticed that a certain eyeshadow turned muddy on her skin. Instead of arguing or trying to fix it, I acknowledged the issue, removed the makeup, and redid it.

This approach won her trust, and she has hired me many times since then. I believe that honesty, even when it sounds cheesy, is the best policy and a key factor in my success.

I often receive messages on Instagram from people who want to do what I’m doing. I tell them there’s no secret to it. I had an opportunity, I capitalized on it, and I did the best job I could. That led to referrals, which led to more opportunities.

I’m well-connected and make friends easily, which also helps me attract clients. Ultimately, it’s about doing good work and building strong relationships. That’s how I continue to grow my client base.

I’ve come a long way in my career, not because I had a specific goal in mind, but because I seized an opportunity and made the most of it. Initially, I felt like it was pure luck, but I soon realized that I had the ability to turn that one opportunity into many more.

If I were to dream big, I’d love to do Taylor Swift‘s makeup for an NFL game, now that she’s dating someone from the Kansas City Chiefs. I understand that she usually sticks with the same makeup artist for her tours, so this might be a far-fetched goal.

But in general, I genuinely enjoy every opportunity that comes my way and take things one day at a time. This approach may not always be the best, but it’s what works for me. I believe in embracing the journey and making the most of each moment.

That’s been my key to success.

Allison Kaye, the owner of Allison Kaye Hair & Makeup, is a celebrity makeup artist, hair stylist, and luxury service beauty company servicing Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Miami, and Cleveland with worldwide travel available upon request.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

As told to Newsweek’s associate editor, Carine Harb.

Do you have a unique experience or personal story to share? Email the My Turn team at [email protected].

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.


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