Xiao Kai Lao Shi (小凯老师), celebrity makeup artist from Taiwan was in town over the weekend for a demonstration and meet-and-greet at Ngee Ann City, Sephora, as Make Up For Ever new ambassador. Known best by Singaporeans for as one of the resident advisors on beauty TV show, Lady First (女人我最大), the makeup maestro spent an hour with DailyVanity.com for an exclusive interview, sharing with you how he started his career, makeup tips and latest trends.
Watch this video to hear from him:
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Daily Vanity (DV): What got you started in makeup?
Xiao Kai Lao Shi (小凯): I was a big fan of Pauline Lan (蓝心湄) and seeing her on stage performing has always been fascinating and inspiring for me. As I looked at her makeup, I began to understand that there are actually people working as makeup artists to help celebrities achieve their image on-screen and on-stage. And this idea began growing within me.
When I was 16 or 17, I was shopping in the mall when I stopped by a makeup counter to play with the products and I started asking the beauty advisor questions like what as the difference between the products. Little did I know that the person I was speaking to was the boss of the brand, and I was asked if I wanted to join them as a makeup artist and if I could start immediately. I jumped at the chance and said yes to it.
So, without any experience, I got started in the beauty industry.
DV: I know that you were the first male makeup artist working at a makeup counter at that time. Is this an advantage or an obstacle?
小凯: There are definitely obstacles. Many people cannot accept a male makeup artist. They find it weird. Some people even complained to my supervisor and said that they don’t want a male staff serving them. It was definitely a challenge but the ordeal made me more determined. Eventually, I changed the way people perceive male makeup artists. Now, there are a lot of male makeup artists serving at beauty counters and people are accepting of this.
DV: You mentioned that Pauline Lan is your idol. And you eventually worked with her very closely – this must have been like a dream come true. How did it feel when you first met her?
小凯: You know how she’s so bubbly and not afraid to look comedic when she’s performing? But the first time I met her, I realise in real life, she’s very, very quiet. At first I wondered if she doesn’t like me. But I realise this is just the way she is. She is just very quiet. It’s not that she doesn’t like me. It’s as though she’s conserving energy so she can be bubbly later when she’s performing.
My first time working with her was to help her do her makeup for a big event that she’s hosting. I remembered I was perspiring and shaking because I was very nervous. The makeup took us eight hours to complete.
DV: Eight hours? Why did it take so long?
小凯: I wanted to perfect the look so I took my time to take care of every single detail. For the entire eight hours, as I was working on the makeup, she was very accommodating and patient. Although she was very tired, she stuck it through the eight hours.
DV: Let me give you a challenge then. If you were to do a makeup for a celebrity for an important event – perhaps like the big event that you mentioned Pauline Lan had to host. But if you could only use three products to do it, what will they be?
小凯: They will be… foundation, mascara and lipstick.
小凯: Your base makeup takes up the largest surface area of the entire makeup, so it’s the most important aspect of makeup, and you have to perfect it. By using foundations of different colours, you’ll also be able to do concealing and contouring. Together, base makeup can help create a three-dimensional canvas. Mascara is a multi-tasker because it can achieve three different effects: First of all, as you know, it makes your lashes look more curled and more voluminous; next, when your lashes look more voluminous, it can actually create the look of eyeliner. Finally, lush lashes cast a shadow upon your eyelids and give the illusion of eyeshadow. If I could only use one product for the eyes, it definitely will have to be the mascara. Finally, lipstick helps to polish up the entire look because it helps to put a healthy glow into the complexion. It is key to creating the look you want. Want an elegant or cute look – choosing the right lipstick can help you do that. Finally, some lipstick shades can also double up as a blusher.
DV: Make Up For Ever is a professional makeup brand. Is there a difference between a pro brand and a normal brand? What do we have to take note of when we use a pro brand like MUFE?
小凯: The difference between a pro brand and a normal brand is simply the kind of variety they offer. Because pro brands also cater to makeup artists who need to work on their clients from all walks of life, so the requirement for their makeup is more stringent.
This is why while a normal brand offer six to eight colours for foundation, a pro brand like Make Up For Ever may offer up to 20 over colours. This ensures that everyone can find a shade that fits their skin tone exactly.
You’ll also find products that are using higher technology. For instance, waterproof products because a client may be a synchronised swimmer, for instance, and need great products that are waterproof for their competition. Or perhaps, the need for makeup that creates a HD effect even on film and camera, because makeup artists’ clients may be celebrities.
Colour payoff for Make Up For Ever products are also more saturated because when we work on theatre actors who are facing really strong lighting when they’re on stage, we need high intensity colours to make sure that the light won’t wash the colour out.
Some girls may find pro brand intimidating but really, they shouldn’t. Pro brands should be your best friend because they offer you what normal brands can do and probably more.
DV: What are your favourite products in Make Up For Ever then?
小凯: Make Up For Ever is like a dream brand for me because it’s the brand I see my mentors and professional makeup artists use when I was younger. It’s a brand that fulfils the needs of makeup artists because we need great colours to achieve the looks that we want to create. I love the eyeshadows because of the wide selection of colours and how saturated they are. The brand also has very high-tech products like this seal that converts normal products to waterproof products. Another product would be the false lashes. You know, many brands offer dramatic false lashes, but Make Up For Ever’s ones have really soft and flexible bands that allow maximum comfort. Because they’re lightweight, it also ensures that dramatic falsies won’t droop from the weight. I just love how the variety of products allow everyone to find something suitable for themselves.
DV: Speaking of suitable products, do you have any tips to readers regarding choosing suitable products?
小凯: If you’re talking about base makeup, it is best to visit the counter to try out the product yourself. Don’t try it on your hand, but on your face because the skin tone of our face and hands may differ. Apply it onto your face and the one that looks like it has “disappeared” and blend in with your skin is the right one.
DV: Could you share with us what are your upcoming plans?
小凯: I will be releasing my fourth book in September. It is a very important project for me because it combines my stories, pictures and text. I’m a Scorpio so I’m the kind of person who wouldn’t start on something unless I’m giving my best. Everything in this book is done by myself and it’s really something that I’d want to share, and not something that I want to sell. It’s a fulfilling process for me and I hope that the book would be able to inspire people who read it.