Beauty school knockout

I lowered my eyes and cowered. My black eye was old, but my bloody nose, newly fashioned, was beginning bruising red and yellow. She managed to get my mouth as well – her skilled hands leaving an even bloodier gash. I attempted to straighten myself, before looking up. Then the flashbulb went off.

Behind the scenes at Cork College of Commerce, I was relishing in being a model for the Make-Up Artistry class of 2015. The class were practising makeup looks in the run-up to their final portfolio evaluation in two weeks.

Make-Up Artistry is a one year diploma course in the college, which allows students to work as a make-up artist for theatre, film, fashion, special effects once qualified. Throughout the course, students learn specialised makeup effects, fashion and media makeup, period makeup, as well as customer service and the business of makeup.

For my first look, student Megan Stack decided to rough me up a bit. My backstory? I had been involved in another drunken brawl, and had been hit head-on in the nose and mouth, adding to my previous black eye. Starting first with the latter, a variety of purple, yellow and green powders are used to mimic bruising and swelling.

“These are my favourite kind of looks to do,” she said, “Special effects is so much more fun than the stuff we do for glamour shots. I’ve only just started taking to smokey eyes and that.”

Around the room, other looks underway include a girl-to-boy transformation, a high fashion look involving spray-painted wire and a 90s grunge look.

With the end in sight, the students were surprisingly pessimistic about the future. While Megan would prefer to work with special effects on stage or screen, she admitted that jobs are scarce and “it’s all about who you know”. Another girl, Casey, said she only wanted to work on counter for luxury brand MAC Cosmetics.

“I won’t get there for a few years though,” she said, “By the time we finish, I’ll be too young to work on counter. I’ll have to freelance initially. But even at that, I’ll still be starting out young, with no client base. It’s a vicious circle.”

With the course costing almost €1800, I asked the girls about the recent surge in DIY beauty and YouTube makeup gurus, who, through online tutorials, have enabled men and women alike to apply makeup like a pro.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Megan said, “at the end of the day, makeup is just a hobby for some, and not everyone is interested in doing it as a career. Those videos are great learning tools. But you’d never be able to learn the likes of postiche and the business of the industry through a YouTube video.”

On celebrity makeup trends, such as the HD full face Kim Kardashian is renowned for sporting, Megan said, “That kind of look photographs really well, but if you were to look at her in person, it would just look trowelled on, which is never a good look. You should still be able to see your skin let it breathe. The focus should be on colour-correcting, not covering.”

With my makeup complete, I stood before the photographer and engaged a pose-off that would rival Tyra Banks’ glory days. Having been told to sad and sore for my first shoot, I was now encouraged to play with the lapels of my leather jacket, smile, and look away into the distance.

By Fionnuala Jones

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