Michaeline: “Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know yet”

I think the best way to feel beautiful is to act beautiful, to talk beautiful. I was listening to a podcast the other day featuring best-selling author Jon Gordon. He was talking about the best piece of advice he ever got, and that was from champion runner, Dr. James Gills. When asked how he became […]

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I think the best way to feel beautiful is to act beautiful, to talk beautiful. I was listening to a podcast the other day featuring best-selling author Jon Gordon. He was talking about the best piece of advice he ever got, and that was from champion runner, Dr. James Gills. When asked how he became successful, Gills said “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself. If I listen to myself I hear fear and doubts, but if I talk to myself, I can feed myself words of encouragement that I need to move forward.” This statement is so true and applicable to beauty too. If you really exude beautiful qualities and speak impeccably to yourself, then you will feel beautiful!

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michaeline.

Michaeline is a celebrity hair & makeup artist, and licensed cosmetologist based in Los Angeles. As a self-employed beauty professional, she has worked across many industries including entertainment, fashion, advertising, beauty, and music. Some of her clients include HBO, Chase Bank, and Kay Jewelers; and her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Playboy, and InStyle magazines.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thanks so much for chatting with me! Yes, I’d love to share more about how I became a beauty professional. People like to ask me if I always knew I wanted to be a hair & makeup artist… that is actually the furthest thing from reality for me!

It was probably sometime in 2011, I was sitting with my therapist. I really was at a loss for what to do. I had been working and studying in the biomedical engineering field for almost 10 years. I wanted so much to feel fulfilled in this career path I had chosen, but ultimately I knew I needed a change. I felt like I was stuck in a relationship that was no longer serving me. My health was declining, both physically and mentally, and I asked my therapist what I should do. I was looking for a magic bullet. He didn’t give me any specific answer, but he asked me to think about what I liked to do. “What I liked to do?” I thought to myself. “What did that have to do with my job?” Time was up, and he sent me on my way. I went home to lay on the couch and watch some makeup tutorials on YouTube.

Another week of work went by and I had a lot of time to ruminate about what I liked to do.. I had a list going… “Go to the beach…eat tacos and drink margaritas…do makeup on my friends…travel…” At this point of my life, I just didn’t want to work anymore. I was craving more creativity and more freedom in my schedule. Thinking to myself again, “What can I do to make money, help people, and not work? … Well doing hair and makeup isn’t work. Could I make money and do hair and makeup? Wow that would be nuts. But hey at least I wouldn’t be working.” The more I thought about it, the more I was stuck on the idea as a career in beauty checked off so many boxes for me. Another year would go by before I got the courage to jump ship. It was the middle of 2012, I finished my last day as a R&D engineer, and I had about 2 weeks until my first day of cosmetology school.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In 2015, I was asked to do makeup and be filmed for an episode of Vanderpump Rules! Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval wanted to film behind the scenes at one of their photoshoots. I arrived to the photo studio in all black (true makeup artist form) and set up my vanity. The sound guy asked to mic me — crazy I had never been mic’ed before! Ariana sat down in my makeup chair and the cameras started rolling. The TV lights were so hot and my nerves started to kick in. I could feel my heart beating faster and sweat forming on my face. The cameras pointed straight at me and I realized there was no time for panic. I reminded myself that I did have the skills to pull this off. As Ariana chatted with Tom, I took a breath and got down to business. Soon enough, her makeup was done and we were off to shooting. It was such an awesome experience to be on this set!

A few months later I watched the scenes replay on BravoTV. I was so proud of this moment! Here are the final images from the photoshoot!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

My tipping point came in summer 2015 when I really started to see all the fruits of my labor pay off. I had been building up to being a full time freelancer for years, and I finally felt busy enough to move from being an employee to being self-employed. I was working a few different jobs, and doing all sorts of gig work. There was a period of time where I worked every day for three weeks straight. At that point I realized I was ready to take the leap and be my own boss.

Once I made this transition, I kept my nose on the grindstone. While I wasn’t doing anything different in those weeks, I heightened all of my practices that had led me to this point. Most importantly, especially in the beginning, I kept a “yes-mentality.” At the time I had a mentor, another freelance makeup artist, who explained to me the importance of capitalizing on all potential opportunities. I was very motivated to be a successful beauty professional, and if someone wanted to pay me for my services, I was there with bells on. Saying yes to one job could ultimately lead to any number of future jobs. That prospect was very exciting for me!

I truly believe that for any aspiring artist or beauty industry leader, having a yes-mentality can totally be a game-changer. There are so many untapped opportunities out there. A simple yes could expand your network introducing you to that elusive hire you now can’t live without. Or lead you to close that big deal you’ve been pining over for years. Truly, a “yes” could take your business to the next level, and I encourage everyone to go for it!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Totally! Almost 10 years ago, I went on a dinner date with this guy. I told him that although I was an engineer, my heart was set on being a hair & makeup artist. I was waiting for the lecture that so many others had given me about making responsible decisions, but he was all for it! It turned out that he was on a similar journey. He was an economics major and had worked in finance, but was now pursuing a career as a music producer. We found common ground in our career transition, and being new business owners. A lot of people find it hard to understand how someone with a technical background could achieve success in the arts, but he never questioned my drive. I was super appreciative to have someone in my corner that would give me honest feedback and provide sound advice. I can proudly say that he is now my fiancé!

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

While I love a very natural look, one thing that I love to impart to clients is the benefits of taking some risks with beauty. A lot of people get stuck in their beauty routines for years. Beauty is a language, and it is a fabulous way to express your creative self. Maybe start small — instead of using black mascara, try a purple one! Or instead of the usual brown eyeliner, go for a bright blue! Spice up your ponytail with a pink ribbon. You will be surprised at how much your mood changes. A little bit of color can go a long way. I really think that these little beauty risks will offer people more freedom to be themselves and remind them that beauty can be fun! Here’s a fun beauty risk that I took with my client Sofia Reyes. Our cow makeup went viral and we inspired so many others to hop on this trend!

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

Yes absolutely! The beauty industry is such an awesome place to be because you can help people feel confident about themselves. Here are my top 3 things!

  1. One thing that is really cool is that there’s definitely less barrier to entry into the beauty industry. Because there is so much more information accessible about how to start a beauty business, and also more ways to market direct to consumer, we’re seeing more brands pop up. This ultimately leads to more diversity in products and more choice for consumers. Also I love that consumers have more access to products from all over the world now. I can buy my sunscreen from Japan and eye gels from South Korea!
  2. Another thing that is super exciting is that there is more direct communication between the brand and the consumer. With the rise of social media, and also the ability to sell direct, brands can easily talk to the consumer to assess their needs and make changes to products. The feedback loop is much more abbreviated now, and the consumer ultimately benefits.
  3. There are so many more people interested in makeup and I love that! Makeup is such a fabulous creative outlet and offers freedom of personal expression. As beauty lovers are hungry for inspiration and education, working makeup artists are definitely having a moment. Their expertise lends them an authority that aspiring artists are searching for. Professionals are more actively engaged in the online community and are releasing their own content. It is really exciting to see fellow artists gain recognition for their work in a whole new way, and provide consumers with very informed recommendations!

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

  1. As much as there has been movement toward authenticity, unrealistic beauty standards are still heavily promoted and aspirational images are the norm. Anyone consuming these highly retouched images on a regular basis will certainly be negatively affected either consciously or unconsciously. I’d love to see more brands release content that shows real skin texture and real makeup applications. Instead of focusing on perfection, I’d love to witness a movement toward realism. I challenge all beauty brands to create a new campaign that focuses on unretouched beauty!
  2. Lack of transparency within the beauty industry definitely concerns me. Consumers, and even manufacturers, should be able to source information so they are aware of what they are buying and using. I’m particularly concerned about the use of mica in cosmetics and personal care products. How mica is sourced is a big issue, as it involves child labor and dangerous working conditions in India. By the time mica gets to a manufacturer, the supply chain has been so muddied that it is unclear of the ingredient’s origin. Although several cosmetic manufacturers have agreed to clean up this supply chain, policies are not being enacted fast enough. If I could implement change, I would require fair wages to be paid to mica miners so that they can put food on the table and offer their children an education instead of needing them to work at a young age. More on this topic can be found here from this very eye-opening docuseries episode by Lexy Lebsack for Refinery29.
  3. Media sensationalism of cosmetic ingredients has to be mitigated. Certain ingredients get targeted and “cancelled” because words are manipulated and then misinformation is propagated. For example, a scientific journal article was published in 2004 that discussed parabens and cancerous tissues. Although the article was not scientifically sound, the media exploded with claims that parabens cause breast cancer. Subsequent studies were released to back the safety and efficacy of parabens, but it was too late. Parabens were removed from so many cosmetics and personal care products, and replaced with other preservative ingredients. One common replacement is isothiazolinone, which is arguably worse as it can cause many more skin sensitivities. It has come so far that stating “paraben-free” is a selling point. Cancel culture in the ingredient world is making it more difficult for cosmetic formulators and manufacturers. The media is influencing limitations on formulations, and potentially making the results worse. This is a tough one to fix. It would be awesome to see more cosmetic chemists and scientists speak out about cosmetic safety. I’d love to see them become influencers and spread more accurate information to consumers.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

I think the best way to feel beautiful is to act beautiful, to talk beautiful. I was listening to a podcast the other day featuring best-selling author Jon Gordon. He was talking about the best piece of advice he ever got, and that was from champion runner, Dr. James Gills. When asked how he became successful, Gills said “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself. If I listen to myself I hear fear and doubts, but if I talk to myself, I can feed myself words of encouragement that I need to move forward.” This statement is so true and applicable to beauty too. If you really exude beautiful qualities and speak impeccably to yourself, then you will feel beautiful!

Another one of my favorite ways I use to feel beautiful, is to put time and energy into myself. Instead of running out the door, I’ll spend one minute to apply sunscreen, mascara, and add a hair accessory. It doesn’t have to be anything big or take hours. Just the action of beautifying and investing in yourself will ultimately make you feel beautiful and give just a lil bit more confidence as you go on your day.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

  1. While there is less barrier to entry into the modern beauty industry, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t competitive. As a freelance artist, I don’t book 100% of the jobs that I apply for. But I try to put myself in a position to book most of them. And that certainly takes a lot of work on the back end! Transitioning my work ethic from working hard to working smart has really made my personal business more competitive. Every year I write out goals for my business and map out a game plan from there. Then, when I’m feeling lost about what I should be doing on any given day, I always refer back to my list of goals to inform my next steps.
  2. The modern beauty industry requires players to be adaptive. The world is changing at such a rapid pace. There’s always a new social media platform to consider and news that needs to be addressed, not to mention all the seasonal beauty trends. Everyone working in the beauty industry has to be prepared to make changes and adapt based on the ever-evolving landscape. Most recently, all photo shoots and film shoots shut down in California because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving me without income from my traditional work. Instead of just waiting until things returned to normal, I had to pivot and consider other ways I could grow my business. I was actually really excited to explore other potential business opportunities within the beauty industry! I started making video content, contributing to beauty blogs, and brainstorming more enterprising ideas.
  3. Professional beauty organizations are a great resource and place for community. If you are looking for education, networking, trusted beauty news, and career resources, I would recommend joining a professional beauty organization. These entities provide support that you just can’t get anywhere else and can link you with likeminded individuals. If you are a working makeup artist, hairstylist, cosmetologist, or esthetician, I would recommend looking into the Professional Beauty Association. If you are working for a cosmetics brand, supplier or retailer, I would recommend Cosmetic Executive Women.
  4. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know yet. Even if you feel like you have read every relevant book and blog post, you may still have a knowledge gap without realizing it! There’s a lot to uncover about the beauty industry, especially within your specific niche. I find that it’s extremely beneficial to have a mentor. Ideally you would find someone who is doing exactly what you want to be doing! They will be a great resource — enlightening you to things you haven’t considered, and helping you ask the right questions. When I started my beauty journey, I had a mentor who was able to guide me both creatively and professionally. She gave me insider-tips from navigating creative agencies to building a professional portfolio. It would have taken me so much longer to figure out on my own. I’m so grateful for successful people who bring others up with them!
  5. There’s a lot of “stuff” out there. Remember why you started on your beauty journey. Maybe you wanted to empower other women. Maybe you wanted to express your creative self. Whatever your reason, remember that the beauty industry is a fun place to be! Don’t get bogged down with drama, and focus on your mission. Thankfully the beauty world is not rocket science or heart surgery, so keep a little levity in your pocket for when you are feeling the pressure.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Such a great question. I truly believe that everyone is beautiful, but not every person believes that for themselves. I would love for each person to see themselves as more than enough. I’d love to inspire a movement that challenges the beauty industry to not only create authentic images, but also back it up with messaging that is empowering, and campaigns that actively inspire confidence.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” — Sigmund Freud

I’ll admit, the first time I read this quote I was skeptical. I thought that for sure I could have done without all the struggle and just relished in my achievements. But the more I sat with the idea, the more it grew on me. I thought back to all the hundreds of emails I sent out, the countless unpaid services I completed to build my portfolio, all of the rejections, the hours I spent building and rebuilding my website, the years I spent assisting other hair and makeup artists. Would the Times Square billboard, or the Cosmopolitan feature, or the Oscars glam have been that sweet without having gone hard in the paint? Probably not. It reminds me to enjoy life in the present, because as I’m still working to better myself and my business, I realize that one day I’ll look back on these moments as a beautiful time. I hope that you can too take this quote and appreciate that there is beauty in the struggle.

How can our readers follow you online?

Here are some places you can find me:





Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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