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My Daily Grind: Emma O’Byrne, Makeup Artist

Writer and expert8 years ago
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GLOSSYBOX’s new Resident Makeup Artist Ambassador Emma O’Byrne has worked on an impressive roster of magazines, a host of A-listers (her clients have included Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung and Jessica Biel) and can be frequently spied backstage at fashion shows including Tom Ford and Stella McCartney.

Kicking off our new series of interviews with empowering women who are leaders in their field, Emma shares her tips, expertise and learnings from more than fifteen years in the beauty business. Always wanted to be a makeup artist? Then keep reading...

Q: For anyone wanting to be a makeup artist, what advice would you give them?Work hard, ask questions and put yourself out there. Nothing happens without a lot of hard work so it’s essential to commit to all those extra hours, whether it’s making those five extra phone calls, following up with new contacts after a shoot or being the last to leave the photographic studio.

Q: What quality do you look for in a member of your backstage team? Always initiative. In this industry you have to think on your feet as situations and ideas are constantly evolving. And they can’t take themselves too seriously – it’s beauty not brain surgery.

Q: Are there any mistakes you see people make as they forge their career in the industry?Not listening. I often see makeup assistants prattling on about themselves or their last night out, when they should be listening, watching and learning. It’s essential to take in every minute and soak up all the skill sets in one room in order to gain the experience to become exceptional at your job.

Q: How do you balance everything? By being very organised – I’m the queen of advanced planning - and being honest about the help you need. I am lucky enough to have a nanny, and I wouldn’t be able to continue working without that support as my family all live back home in Ireland. Being freelance also help - although I work long days I can always spend make-up time with the kids on the days in between.


Q: What advice would you give your younger self? Stop criticising myself so much – see what other people see and believe it.

Q: If you weren’t a makeup artist what would you be doing? I always say my fall-back job would be driving a taxi as I spend so much time in the car! However, I think I’d spend my time as an artist or designing clothes as my career started at art college.

Q: Do you have a mantra in life? Refine and repeat – a stolen mantra, but it rings very true to me.

Q: Who has inspired you the most? My granny was a strong, independent woman, especially considering the time in which she grew up. She was always reading the Financial Times and warned me not to ‘specialise in marriage’ but carve out a career. She was impossibly glamorous too, always drinking her tea out of china cups and dressing immaculately for every situation.

Q: What makes you feel empowered? Feeling at peace with myself is incredibly important to me. My 20s were so frenetic mentally as I was constantly striving and learning. But with age, I feel more confident and settled. Although social media is an important aspect of my job, I don’t get too bogged down in what people think, as it’s important to me to remain true to myself.

Q: You’d be lost without…? My pillow: whenever I’m travelling (which is always) I take it with me and every bed feels like my own. Lip balm would be my desert island product: I love By Terry Rose De Baume.

Writer and expert
View GLOSSYBOX's profile