Career Diaries: How Gabriel Almodovar Went From a Makeup Novice to a Celebrity MUA

April 16, 2020
Sarah Ferguson
By: Sarah Ferguson | by L'Oréal

Here at, we have a pretty extensive list of experts we can call on for tips. But one makeup artist we come back to time and again is Gabriel Almodovar. Not only is he one of the sweetest MUAs in the biz, he also has a way of making even the most tricky technique or look seem doable. Today, he’s taking a break from spilling tips to tell us about how he went from a fashion management student who had never done makeup before to a professional artist and L’Oréal educator who’s worked on television shows, with celebrities and more.

How did you get into makeup? When did you realize you wanted to make it a career?

While getting my BA in Fashion Management from Columbia College Chicago, I was part of the Columbia College Fashion Association (CCFA). The CCFA organized monthly talks with professionals in the fashion world to expose students to the many opportunities available after graduation. We also organized and held a fashion show and art exhibit using all student designs. This is where I saw makeup and hair as an opportunity for me as a career. Granted, I didn't know exactly what that career would look like at that point.

How did you get your start in the biz?

After obtaining my BA, I immediately went to beauty school. While there, I was applying for makeup jobs at all the cosmetics counters. I was quite fortunate that Nordstrom and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics saw something in me even though I had never even picked up a makeup brush before. I was more than green when I started but that worked to their benefit as I was learning everything fresh. I took all that makeup knowledge from Bobbi and switched to working with NARS as a national MUA and educator.

How has the industry changed since then?

The industry has undergone massive change with the advent of YouTube and Instagram. It's so much easier to get your skills seen by larger audiences with these two platforms alone. And the old school books and portfolios we used to have to carry around are a thing of the past. Now your book is your Instagram or YouTube pages.

What's been the biggest pinch-me moment of your career?

I'd have to say that I feel I made it and belonged in the industry when I had the opportunity to do Brooke Shields’ makeup for a national ad campaign. Working with celebs was my idea of success then, and I accomplished that relatively quickly after moving to LA to pursue a freelance career. I was beyond ecstatic to have reached that goal.

What products do you ALWAYS have in your kit? 

My favorite product is concealer ... It's so versatile. Of course I use it as a concealer, but I can tap it on the face as a lightweight foundation, and in a pinch, I've used it to contour and highlight as well. When you're working with someone who has naturally gorgeous skin, I'll use these concealers for everything.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I like to tell people that there is no typical day for MUAs. Every day and every job is different. Granted all jobs follow a similar pattern ... setting up and doing makeup. But the concepts, the lighting, the hair and the wardrobe all change what we're doing makeup-wise. A typical shoot, however, always follows these steps: a meeting with the photographer, hairstylist and wardrobe stylist. We discuss the look and concepts and toss around ideas. Once that conversation finishes, we arrange the plan of attack and I start painting. The idea is to always get the best shot, so everything is definitely a team effort.

What makeup trends are you loving right now and which would you like to see go?

I talked about YouTube and Instagram before and as much as I like them, I also have a slight dislike of them and the amount of makeup being used. I see that the trend is moving back toward a more natural look, which I love. One trend I'd love to see disappear is the “Instagram brow” — a brow that is often too dark and way overdrawn. A trend I love is the matte lip. It looks so pretty to me and a nice departure from the glossy days of the past.

What's one makeup tip you wish more people knew?  

I know people are aware of color correcting, but proper color correcting under the eyes is still hard for a lot of people. The tip I'd like for more people to know is how to use peach or red under the eye before concealer to counteract any blue, black or purple tones. That took me a couple years to really master at the beginning of my career. 

What advice do you have for aspiring makeup artists?

Try to learn something new every day, especially when working with a more skilled artist. Be flexible in everything you're doing — from makeup techniques to your schedule. Finally, always try to maintain a positive attitude. Things can get tense on set sometimes and staying upbeat really helps. Plus, people will want to work with you again.

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