Known for painting the faces of some of the most beautiful models in the game (think Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajowski and Kendall Jenner), celebrity makeup artist Mary Phillips is the master of a glowy yet sultry beat. When she’s not transforming your faves into goddesses, she’s speaking on panels like Create & Cultivate’s Beauty Summit and collaborating with brands like Nudestix to bring us a curated color collection for women on the go.
We recently caught up with the makeup artist to talk about what it’s really like to be a celebrity makeup artist, how she got her start and what beauty means to her.
Makeup.com: How did you get your start?
Mary Phillips: I started really young — I was really interested in makeup. Any makeup my mom had I was into it and playing with it. Then, I found out I could do it as a career and I was excited. I was lucky because I grew up in L.A. so I was able to live at home for a while while I assisted makeup artists for free. It was way before social media and there was no YouTube so the only way of learning was to work for different artists. [I would] take out their garbage, walk their dogs and do things like that. That’s how I started — assisting anyone who would let me. It was like my college.
MDC: What’s it like to be a celebrity makeup artist? What’s a day in your life like?
MP: It’s a lot of living out of a suitcase. I did work at a salon and behind counters, and it was very structured. Very 9 to 5. I worked in a mall for a long time when I was in high school, and then I worked in a salon later in life. You know your hours, and you know when you’re getting off. Doing what I do, people call last minute, “Can you come over right now?” or “Can you get on a flight tonight?” It’s a lot of traveling and living on other people’s schedules. It’s not as glamorous as people think it is. You never know when you’re going to be done, but it’s fun and exciting. I get to do what I love everyday single day on beautiful people.
MDC: What would your advice be for the person who’s currently working behind the counter and hopes to do what you do?
MP: There wasn’t another option for me. This is what I wanted to do, and I didn’t know how it was going to happen — I just knew it was going to happen. I didn’t have a back-up plan. I just saw it one day. If that’s what you want to do, don’t stop and do what you gotta do to get there.
MDC: Any makeup products you can’t live without?
MP: I’m a huge fan of La Mer. I can’t live without their cream and foundation. I love a good lip gloss or red lip. If I could only have a few things with me, it would be good skin and a pop of color.
MDC: A makeup look you’re currently obsessed with?
MP: I’m really into colored liners. I like that makeup is taking a turn for a direction that it used to be in. It’s a little fresher. The Instagram looks are softening up a bit. So colored liners and fresh, dewy skin for summer.
MDC: What products do you love for doing colored liners?
MP: Urban Decay just sent me a roll of every colored eyeliner pencil, and I’m really loving those.
MDC: What does beauty mean to you?
MP: [Beauty is] about the inside and out. People always are always like, “What’s a great cream I can use?” But I really feel like beauty and feeling good really starts on the inside. It’s eating healthy and working out. I never want people to think that they’re going to buy a cream and overnight it’s going to change their life. Take care of yourself all around, makeup is just the icing on the cake.
Photo: Beck Smith of Smith House Photo Courtesy of Create & Cultivate
About the Author:Tembe Denton-Hurst hails from Brooklyn, NY, but if you ask her, the answer will be much more complicated. She's passionate about YouTube, storytelling and swatching everything she can get her hands on. When the assistant beauty editor isn't brainstorming crazy ideas for makeup.com, she's lurking on Reddit, spending time with her cats Stella and Dakota or asking obvious questions.