Each of our Pro features celebrates the inspiring success of influencers from diverse industries, starting from the early career, remembering the big break, looking at the industry today, and opening their little black books to divulge their ultimate product kit. This week, makeup artist Melissa Murdick.
On when she knew she wanted to do makeup as a career:
“I don’t even know why I became so obsessed with makeup, but I remember going crazy about it as a teenager. I would read all of these magazines and copy the looks in them, practicing on all of my friends. I always saved my allowance money to go to the drugstore and stock up on Maybelline and Covergirl… I had this cream eyeshadow that I loved, it was white and frosty, and I wore it all the time. My parents never really limited me in any way, so it just built from there.
I had a few distinct ‘aha!’ moments as a teen, like when I got my first job at a bagel shop. Right next door was a makeup store called Merle Norman, which is nationwide, but it’s not super well known. I was coming out of work one day when I saw the woman who owned that particular branch; she was rolling her little makeup case. I stopped her to say hi, and she told me she was off to do makeup for a wedding. And instantly, it was like *click* ‘I want to do that job!’ I applied to work at the Merle Norman and ended up working there and at the bagel store at the same time, so I really got my start professionally doing makeup at 16. I still credit the store owner for being the first person to believe in me as an artist, especially as a teenager!
I finished out high school and was still working at the makeup store- I worked there for almost five years- and ended up going to college just to have a backup. I felt that weird pressure I think a lot of us feel to go get a degree, but halfway through I realized my real passion was makeup, so I moved out to L.A. I took a little three month makeup course when I got here just to be sure I liked it, and now I’ve been here eight years.
Once I knew this was what I wanted to do, I basically clawed my way up [laughs]. I could have moved to New York, but I chose L.A. for the lifestyle. I love being outdoors, having more space. New York is very heavy fashion-based makeup, and I definitely do some of that here, but I get to do a lot of other work too, like entertainment or advertising, so I don’t feel like I need to climb the ladder out there.”
Her most memorable moments:
“The craziest shoot I did was this Playboy shoot with Terry Richardson for a book. As a makeup artist, you get thrown into insane situations. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there like, ‘How did I get here?’ [laughs]. We had these models at Chateau Marmot, and we basically created a ‘kill room’, like on Dexter. The whole room was covered in plastic, the girls were naked, and I was assisting Frank B., slinging neon blacklight paint on the models. There are so many amazing moments like that. More recently, the Revival Tour was especially cool because there were so many people watching [Selena] and the makeup we did, and every aspect of it meant so much to them.”
Where she finds inspiration:
“Pinterest is great because I can organize all of my inspiration photos in one place, but I’m also inspired by random stuff, like rainbow sprinkle video I saw the other day. I’m also always inspired by who people are and what they’re trying to portray, in a way. It’s not creating a character necessarily, more just helping people portray who they are on the inside, on the outside. Bringing about an attitude, or how they want to feel, like sultry and sexy, or vibrant and energetic.
There’s just so much makeup out there, so many products and colors. There’s always new technology coming out, which gives you a lot of freedom, but I wish people would embrace that more. It seems like a lot of people want to look the same these days, instead of embracing what makes them different. That’s one of the reasons I love going to unique places and looking at street style beauty, like hair and makeup, because it’s so individual and not cookie-cutter. It’s inspiring to see what people create when they’re just creating for themselves.”
Her Ideal Beauty Kit:
“I love this Kat Burki Vitamin C Intensive Face Cream; it’s my favorite moisturizer. It pretty much works on everyone. It feels so great on your skin, and it’s really hydrating, so it’s a great base for makeup. It also doesn’t make anyone oily or greasy, plus the ingredients are really clean, and I’m kind of a hippy-dip, so I love that [laughs]. Even if you have a breakout, using this will calm your skin down dramatically so it looks much better the next day.
For under eyes, Chantecaille’s Le Camouflage Stylo is really good. It looks like skin, but it still brightens and lightens. I use it on myself and my clients. It’s a little reflective, too, which is always good for darker areas of the face. Compared to YSL’s Touche Éclat, this has a little more coverage, and it has much more natural color options.
Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer is a go-to, always. It’s very dry, so especially in an eye area, I normally wouldn’t go in with just Clé de Peau. I’d probably start with the Chantecaille pen, then if I needed more coverage, go in with a little Clé de Peau. It’s good for the really dark parts, like in the inner corner by your nose. Concealer under the eyes should only be one or maybe two shades lighter than your natural skin tone. That’s a huge mistake I see people making right now, just blowing out their under eye area trying to brighten it. It is nice to have that brighter effect, but you only need to go slightly lighter to get that. If you’re covering anything on the face, like spots, Clé de Peau is perfect because of that dryer texture, so it doesn’t move once you put it on.
One of my first jobs out here in L.A. was working for Anastasia Beverly Hills as a rep selling her products to stores in malls, and even to this day, she’s the only brand I use for brows. Her Brow Gel is amazing, and I love the Brow Wiz pencil. I prefer a finer pencil when doing brows because it looks more natural. You can get a hair-like strokes that don’t make your brows look drawn on. I even use her tweezers and scissors. They are so good! But you can get a lot of good tweezers, like Tweezermans, or Rubis, which are more expensive but absolutely amazing. I’m a big ‘brow person’ in general. I love good brows on everyone!
NARS Dual Intensity Blushes in Sexual Content look really shimmery in the pan, but when you put them on, they look really fine, which is why I like using them. They give you good dimension without too much color. They are really versatile, too, and go on really smooth. Your cheek looks glowy, without any glitter or sparkles. I actually don’t use bronzer a lot professionally. I will occasionally use a bronze-toned NARS The Multiple Stick to add a little warmth to the cheek and face, but I use blush on everyone.
I tend to prefer creams for eyes, and I love Fiona Stiles’ Radiant Aqua Eye Veil in Outpost. Creamy products live with your skin, and they’re a lot easier to keep building on. This color has a little sheen, but the particles are so small, it just gives your eye a nice semi-reflective finish. You could use a finger or brush, then just blend out on your lid or in your crease. Creams, in my opinion, are almost easier to use than powders, but people are just more comfortable with powders.
If you want to use false lashes, Artemes is the best. Most of their lashes are mink, and they’re really nicely shaped. The lashes are tapered so they look more natural. A lot of the drugstore brand lashes ‘dead end’ and cut off without tapering like a natural lash would, so these look fluffier and blend better. They’re really good quality, but they are more expensive, so you’ll probably want to reuse them. After you wear them, peel off as much glue as you can without damaging the lashes, and then use some liquid makeup remover and a q-tip to clean any product, like mascara, that’s gotten onto them.”