Ask An Expert Series | Booking A Private Makeup Lesson


I think it's safe to say there are a plethora of beauty tutorials online these days. Chances are you have walked into a drugstore, or a have gone into a big beauty chain feeling overwhelmed. It can be a challenge (and expensive) to keep up with the trends.

Today, we are focusing on how you can customize & create a look that works for you; helping you put your best foot forward. When we think about getting our makeup done, it’s often reserved for a special occasion, but isn’t everyday life worth the effort and the celebration too? We think so! After all, you never know when that critical job interview, presentation or event might happen.

How do you weed through this beauty jungle? Luckily we have Merry here, and her advice in this series is valuable. I decided to reach out to Merry, a certified Makeup Artist, and Hairstylist who works in Markham. She can often be found doing private consultations, helping her clients create a polished look that is both natural and beautiful.


Q. I know you have been in the industry for a few years now, and the work you post is always beautiful, clean and timeless. What made you want to become a Makeup Artist & Trainer? How did you become a Makeup Artist & Trainer?

A. Thank you, Marnie. Growing up, I loved art and design and didn't plan on becoming a makeup artist. It wasn't as popular or cool as an occupation to be in, 20 years ago, as it is now. I wanted to be a journalist or a lawyer and started working at The Body Shop when I was a student. My manager put me in charge of the makeup line and trained me to apply makeup on customers. I met so many people, brides-to-be, and just loved how it felt to see their positive reactions after their makeovers. Just the way a little makeup would lift their moods was exhilarating! They'd leave the store with more confidence and a spring in their step! The brand was strong in storytelling and educating its staff and customers, so showing the clients how to recreate their new look, is in the roots of my career. I was trained at the head office and met with other makeup artists at regional events. Eventually, I started regularly teaching the makeup artists in the stores.

Q. As an expert, where do you draw your inspiration?

A. I see pops of colour everywhere. I draw my inspiration from nature, fashion, and other people's work. But I always start by going with my client's personality and lifestyle. Being a mom has put a different spin on how I view and teach makeup, too! I'm in my 40s now, so I've seen trends come and go and make their way back around again. But for me, it's always about meeting you where you're at, (What do you do? How much time do you have? What environment do you work/live in? How do you want to look and feel?) and making a few tweaks here and there.

Q. I have always viewed a private makeup session as an excellent way for someone to update their look and learn new techniques. What are the main reasons someone will come to you for a private lesson & who would benefit the most for a private session?

A. They're a great way to have fresh eyes, having a professional guide you out of a beauty rut, learning new techniques that might be better or quicker. I also get aspiring makeup artists who might be on the fence about whether or not to enroll in a makeup course yet. Maybe they're not 100% sure if it's something they'd love before they make an investment and commitment. I also have makeup experts who want to brush up on a specific technique (for example airbrush makeup, or creating a flawless base). I've also taught at makeup parties for teens and bachelorettes. Those are fun as it's different and everyone walks away with a new look AND knowledge.

Lately, I've been focusing on private or small group lessons for moms who are on maternity leave. I work with Mothers who are just in need of self-care, or a new makeup wardrobe before they return to work. Private sessions are only 2 hours long, so it's great for moms or anyone who wants a new look, a refresher, and can use a personalized makeup and hair tutorial.

Q. I’m noticing the average consumer is overwhelmed with lots of social media and advertising posts for beauty products. It can be costly having to decide on what to buy. Can a private makeup lesson help someone save money to reduce the confusion for product choices?

A. People are too overwhelmed by all the info and products out there. Unless you're in the industry or a blogger, you don't get to see all the products in real life and test what indeed works FOR YOU. I ask clients to bring in what products and tools they already have to their lesson, and I make recommendations from there. Often, they bring in unused, and boxed makeup bought but not knowing how to use them! Most of the time they'll say they saw it in a YouTube video, on Instagram or it was something their girlfriend uses. A private makeup lesson can help you decide what products, textures, shades, and brands will help you target your individual needs. It helps establish a personalized "makeup wardrobe" to suit your lifestyle and budget. I send you off with new practical application skills, edit what you already have (remove expired items, incorrect shades, recommend replacements, a list of tools/brushes) and just set you up with your go-to wardrobe to take away some of the noise, confusion, and help save you money.

Q. There are a lot of makeup tutorials on YouTube. Can you explain why someone would benefit from a private lesson instead?

A. There are some great YouTubers out there, but not all are credible. You can certainly get some ideas and inspiration from YouTube tutorials, but so many are too product-centric (they are often sponsored videos) and as a result, apply (IMO) too many products to create a look that can be done using much less. Bright makeup lights are often used to film YouTube videos. It looks good in that lighting and then edited before posted for viewing. You might be watching a tutorial on someone who doesn't even have the same features as you.

A private makeup lesson is customized & personalized to suit your skin tone, your skin condition, your eye shape, brow shape, etc., and YOUR skill level, budget, and lifestyle. When I book a private session, clients also have an option of adding a personal hairstyling segment, where they can also learn a couple of easy styles to suit their hair length and style.

Q. How long is a typical lesson?

A. Each lesson is 2 hours long. However, I always say it depends on the skill level and type of lesson desired. I give handouts and encourage note-taking. Aspiring makeup artists benefit from bringing a model for them to work on, and they sometimes book a couple of lessons back to back or combine them.





Q. What are the most common makeup fears you see when teaching a lesson?

A. Usually, it's about applying too much product and fear of trying something new. I always keep it light and remind the client that we have wipes, cleansers and cotton buds on hand, and it all comes off in seconds, so have fun. Sometimes, it takes some getting used to when you aren't used to seeing yourself in makeup, but that's why I meet you where you're at and teach you how to tune it up or down to suit your comfort level and give that a boost.

Q. Can you explain what makeup wardrobing is?

A. When it comes to fashion, we've probably all heard what we should have in our closets. A white shirt, black pants, a good pair of jeans, a blazer, a little black dress, etc., our go-to basics, and we can accessorize them with trendy pieces, and jewelry to either dress them up or down, right? It's the same with makeup. It begins with a good skincare routine and feeling confident in our skin along with picking out our makeup basics and helping you to use the right makeup primers (underwear) & concealers (Spanx). I go through and see if you need to wear a foundation and if so, what type along with proper shade matching. I will help with eyeshadow pairings, lipstick and cheek colours that you will find helpful using every day, along with extra items that you can incorporate for special occasions. Makeup is easy when you know how to apply it, and when you have just what you need in your makeup kit, ready to use, creating your 10-minute face becomes a realistic routine.

Q. Why do you ask clients to bring their own makeup, skincare & tools to the lesson?

A. I explain that there will be skincare, makeup, and tools for them to use during the lesson, and not to buy anything yet. Most clients already have a few items in their makeup kit/bag. Quite a few have more than they need, and still in their packaging! By bringing in their stuff, I help them maximize their uses, save money and eliminate products that are not suitable for them (usually incorrect shades, formulation, or unwanted gifts). Small groups can be fun, because they can swap unused items and learn from each other, too. It helps us to see what "gaps" they might have in their makeup wardrobe before I recommend brands or products to suit their needs.

Q. When you go through your client’s makeup bag, what products do you find missing?

A. Top three are primers, concealer, and translucent setting powder. Next would be brow makeup of some sort.

Q. For our readers out there, if you could only choose 4 beauty items they would need for a super quick & and easy look, what type of products would you suggest?

A. Hydration is key - so in skincare, some form of moisturizer. Concealer (start with a flawless canvas). Mascara and a multipurpose product for (eyes) lips and cheeks. Tip: Get your brows professionally shaped, so they look good whether filled in (ideally) or not.

Q. Is there a makeup trend going on right now that you don’t like? Is there one that you love?

A. I'm still not a fan of the "insta-brows" that look too drawn-on and shaped like you stamped them on. Brows are sisters, not twins! I don't like the trend of using too much product dropped on and running down the face and layered on and on. Regarding highlighters, pay attention to placement and layering; you can blind people when the sun reflects off your nose and cheeks with some of these things! Blend it down! I love contour and highlights when used correctly. (Hint, it looks like it comes from within your face structure). I love the natural, glowing looks - peachy bronzed cheeks and eyes.


A big thank you to Merry for sharing her advice & time with us discussing how a private makeup consultation can help you put your best foot forward! 

Merry Carlos-Baguio is a certified Makeup Artist and Hairstylist in Markham. She was trained in London England, where she grew up. Merry later moved to the Philippines where, as Brand Manager and Trainer of The Body Shop Makeup, and then various international makeup brands, she headlined regular press events and training sessions in Asia. Merry is passionate about sharing her makeup knowledge in practical, fun ways. She moved to Canada in 2005 with her husband, and still enjoys teaching private and group makeup classes between mommy duties for her two girls. You can follow her on Instagram @makeupandhairbymerry and visit her Website at



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