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#CivilChat Celebrity Makeup Artist Rebekah Aladdin Talks Beauty, Overcoming Creative Blocks, Working with Justine Skye & More

By Posted on 0 10 m read

Rebekah Aladdin embodies everything you hope a celebrity makeup artist would. Skills, patience, an eye for detail. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, here’s the opportunity to familiarize yourself with her work and ever-growing clientele. 

I have to warn you though, you might actually fall in love.

Before I tell you all about what she represents, let’s get a few things straight. Number (1) her name is not pronounced ‘Aladin’, its ’Ala-DEEN,’ number (2) If you didn’t already know, she definitely has a twin sister, number (3) she’s more than just a makeup artist. She’s a creative and everything in between. 

THE START OF HER CAREER IN THE BEAUTY WORLD 

“My career began just networking amongst my peers. I wasn’t the type of person to reach out to someone who already ‘made it.’ I networked with the people I had access to. A really monumental moment, was when I reached out to a photographer friend — actually trying to have a photoshoot for myself. I wanted some pictures for my portfolio, but instead he told me that he was producing a movie. He asked me to come and see the production side of things. I honestly didn’t know know where this would lead — I was just free, so I said yeah. Next thing I knew, he was calling to ask if I was available to be the makeup assistant on set for the movie. From there, I built a very organic relationship with the key makeup artist and continued to assisted her on other projects.”

Even before she was on set, Rebekah collaborated on smaller photoshoots with her friends — photographers, stylists, models, singers, etc. “So there was a lot of parallel networking — networking with other people who have skills, aside from mine. But, we were still in the beginning stage and hungry to create something.”

“Not only are you investing in your own dreams and your own craft, but you’re also investing in your peers. You guys can do it while you come up together. So every person that I used to rock with back in the day, is still rocking. We’ve all elevated and grown. It’s really dope to think that we started together.”

DRAWING INSPIRATION & SWITCHING UP LOOKS ON USUAL CLIENTS

“Inspiration comes from many different places. I feel like most commonly it comes from the wardrobe. To me, makeup typically marries the look between the wardrobe and hair. So, thats the common place I look for inspiration. But you can also get it from a mood, a vibe, or a feeling their going for. A lot of times I ask my clients what they want, because my job is ultimately to make them feel the way they want to feel.”

“I do sometimes feel pressure to switch up my style, but I still think there’s value in consistency just as there is value in versatility. So I try not to give into that pressure. Of course you want to challenge yourself and expand your skills, but I try not to switch things up too much, because its my style that got me where I am.”

“There’s nothing wrong with something classic and consistent.”

KNOCKING DOWN CREATIVE BLOCKS 

“I think creative blocks are really normal no matter what you do. Especially when I’m feeling a ton pressure to do something new or switch it up, I can fall into a creative block. It helps me to look at other artists. I like looking at other peoples photos, but videos really do the trick for me. Watching someone create, just gets my juices flowing. Even if I don’t necessarily like the end look or agree with the technique, just watching someone else do makeup, makes me want to continue perfecting my craft. I feel inspired and rejuvenated. I really like watching all types of creative videos – even cake decorating and craftsman tutorials.”

WORKING WITH KIKI LAYNE, LENA WAITHE,  ASHLEY BLAINE, & JUSTINE SKYE   

“It’s important to always represent your best work and your best self. With that being said, all of my clients are referrals — I would say 95%. Thats why reputation is so important. Everyone you named is a referral except KiKi, who found me based on my other work.

My point is, your reputation is going to be what opens the next door for you.

In terms of working with them, I love it! They’re all really cool. I’m very blessed to have chill and amazingly talented clients. Nothing too crazy is happening — it works, it flows and it feels good and effortless. They’re all doing really dope things and I’m grateful to be a part of their teams’ and their journeys’.

I’m a very shy person naturally so I used to get nervous before for every job. My heart would beat fast and my hands would be shaking. Thankfully, I’m much better with my nerves now.  But even still, if we’re doing something really big or it’s a super special moment (maybe a commercial or important red carpet), I put pressure on myself to the point where I feel a little nervous. I just try to take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and move forward calmly and confidently.”

MAKEUP TECHNIQUES, TELEVISION SHOOTS VS AWARD SHOW 

“I found that when it comes to film, the camera is very forgiving — within reason. If the lighting is done well, then the camera is your friend. On the other hand, the big moment for an award show is the red carpet, and it’s the red carpet photos that can get really tricky. There’s a lot of different factors that can influence the final photo. Whether it be lighting, weather and temperature, camera settings, backdrop color, etc — All of these things are beyond your control.” 

“Now, if you’re on camera for a television show, nine times out of ten I’ll be there to touch you up. But if you’re going to an award show, I’m sending you off into the world, praying that everything works out and is going to hold up all night long. For that reason, I try to incorporate techniques that are going to help the make up last throughout the night. I want to make sure you stay matte in all the right places, and dewy in all the right places. And ultimately, you need to look good from every angle.”

“It depends on the person, but I try to use a good matte primer (based on their skin type). And I’m absolutely going to use a really great setting spray, so that the after party photos look poppin’ too.” 

DAY TO DAY CHALLENGES 

One of two challenges Rebekah faces in her day to day as an artist, is staying organized. “If I have multiple clients back to back, my kit gets jumbled.” She elaborates by saying having a messy environment also makes her mind feel chaotic. “It kind of affects my creativity. If I’m going from client to client and I’m running out of clean make up brushes, my kit is a mess, and I’m rushing from location to location, it can make me feel unprepared and flustered.”

So to prevent such situations from happening, she prepares the night before and hires an assistant when needed, so she can stay organized throughout the day.

Another challenge is the pressure of perfection. “I’m so hard on myself.” She mentions that after working all day for an event, she often goes home and searches Getty Images to analyze her work. “I zoom in and checking out every detail. I don’t take a deep breath until I see how the pictures come out. That’s my confirmation that I did a good job today. If I like what I see, then I give myself a pat on the back. But, if I see anything I don’t like, I definitely critique it — what can I do differently? What can be done better? Do I like the contour? Is it blended? Do I like the lash style I used? What about the lip color? How could I have improved this look?”

“I’m critiquing not only my technique, but also critiquing the products and how everything came together.”

“A lot of people don’t think of stuff like this — sometimes our conditions are not the best when we’re providing our service. Ideally you want a space with great lighting, enough room for everyone on the team, and enough time for everyone to do what they need to do. But, so often, you’re rushed, the space is really tight, and the hotel room is very dark. There are a number of factors that could influence your performance. So if I see a picture that I don’t like, I also think back to the conditions I was working under. Was the chair too low? Was it too dark in there? Did I not ask for the time that I needed? And I make those adjustments for the future.”

CREATING A LOOK UNDER PRESSURE 

Rebekah share’s a memory of a time where she had to work under pressure…

“It was the first night of Justine’s tour. Luckily, she decided to try on her outfit before glam started and discovered there was a mistake with the alterations. Her pants were about four-inches too long. There was no way she was going to be able to dance in them. She was freaking out!” So Rebekah quickly switched roles and borrowed a weave needle and thread from the hairstylist. “I YouTubed ‘how to hem pants’ and while she was getting her hair done, I was carefully stitching her performance outfit. I used up the majority of my time doing this, so I only had about 15 mins left to do her makeup. But I did it — I successfully hemmed her pants and completed her makeup without throwing her off schedule. We rushed off to the venue and she had a great performance. Sometimes you just have to get it done.” 

ONE PRODUCT SHE CANNOT WORK WITHOUT

“It’s pretty popular right now, but I love working with NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. It’s great formula.”

BEAUTY ADVICE FOR WOMEN 

“Love yourself. Skincare, makeup, haircare, —it’s all about caring for yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you will never be satisfied with any beauty tip or services. All of those things are there to stroke our ego a little bit and boost our confidence, but really you have to love whats inside in order embrace your external beauty. It’s about expression and expressions come from within. When you love yourself enough to be yourself, your beauty is unmatched.”

WHO WOULD YOU SHARE THE SPOTLIGHT WITH

“If I could collab on a makeup campaign with another artist, I would have to pick Sam Fine, because (a) he’s legendary and (b) his work is timeless. It’s just classically beautiful. I’ve met him and he’s so sweet, genuine, and kind. In this industry, you’re not always welcomed by OG’s in the game, but Sam is so friendly and humble. He is very encouraging toward other artists.”

“Another thing I admire is that he is a black makeup artist that does makeup for black women. That’s something I can always appreciate. Black beauty doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves, but the fact that Sam stuck in that realm (and pretty much defined it), it inspires me to embrace my realm too and to show love to my own people. Sam showed us all that you can have a phenomenal career as a black beauty professional.”

FUTURE COSMETICS LINE 

“It’s a stroooong maybe. I have a couple of ideas. It’s something I’m looking into. I want to do something valuable and different, and of quality.”

HANDLING UNSUITABLE STYES FOR CLIENTS 

As the professional, Rebekah says it is your job to advise your client. “A lot of times people don’t ask enough questions. If you request a cat eye —I have follow-up questions. I want to know what a cat eye means to you. Your vision and my vision could be totally different. You don’t want to waste time assuming you know what your client wants — ask! 

“If your client requests something specific and you don’t think it’s a good idea in your expert opinion, you need to communicate that.” Having positive language is a must! Acknowledge that you understand their request, help them see the pro’s and cons, and listen to how they feel once you’ve expressed your thoughts. “If the client still wants it after you’ve explained why it’s not a the best idea, at the end of the day we have to give people what they want. Now it’s your duty to execute it in a fashion that is going to look best and represent you well.”

“For example, if your client wants a green lipstick and you disagree with the color choice, don’t just throw the lipstick on. Make sure it’s the best green lip you can do. You could also say, ‘since you want this bold color on your lip, I think we should keep neutral tones on your eyes.’ Help them figure out how to best execute their idea, even though you’re not on board with it.”

TOP FIVE LOOKS 

Winnie Harlow & Lena Waithe Met Gala

 

Justine Skye at Moschino SP/SU ‘19 Fashion Show

 

Kiki Layne “If Beale Street Could Talk” Premiere

 

Rebekah Aladdin Halloween ‘Clawed Werewolf’

 

Lena Waithe at Golden Globes

MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES OF A MAKEUP ARTIST 

“One of the most important qualities of a makeup artist is ‘an eye.’  On a technical level, it’s important to have an eye for detail. You need be able to recognize where things need correction and how to do it. You also have to be able to identify tones and undertones. On a creative level, you need vision — whether you’re bringing your own ideas to life or your helping to create someone else’s ideas, you must be able to see the vision.” 

“I have a really critical eye and good eye hand coordination which I think helps my performance as a makeup artist.”

HERE’S A QUOTE TO LIVE BY 
“If you’re going to do something, do it right…”
XOXO
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