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How it all began

My wedding MUA had an accident in the week of my wedding and needed surgery. At the time, Bristol was not blessed with the high level of professional Asian bridal MUAs that it has today, and so a replacement at short notice was out of the question. My cousins helped me with my makeup and we did the best we could, but my acne and the old scars still shone through.

My wedding photos were gorgeous but were marred by a sudden flare-up of adult acne and my inability to conceal old scars. This is what made me enrol at beauty school.

I researched different makeup schools and courses online, through websites, brochures and by talking to former students. I finally settled on a 6 weekend short course specialising in wedding makeup at the London College of Fashion (LCF).

I chose LCF over other courses for a number of reasons:

Course dates spread over time – I don’t suit intensive courses as I need time to absorb knowledge and practise skills between classes.
Tuition from MUAs who can teach as well as do – other courses are taught by great MUAs who can do amazing work, but haven’t a clue how to teach. Teaching is not just about explaining what you’re doing. If a student doesn’t understand something, you need to demonstrate or explain in a different way. You can’t just repeat the same things again the same way, if a student hasn’t understood that way the first time.
Variety in makeup styles taught – some schools teach you their ‘house style’. The makeup may look great, but it doesn’t allow for individuality, tailoring the look for different brides, or creativity.
LCF teaches skills, not looks – this allows a trainee MUA to adjust and adapt to the needs of the client and the occasion.
Cost effective – it cost around £500 for 6 sessions. I couldn’t justify spending £2000 – £3000 on a course that may not suit me.

Sessions covered were:

  • Skin preparation
  • Corrective make-up techniques
  • Types of foundations
  • Long-lasting techniques
  • Natural beauty wedding make-up
  • Strong beauty wedding make-up
  • Asian-influenced wedding make-up
  • Contemporary / modern wedding make-up
  • Evening make-up for the bride
  • Glamour make-up for the bride

Building experience

Course completed, I set out to get some experience. This was harder than I had imagined. I had no glossy portfolio to woo potential clients. I needed clients to build a portfolio. I needed a portfolio to build a client base.

I caught a break. My sisters’ friend was looking for a MUA for her wedding at short notice in Bristol. I was visiting my parents in Bristol at the time. Fantastic. I did her makeup for no charge, as a goodwill gesture for a friend, and got good recommendations. But one wedding does not make a portfolio or a business.

I continued to do makeup trials for local brides. Makeup trials didn’t result in bookings. They liked the quality of my work, but wanted it ‘on the cheap’. My confidence was waning.

Even my own sister in law shunned my (free) services for her wedding in 2009, in favour of an old classmate. The girl let her down badly, yet my sister-in-law still refused to come to me for help on the day. My husband had previously warned me not to do her makeup in case I was “blamed for doing a bad job”. Great. My own husband didn’t believe in me. This vote of no confidence, from my own family hit me hard.

For the next 18 months, my makeup services extended only to party hair & makeup for my younger sister.

The break-through
It was 2011 and my younger sister was getting married. I did her hair & makeup for her small engagement party at home. She wanted to keep it simple and fuss-free. I listened to her and gave her flawless, glowing skin, colourful eyes (not smokey), and a strong lip. She loved it. It wasn’t to the taste of all the guests, but the Bride loved it, and that’s what counts.

Shortly after my sisters engagement, a friend of mine was getting married and was looking for a hairstylist for the Bridesmaids. I showed her some ideas, she liked them, and I was able to help her out. The brief was for an easy to wear updo, so I used basic bridal hair techniques for a simple look that worked on both short/mid-length and long hair alike.


In the Autumn of 2011, my sister chose me for her mehendi party makeup. I stepped things up from the engagement look. Traditional Asian-style colour-matched makeup. We went with green & gold eyes, pro lashes, flawless matte skin, Indian bindi, hair passa/ jhoomer and the strong lip again. Simple, yet effective. All this built up to the full-on red bridal look on the big day.

Engagement and mehendi makeup was done by me, with wedding day makeup by Rasheda Manzoor (a local MAC-trained bridal makeup artist). [I took the decision that I wouldn’t be able to give enough time to my sisters makeup on her wedding day, as I was finding it difficult enoiugh to get myself ready, at 8 months pregnant and with an active two-year-old at my heels!]

This gave me back my confidence. I moved back down to Bristol a few months later while on maternity leave to take some time to really launch my MUA career.

Since being back here, I’ve fully embraced hair & makeup artistry, practising new looks all the time, making up models for catwalk shows, doing photoshoots, makeup trials, makeup lessons, community promotional events and of course, blogging. I’m still working in London 4 days a week, but am planning more photoshoots and attending local promotional events over the next few months.


My 2013 plan is to get some counter experience and continue to build my portfolio. Here’s to a great 2013!


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