Meet Manjari Singh, the celebrity make-up and hair artist, who quit a lucrative corporate career to find her true calling in make-up and hair. With top-notch skills and an undying passion for her craft, Singh aspires to launch a make-up academy at par with global standards for young aspirants.
I was the girl who played dress up, collected fashion magazines but chose a safe and secured life with a corporate job. I started out as a corporate veteran for almost a decade and a half where I worked for top brands like Pepsi, 7UP, Nat Geo, and celebrities including, Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Priyanka Chopra, and more. I used to give my inputs on make-up and styling and finally took the plunge and quit my job at the end of 2016. At the age of 41, I was ready to follow my passion with a zero bank balance! Post training at The London School of Make up, great opportunities began to come my way. Within no time, I did a Maruti Suzuki Dezire ad film shoot, a grand destination wedding, make-up for celebrity host Ambika Anand, all in a span of six months.
In make-up, I did the advanced professional make-up course from IMA (International Make-up Association) certified school, The London School of Make-up. I further studied hairstyling from Kevin Fortune Hair styling Academy in London.
First big break
Core backstage team at the London Fashion Week SS17. I was shortlisted and selected from over 100 make-up artists from Europe and Asia. I did everything on my own and feel a great sense of pride in being self made. However, I met some awesome people, who loved my art and recommended me to their network, like Miss Malini. She is now a friend, mentor and my biggest inspiration.
When I started off, the biggest challenge was ignoring those looking for free trials. I was confident of my skill and talent and I made it a policy not to fall in that trap, unless it helped to build or strengthen my profile. At present, with a hectic schedule, I miss my family a lot. I welcome challenges with open arms and view them more as opportunities to raise the bar.
I have worked with Bollywood, theatre and television celebrities including, Gauri Khan, Kalki Koechlin, Huma Quereshi, Richa Chaddha, Malini Agarwal, Ira Dubey, Cherie Blaire, the founder of Cherie Blaire Foundation and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blaire, top models and super models, business women, to name a few.
Make-up for different platforms
Less is more and perfecting skin is the crucial step in make-up across platforms. For fashion shows and Bollywood celebrities, speed is valued as one has less time in hand. Make-up needs to look good in person and pictures. This is true for bridals. For bridals, I visualise the overall look that the bride expects and keep in mind the outfit, jewellery and occasion. The base should match the skin tone and not be lighter or darker. For editorials or any still shoot, it totally depends on the brief. For instance, skin could be glossy, matte or a combination of both. Understanding lighting also helps. I focus on flawless, clean skin, the right balance of contour and highlight to bring out the best feature of the model.
Favourite brands and products
There are too many of them including, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, Make-up For Ever Ultra HD foundation, Laura Mercier translucent setting powder, MAC eye shadows, pigments and lipsticks, Huda Beauty liquid matte lipsticks, to name a few.
Evolution as an artist
I have had the privilege to work with renowned Bollywood celebrities and iconic events like the Cannes Film Festival 2018 for Huma Quereshi and London Fashion Week, and fashion events like Amazon Fashion Week in India. I bagged the Best Wedding Make-up Artist Award, two years in a row at India’s biggest international wedding convention – ICWF GIWA Awards 2017 and 2018. It has been a great learning. However, I am constantly looking to update myself on current trends and new skills to evolve.
Advice for newcomers
Be passionate about make-up. Practice as much as you can. Educate yourself, formally and informally by joining a beauty school and following different genres of make-up experts. Use social media platforms to promote your work and seek inspiration. Keep your attitude right and be enthusiastic. Also, try not to sell yourself cheap or work for free, unless that project adds to your profile. You are an artist and brands or clients need to respect that.
The make-up industry in India
The cosmetic industry in India is growing twice as fast as the international market. It has evolved over the years with a plethora of international brands entering the Indian market, and even the domestic brands have upped the standards with innovative product launches, ingredients and competitive pricing. Consumers are well-travelled and are discerning in their demands. With their love for international brands in place, they are now open to try out Indian brands, too, and experiment with latest trends and techniques. Cruelty-free brands have gained popularity, as well.
Lots of ideas are brewing, both short and and long term, which I am extremely excited about. With an overwhelming response to my make-up workshops, I do plan to open an international level make-up academy, hopefully in the near future, to share my knowledge with aspiring artists and consumers, who want to learn make-up tips and tricks.
Quote/blurb: “Glowing skin and power lips with jewel tone are big this fall. Pinched cheeks or natural blush tones are in. Experiment with liners like, black, two toned, metallic, and more. Go for a smudged or a structured look. Try the reverse smoky eye, as it is a big hit. Experiment with bright neon hues on your lids. Skip the black liner for day, but rim both waterlines for more drama at night. Glitter lids are here to stay, so are fuller raw brows.”