MORE THAN SKIN-DEEP: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MAKEUP
Sandy, of Makeup by Sands, is very affable and welcoming. One of the things that she says at the outset is that being a makeup artist, which all started as a form of self-expression, really took off as an artistic journey back in 2014 under the tutelage of Jean Pillow, whose
training she treasures to this very day. Always one to strive for perfection, her achievements include an array of training courses she has actively sought both locally
and abroad. Of note, one can mention a masterclass led by celebrity makeup figure Ve Neill (an academy award-winning makeup artist most known for her work in films such as Mrs Doubtfire and The Hunger Games). Sandy travelled all the way to New York for such an
opportunity. She also trained under Italian makeup artist Alessandra Barlaam, who specialises in wedding makeup. Moving from fashion to makeup, Sandy has another category under her cap: theatre makeup. This was achieved following training under Moisès Ureña.Moreover, her work editorially has appeared in local and international publications. such as Vogue UK. She lists local designers with whom she worked as an addition to her portfolio, such as Charles & Ron, Ritienne Zammit, Rosemarie Abela, and Carla Grima.
Another seminal training point in Sandy’s development was when she gained more experience through international, award-winning makeup artist Karla Powell. She placed first in a UK competition and her work was selected among many makeup artists.
In the six years since Sandy started out, and with a nomination for Best Makeup Artist in the 2017 edition of Malta Fashion Week and Awards under her belt, it was apt to meet up to discuss the ins and outs of the makeup world. One specific reason behind this interview was to improve the perception out there that makeup is something frivolous. Sandy wishes
that its merits can be showcased through another passion of hers: psychology. Most people would know Sandy as one of the many makeup artists in Malta, but what is interesting is that she has also obtained a degree in psychology. One would think that makeup and psychology are worlds apart, but as we explored these seemingly disparate areas, we note how interconnected they can be.
WHO IS SANDY, THE MAKEUP ARTIST AND
I describe myself as someone creative, extremely
passionate and driven towards originality. I see myself as a creator who inspires other artists and people in the industry. Admittedly I tend to be a perfectionist, but this pushes me to seek constant improvement. My favourite words are, ‘I never want to stop learning’. In order for me to improve my self-esteem, I worked in modelling too for a number of years, and being on a programme like Venere has helped shape who I am today. Meanwhile, this experience also made me realise
that there is huge potential, creativity and talent
amongst the people who work on such programmes, and among those who work in the Maltese fashion industry.
WHAT IS SANDY’S SIGNATURE STYLE AS A MAKEUP ARTIST, AND WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE EXPECT WHEN BOOKING WITH HER?
My fashion icons from whom I draw inspiration are natural beauties like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, so I gravitate towards creating ‘flawless but effortless’ looks. I do, however, venture into the edgy type of makeup too, particular when working on editorial looks. I have worked on photo shoots for both local and international magazines, so I believe it is important to distinguish between everyday makeup and the more editorial type. Sometimes I explain to my clients that what looks good on a magazine is often not appropriate for a wedding look or family occasion. Ultimately, I believe in listening to what the client wants, so together we reach a compromise on the final look.
I promote the idea that behind every face there is a story, so my aim is often to capture that story, and the emotions that lie within. Given that I consider myself to be a professional, I make it a point to listen to my clients, their ideas and what they really want. I do not impose a look on them simply because it is the trend. My background in psychology has helped me hone this skill of listening to and stepping into my clients’ shoes. For this reason, I feel that a service becomes an experience, enabling the clients to tell their story. This is where the restorative aspect of makeup comes in, to help the clients feel the best version of themselves, enhancing their inner beauty and strengthening their sense of self worth.
IS MAKEUP PERCEIVED NEGATIVELY, AND, IF SO, CAN
SUCH A PERCEPTION CHANGE?
Makeup is often perceived as superficial and fun. Sometimes people want to be transformed, or cover up things that they are insecure about. Makeup can do that, but I believe it is more than that. It should not hide one’s
flaws but embellish one’s potential. From a psychological perspective, it is conceivable that young people in particular tend to use makeup as a mask, because they feel they can take up a different persona. It is true that through makeup we choose what image we want to
portray, but there is nothing wrong in using makeup to boost our confidence. I recall an open day I had organised (as part of Pink October in 2016), where I had offered free makeup sessions in aid of people who had gone through traumatic experiences, such as cancer. My aim at that moment was to change people’s perception of makeup, to see it as a restorative mode of expression. This idea had already started taking root, but most probably it had started earlier than that, all thanks to my tutor Jean Pillow who had boosted my self-esteem, encouraging me to believe in myself. So from there I wanted to work with makeup to help people improve their self-esteem too.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BEAUTY AND
Here I refer to colour theory, which is based on the idea
that there is more to colour than meets the eye. Makeup
can colour one’s life, not just literally; buying makeup
uplifts one’s mood probably because of the effect of
colour on one’s psyche. Consequently, the two can be
more connected than we think. Through psychology I know that I can get a better feel for who people are, so it has made me more intuitive. For instance, if clients are not convinced about a makeup look, I am alert to their body language and if I sense hesitation or discomfort, I address the situation so that the clients always feel at ease and are pleased with the result. Balancing
the apparently contrasting aspects of these two worlds can result in a very positive experience, one that transcends the perception of makeup.
The aim of our interview was to tap into the therapeutic aspects of makeup, and its power to boost one’s self-esteem. Given that more social awareness is being raised on mental health, we remarked that such a conversation could not come at a more auspicious time. Bridging makeup and psychology, Sandy’s role and aim as a makeup artist is to help
women feel good about themselves. Makeup is not just an end in itself, something to apply when one has a special event or family occasion. It can be an armour that helps one feel
empowered and confident enough to face the day, and the challenges it brings with it. It could be interpreted putting up a façade, but when one thinks about it, very often life is one big act and we play so many different roles in it, that it may be done feeling strong and undeterred. Makeup is not frivolous and is more than skin-deep, and someone like Sandy wants to use her background in psychology to start this conversation: the restorative power of beauty through makeup. Will you be part of this conversation?
Photographers: Mark Soler;
Ruben Torrens; Kurt Paris, Dragos Serban
Designs: Charles & Ron, Wedding
Bells Valletta; Maggy Zammi Meilak
(La Chic Bandeau – headbands);
Makeup by Sandy de Gaetano
Models: Maria Aquilina, Dahlia
Mitrovic, Blank Bartosova, Julia Cluett
Stephanie Xerri Agius
© 2018 – VIDA Magazine