Model-Turned-Makeup-Artist Jemma Kidd Shares Her Beauty Expertise

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By definition, the job of a model is to look good, and it's a job both they and their employers take very seriously. It means hours spent in makeup chairs, surrounded by the most creative brains in the beauty industry, and getting primped and primed for a myriad of shoots.
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The most savvy of these models, those who realize that the life span of being really, really ridiculously good-looking for a living can only last so long, learn how to parlay the knowledge they've picked up into a secure career that will last long after the beauty and fashion world deems them "done." Erin Wasson has her clothing line, and Josie Maran has her organic brand, but British beauty Jemma Kidd decided to pursue a career she had already spent plenty of time studying during all those photo shoots: makeup artist.
With her eponymous makeup lines — the more upscale Jemma Kidd Make Up School and the mass JK Jemma Kidd (sold at Target) — plus an actual brick-and-mortar beauty school that focuses on teaching real women the art of applying makeup, Kidd has turned all those hours of being painted and prodded into a full-fledged, successful career. Here, we asked her to share some of her best-kept secrets on how to look runway-ready with just a few flicks of the makeup brush, including a no-fail mascara trick you'll be adding to your repertoire just as soon as you finish reading it.
How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
"I started out in the industry as a model, and I also worked as a stylist for a little while. When I discovered what it was like being on the other end of the brush, I knew I'd found the right career. I was lucky to work as an assistant to makeup guru Mary Greenwell for five years and then was spotted by Premier Hair & Make Up Agency and taken on their books in prestigious magazines, including American and British Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Elle."
How did the Make Up School come about?
"It was an idea that came to me after an Indian girl flew over from Deli to be taught by me for a week, so that she could work in Bollywood. I suddenly realized that thousands of women throughout the world wear makeup, but few have been taught how to apply it. I founded the Jemma Kidd Make Up School as a place for people who want to learn how to apply makeup, be it professionally as an artist or just women wanting to look their best."
How did your line first start?
"I wanted to bring the education of the school to women in the comfort of their own homes. Education is at the heart of my makeup range. All the products in the line come with how-to guides that give women application tips and techniques, so they understand how to get the best use out of the products they purchase. My line doesn't have masses and masses of products — I've distilled the range to core essentials. All the colors are wearable and many of the products are multi-purpose, so you don’t have to carry around loads of different products to create a great look."
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What's one makeup product you think every woman needs? Any tricks on how to use it?
"The one product I can’t live without is mascara. I have fair lashes, so I use mascara religiously to give definition to my lashes and frame my eyes. I feel bare and washed-out without it. The first mascara I ever tried was Max Factor 2000 Calorie Mascara — at the time, I felt like it completely changed my face and made me feel instantly glamorous. I haven't looked back since. Although my favorite brand has changed over the years, mascara is still the most vital product in my makeup bag and the one I won’t leave the house without."
"To get really knockout lashes, first make sure the wand is not overloaded, so that the product is less likely to come into contact with the skin. Look down and stroke the wand over the top of the upper lashes from root to tip. With the eyes wide open, stroke the wand up the upper lashes from underneath, starting at the roots and sweeping up at the tips. Repeat, but this time move the wand at a zigzag motion to coat the sides of the lash. To add more volume to the roots of the upper lashes, hold the wand vertically and push directly up into the roots working your way from corner to corner. My top tip: Curl your lashes as it really opens the eyes."
Photo: Courtesy of Jemma Kidd
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What are some of the best makeup tricks you learned from your time as a model? Did you incorporate any of them into your line?
"Fashion makeup is very dramatic, and although I loved it at the time, I wanted to develop my own products that were more natural and wearable. I made sure none of the colors were too strong in my line; I like working with pigments that you can build gradually and layer to get the desired color. I made two makeup ranges: one which is more fashion lead — the JK range, which is all about color and trends, and the other is the Jemma Kidd Make Up School range. This is more natural makeup that everyone can wear."
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What one thing about modeling do you think people may be surprised to learn?
"It is much harder than it looks, but that said, it is a wonderful job as you get to travel the world!"
What's one thing about being a makeup artist do you think people might be surprised about?
"When you work really hard on a look and create something amazing, it is like having your art destroyed as it is all wiped away at the end of the day."
What inspires you when you are creating your products?
"I am inspired by everything, from the women at my school who attend classes to the professionals backstage at shoots. I love cutting-edge looks and timeless beauty icons and inspirations. I like multi-purpose, solution-driven products that help real women get the results they want."
What's one makeup pet peeve you have that women do?
"Using makeup as a mask — I believe makeup should enhance and women shouldn't use it as a mask."
What's the most important, useful piece of advice you can give women about doing their own makeup?
"The main thing is to have fun experimenting — try a different color, texture, or technique, or take a whole new approach — and keep in mind that makeup shouldn't be a mask to hide behind, but a tool to let you reveal the best version of you."
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Is there anything you miss about your modeling days? Anything you're really glad you don't have to do anymore?
"I am glad I no longer have to be a certain weight, but I do really miss the clothes."
What's your favorite part of your job?
"Seeing a lady's face beam with happiness once you have finished her makeup. I also love seeing my products come alive after having put so much work into developing them, and also speaking to people who use and love my products."
Photo: Courtesy of Jemma Kidd
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