How Makeup Artists can Cope: Celebrity MUA Morag Steyn gets Real

“COVID-19 has affected my business and made it disappear overnight.” Celebrity Makeup Artist Morag Steyn’s diaries talk about how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected her industry and tips on how makeup artists can cope up.

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Photographer: Anirudh Agrawal

Impact of Covid on Makeup Artists Industry

I have worked and been involved in this multi-billion dollar industry for over a decade, and I never ever imagined that in my career there would be a pandemic to this extent. As a creative I don’t ever plan for the, “what if?” factor. COVID-19 has affected my business and made it disappear overnight.

“Like some other industries there is a clear vision of how it will come back, but for us artists; everything will have to change.”

From how we interact with our clients to how we apply make-up, since our work is practical, we are always in font of people’s faces, we are always around people as well.


I have not worked since March 1st. Besides being a creative in the industry, I run my Master Classes once a year in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. These were scheduled for April and May, which sadly I have had to postpone to 2021. I was scheduled for a project of a lifetime in South Africa and India. That has now, thankfully been put on hold as I know many artists have had to deal with devastating cancellations.

I know I’m not alone in saying our whole world has been turned upside down. It has obviously taken its toll on me mentally, as I am sure it has on artists all over the globe.

Of course I miss my work, but most of all I miss the reward. I always say that the reward is an artist’s trophy… I’m talking about that look on a client’s face when they take their first look in the mirror and they love what we have created…


How Makeup Artists can Cope During Covid-19

The changes in client requests have honestly been scarce and far apart, as there has not been any work happening. I do know now that there will be huge changes in how artists will work going forward. I have been getting a few requests here and there, but the COVID-19 still spreading like wild fire in India I do not see a recovery very soon in terms of that artists can freely travel around to work.

Coping in the Short Term

I was scared to death at first, but I have had to slowly re-evaluate my whole business structure and model. Firstly, it is fundamental to educate yourself as an artist in how it will be safe you, your kit and your client to work in a sanitized environment.


As an artist I have now had to suddenly move to online platforms and this is a lonely world for extroverts such as myself. There is no comparison from being on a vibe blasted set with light and cameras, to now having to talk to my mobile camera and having a ring light in my face.

A savior in my life has been yoga and a therapy called “radical acceptance.” (Ha-ha) Fighting and resisting the shift and change, would potentially elevate my already present anxiety, fears and worries. This may keep me in a state of fog blocking out any creative thought processing or ideas which is where the magic spark lies.


Now is the time to radically accept where we’re at, acknowledge it and look for the gratitude in this space. There’s a space for gratitude even in challenging times that offers up what we may have been asking for, and that’s OK. Have no guilt and no shame and acknowledge this space. It’s OK.

I have constantly had to remind myself daily to “smell the roses” and that there is a “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Well, I must say it has been a mix of emotions, from entertaining, frustrating, to amusing and fun. I am learning and making mistakes along the way, it’s a new challenge and a new journey. I have been doing online courses in hygiene in the workplace and educating myself on COVID-19.

Coping in the Long Term

I feel it is very important for artists to understand and know what is out there. Know what precautions need to be made going forward. I am also in the process of launching online make up courses, as well as getting involved with beauty and cosmetic industry platforms, that have already been established online for years.

I know brands often ask artists to work for small or no fees, or in trade for exposure or products. That was never really sustainable. So, I really encourage artists to get creative. And work with other artists and see how you can leverage their skills and create a truly win-win scenario. As an artist and entrepreneur, I’m used to an uncertain future, and I’m always in it to win it.

The Power of Positivity

I’m practicing daily to staying positive and know that we will prevail. I would love to see the brands we work with, or for, to offer support to the professional freelance community which is really in need. I’m also unsure how our community will survive. Yes, we love what we do. But we want to be able to make a living too. We have aspirations to thrive in 2020 and after COVID-19. We cannot take less than what we’re worth moving forward. In reference to the fact that our rates have said to be, more now than ever been cut using COVID-19 as an excuse going forward.


If I can give any advice, take your strongest most skill is and see what other artists are doing, be active with artists around the globe and figure out where your strengths can blossom. This is your time! If you’re able to let go of the fear piece and accept where we are and seek solutions.

Know that you are not alone in this, it is fundamental to have a good support structure in these times. I was not easy for me to post my first Instagram make up tutorial, and for a long time it just did not fell right but I too have overcome this fear I had.

New Communication Approach for your Brand

It’s about the whole package now, clients will want to work with fewer people, and only those that have been consistent and whom have a good work ethic.

You need to know something about everything, offer this on all your social media platforms. If you’re like me who does yoga as well, I started posing about how it has helped me through some uncertain times and people want to know this. Communication needs to be focused on a lifestyle for example, the lifestyle of the make-up artist whom does this celebrities make up. From this you are creating a brand for yourself, relate to it and get others to join in. Start conversations and as words spreads, people will become accustomed to you, and more importantly your brand.

The most important thing now is to stay as connected to your clients as possible offer them some free make up tips via a virtual lesson. And as soon as thing get better I am sure that we can move forward. Communication on an e-commerce level, now more than ever – this is how makeup artists can cope. Get your client data base intact, if you have not done so already.

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Changes in the Beauty Industry

I have been very fortunate with the projects I have been assigned to and the clients I have worked with, and whom I currently work with. It’s all about finding where you as an artist fit into this multi-billion rand industry which in 2021 is forecasting huge figures.

“In 2020 it was predicted that beauty industry is all about “feeling” beautiful.”

I am currently working on some really cool things with StarStruck by Sunny Leone. I love the brand concept, its fun. And the products have proved that they are great and really affordable for the consumer.

Changes in Consumer Behavior

First up! In our professional environment it’s everything beauty! – where it has been explored how people’s needs and behavior have been changing throughout these rapidly evolving circumstances.

I’ve been working with beauty brands across the globe for over a decade. So I’ve seen trends come and go, (I have tried many myself as well) I have seen experimental techniques go viral on Instagram and eCommerce changing the beauty landscape forever. One thing is for sure, and that is the Covid-19 immediate impact is widespread. It has the potential to change the way we live our lives for the long-term.

Interestingly, in a short space of time we have seen many existing beauty trends further accelerate throughout this period and others evolve to change direction. I have seen that self care products are becoming even more valuable during this time as people place greater importance on their well-being. I read in an article that since mid-March Google searches for “self-care” have spiked to record highs worldwide. Consumers will need viewing content that relates to them.


Digital Acceleration in the Beauty Industry

There has been a door opened to digital acceleration where role of e-commerce is growing, as consumers are forced to use online channels to access beauty products. This means new audiences are seeking digital solutions so brands, including artists are having to accelerate their online presence and e-commerce plans to cater to such demand.

Consumers are forced to be more open to follow digital experiences, as retail touch-points become more limited. My favorite app/ online feature is L’Oréal’s make up genius. Feelunique’s makeup live is also likely to be followed more than ever. Especially as consumers look for support in their purchase decisions that may have previously been sought in store as beauty and make up consultants were available for this. Try it if you haven’t yet before! I am hoping Sephora will come up with a similar concept soon.

With an absence of salons, consumers are seeking alternative ways to both maintain their look. Like low maintenance, experimental beauty and home DIY. In a rapidly changing situation, consumers are looking to brands to communicate. Remember beauty is an innovative and fast paced market, which leads to shopper expectations growing at pace. The industry is used to being preemptive and responding quickly. However, COVID 19 is changing things for consumers daily and timely communications has never been so important. With this said always demonstrate adaptability, empathy and relevancy.

Tips for Beauty Professionals During Coronavirus Pandemic

Here are some tips for those trying to find their spark, how makeup artists can cope and where they can be relevant COVID-19 times.

I have seen a huge increase in those looking to professionals to create this “beauty perfection” from eye lash extensions to eyebrow threading, manicures and hair treatments. That has now been instantly been taken away from consumers, so how are consumers going to respond?

Initial thoughts suggest that consumers are looking to alternative solutions. And how makeup artists can cope is through tutorials and videos. Focus on points like low maintenance beauty, experimental beauty and DIY beauty.

Here are some solutions you can explore to light up your spark:

• Low maintenance beauty

There are signs that some are looking for low maintenance alternatives. For example, men shaving their heads or letting it grow. Here is an opportunity and you are a man who has been faced with the same. So  why not share your tips with everyone. Women letting their hair grow long, and an opportunity to embrace greys or more natural looks. As a hairstylist there are endless opportunities to create great content around this topic.

• Experimental beauty

Some are using it as an opportunity to try something different and provide a lift to social isolation. For example, a new hair color for example using natural colorants like beetroot, which may have deemed to be too risky in a traditional working environment. Here is a great time to explore and try out hydrating face masks, essential oils, and even making your own products.

• DIY beauty

Others are trying to ensure they maintain their looks by doing it themselves; reverting to using tweezers for eyebrows, self-application lashes, home remedies. I have spoken about a few “old wives tales”. You know these tips that have been passed on through your family tree like exfoliating with the coffee granules left over in the French press.

You mix the coffee granules with some cinnamon, coconut oil and exfoliate till the skin becomes heated. This ensures that there in an increase in blood circulation. You then wrap the area in cling film for 10-20 min and this helps with your circulation. It can help reduce and breakdown cellulite.

View Morag’s work on Instagram @moragsteyn. If you’re a beauty professional who would like to share your story or experiences, please feel free to comment below or tweet us @shilpa1ahuja.

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