Ever thought about quitting your desk job and going to beauty school? Hey, maybe you should. You might just end up doing makeup and hair for your favorite celebrities, just like Twin Cities native (and beauty whiz) Megan Lanoux. After completing a three-month program, her career took off, leading her to No Doubt video shoots, the Emmys red carpet, and on tour with Taylor Swift.
City Pages caught up with Lanoux, who now lives in New York City, to learn how she got where she is today.
What's your official job title? What is it that you do?
I'm a makeup artist, hairstylist, and groomer. I do anything from editorial shoots to fashion shows to commercials to red carpet events to press junkets, and I even get to travel on music tours.
So how did you get started? And how did you work your way up to having such big clients?
From a very young age I always loved doing hair and makeup. It goes back to my fifth birthday, when my parents got me a large Barbie doll head so I could play with her hair. Then I started French braiding my sister’s hair for five cents before school, and if she didn't pay me daily, my services would stop.
When I was 18, I moved to Florida for college. It was there that I started working for MAC Cosmetics, which pushed me to pursue this craft as a full-time job. I found a school called MUD (Make-up Designory), and moved to Los Angeles to attend. MUD provided makeup and hairstyling classes while also teaching me proper set etiquette and the business side of things. Once I finished with school, I started testing with photographers, and building a portfolio that I sent out to different agencies. Soon I was assisting for well-known artists like Gregory Arlt and Eric Gabriel. Eventually, I signed on with Exclusive Artist Management.
Tell us what a day at work is like for you.
It is so different every day. It's definitely hard to predict my schedule; I never really know how many days a week I'll work, how many hours per day, or how much I'll be making each day. I learned quickly to use my off time wisely, and started a savings account immediately.
With a magazine or corporate photo shoot, I get to the studio early in the morning and set up my station. I work on my client before and during the shoot, and continue to check the monitor to make sure hair and makeup is looking good. Advertising jobs typically last the entire day, so eight to 10 hours.
With a red carpet gig, I go to the client’s hotel or residence and get them ready. This is called a 'do and go,' because you leave once you’re done. I recently worked the Emmys, where I showed up around 1 p.m., got my client ready, and left around 2 p.m. It's hard to do numerous clients in a day because everyone wants a final touch-up right before they go to the red carpet.
Music videos are typically my longer set days. I did a No Doubt music video [for "Settle Down"] a few years ago. I got there at 11 a.m., and left at 6 a.m. the next morning. I went home, and my call time for the next video shoot was 4 p.m. I didn't get home until 9 a.m. the next morning. I make sure I bring plenty of caffeine for a day like that! Who are some of your favorite clients?
Some of my favorite clients are Madison Beer, Jenny Mollen, Bailee Madison, Shawn Mendes, Gregg Sulkin, Jess Macallen, Cynthia Nixon, Gerard Butler, and Tituss Burgess. And going on Taylor Swift's Red Tour was one of my favorite memories I’ve made on this job.
What's a beauty trend you love, and one you think is overrated?
Right now, I love a nude lip for the fall. You can pair a nude lip with a more dramatic eye, or vice-versa. Doing a really dramatic lip and a light eye is also really trendy for a fall look.
I think the intense contouring trend is a little overrated. It can look great when it’s done correctly for a red carpet event, but when you’re contouring your nose, cheekbones, chin, and forehead for an everyday look, I think it's a little much. In a few years, we're going to look back and think we may have gone a bit overboard.
What advice do you have for people who might want to do what you do?
People often ask me how to get into the entertainment industry as a makeup artist or hairstylist. The truth is, there really isn't a manual to tell you what to do nor is there an application you can submit to apply. You just really need to want it. The market is so over-saturated, you just need to make your presence known and allow your work to speak for itself. Always be practicing and adding pictures to your portfolio. Anything is possible, so chase whatever your passion is wholeheartedly.
You can follow Megan Lanoux via her Instagram.