Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Career as a Makeup Artist

By Beverly Pereira
Photography: Courtesy the artist

Ambika Pillai with Deepika Padukone
Glamourising Deepika Padukone

Makeup artistry is a popular profession that sounds glamorous and challenging in equal parts. Celebrated makeup artist Ambika Pillai tells it like it is. 

From being an established hairstylist in fashion, film and ad circles to a successful makeup artist with a chain of eponymous salons and makeup, skincare and accessories range, Ambika Pillai is a self-taught professional with a natural affinity for making people look and feel good.

Ambika Pillai with Raima Sen
Raima Sen getting a makeover

Effortlessly juggling assignments for editorials, fashion shows, films and ads, Ambika stresses on hard work and perseverance as key characteristics that help to achieve an A+ result as she laughs off the rosy picture painted about this seemingly glamorous vocation. 

Ambika Pillai with Ayushmann Khurana
With Ayushmann Khurana

Yet, there are positives, opines Ambika as she recounts wonderful memories from fashion shows in Paris, New York, London, Cairo and Singapore.  Other milestones include bridal makeup for Saudi Arabian princess Sarah besides her concepts for the entire cast of the musical Zangoora - The Gypsy Prince, and the iconic look of the Indigo cabin crew and staff.

Inspired as she is by some of India’s best designers, including Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal, Manish Arora, Suneet Varma and JJ Vallaya, and their concepts, Ambika talks to IAnD about pursuing this field as a vocation…

Ambika Pillai with Sushmita Sen and Rohit Bal
With Sushmita Sen and Rohit Bal

What qualities and skill set does one need to enter the field of makeup artistry?
Artistic hand, imagination and the willingness to work hard…really hard since it requires you to be on your feet, standing for very long hours.

Ambika Pillai
Ambika Pillai

What’s that one thing that cannot be taught/ learnt at a makeup course?
Makeup courses might help you to learn the basics, but it’s important to bring your signature style to the table. How you add on to the fashion designer’s and stylist’s concepts and complete the picture in terms of final look and finish is your important contribution.

Ambika Pillai with Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar getting his glamorous touches
Ambika Pillai with Deepika Padukone
Ambika with Deepika Padukone

Two do’s that you could share with students aspiring to pursue a career as makeup artists?
a. Work hard and diligently
b Learn the newest techniques through workshops and seminars.
c. Stay abreast of what’s trending.
d. Create your own style

Two don’ts that you could share?
a. Don’t be lazy
b. Don’t ever compromise. Go for the 100%


  1. Yes this indeed is a great career option and also requires a lot of perseverance. It was nice to know how Ambika Pillai made it big.

  2. A few things are great. Some are incredible. At that point comes this blog.

    1. Thank you very much Mr. Burri. We strive to do our best to bring you a wholesome design experience


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