Andrea Tran dabbed an eyeshadow brush in a light shade of eyeshadow and spread it on her eyelids. She then applied a darker shade to the outer corners and blended the colors together with a blending brush to fade the colors in the popular smokey eye look.
“It’s an obsession,” Tran said. “It’s kind of like my catharsis. It’s my little getaway at the end of the day after a hard day … it’s just there.”
Tran, a UCLA alumna, turned her love of makeup into something more than a hobby after being invited by a longtime friend, a makeup artist at New York Fashion Week, to help out to apply different makeup looks on the runway models.
Tran was a makeup artist at New York Fashion Week in 2013 to 2015, working under designers like Marc Jacobs, and then started working at MAC Cosmetics and eventually began freelancing as a makeup artist. She advertises her work through social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, and has her own website.
Tran said she grew up around her mom’s makeup, but did not experiment with it until she was 15.
“My mom used to take me to work (at the bank), and before she would wake me up or just get me out of bed, I always heard the clicking of her compact of her powders in the bathroom,” Tran said. “That’s what I associate with childhood and it’s just very nostalgic for me.”
She started watching YouTube makeup gurus like Michelle Phan to learn about different makeup techniques like how to achieve the classic smokey eye look, applying the different looks on herself, family and friends.
“It was easier to apply makeup on them and replicate the looks on them rather than myself,” Tran said. “I’m Asian, so I don’t have the standard eye with the crease that you see on YouTube and all my friends have the standard crease.”
Tran has applied styles of makeup on clients and models, including the more natural looks featured on the runway to the smokey eye trend that is highly requested by her clients at MAC and from her neighborhood of La Puente.
In 2013, Tran had the opportunity to attend New York Fashion Week as a makeup artist. She worked in the Mercedes-Benz fashion show under Marc Jacobs, hopping from tent to tent and bringing designers’ makeup ideas to life on models walking down the runway to complement the fashion.
Tran brought her friend and aspiring makeup artist Destinee Jefferson to the 2015 New York Fashion Week, working from around 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“(Tran) was really encouraging because it was my first time there,” Jefferson said. “Andrea being there was extremely comforting.”
After her exposure as a makeup artist at New York Fashion Week in 2013, Tran said she wanted to continue her practice by working as a sales representative at MAC Cosmetics in the summer of 2014.
Tran has been working in the mirrored rooms of MAC for almost two years, sharpening her skills with every new look.
“It’s a big industry and I felt like MAC takes their artistry very far in sense of creativity,” Tran said.
After she got hired at MAC two years ago, she began freelancing in her hometown, providing makeup services for events such as prom, quinceaneras and formal occasions for $30.
She commutes to her clients in her hometown and has clients in the Los Angeles area meet her at her apartment.
“It started off as a hobby, and it’s become more of a career,” Tran said. “I didn’t expect my freelancing business to take off so much.”
Tran said her busy seasons were around events such as graduation, prom and formal. Tran applied a smokey eye on her friend Amber Segura for her prom. Segura now recommends Tran to her friends because of her positive experiences.
“What makes her stand out is that she’s able to like read your mind,” Segura said. “You’ll tell her ‘Oh I want this look,’ and she’ll give it to you exactly without you having to tell her exactly how.”
Tran said she was not expecting to take off so much after she started her freelancing career, but despite her love of freelancing, Tran is unsure whether she wants to pursue professional makeup artistry as a career.
“I’m in the middle of figuring my life out, so right now it’s a pretty good stepping point,” Tran said.