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Shirley Penafiel: You’re beautiful, you’re unique, you’re worthy, you’re powerful. Own it!

How long have you been a makeup artist and how did you get your start in the industry?

I started self-teaching makeup artistry back in 2014 (Thanks YouTube!) and officially took my first client in the Summer of 2016. My interest began while living abroad in Ecuador, South America. There was a strong Brazilian influence on the beauty industry and it really piqued my interest. I was already an experienced licensed cosmetologist as of 2007, so it was a convenient service to be able to offer to my clients.

How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other makeup artists?

I like bright and bold colors in my editorial that looks as much as the next person. But some Swarovski crystals and sequins here and there are my go-to. It just gives any look that pop! I mean, who doesn’t love embellishments on a face?! As for what sets me apart…I like simplicity. I don’t like to overdo it. Instead, I change it up in between looks.

What is the most exciting or challenging opportunity you had as a freelance artist? What's the project you are most proud of?

I absolutely love being the hair and makeup artist for CD Greene’s lookbooks. I’ve worked with him for a couple of years now and it’s always incredibly inspiring to be around his work and to see it on the red carpet. That’s a continuous opportunity I’m most excited about. The project I’m most proud of is a bridal shoot I did in 2019. I was the creative director, wardrobe stylist, prop stylist, hairstylist, and makeup artist. I did bridal hair and makeup on 4 models back to back without a break. It was exhausting but very exciting. I look back at those pictures all the time and I’m grateful for all the bridal work opportunities that shoot brought me.

Looking back, how has make-up artistry changed or influenced you as a person?

Before I started learning about makeup, I myself never wore any. I have “good” skin and I simply didn’t see the purpose of using makeup. That perspective has greatly changed over time. As someone that’s now passionate about editorial makeup more than any other makeup style, I appreciate the art behind the makeup, the self-expression, the confidence building, the process, the transformation, and the POWER of it all. I have certainly become more supportive of women and their love for makeup, but more importantly, the psychology behind it. Makeup empowers women and that’s always a good thing.

How do you keep up with all the new trends and styles? Where do you pull your inspiration from to help you with your work?

I wouldn’t say I keep up with trends and styles if we’re talking social media makeup trends. But I do follow NYFW and all the inspiring work of respected and super-talented editorial artists such as Danessa Myricks and James Molloy. And those are mostly for learning new techniques and learning about kit-worthy products I should try out. I definitely don’t want to replicate someone’s work and call it inspiration. I want to be innovative within my own style. I personally draw inspiration from period pieces. I have a thing for the Victorian era, the Roaring 20’s, the 50’s…and Egypt! Endless inspo for my obsessed brain.

What do you think are some of the keys to being a successful makeup artist?

I’m on the ASD spectrum. As someone with overlapping traits of ADHD and autism, I can truly say I’m a perfectionist. I like to make every shoot elaborate, exciting, entertaining, cohesive, but also collaboratively passionate. I truly give it my all. It’s easy as an artist to just show up to a job and apply makeup to a face, but going the extra mile to make a shoot special and give it that WOW factor; perhaps helping out with props that would complement the set design or working closely with the wardrobe stylist to truly create something magical, that’s what I do. I hyper-focus on the details that don’t necessarily pertain to my specialty (without overstepping) and I think that’s what makes me an asset. As a neurodivergent person, I recognize that success can be reached by accepting yourself for who you are. That’s the only card you can and should be playing. The rest is work ethic 101.

Why is shooting for camera and lights, different than everyday makeup?

The camera and lights wash you out. People hear this a lot but aren’t sure what that means. It means these factors dull the appearance of the colors on your face. This washing out extends to the perceived dimensions of the face as well. Without proper makeup application for that intended purpose, chances are you will not be happy with the result. On the other hand, if you’re not gonna be photographed, an everyday look consisting of a full face of makeup with harsh contour and extra rosy cheeks might look excessive and harsh in vain. Sometimes people forget contouring and highlighting were techniques developed for the camera, not for the everyday eye.

Why is having an MUA essential to a photographer?

An experienced makeup artist is a photographer’s best friend. Starting with the products in our kits, we know what the best options are for flash photography. We know what features to accentuate. Depending on the lighting, we’ll know how heavy or light-handed we need to be with our colors on certain areas of the face. We’ll always know which areas to touch up or even which false lash to use. We make or break the end result.

What is the most important beauty advice that you can give to women?

You’re beautiful, you’re unique, you’re worthy, you’re powerful. Own it! Second best advice: always remove your makeup before going to bed ladies!

What are your future plans/goals for the next couple of years?

I want to go to makeup school. I’ve been doing bridal for a few years now and it’s been great! But I do want to focus more on what makes me 100% happy and what gets my creative juices flowing and that’s fashion editorial makeup. I also want to learn about photography and editing. Over the years I’ve picked up some tricks here and there, but I definitely need more formal education on that. I really want to be able to shoot my own work, so that’s what I’m working toward.

Where can our readers keep up with your work and get connected with you?

I am TERRIBLE at social media! Haha but I do post on my Instagram page @sbp_bridal. I have recently created a new page over at @sbp_editorial where I will be exclusively show-casing my editorial work!

Model: Doug @doug_ish

Model: Annie Smetana @smetana_a_

Hair Stylist: Shirley Penafiel @sbp_bridal Wardrobe Stylist: Tony Barr Jr @tonytheestylist Photographer: Roberto De Micheli @rdmfashionphoto


You can read The ARTIST EDITION Vol. 441 here:


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