On July 14, 2013, Katy Albright won the Make-up Artist of the Year category at the North American Hairstyling Awards, or NAHA. NAHA celebrates the artistry and the skill of salon professionals. This year was the first time make-up artists could enter the Make-up Artist of the Year category without being connected to a hairstylist or salon.

NAHA Make-up Artist of the Year: Katy Albright, 2013
Katy Albright, 2013

Make-up contestants were required to submit three different photos that showcased a cohesive story or theme of the artist’s choosing; five finalists were tapped to attend the show, where the winner was then announced. Albright, a 19-year-old artist based in North Carolina, said she chose to create a bold and contrasting—almost androgynous—look.

“I painted her brown and took these bold geometric shapes and really white hair. I wanted to celebrate culture and life and break through barriers,” she said.

Albright’s interest in make-up began when she was studying hair at the Aveda Institute in Charlotte, N.C. As she played with different looks, Albright said, she discovered a love of make-up and wanted to continue developing her skills. During this time she was accepted to the Professional Beauty Association’s Beacon program, which offers cosmetology students education and networking opportunities with industry professionals. Through this program she learned about NAHA, also produced by the PBA.

“I knew that I wanted to enter and be a part of the awards and the industry,” she says.

NAHA Make-up Artist of the Year: Katy Albright, 2013; photo by Anthony Parmelee
NAHA Make-up Artist of the Year winner Albright’s contest entry

After Beacon, Albright attended a Ryder Makeup Labs’ invitation-only boot camp, where she learned about photo shoots, set etiquette and getting into the industry. It’s here, she said, that she truly developed her passion for print, editorial and runway make-up. She’s inspired by artists such as Pat McGrath, Alex Box and Gucci Westman.

“I really love to do artistic make-up. I kind of like to break barriers and do things that are conceptual—anything that steps outside of the box,” she says. “[Entering NAHA] definitely helped me gain more confidence in myself and know that I can kind of break the mold. I don’t have to hold myself back or question myself,” she said.

For other artists considering entering NAHA, Albright said to go for it. “I think if you have a passion for it you should not hold yourself back and just go for your dreams. This can open so many doors as a make-up artist.”

Albright will be working on the Aveda team at the upcoming New York Fashion Week and hopes to continue working as a runway and editorial artist. Plus, she’ll be entering NAHA next year. For details on how to enter the 2014 NAHA, visit probeauty.org/enternaha/; the deadline for entry is Feb. 5, 2014.

NAHA Make-up Artist of the Year: Katy Albright, 2013; photo by Anthony Parmelee
NAHA Make-up Artist of the Year winner Albright’s contest entry