As the song “M-O-T-H-E-R (a Word That Means the World to Me)” goes, “M is for the million things she gave me.” But in the case of the following mothers and daughters, “M” could just as well stand for make-up. Each mom was a make-up professional and gave her daughter a love for the craft. In celebration of Mother’s Day, we present four two-generation make-up families.
Pauline and Catherine Heys
What’s it like growing up as the daughter of a make-up artist? For Catherine Heys, it’s the memory of walking into the family kitchen when she was 7 and discovering Harvey Keitel’s severed head. Her mother, Pauline, was creating it for Saturn 3.
After the initial shock, Catherine wanted to learn more.
“I would sit on the kitchen worktop rummaging through mum’s make-up boxes whilst she cleaned her brushes and pots,” says Catherine, who lives in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. “She’d tell me what everything was used for. I found the whole thing so exciting and fascinating.”
On school holidays, Catherine tagged along to see her mother at work on set: “When I got a bit older, I would watch what everyone was doing and learn—oh, and make the tea!”
“She thought it sounded really glamorous,” remembers Pauline. “I had to explain to her it really wasn’t at all—just hard work and long hours! But it was a job I loved, with all its challenges and excitement.”
Pauline offered encouragement, having Catherine practice all sorts of make-ups: beauty, aging, wounds. Pauline critiqued these efforts and offered tips.
With aspirations to do both hair and make-up, Pauline left home in Southampton at 17 to study at the London College of Fashion. She became a trainee at the BBC; after five years, she went freelance to pursue a film career, which has included working on Legend, Chaplin, Schindler’s List, Event Horizon, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Saving Private Ryan.
Considering the precarious nature of the film world, Pauline insisted that Catherine get proper training and experience. Catherine spent three years training as a make-up artist and hairdresser at Aylesbury College. She went on to become a beauty therapist and then a skincare and make-up specialist with Clarins.
At 23, Catherine finally got her shot at film make-up when Pauline was in Paris transforming Anthony Hopkins into the title character for Surviving Picasso. Catherine was offered the chance to do some 1940s style make-ups.
“It was one of those moments I’ll never forget: snow—real snow—started falling. It was a night shoot. Then we wrapped, and in French style, we went for breakfast,” remembers Catherine. “Mum took one look at me and said, ‘Uh-oh—you’re hooked!’”
Pauline was willing to help her daughter’s career as long as Catherine understood there would be no preferential treatment. Catherine signed on as a make-up artist on Event Horizon. Her next opportunity was to work for Lois Burwell on Saving Private Ryan, an experience she describes as “hugely exciting and incredibly humbling. It was a fantastic time. Mum has been Lois’ key make-up artist for many years.”
Catherine went on to work for Burwell on Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Last Samurai and War Horse.
Other films that feature both Heys in the credits include Hilary and Jackie and 1408. In 2002, mother and daughter, along with Julia Wilson, were nominated for an Emmy for their make-up work in Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story.
This was one of three nominations for Pauline. She won an Emmy in 1988 for Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story. Pauline was the personal for its star, Farrah Fawcett. She also received a BAFTA nomination in 1994 for Schindler’s List.
And as Catherine’s career grows, she’s realizing her mother’s advice to learn all aspects of her craft has paid off. She was the second unit hairdresser on the Fast & Furious 6 and the final three Harry Potter films. On War Horse, she was crowd make-up supervisor.
But versatility is far from all Catherine has learned from Pauline.
“She taught me to improvise with the resources you have. You can do so much just by having a grease palette: wounds, bruising, dirt, blusher, lipsticks, etcetera,” says Catherine. “The humble, good old-fashioned grease palette has got me out of many a tricky situation.”
Now a mother to two young boys, Catherine has also learned from her mother how to juggle a film career and a family. “She is pretty much retired now, but I will often ask her advice,” says Catherine. “My mum is my inspiration. If I could be even half as good as she is, I’d be happy.”
Inger Lise and Charlotte Christiansen
Charlotte Christiansen studied to become a make-up artist at the Nordic Institute for Scene and Studio in Oslo, Norway. But she may have learned more about her craft from her mother, Inger Lise Christiansen, who has been a beauty professional for 45 years.
“The best lessons my mother taught me are the unwritten rules,” says Charlotte. “Everything is allowed. Listen and read between the lines. That’s when you know what your customers want and that’s when you become a great make-up artist.”
Her mother has instilled in Charlotte the idea that her career is more than that. “I knew that this would be my lifestyle, not just a job,” continues Charlotte.
Perhaps that’s because Inger Lise’s life in make-up began when she was just 15. She’d hop on her pink bicycle and go door-to-door selling Oriflame cosmetics in the small Norwegian town of Sandefjord. After studying to be a skincare therapist, Inger Lise decided to become a make-up artist and trained at Alexandre de Paris.
Over her career, Inger Lise has worked in Norway, Germany and France as a cosmetic seller, teacher and artist.
“I do classic make-up, giving women, and men, the looks they want,” explains Inger Lise. “I am 60 years old and still practice make-up every day.”
She says one of her greatest adventures was the opportunity to work with Guerlain’s creative director, Olivier Èchaudemaison, in Paris. In 1990, Inger Lise opened a boutique, Lillestrøm Parfymeri, which offers 13 make-up brands.
For the first six years of her life, Charlotte joined Inger Lise on the road. “I remember the mornings in the bathroom when she would get ready to visit customers, watching her create her fabulous ‘80s make-up—blue eyes and her signature red lipstick,” says Charlotte.
Inger Lise couldn’t have been prouder when Charlotte decided to study at NISS. “Not because she was following in my footsteps, but because she was walking her own path,” mom says. “She was born to be backstage and to be creative.”
Charlotte’s first job after graduating was at her mother’s shop. Mother and daughter have worked together in some capacity for 13 years.
“She gave me the freedom to work for her, with her customers,” continues Charlotte, adding that her mom also encouraged her to pursue magazine, photo and film opportunities.
For the last 18 months, Charlotte has served as art director for make-up at Douglas Norge’s flagship store in Oslo.
Charlotte is also the make-up artist for the fashion pieces in Oslo magazine Bogstadveien Magasinet. “And I have worked for NYX Nordics this past year,” she says. “I am always chasing more—more faces, more experience.”
Charlotte continues to draw upon what she’s learned from her mother. “She has a magic way of introducing color and engaging customers to be whoever they want to be,” she says.
Jennifer and Sara Hughes
As a child in Southampton England, Sara Hughes knew her mother, Jennifer, did something special: the large box of foam ears up in the attic and the great costumes mom devised every Halloween tipped her off. “My mother would give me outrageous scars and witch noses made from mortician’s wax,” remembers Sara. “To this day, the smell of mortician’s wax makes me think of Halloween!”
After 17 years as a make-up artist for the BBC, Jennifer was well acquainted with witch noses. The British network kept her busy doing all kinds of make-ups. When she wasn’t working on Doctor Who, EastEnders or By the Sword Divided, she was preparing celebrities, including Elton John, Cliff Richards, The Who and Abba for appearances on Top of the Pops.
When Sara was 14, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Mom wasn’t surprised. “Sara was always delving into my kits and experimenting with different looks,” says Jennifer. “I was delighted and encouraged her all the way.”
Sara received a diploma in Image Styling for Performance at the London College of Fashion, and a BA (Hons) Degree in Make-up and Hair Design for Music, Film and Photography at Southampton Solent University. While studying, she worked doing high fashion, horror and editorial make-up for photographers.
Jennifer’s initial plan was to be a theatrical artist, but there was more opportunity in film and TV. “At the time, the BBC provided the best make-up training school,” she says. “I was lucky to be accepted into a two-year specialized TV make-up and hair course. The rest is history.”
After school, Sara moved to London and found work doing body painting and makeovers for Vanity Van, a mobile make-up supplier for live events. Charmed Apocalypse Pictures saw her work and she landed her first feature film, 2014’s Zombie Resurrection. As grueling as the work was, it fueled Sara’s passion for film.
After freelancing, she and a partner opened a small beauty salon in Newcastle. When the partner got a job offer in Houston almost three years ago, Sara went along. Visa complications have prevented her from working, but making up friends is keeping her skills sharp. When she’s cleared for work, Sara also wants to pursue horror gigs.
Jennifer left the BBC in 2000 and started her own business providing make-up and hair services for weddings. She averaged 40 to 45 weddings a year throughout the South of England until retiring in 2011. “Although recently, she did dig out her brushes to do my sister’s make-up and hair for her wedding,” says Sara.
The best advice her mother has given her, Sara says, is, “Be confident. No matter how much the nerves might get to you, take a deep breath and know that you can do it.”
Esperanza and Alexis Huerta
Some of Alexis Huerta’s fondest childhood memories include watching her mother, Esperanza, put on her make-up. Her mom looked so good, many of Alexis’ classmates thought she was a beauty queen.
Primarily a self-taught artist, Esperanza also worked her magic on others. “I remember neighbors coming over to get their make-up done and she would do beautiful transformations,” says Alexis. “The way these women looked at themselves in the mirror was so gratifying. I knew this made my mom happy! I wanted to be just like her.”
As Alexis grew up, she began experimenting with make-up, using some of her mom’s products and tools.
“It was our bonding time,” continues Alexis. “I would spend hours trying to perfect my eyeliner, and my mom and I would laugh at how red my eyes were from rubbing them with Q-tips for so long.”
In high school, Alexis told her mother she planned to pursue a professional make-up career. Esperanza couldn’t have been happier.
“I knew how much she looked up to me, and I wanted to support her,” says Esperanza. “I only showed her the basics, and now she blows my mind with how far she has come.”
Esperanza did receive some cosmetology training in her native Mexico before relocating to Los Angeles at 20. But most of what she knew she learned on her own, until she began attending Ruby Makeup Academy in 2012.
That choice was not random. Since 2011, Alexis has been on staff at the California make-up school. She’s worked her way up to being an instructor, teaching classes in both English and Spanish. She is also the school’s senior admissions counselor.
School founder Ruby Polanco often takes Alexis along on outside gigs. Last year, Alexis assisted Polanco at the Playboy Mansion, LA Fashion Week, Univision and Telemundo. “These opportunities have opened many doors,” adds Alexis.
Outside of school, Alexis and Esperanza freelance as beauty specialists. Most of the business comes through Alexis’ Instagram account, beautyby_alexis.
“My daughter and I team up constantly and work events together,” explains Esperanza. “We do make-up for photo shoots, weddings and special occasions.”
Alexis believes the best lesson her mom has given her is to always be confident. “If you carry your head high and believe in your work, more doors will open,” she says.
On the flip side, Esperanza appreciates that her daughter has shown her how to be more confident. “I began teaching her years ago, and now she’s the one teaching me,” she says. “We became the ideal glam team, traveling all over Southern California. Together we can accomplish more and get it done faster. We think of it as a family business.”