Makeup Artist Donna May discusses her career & brand

Donna, it is such a pleasure to interview you and learn how you became such a celebrity  in your industry, if we googled you (which I did) we would see ITV, Lorraine, This Morning as some of the projects and clients that you work with. So how did it all start? 

I trained at LCF The London College Of Fashion, I needed a good Art portfolio to get into the most prestigious fashion college in the world, so as well as doing well in my A Level Art I also kept a diary/scrapbook of fashion drawings, tear sheets and up to date with all the trends, I think because I showed initiative and went that extra mile, I got accepted. 

What’s your day to day schedule like as a Makeup Artist?

I’ve been working on a regular show for years now, so my normal day is, checking the schedule of which presenters will be in the following day and making sure we have their kits up to date ( currently all presenters have their own makeup kits / no sharing). Once at work, the call sheet and schedule is checked to make sure nothing hasn’t changed over night, which it often does in Live TV! Presenters come into the makeup room at their allotted time and are made up within 40 mins, this is really quick for a TV show, most shows get at least an our with their presenters. In that 40 mins both hair and makeup are done. The station is then cleaned down , ready for the next presenter. and finally the celebrity guests will come in ( when guests are allowed). Just before the show goes Live, final checks are made backstage and then the show goes live. We are on the side lines for any checks that may need doing during the Ad breaks. Most of the presenters go home with the makeup on, but if we have men , they usually like to come and clean off. During the week, stock/ makeup orders are made so that we make sure nobody runs low on anything. If we have any new presenters on the show, I will get intouch with them to see which products they require before they start. 

With lockdown still in place, how has that affected the whole makeup industry? It must be a different set up when you’re working now?

It’s much more sterile and not as much fun! The makeup room used to be the hub of activity, where everyone hung out, sadly not anymore. we aren’t allowed more than 4 people in the makeup room and we have to make everyone up as quickly as we can, there is no time to have a chin wag anymore, which we all really miss. Obviously it goes without saying that the PPE we now have to wear is uncomfortable and the flexibility and spontaneity has been taken away from Makeup, but it will come singing and dancing at some point . 

Do you think anyone can be a makeup artist now?

We see a lot of uneducated or uncertified makeup artists on social media, doing surprisingly well, so what are your thoughts on this new trend? That’s a hard one, I think with dedication anyone can become anything, but just dont expect it to be overnight.. It does concern me that a lot of people expect to go straight into a full time job once qualified, to show true commitment and passion you need to offer your services for minimal wages or for purley travel expenses, if you are able to do that it shows you are in for the long haul, but I know it’s not always that easy depending on your circumstances.

We are in a world where word of mouth and maintaining your clients is obviously essential to develop one’s career, however you do see a number of celebrities move from one makeup artist to another. Some celebrities even make a point that certain things happen which is why they no longer work together. Are there any set of rules or expectations when you work with a client for one project or for a long time?

Is it slightly awkward if a client moves to another MUA? I think you always need to remember this is a job and you aren’t there to make friends with the celebrity. It can be upsetting when this happens, but at the end of the day, it’s like trying a new hairdresser..sometimes people just fancy a change and i get that. I never take it to heart, you won’t last long if you do! 

You have done so much and now you also have Donna May London to celebrate as well, what products do you have available?

Ohhh lots. Our Lay Flat makeup bag is off course our key product, but the travel makeup brush set and the brow kit are right behind them.  Our Beauty Bars have also really taken off, people are looking for time saving products, and that’s what we are all about .

As an established MUA with many celebrities under your belt, do you think you would tap into makeup products as well? 

Never say never but it’s such a crowded market, that I dont see myself going down that route. 

How do you switch off from work mode?

Personally I play with makeup to help me switch off but I assume that’s the last thing you want to do, do you sometimes get tired of all things makeup? I’m a massive interior Design freak, so I love to go on Pinterest and shop ( well, I pin, but it feels like shopping!) as well as exercise, I do an online class that keeps me going, plus I live near the beach so walk everyday.

It is so exciting that as we hopefully leave lockdown in Spring, theaters will finally open again, more TV shows and films will go back to filming, events such as awards and other projects will need you, are there any new projects you’re going to be involved in soon?

Makeup for some Red Carpet events would be nice to do again.  I’d also love to work on a period Drama of some sort. Regarding DML we have lots of exciting event and products due this year!

Where can we follow you? Where can we purchase your products? 

I’m always on IG @donnamaylondon and my website is pop by and say hi.

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