Vicky Mina remembers one of the first books she bought as a kid. It was all about homemade cosmetics and facials. “I was always the teenager doing the makeup,” she recalls, adding that her friends often turned to her for makeovers and tips. “I always had a natural ability. It was a huge thing for me that someone could be so transformed by fashion, makeup and beauty.”
But that early hobby took a backseat to a career in banking and raising her children. After the birth of her third child, she reconsidered her career. She decided to return to her passion. Mina is self-taught in makeup artistry. She started doing makeup in 2007, soon building her clientele.
Her current business is a mix of off-site events such as weddings and in-house sessions with clients. Her home studio is small, simple and well lit by floor-to-ceiling windows. In one corner, next to a window, is the chair and mirror where the transformations happen. The table and its drawers are filled with samples of makeup; lipsticks, shadows and foundations in every imaginable shade. “I don’t even want to think about how much it’s all worth,” she laughs.
On a table nearby sits a makeup kit weighing, she guesses, about 14 kilograms. It’s what Mina takes with her on the road, when she’s heading out of town to do the makeup for a bride and her bridesmaids or a photo shoot.
Mina is a youthful looking 43. Petite, fit and fashionably dressed in jeans, boots, and a faux-fur trimmed vest, she also has flawless, dark skin, which she attributes to good skincare and to a decision she made in her 30s to not bake in the sun. Her eyes are strategically lined with dark liner. But together it all looks very natural in a way that is her own best advertising.
These days, she is one of the most sought-after makeup artists in the city. But for Mina, her passion is not about the praise she receives for her work, but rather how her clients feel when they leave her studio. “I have women come to me and they have tears in their eyes,” she says. “They have never felt so beautiful.”
Jacquelyn LeRue knows that feeling first hand as a colleague of Mina’s and a client. She met Mina when they worked with a bride on a wedding about three years ago. That one gig established a working relationship between the two ever since. Together they work with clients on weddings, photo shoots and date nights. “We both hit it off,” LeRue says. “Right away, we liked each other’s personalities, so we’ve worked together ever since.”
LeRue, a hairstylist and the owner of The Parlour Boutique Salon in Bedford, says Mina offers more than makeup application to her clients. “She really sees the beauty in every woman,” LeRue says. “She’s so kind. She works quickly, but she’s never rushed. She would never let someone leave without making sure they are 100 per cent perfect.”
Photographer Jeff Cooke has worked with Mina for four years. He first heard her name around town, and soon teamed up with her through that word-of-mouth referencing. Her calls her an “artist” with what she can do with makeup.
“She knows how to bring out a woman’s natural features, enhance them, and leave them flawless,” says Cooke. “She has a wonderful way of making a woman’s eyes explode off the photo, and that’s what you want. She’s masterful; she’s awesome.”
Mina says one of her favourite parts of her job is the education; teaching women how to look their best. Since she started her career, she says the understanding of makeup has changed. It can dramatically change a woman’s look. “There’s been an awareness around makeup that wasn’t there when I first started,” she says. “It wasn’t a factor in the whole look. … good makeup can replace plastic surgery.”
She loves teaching about the proper techniques, how to work with products and what products work best with what skin type. “Part of what I do is cut through the hype,” Mina says. “Makeup in general has come a long way.”
And when it comes to products, Mina’s personal favourites and recommendations come from varied sources. She promotes and suggests to clients products from various lines, including those on the higher end of the scale to those more accessible products available at the drugstore cosmetic counter.
Mina’s personal favourite makeup look is one that is more natural, one she describes as “glowy” and enhances and coutours a woman’s best features. Her number one requested look is the “smoky eye,” a sexy look with dark liner and dark shadows all smoothed to remove the harsh edges. “It’s something people think they can’t do,” Mina says of the technique.
Her clients range in age and that means her techniques range as well. Younger skin, she says, has fewer challenges. Younger clients are more accepting of bolder looks with brighter colours. She approaches more mature women in a different manner: less powder, lighter colours, a more natural look, shimmery highlights on certain features. Still, the transformation is just as dramatic.
Mina also promotes good skincare. That, she says, starts with proper diet, hydration, exercise and avoiding stress. It continues on the skin’s surface with the use of SPF and proper cleaning and moisturizing techniques. The makeup is the icing. Her personal routine also includes a fondness for bronzer, lipglosss, mascara and mineral foundation. “Good skincare can happen at any age,” Mina says. “And you can improve what you have.”
And next, Mina says she’d love to do the makeup of what she calls the “red carpet beauties”—Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Eva Longoria. But for now, she works closer to home, getting to know her regulars. “The more I know someone, the more I know their face and the better the makeup becomes,” she says.