Pallavi Symons: A self-taught makeup maverick

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From model to professional make-up artist, celebrity make-up artist, Pallavi Symons, has had an interesting journey.

Renowned make-up artist Pallavi Symons has crafted beauty for the likes of Malaika Arora Khan, Bipasha Basu and Saiyami Kher, among others. Pallavi’s belief of ‘staying true to oneself no matter what’, as a craftsman and as an individual has driven her this far in the industry. Hear from the horse’s mouth about her transition from being a model to a pro make-up expert…

How did you start?

I started doing make-up way before I became an artist. As a model in the mid nineties, one needed to know how to do make-up and hair and be self-styled. The industry wasn’t anything like it is today. Gradually the lines blurred and I stepped from modelling to make-up quite organically.

What are your professional qualification?

Well, if this is about a degree in make-up, I have none. Self taught and self sustaining is what I am. But I must say that my journalism background has held me in good stead while I have been in this business.

What were the initial challenges?

I was lucky enough not to have too many initial struggles. Maybe, it was because people knew me already as I had been around as a model for a bit. The transition was largely smooth and my struggles were mostly financial. Being able to afford product and find frequent enough gigs to stay here in Mumbai. The rents have always been unforgiving!

What’s your philosophy?
Stay absolutely true to yourself, no matter what, both as a craftsman and as a person. There is so much in the business to be blinded by, but keeping your feet on the ground and head screwed on firmly on your shoulders, being honest and earnest will keep you in for the long haul. And hygiene! A clean kit, sanitised brushes, an organised workstation, all as important a reflection of who you are as a professional.

How will you define the make-up industry? How has it evolved in terms of products, techniques, etc.?

Like everything else, it evolves everyday. It is affected by every season around it! So it’s safe to say it’s fickle. But the good thing is brands have now for a while been offering testers and services that help the customers better. So, availing of these services is important. Especially because cosmetics are so expensive now. They are an aspirational buy. A woman’s make-up pouch in, say, the 80s or 90s would contain a compact and a lipstick and maybe a kohl. But now, it’s bursting at the seams with so many products. That’s is mainly what has changed. It is an industry that grows by the day, that propagates consumerism and tempts you every time your head turns. It is important to remember to buy wisely, stay informed about new innovations and products and make sure these products serve one’s individual purpose. The business has gathered steam mainly because the brand to customer interaction is way more personal than it has ever been. It is important for a consumer to rely on that interaction to purchase what is good for them in a marketplace that is teeming with tempting product.

Any pro advice for aspiring make-up artists?

Go with the gut! Be instinctive as a lot of your career choices will rely on it. Be open and adventurous but keep your soul in sight always. And, then of course, be a thorough professional always. Keep both your emotional tool kit and work tool kit sharp, clean and well honed.

Beauty in one word…

Fickle!

Which is your one go-to product and why?

Lip balm any day, because everything else needs a rest!

 

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