Makeup Artist Min Kim Knows How to Get You to Stop and Stare
Now I do editorials mostly. In general, I have a very analytical approach to makeup. Between what I want and what is right, the latter matters more. A lot of my work relies on sense and instinct because it’s artistic. At a shoot for Bottega Veneta, the concept was to have pearlescent lips and body painting; everything had to shine. I dipped the model in golden pigment and finalized the lips with an extra layer of thick gloss. Another time, I cut off the wings of [taxidermic] butterflies and applied them symmetrically on the model’s face. The wings created instant shadows that stood out much more than the makeup. And I recently did a shoot in the desert. The concept was about aliens landing on Earth. I bleached the eyebrows. It was steaming hot; the makeup melted heavily even though it was waterproof.
This year at Cannes, I worked with Margaret Qualley. I love that girl. She’s beautiful, natural, and joyful. Margaret had jet lag, so I started with a facial massage. My mom taught me the basics. With the massage, in general, you can improve blood circulation. It can also help with dark circles around the eyes. After 20 minutes of massage, Margaret had a natural glow. I did not even need to apply foundation… only a very mild blush.
People tell me I’m efficient because I work fast. The key is to develop the idea and rehearse the entire operation in my mind. I have a lot of passion for makeup, but confidence is different for me. It’s a challenge. I listen to a voice in my head that says, “Min, you can do it. You can make it to the next step.” I say that meditation to myself all the time. Once the talent sits in front of me it’s pure execution, like a surgeon.
I like makeup because it’s not boring. Everyone is different, every color is different. When I go to jobs I never think, I want to go home. That’s the best. I’m so lucky to have this job in my life. —As told to Alaina Demopoulos
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.
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