Face Value: An Interview With A Rising Social Media Makeup Star

With the rise of the internet and an explosion in the number of makeup brands producing diverse, high-quality products, it seems there has never been a better time to launch yourself as cosmetics’ next big thing. Leah Percival, a professional makeup artist who is gaining a lot of traction on Instagram, found time to talk to Alex Gibbon about her creative process, top makeup tips, and the reality of launching yourself as a brand.

Many people are familiar with using makeup, but your designs are more elevated than the average ‘daytime look’. How did you make the jump from being a makeup user to a makeup artist?

After leaving school, I had no idea what I wanted to do; it was just by chance that I saw a makeup course advertised at my local college. After completing the course, I had found a new passion for all things makeup. I then worked as an MUA on the counter to gain more experience in the industry. Fast forward a few years, I am now a self-employed MUA and absolutely loving life!

Where do you find the inspiration for your looks?

Honestly, my inspiration can come from anywhere: a night sky, a pretty flower and of course the work of other talented artists. 

Who are some of your favourite MUAs, and why?

There are so many! I love Addy Roberts (@abbyroberts); her creativity is incredible and is already super successful at only 18 years old. Another favourite of mine is Keilidh Cashell (@keilidhmua), her talent is insane, and I love watching her YouTube videos. I also love Tiffany Jones (@makeuptiffanyj) as her makeup looks are so bold and technical. 

Do you think MUAs have a responsibility to make sure they use ethical brands (cruelty-free, vegan, etc.)?

Yes, 100%. I think both MUAs and brands are realising the importance of being ethical and sustainable, which is great.

What are your top 3 cosmetic must-haves?

Wow, this is so hard to choose! But I would have to say the Bperfect x Stacey Marie Carnival XL Pro Eyeshadow Palette, the colours are so pigmented and blend like a dream. Also, Ofra Glazed Donut Highlighter, if you like a blinding highlighter, this is the one for you. And, of course, Jeffree Star Liquid Lipsticks, their formula is unbeatable.

You have your own business Arabella Studio. Tell us more about that and the challenges you have faced setting up your own enterprise.

At 18 years old, I quit my part-time job to set up my own business as a makeup artist. I had saved up all my money and invested it in a brand-new kit and equipment. This was a massive step for me at such a young age and, of course, there have been many challenges along the way. Being self-employed is hard work! If you don’t have clients, you don’t get paid, not to mention the people who don’t turn up to appointments. But with that said, I love my job. I am my own boss, and I am grateful every day to those who support me  

How important is social media for an aspiring MUA?

VERY. Whether you are a working MUA or just doing makeup on yourself, social media can help you reach so many people.

What strategies have you used to grow your presence online?

The biggest platform for my personal work is definitely my Instagram. Around two months ago, I began to grow my account by posting regularly, interacting with other makeup fans and putting in lots of time and effort. In that short amount of time, amazing things have happened. I am now being recognised for my creative, making great connections within the makeup community and even receiving free products from brands. 

Where would you like to go with @leaharabellamua? What is your ultimate dream?

Soon, I plan to make my own YouTube channel, creating makeup tutorials and hopefully inspiring people with my passion for makeup. The ultimate dream is to one day be working alongside brands that I love.

Could you give us any teasers or exclusives about any upcoming looks you have planned?

Well, I am actually going to be doing 31 days of Halloween throughout October. So, expect some BIG looks and a few well-known characters!

You can follow Leah’s makeup page on Instagram at @leaharabellamua and her business’ Facebook page at ‘Arabella Makeup Studio.’ 

Alex Gibbon