Glamour magic with ‘soft glam’

Syazwani Hj Rosli

Nabilah binti Masli, who specialises in bridal makeovers, had neither experience nor resources when she first decided to become a makeup artist and start her business as ‘Nabzybeau’.

“I trusted what I did have and that was an affection and colour,” said Nabilah. “I am someone who when she has an idea, it grows and grows until she dives into it. Luckily for me, I have parents who trust my ideas, and it was my father and brother who helped me buy the basics to start building my makeup kit.”

The 28-year-old has a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations from Lancaster University, United Kingdom and a Master’s degree from Universiti Brunei Darussalam in English Language and Linguistics.

“I came to live in Brunei in 2009 after following my father on his diplomatic missions under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Indonesia, the United States of America, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Myanmar and Egypt. I was born during his first posting in Jakarta and started school in New Jersey after we moved to America when I was two-years-old.

“The countries I have lived in remain a strong part of me. I was lucky to have a home in so many beautiful and diverse places. These are places which have given me a treasured childhood and have influenced my ideas on culture, society, food and art in their own way.

ABOVE & BELOW: Nabilah binti Masli shared that what she enjoys most when she does makeup services, is the reaction of her clients when everything is settled. PHOTOS: NABILAH BINTI MASLI

Nabilah Masli’s first goal when she started her business was to know what to do with colours and what colours naturally went well together with different skin tones
Nabilah binti Masli with Paris Hilton

“As an adult, I was blessed to return to some. In 2017 I joined the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Program which took me back to Jakarta as well as to ASEAN member countries I had never been to before,” she said.

During the programme she was nominated as the Assistant Youth Leader (AYL) by her contingent and they travelled for three months by sea from Japan to Southeast Asia, living with local families and creating bonds with the local youths and her peers on the ship, discussing topics such as culture, humanitarian crises, international relations and so forth.

Now, being self-employed, Nabilah said that she has been able to invest time in things that she is passionate about and it has given her a sense of control over her own path.

“But the decision was not easy and it came after countless letters of rejection,” she said, adding that working for yourself can feel daunting at times, especially as more young people are delving into self-employment.

“However, I believe that a commitment to yourself and your craft will only strengthen your independence and self-reliance. In the end, you might even be responsible for creating something worthwhile and lasting,” she affirmed.

Her first goal when she started her business was to know what to do with colours and what colours naturally went well together with different skin tones.

“At this time, I was living in Cairo and the Internet connection was never stable. So, instead of YouTubing tutorials, I took a sketchbook and colour pencils and shaded my own face charts and eye illustrations, creating combinations that I thought were appealing.

From there, I would apply what I drew on willing and unwilling models (friends and family),” she said.

“Beauty is something we all own. With or without makeup, it is constantly there whether we believe it to be or not. To believe that you are beautiful means to be comfortable with yourself and that can be empowering.”

As an entirely self-taught makeup artist, she recalled that when she did her first ‘real’ job, it made her nervous and the process took longer than it needed to.

“There were so many self-doubting questions. What if I forget what I practiced? What if she hates it? What if it’s obvious that this is my first time? The desire for wanting to do my best has never left me, and I enjoy the challenge of a new face.

“I often never know what my clients will look like until we meet, but when I see their face and get to know their personalities, I become inspired,” she continued. “Rarely do my clients have in mind what look they want to go for – they usually request that I do what I feel is right for them. It can take a lot of pressure off yourself if you are a client, especially if the makeup is for a very important day such as your wedding day. But I always welcome the challenge of recreating a look that was seen on Instagram. It helps me improve myself and I can practice new techniques.”

However, her job does not stop at just applying makeup on her clients or brides. “I make sure that everything is ready and in place, from buttoning up dresses, pinning tiaras and veils, and helping brides put on their stockings and heels. It’s not easy pulling on stockings in a fitted wedding dress, so I help where I can.” Talking about her signature look, she said that there is a phrase “soft glam” among makeup artists.

“For me, that means the aim is to achieve a natural look with the skin, lips and base but to play up one feature that will be the main focus. I usually make the eyes the most glamorous feature. The eyes are the most beautiful part of a woman’s face. When you greet your wedding guests, they can feel your sincerity through your eyes, when you look at your husband for the first time after the solemnisation, the lock is through the eyes. It’s very romantic,” she explained.

Nabilah shared that what she enjoys most when she does makeup services, is the reaction of her clients when everything is settled. “All my clients are beautiful and I feel a great appreciation for my clients’ trust. I love knowing that I can help someone see themselves in a way they have not experienced yet.”

She also shared that one of her most exciting opportunities was when she had the chance to do makeup for Paris Hilton and Brandi Howe.

For Nabilah, her greatest challenge since she started her business has always stemmed from herself. “Whenever I receive the first advance booking for the next year, it automatically makes me reevaluate my current path. Clients often book a year in advance and when I accept the appointment I always feel a little surprised like ‘oh, I guess I will still be doing this next year’. This mindset only creates insecurity in my work and unnecessary sense of instability.

“I love what I do, and people love what I do. Maintaining a business for yourself and making it sustainable for your own future is very serious. Time is constantly passing so managing my finances, making sure I keep adding to a retirement fund and investing in things that are only necessary helps me overcome this challenge,” she added.

The one goal that she still wants to achieve as a makeup artist is to do makeup for runway shows. “For me, to be able to do makeup on professional models and brands is a privilege I want to strive for.”

For those who are new in the business or wanting to venture in the beauty scene, Nabilah’s advice is to begin establishing makeup and people skills as best as possible for offering services to the public. “In my opinion, the best way to stand out is to have your talent be impressive in the beginning.”