EXCLUSIVE: The Story Of How Anthea Bueno Became A Sought-After Makeup Artist—Get Beauty Inspirations From Her Long List Of Celebrity Clients
Anthea Bueno is one of those girls who grew up boyish. While born with a creative streak, never in her wildest dreams did a career in the beauty industry occur to her. “I didn’t wear makeup. I didn’t even have an idea about what concealer and eyeliner were. I didn’t appreciate makeup back then,” she recalls. Though, she remembers she was fascinated by how her high school classmates could do winged eyeliner properly and how her block mates would always come to their 7AM class made up. She couldn’t quite understand why applying makeup had to be part of one’s daily routine.
It was when she was in third year college that her interest in makeup was sparked. Her block mates were tasked to come up with looks for a show in their school, and she was assigned to take care of the makeup pegs. Despite not being into beauty, she did her part and researched about makeup. What particularly caught her attention was the look for the John Galliano Fall 2009 Ready-to-Wear show. The woman behind those looks was well-renowned and influential British makeup artist Pat McGrath.
The look that inspired her to become a makeup artist. From John Galliano Fall 2009 Ready-to-Wear show. | Photo from Vogue
“That was the first time I laid my eyes on a Pat McGrath work. I was so fascinated. I researched about her. I read articles about her. I researched all her works from before. I was so fascinated by how she created makeup as an art. It wasn’t something for vanity, it was something for art; it was so much more than kaartehan lang sa mukha,” Anthea shares.
Anthea posted this eye makeup art on her Instagram, and it was double-tapped by Pat McGrath. For a fan to be somehow recognized by her idol is, of course, something that means a lot for Anthea.
Discovering a different form of art
Anthea took up Fine Arts at University of Sto. Tomas. However, due to financial problems, she had to stop studying. “4th year na ako, but we couldn’t sustain it sa sobrang mahal ng tuition,” she shares, adding the fact that she also had to help send her younger brother to school. She had to provide for herself and their family, so she signed up for a part-time job as an art teacher to pre-schoolers. Though fun and fulfilling, the reality is, it was a job that didn’t pay a lot, especially to undergraduates like her.
Given her growing interest in makeup then, she enrolled in a basic makeup workshop at the Center for Aesthetic Studies. It basically laid the foundation for what would become a fruitful and beautiful venture for her. Equipped with basic know-how, Anthea applied as an assistant makeup artist for the TV reality music competition The X Factor Philippines, where she met the show’s winner, KZ Tandingan, who later became one of her first celebrity clients.
After this gig, Anthea chanced upon a tweet of professional makeup artist Jigs Mayuga who was then looking for apprentices. Familiar with Jigs’ works through various magazine features, she sent her resume to him, and out of the 100+ applicants at the time, only two were chosen; one of them was Anthea.
This opportunity to be trained by Jigs exposed her to the real world of being a makeup artist and allowed her to hone her skills. Asked about the best thing she learned from Jigs, Anthea says that, more than the expert tricks and techniques, what she really appreciated was how he encouraged her to improve on her social skills.
As is the case with a lot of jobs, great social skills are a bonus. As a makeup artist, true, your work can speak for you, but knowing how to network and market yourself is also a much-needed career booster especially now when it's all about personal branding in the digital world.
“I am painfully shy. Si Jigs before, pinapagalitan n’ya ako kapag super tahimik ko. Kailangan ko daw makipag-usap sa ibang tao, ‘wag ko daw sayangin ‘yung opportunity na makipag-network,” Anthea shares. “We spent a lot of time driving around, so si Jigs, nagda-drive tapos ako nandoon sa tabi n'ya, lagi n’ya akong kinakausap, ‘o, how are you going to talk to this client?’ o ‘paano opening ng conversation n’yo?’ More than the makeup skill, he also taught us socializing skills at work. May time nga naiyak ako kasi gustong magpa-workshop sa harapan ni Jigs sa isang shoot. Naiyak talaga ako. When I was trying to speak, parang hinahabol ko ’yung hininga ko tapos ako parang nalulunod.” Admittedly still not the best at this area, Anthea has become a lot more comfortable with talking to people while making sure she also delivers on client satisfaction service-wise.
Building her celebrity clientele and establishing her signature style
Aside from KZ, international model Kelsey Merritt was also among the first ones who believed in the talent of Anthea. She first did Kelsey’s makeup for an editorial shoot, and they’ve been quite inseparable since.
Not long after, Anthea also became the regular makeup artist of young star Ylona Garcia and showbiz royalty Leila Alcasid. In the few years that she’s been part of the local beauty industry, she has quickly established herself as a sought-after makeup artist, with a long list of celebrities she has worked with.
When she was starting out, her makeup style was heavy on powder, bold brows, and bright lipstick because these were the trends at the time. But what inspired her to change her aesthetic to something simpler yet impactful just the same was the look Jigs did on Bea Alonzo for a photo shoot. It was for a skincare center, so the peg that had to be followed was barely-there makeup. She recalls, “Kailangan wala-walaan ‘yung makeup so, ako, I asked Jigs, ‘wow, ano’ng gamit mo, parang basa ‘yung cheek n’ya, parang highlighter?' That was the first time I ever encountered highlighter. Na-fascinate ako sa highlighter kasi ang ganda, and I realized ang dami palang nagagawa ng highlighter and it adds dimension to the face.”
Since then, Anthea has been paying more attention to achieving that youthful, glowing skin for her clients. She is their go-to makeup artist on days when they feel a sun-kissed, bronzed or peachy look, and a dewy skin are what they would like to go for. No doubt, she has mastered that effortless, au naturel, no-makeup makeup style.
Even with a lot of beauty trends reaching our radar on a daily basis, Anthea has maintained her signature style, while not totally veering away from experimenting with some colors once in a while.
Today, Anthea serves as an ambassador of high-end cosmetics brand Laura Mercier after being an affiliate artist for the brand last year. Now, she also works with most of the brands under Rustan's, including luxury brand Chanel.
Looking back, she realizes that the artist in her has remained despite the change in career. She says, “Ang makeup, naka-connect s’ya sa painting, iba lang ‘yung materials but how you use it and how you emphasize the light and create the shadows or shading are pretty much the same.”
For her, this career as a makeup artist not only gives her an outlet for her artistic expressions and interpretations, more importantly, it’s a job that also allows her to provide for her family. And no matter how busy her schedule is or how tired she may get, she says, “I am blessed with a lot of work, so I am not complaining.”
Check out the makeup looks Anthea did for these celebrities and influencers:
Now with more than 50,000 followers, Anthea's Instagram account (@antheabueno) is filled with makeup inspirations.
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photographs by BJ Pascual
Makeup by Justine Navato
Hairstyling by Ethan David
Shoot assistant: Iya Ronatay