#BakingBeauty: Makeup Artist Nikki La Rose on the ‘Ups and Downs’ of the Beauty Industry

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This March, The Tease is bringing you stories from women who are #MakingHairstory, #BakingBeauty and #DoingItForTheCultuHer. Learn how these influential women are breaking barriers, disrupting their industries and empowering others to do the same all month long.

Los Angeles-based makeup artist Nikki La Rose can do it all. Having worked with major salon professional brands like Olivia Garden and Joico, La Rose’s talent and technique is unlike any other. Her work can be seen in editorial spreads, at Olympic events and on red carpets, where celebrities like Molly Sims, Rachel Zoe and Tori Spelling put La Rose’s artistry on display.

We had the opportunity to speak with La Rose about her start and how she’s overcome obstacles in the industry.

The Tease: How did you get started in the beauty industry?

Nikki La Rose: Growing up, all I wanted to do was be a musician and play in a band. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I realized that wasn’t realistic and [I] needed to figure out a plan B. I always knew I wanted to do something creative with my life in some form, and makeup suddenly seemed like a no brainer. Especially because anytime I had any extra money, I’d spend it buying new makeup and searching the makeup aisles for the best mascara and blackest eyeliner I could find. 

How would you describe your relationship to beauty?

Like any relationship, I’d say we have our ‘ups and downs,’ but I try my best to always maintain the most positive outlook on what I do for a living. The beauty industry can be very cutthroat at times and extremely demanding, so it can be hard sometimes to stay positive in this industry. But at the end of the day, I’m always incredibly grateful to call this my ‘job.’ I go to work and make people feel beautiful and more confident. How amazing is that? 

Women are often discouraged from sharing their accomplishments, but we want to hear about them. List some of your career highlights. What are you most proud of?

This is SUCH a hard one for me, I generally don’t like talking about myself and definitely strive to be the most humble I can be. But I am proud of how far I’ve come in this industry without the help of an agency etc… I’ve been lucky enough to work on countless celebrities, travel with them, do huge campaigns. Two years ago, I got to travel to South Korea for the Winter Olympics with my great client Tara Lipinski; we spent 25 days straight together doing glam as early as 5am and spent the rest of the day watching figure skating live. 

Work accomplishments are amazing, but what stands out the most to me is being able to afford to give back to my mom, provide a good life and make her proud. 

What are the biggest challenges you have experienced within the industry and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I experienced was at the beginning of my career. I got in with some producers and started assisting some big makeup artists on huge commercials. I was so young and so fresh in the industry; I’d show up to work with a full face of makeup on and ready to go. This, for some reason, didn’t sit well with two of the artists I was assisting, and I was constantly ridiculed, even belittled for arriving “done up.” There was one morning in particular where they got in my face and critiqued my look, putting it down and shaming me for taking the time to do my own makeup.

In the same day, I also experienced what it’s like to be sworn at and reprimanded in front of a 30 person+ crew. I’ve never forgotten that day and those experiences, and it’s been a constant reminder to me of how not to treat my makeup assistant and anyone around me. 

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned and am currently STILL learning is to NOT take things personally. People have bad days; moods sometimes are not the best, and that’s okay. Remembering not to take every single thing personally has saved me tons of sanity, but it’s something I have to work on continuously. 

Are there any women in the industry who inspire you or your work? If so, who?

I’m lucky enough to work with so so many amazing and inspiring women, I’d have to name them all! I learn from them and they inspire me all the time to work hard and push myself. 

They know who they are 😉

Do you have any words of wisdom for other women within the beauty industry?

Yes, and I can’t say this enough: Focus on you and ONLY you.

Social media can bring us all down, so don’t compare yourself with anyone else, especially someone else’s success. Everyone’s journey is different and unique to them. Stay in your lane, work hard, be positive and the rest will follow. 

What’s next for you?

I’ve finally started a YouTube channel where I’m doing makeup tutorials! It’s something I’ve wanted to do forever but never ever made the time to actually do it. I work sooo much and such long hours, so I always used that as an excuse not to make it happen. I’ve had such a blast filming them in the comfort of my home, and I look forward to posting more. In addition, I’m also posting them on IGTV.